Monday, August 31, 2015



I will have no problem filling the seven hours I have away from the kids each day. I will be able to take long runs, take classes, get the grocery shopping done in peace, clean the house and have it remain clean for more than 5 minutes, plan dinners, run errands any time I want without having to drag 4 unwilling captives with me, take a shower without 10 interruptions, actually fix my hair after said shower, weed the garden, clean out overstuffed closets, organize hundreds of photos in waiting, turn my blog into books, volunteer at school to my heart's content, and make appointments at ANY time during the day. Really, the possibilities are endless.


I really don't care about any of those things.


I'm heartbroken.
This is the first time in almost thirteen years that I will not have a little buddy by my side throughout the day. Part of me can't help but feel that I am having to say goodbye to the sweetest part of my life. A part I will never be able to get back again. I will never have little kids at home with me again. Part of me feels as though something has died.

Yes, I know there are more wonderful, fantastic adventures ahead. I know life will still be golden and lovely. I love my kids today more than I ever have and not as much as I will tomorrow.
I just can't believe we have gotten here so quickly. I'm not ready. Truly, I'm not. I want more time.

There is an ache in my chest. A hollowness. I can't catch my breath.
It is the end of an era. There they go. And go, and go, and go.

Dear God in heaven,
please be with my children as they start a new year.
Help them to work hard and do their best.
Keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Give them a love for learning.
Help them to grow in confidence and independence. 
Show them how to be compassionate.
Let them be a friend to all, kind, and loving.
Let their failures motivate them to try harder.
Let their successes humble them.
Help me, Lord, to be patient, understanding, loving, and wise
in guiding them through this school year.
Be with my children, Lord.
Let your light shine in them and through them
and keep them close to You.


Friday, August 28, 2015

'Twas The Weekend Before School

It is the last weekend before the start of school. Luckily, it is a very busy weekend so I am able to keep my mind off the impending event. However, I know come Sunday night my preoccupied brain will keep me awake until the wee hours of the morning, just like in years past. But, this year seems especially rough. After 13 years of little ones by my side this is the first year all of my kids will be gone all day long. I am not a fan. Dislike. No me gusta.

All of the school supplies have been dropped off at school. Lockers were organized. Paperwork has been completed. We met new teachers. We explored new classrooms. All that's left now is the crying. Me. Not them.

Yes, I know all of the benefits of having the kids in school. I myself have gritted my teeth through a good portion of the summer as the kids drove me crazy. Sure, I will have time to pursue interests and get things done I have been meaning to do for years. Heck, I finally have time to focus on me. I can finally get into some hardcore training. I've always wanted to be the next American Ninja Warrior. Or maybe I'll try out to be on an Olympics team. Or not. Whatever.

Anyway, I know the benefits. I just don't care.

This is an end of an era. A closing of a door. The next chapter. The ending of all the little kid stuff and the beginning of all the big kid stuff.  Not that I won't love the big kid stuff. I know I will. I just will always miss having little kids. *sigh*

I'm sad about it.


As I said, it is a good thing I don't have much time to think about it this weekend.  (eyeroll)

It is NOT a good thing that I am currently reading a book called The Goodbye Quilt. It is a story of a mother who is preparing to send her daughter off to college. She is desperately trying to finish a quilt she is making for her daughter as they set out on a road trip cross country to drop the daughter off at school for the first time. I repeat, it is NOT a good book for me to be reading right now.
However, Susan Wiggs has quickly become a favorite author of mine and I can't seem to put the dang book down! Ever since Bijoux recommended The Apple Orchard and The Beekeeper's Ball to me (which I then read and now also recommend- thank you for the awesome recommendation, Bijoux!) I have really become a fan of Wiggs.

I also just finished Carry Me Home by Sandra Kring. The author is a wonderful WI writer I just discovered when a friend of mine was talking about her mother's book on Facebook. And I had no idea her mother was even a writer! I'm so glad I read it. It was Kring's first novel and it was beautiful. It is one of those books that you finish in a day or two because you can't put it down. It will stay with me for a while.

Perhaps I should put aside these touching family stories for now and read a comedy or something. These fantastic books are definitely not helping my heartsickness.

Cripes! I wasn't even going to write about school starting again.

I need to think about something else.

