Friday, September 30, 2016


We made it to Friday! And Friday means we get a few minutes with Mark. He was a good sport and threw some clothes in the washing machine then drove us all out to Cider Hill Apple Farm. 

We went straight for the apple cider donuts. We're no dummies.

We found a cute pony tied out back. She was not desperate for attention, but tolerated a few pats from the kids.

The word was that the orchards were picked out and the rest had split due to a combination of high heat and tons of rain. We figured we'd take a ride out just for kicks.

The boys tossed around a football around while Meg, Everly and I went in search for a tree that might have something worth picking.

And don't you know....we found one!

We headed home for dinner and Mark decided he would stay through the evening and get up super early to drive to Springfield tomorrow morning. I didn't complain!

I went to the store for some General Conference treats and when I returned McKenzie Clarke was here playing football with the kids in the back yard. Within the hour, the Guenther kids were out there too. It was our turn to babysit so Martin and Mari could have a date night.

It was just what I needed.

Friends. Fresh air. Games. Mark.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Daddy's away...

Mark is out of town. He's been gone since Sunday and he'll be gone for another 4. He is at a Microsoft Conference in Altanta for 5 days (yay! Free stuff! Nerdy toys and little gadgets!) Then he comes home for a few hours and leaves for Springfield to complete his Crossfit L1 certification for two days. 

He went to Atlanta with his co-worker, Carl. He is very funny and cool. I was happy for Mark when I found out he would have a friend to enjoy the week with instead of an awkward associate that he would have to make small talk with. 

There were lots of classes. And lots of products and vendors.

But there were also guitars....

And there were other guys that could hold their own on the stage...

I think it was the highlight of his week.

While he was gone, we tried to get through each day as calmly as possible. As fight-free as possible. And by Wednesday we were exhausted. I sometimes joke that having Mark out of town isn't that much different than having him here. We are both so busy with kids and work and church callings, we largely move in our own spheres of responsibility.

But it isn't true.

I miss him.  He makes my life easier in hundreds of ways that become very clear when he isn't around. Not to mention I just really miss him. Filling his shoes made the week feel like a tall order.

Monday we went to Ethan's Marching Band Festival.  (He's the trumpet player right in front of the far right sousaphone.)

I cried. That seems to be a new thing for me. Crying to the marching band. The kids were cold and luckily Mathew found a blanket and a beach towel in the trunk. That gave us just enough material to fight over.

Tuesday was youth night at the church.  The boys played ultimate frisbee and the girls had a talent show.

Laney read the first chapter of her book

Megan played 'The Entertainer'

Wednesday we had homework backlog to take care of.

Did I mention it was my week to drive to Seminary? And preschool?

Come home, Mark!!

We took a bike ride down the Indian Creek Trail to get a little unstructured time together.

The field was locked when we arrived at South High School so we ended up playing in the parking lot. Girls played fetch.

Boys played football.

There was a high level of sassiness and mean remarks made between siblings. I won't name names...but there was a need for a dancing apology when we arrived back home.

Thursday is Everly's preschool, after-school play practice, Ethan does childcare at crossfit and my quartet is coming over for rehearsal.

Friday we see Mark!!! Yay!!! Then he leaves (boo!!!) for his L1 Crossfit certification. (So proud of him.)

Saturday we have the Pumpkin Run and marching band practice and birthday party.....and somehow we need to listen to General Conference. How will we do this?

I do not know.

I need sleep.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Happy things

I know that life can be very hard sometimes. And it often seems like I exist somewhere in between DisciplineLand and Exhaustion Station as a mother. A hundred times a day, I find myself putting out fires and calming stressed or angry kids. A hundred times a day I'm calming stressed or angry me. There is always a problem that needs solving or a grievance to be aired. "It isn't fair!" "Where is my....?" "MOM!" And don't forget the mass exit to the bathrooms when it's time to do the dishes.

I mean, it's the truth. It's how it is.

A lot of the time.

But not ALL of the time.