Quick! Tell me a funny story! Recommend a funny book!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Success

All four kids are off together on an adventure. Biking through the neighborhood, stomping through the woods, and stopping at a nearby park. All endeavors are nearby so that Grace doesn't have to bike too far. Every few minutes I hear the door slam signaling their return home for another bathroom break, glass of water, or just a few minutes out of the heat.

I take my book and my music out on the back patio to try and soak up a little sun and solace. I am having a hard time concentrating on my book with the constant activity flitting around me. Birds zip in and out at the feeders and bird bath. Airplanes fly overhead taking in the lake's coastline on their way to the major golf event in our area. A plethora of dragonflies and butterflies dip and zip and flutter over the flowers next to me.

Soaking in all this beauty a feeling of melancholy splashed over me in a big wave. I'm not sure where this sadness comes from but it leaves me soaked. I find myself missing the present that isn't even the past yet.

I look back on the past few months of summer and wonder where the time went. How is it possible that this golden summer has passed us by so quickly? How many more summers will we have like this one? My kids are not exactly "little" kids anymore. Thinking of how quickly they are growing leaves me aching inside. I want more summers like this one. Many, many more.
There is not much of summer left. The days get cooler and the nights are downright cold. We stock up on wood for the coming fall and winter and even consider a fire at night after a chilly couple of hours at football practice. Soon summer and it's warmth will just be a memory. Soon all of my children will be in school, all day, and our time together will be short and hurried and just not enough.
Not that summer was filled with nonstop laughter and fun and smiles. There were definitely times this summer when I would angrily think to myself, "I can't wait for school to start!" Though most times, even though I was thinking it, I wasn't feeling it. Even though I was at my wit's end, and I had had enough of the fighting and whining, I still wanted our summer to last forever. Deep down I don't ever want school to start.
As quickly as it went I can't be disappointed by this summer. The weather was hot, we had time to relax and unwind, we took a few trips, and we went to all of our favorite places. It was a near perfect summer.

Still, we spent these last weeks trying to eke out as much of what's left of summer as we could.
We do things we've never done before. We go to a balloon festival, the kids and I. We watch as the balloons fill up with warm air, getting big and puffy and straining at the seams. They pull at their ropes that tie them down, aching to make their escape to the sky. Huge blasts of fire light up the balloons and we ooh and ahh. We are disappointed to learn that the balloons will not be taking off into the air. It is more like a lantern show. The balloons lighting up with each countdown. 

We walk right next to the balloons on the way to our car, the massive, colorful creatures looming over the top of us as we leave. More fire is shot into the balloons lighting them up and casting a warm glow. I can't help but think that this send off is far better than watching them take to the air until they shrink out of site. It's best to have big, bright, vivid, warm memories to recall. 
I comfort myself that even though our summer is ending we will have plenty of big, bright, vivid, warm memories to recall.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Very Happy Birthday

Grace turned six years old today. And boy, was it a fun birthday!
The festivities started yesterday with cake and presents with grandma. We all sang "happy birthday" a day early because we knew the next day would be busy. Besides, who doesn't like to stretch their birthday fun out as long as possible?
After the cake we all went to a friend's house for a fun little get together. Knowing all we had planned for the next day it probably wasn't the smartest decision to keep everyone up so late, but we were having too much fun to leave the party early.  We got the kids home way past their bedtimes and everyone slept in for a long time the next morning.

Grace woke up around 10:00 on her birthday. That sounds like a GREAT way to start out a birthday to me! Immediately she opened a few presents from us. She was very excited about her presents.
As quickly as we could we got everyone ready and hustled out the door and into the car. We drove an hour away to Green Bay to visit the Bay Beach and the Wildlife Sanctuary. It was the same thing we did last year for Grace's birthday and she had so much fun last time that she wanted to do it again.
It was hot, hot, HOT outside but that didn't stop us. The kids were so excited to get their bags of corn to feed the ducks and geese. Ah, good times.
After our corn was all gone (save for a few pieces we saved for the chipmunks) we walked on over to get a look at the wolves, cougars, otters, cranes, porcupine, bobcats, foxes, and owls. We really lucked out and all the animals were active and we got to see them up close.
Our leftover corn came in handy too. Tommy found a friendly little chipmunk and feed him out of his hand. Of course, once we saw that the rest of us had to try it out too.
By the time the birthday girl climbed down from the jungle gym the little chippie had his cheeks so full that he ran off into the woods to hide his loot. The birthday girl was the only one who didn't get to feed the chipmunk. Luckily, she was a really good sport about it. 

We were all over heating and in need of some lunch and lots of water. We decided to finish up at the nature center and grab something to eat. When we were done eating we went to Bay Beach to hit up some rides. Probably not the best idea after we had just gotten done eating but we took it slow and went on the Ferris Wheel first.
It wasn't long before we moved on the roller coaster and spinning rides. Luckily, our stomachs handled it all just fine.
Last year we tried to get Gracie on the swings but she refused. In her defense these swings do go pretty high and they kind of rock you forward and back a little bit too. It is a little more daring than most swings. I thought maybe now that Grace is SIX she would want to go on. She waffled back and forth and couldn't make up her mind. I reminded her that she went on Space Mountain and Disney and loved it. Still, these swings just looked so scary and out in the open to her. I told her that she could change her mind at the last minute if she wanted to (and she almost did a couple of times) but finally decided to give the swings a try.
The poor little lady was so nervous. I sat right behind her to try and sooth her nerves. Wouldn't ya know it, she loved it! She was laughing and throwing her hands in the air the whole time. "I wanna do that again, and again, and again!" she said as we got off the swings. I was so proud of her for fighting through her fear and having such a great time.

We finished up the evening with dinner at a restaurant of her choice. Grace chose a Chinese buffet restaurant. That girl certainly is good at trying new things.
Happy birthday, my dear sweet Grace. I am so lucky to have you as my daughter. You are sweet and strong. Independent and cuddly. Shy and bubbly. Silly and smart. You are such and amazing little lady and I am so excited for you and all the adventures that are coming your way this year. I know 6 will be a wonderful year for you. I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for being my little girl. No matter how big you get you will always be my baby girl. I am so proud of you. I love you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


In Target, walking past the baby aisles, I can't help but look longingly at the teeny tiny clothes. It has been so long since I've been down those aisles, so long since I've planned for and prepared for a new little bundle. The tiny socks, the little onesies, the fuzzy pajamas, the softest, sweetest baby blankets, they all conjure up such tender memories for me.

I am wistful.

I remember all the sleepless nights, and carrying the ridiculously heavy and awkward baby car seat around everywhere, and cleaning up the explosive poohs that couldn't be contained by a mere diaper. I remember the exhaustion. The worry. I remember that it is not all fun and games. But I'd do it all again to feel that sweet baby breath on my neck as my little one sleeps on my chest. To feel that tiny little body in my arms. Oh heaven. Oh bliss.

And now my youngest is beginning first grade in a couple of weeks. My oldest is going into 7th grade. SEVENTH GRADE. His next birthday will bring about his teenage years. My family is growing up far too quickly.  I don't know how to slow it down.

Yes, I miss my babies. But I know this is a sweet time too. I am enjoying this time with my kids as much as I enjoyed the time I had with them as babies. And I don't want to look lovingly and wistfully back on this time too quickly either. I want to savor it. I want to bask in it. I want to soak it up as much as I can.

One day soon, I will remember how it was not all fun and games. I'll remember having to nag them to do their homework, clean up their clothes/toys/messes. I'll recall how they would fight and whine and drive me crazy. I'll think of all the times I was at my wits end. And yet I know, for certain, that as I look back I'd give anything to do it all again to have them back in this very moment in time, fighting over who gets to snuggle with me as we watch a movie together. Seeing them come down the stairs in the morning, one by one, sleep still in their eyes as they wrap their arms around me for my morning hug. Sitting around the dinner table together talking about the mundane details of our day. Family trips, and family talks, and family walks, and family fun.

The evenings bring a tinge of fall. There is a distinct smell in the air that signals summer is coming to an end. After rushing through another early dinner and hustling everyone out the door I settle into my folding chair on the sidelines and watch my boys' football practices as the golden sunlight lays itself out across the field in warm sheets. Sounds of helmets and pads jostling, coaches yelling, teammates counting out drills, and kids playing at the nearby park fill my head. Grace and Ben come running over from the park, complaining of boredom. "Not a moment's peace!" I think to myself and sigh. I glance over at my two bored babies into Ben's blueberry blue eyes and Grace's toothless grin and I remind myself, for maybe the millionth time, that someday I am going to miss this crazy, hectic, golden life.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Team

All summer long I've been working my butt off to try and get back into shape. I have been running 3-5 miles three or four times a week and working out with a boot camp group twice a week. Despite all of my efforts the past two plus months I still was at my highest weight in long time. It was very frustrating. I think a hormonal imbalance (once again) is to blame since I have been having other problems associated with that as well. Still, I kept at it. 