There's also the moments in the morning where I go to wake up Everly and she grabs my hand and wants me to come in to (my) bed and snuggle with her for just a few more minutes. She fiercely nuzzles her face into my neck and takes a deep, satisfied breath. And I feel completely loved. And, for a moment, I know that (for now) I am all that she needs. I'm enough.

There was the time this week where I found a minute of peace in the "old office" on the black couch. Things get hectic and loud after school and the kids haven't learned to look for me in there yet. So I thought I would be undisturbed and I looked up with irritation when Ethan came in. I figured he wanted to tell me someone was doing something to bug him. But he was bringing me a plate of perfectly crispy hashbrowns.

And he had a bottle of ketchup with him. He asked me how much ketchup I wanted.  And it put a smile on my face.  He made me hashbrowns!

Isn't that kind of the greatest thing?

And Mark took the girls (all four!) on a daddy daughter campout Friday night. I'm telling you....he DOES NOT like to camp. He has had his fill of it. He had talked himself out of going, we had a legitimate excuse to cut it all short and come home without putting up the tent. But he saw those little girl faces and felt their excitement to go and he just couldn't disappoint them. He packed them all up. He bought goodies and brought extra undies. He went out there and camped with his girls.

And then he got up before the sun to pack it all up and get to JCCC by 7:15 for Megan's Cross Country meet.

And because he did all of that, I got to have a night of Studio C, Pokemon Go and chocolate shakes with my boys. Bonus: there was little to no complaining. Double bonus: they said "Thanks, Mom!" and I was reminded that I like these people. When not in the throes of teenage metamorphosis, they're good company.

Megan ran her race! She ran the entire time and told herself to "push through the pain". She says she doesn't want to run anymore, but I think she would be amazing at track. I have 6 months to talk her into it.

Everly has a thing with scissors. She has the scissor skills of a kid twice her age. She's always cutting out something. And pasting it to something else.  Sometimes it's chunks of hair....

But today it's dixie cups.

Lots and lots of dixie cups.

Dixie cups are better than bangs. I need to remember to put more on the grocery list.

We went to a baptism over the weekend. The man is a young father and he's just gone through a divorce. He's quiet and you get the feeling that he's not used to being around a lot of people. But, my goodness.  That smile! He's found the gospel and he loves it. I've never met someone so laser focused on what is being said in sacrament meeting. He sat by Anna, Cambrie and Ella today in sacrament meeting. Those are the three reigning champions of "super loud whispering".

And he didn't hear them.

I turned around twice to apologize for them. He didn't even look at me. He is LISTENING.

It's inspiring.

After the baptism, I was chatting in the halls with Dylan and Jessica Clarke while Mark helped ordain one of the boys to be a priest. Sam, one of Ethan's friends. The girls were nowhere to be seen.

It turns out that they were putting together a play. On the stage.

And it was had a power outage. And a lightning storm....(Megan found the stage lights).

And it ended with  a dancing angel.

Isn't that the best?

Mark taught Megan to change the oil.

The kids show signs of carrying on our tradition of apologizing with dance.

Laney is on chapter 6 of her Lucy and Mallyson book. Megan is helping with the illustrations. There is talk of self-publishing.

I love her knees. She's a busy girl.

We went off to the Women's Conference

And then out for custard and fries with some our friends.

And today Ethan substituted for me as Primary music chorister. I was nervous about it and I didn't know how he would do, so I stuck around until I saw him walk up to the front with a beanbag on his head and he said, "I just have one question....has anyone seen my bean bag?"

I knew everything was going to be O. Kay.

I left the primary room and went in search of the meeting I was supposed to be attending. I walked by the nursery and I saw Mathew and Kylie and 3 or 4 other teenagers feeding the little kids pretzels and singing songs with them. There's something magical about that.

Then I ran into Fred and Dylan Clarke. Fred told me that he had invited the Ethan and Mathew to go to the priesthood session with them and they said yes...(Ethan said yes!) Mark is going to out of town all week and through General Conference weekend. Dylan asked what time he could come pick up Ethan every morning to do a workout. And I just wanted to cry. Because what do you say to that? How do you not just want to hug those two sweet men right there in the hallway during church?

Life can be hard.

But maybe it's mostly beautiful and fun and surprising.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

4 things

1. The girls are writing.

They are writing furiously....every chance they get.

Megan is working on a book about a squirrel (Tuft) whose best friend is his own tail. The tail's name is Tucker.

Laney is writing about two blue jays name Lily and Mallyson. They have a run in with a falcon and a flock of cardinals.

They are so excited about their developing stories. They come home from school and grab their notebooks. They write and laugh and squeal to themselves when they have a fun plot idea. They read us their latest chapters at dinner.

I love it so much.

2. Mathew's hair is getting curly! I tell him that he gets it from me. And I got it from my dad. And that makes him smile.

3. I found one of Everly's love notes nearby.  Rolled up all "love note" style.

Inside was a picture of me and Everly. I looks like a cloudy day....

It also would appear that I have 4 arms. Which means she thinks I need 4 arms, or she thinks I have 4 arms. 

Maybe I should ask for an extra set for Christmas.

4. I have reached the point in life where I find it almost impossible to sit still and not fall asleep. 

I've fallen asleep twice since I started writing this. 

I'm supposed to go pick up kids from school in 20 minutes and I'm thinking I better set an alarm on my phone, just in case I nod off again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We're barely makin it

This week has been full of those moments that make me shake my head and say, "I guess this is happening."

**We noticed on our way to school Monday morning that all the kids had mustaches drawn on their faces. This sparked the realization that we are just in the beginning of "Spirit Week". That means I get to send them to school every day with something above and beyond their homework and a packed lunch. Why!!!???

Because they can. 

So we flipped a u-turn and I grabbed the fuzzy green mustaches I bought at the dollar store 3 years ago and forgot to use. Perfect. 

Anna decided to put hers in her pocket and make sure that she wasn't the only one in her class wearing one before she really committed to it. She learned during Crazy Hair Day that the kindergartners are a little slow on the uptake.  It takes a while for all these special days to sink in with a new Kindergarten mom.  Don't worry, sweetie. It will all become too clear when you realize that Mustache Monday is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Tuesday was "Travel Tuesday". What is that supposed to mean? Do I send my children to school with suitcases? A magazine to read? A neck pillow?

Then came Colorful Wednesday, Mismatch Thursday and Walkin on Sunshine Friday. We made a half hearted effort on maybe half of those. And Friday's Walk-a-thon got rained out.

Which is just fine with me. Please, please do not feel you need to reschedule that. Let's let it slip into the past and just focus on learning our spelling words and brushing our teeth more consistently.

**It was my second week to teach Everly and her preschool buddies and things are going pretty well. They love story time.

**Ethan went in for his new job doing childcare at On Track. This little guy was pretty sad to see his mom go and cried for a solid 30 minutes...but came around when Ethan started doing silly tricks with the yellow ball. It was fun to watch him taking care of the little guy and acting goofy.  He's a great kid.

**The girls raided the Halloween bins for a dance party.

They promised they'd put everything back "just the way they found it".

They didn't. Again.

I'm such a pushover.

**Megan had her first cross country meet. She told me that she is one of the slowest ones, but she came in about 10th out of a whole slew of girls. So I beg to differ.

Look at that great running pain face!

So proud of my speedy girl!

**Everly is convinced she has blue eyes. She doesn't. So I took a picture of her beautiful eyes while we waited for Laney and Anna at Sunrunners. I zoomed in and showed her how she has a dark blue ring on the outside and a golden sunburst on the inside.

She now officially has "blue and gold" eyes.

** Mark's mom and dad sent him a Cat in the Hat doll in the mail this year. This was to make up for the time Mark asked for a Cat in the Hat doll for Christmas and they accidentally gave it to his brother, John (whoopsie!).  And then John (who did not want or like the doll) refused to let Mark look at, touch or play with it. Because brothers are awesome.

And all is well in the world.

**The missionaries came over for dinner on Monday night and then dropped in again on Wednesday to get a quick update on our service efforts. So naturally they ended up getting push up lessons at 9 pm.

That's just the kind of week we were having.