I could feel myself getting much stronger and tried to be satisfied with that while ignoring how tight my clothes felt. I decided to focus on being healthy and strong, and tried to ignore the number on the scale. And I decided to take my kids along with me on my healthy journey. 

On my running days I would come back, drink a bit more water, leash up Molly, and then the kids would join me for a run around our neighborhood. 
We started off slowly. The first week or so the runs were just a half a mile.
Then we worked up to a three-quarter mile and then a mile.
It is a good way to add on a little distance to the end of my runs and get in a bit more exercise.
It was also great to see my boys getting faster and stronger.
Joey always hated running and thought he wasn't good at it. He is now running at just under a 7 minute mile pace. He is so proud of himself.
All three of the boys now run a much faster pace than I can keep up with and I have taken to riding my bike behind them. Amazing young runners I have on my hands.
To prepare the boys for football season I also did push-ups, sit-ups, and planks with them. It gave them so much more confidence going into their hardcore football practices already feeling like they are in good shape. And Joey is marveling at having some muscle definition in his arms. I am so proud of their hard work and their positive attitudes.

Thanks to my workout crew I pushed myself harder and further as well. And wouldn't you know it, as summer winds down (and the swimsuits are soon to be put away) the numbers on my scale are finally (and slowly) coming down. Ah well. Better late than never.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Marches On

This summer is just flying by. I can't believe that school is starting at the end of the month. It is the earliest we have ever started school giving us even less time to fit in summer fun than we normally have. And we have so much to do yet. But, as they say, time waits for no man. And time keeps winding down around here.

Last week Ben wrapped up his baseball season. It was a great season for Ben. He had his whole family following him to his games and supporting him. His siblings were happy to help him with his gear and cheer him on. It was special for Ben and we all had a great time watching him.
(all siblings gathered around to help Ben get his gear on)

The last game of the season was Ben's favorite. The kid was a solid hitter this year and often knocked the ball far into the outfield but on the last game he hit a grand slam. It happened so quickly that I didn't even get a picture.
Ben right after his grand slam.Way to go, Ben!Congrats on a great season!

Now we are on to football. Joey and Tommy have begun intense practice schedules for their tackle football season. I always dread this time when practices are every night for at least two hours, but I must admit I am having so much fun watching them. It is hard work but the boys really love it. This being their second year of tackle football they are both much more comfortable and enjoying it even more.

In the meantime we are trying to get to all of our favorite spots before the start of school. We've already been swimming a number of times, took a road trip to Oklahoma, and went up north and enjoyed fishing and boating and swimming there as well but there is much more to do. We are actively working on checking a few more fun things off of our list before our summer winds to an end. 

Yesterday, we made it to the free zoo in a neighboring town. It has been a long time since we've visited and the kids were excited to finally take a trip back. 

It was a gorgeous, warm day, perfect for roaming around looking at animals.
And maybe acting like animals too.
There was a new viewing area that the kids got a kick out of. The cougars came right up and looked at the kids. Talk about up close and personal!
Being there again I couldn't help but think of all of our past visits. It was odd not to have a stroller to push around or a diaper bag (or child) to carry.
My kiddos have grown so much. Time is really flying.

More proof of time passing? Tommy lost his very last baby tooth. The dentist informed us that he only had one baby tooth left and two night ago that baby tooth came out. Wow.
Our kids aren't the only ones getting older. We are getting older right along with them. Last weekend we celebrated Todd's birthday up north.
Good thing getting older doesn't mean you always have to act grown up.
Soon Gracie will celebrate her birthday as well. Yikes. How do we slow this down?

Only a few weeks of summer left. Knowing how quickly it is going we are trying to take advantage of every moment. I think today we will head over to Bookworm Gardens. And maybe we'll make it to Bay Beach for Gracie's birthday. Even if we don't get to do everything on our summer must-do list it has been a great summer. Let's just hope that the remaining weeks slow down just enough to make us a little more willing to start school again.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson