Category Archives: Growing Up

This is How We Say Good-Bye

So, it’s all very, very good. We’ve had college in mind for 18 years. We’ve saved for it for 18 years. We didn’t really hope she’d live in the basement.

We paid for books, drove her to games and rehearsals, pushed her to work hard. We filled out the applications, did more than stress our minds out, cross our fingers and say our prayers. But geez, this is the deal? She actually LEAVES?

I’m¬†paying for this pit in my stomach?


This picture sits on my desk. This was my baby Cope starting kindergarten, just a little while ago.

I remember her so well at this age. She had a little brother and a baby sister who accompanied her to school. She wore a yellow rain jacket and Elmo backpack. On the first day of kindergarten she came home and threw a ginormous tantrum, collapsing on the couch in a deep sleep from sheer exhaustion. This would continue to happen throughout her childhood ūüôā

She lives with passion, this girl.

What a privilege it has been to be her mother. There are no perfect mothers, but I have tried to be a good one. I’ve pondered: Do I regret other “opportunities” I didn’t take so I could be home more and raise children? Do I regret any of the stories read, the bedtime routines, the wake up and go to sleep times? I regret none of it. I have no greater accomplishment.

Suddenly she’s this girl: so confident and smart and compassionate and beautiful.

We had a great August. Slow days of packing and purging and sorting. What to bring to college when you have to put it on an airplane (2 carry-ons per passenger, nothing over 50lbs.)

We also had hostage-like negotiation sessions over clothes – she is always raiding my closet!A certain sister already had her room packed up before Cope left, chomping at the bit to move downstairs instead of across the hall from mom and dad.

Cope and I and flew across the country, hovering above the great Salt Lake. It was getting real.

I was that really strange mom taking photos of my grown daughter while she slept beside me.¬†I found myself gazing at her skin and eyelashes, wondering how this thing called “TIME” works. I thought of Erma Bombeck’s poem, WHY DON’T YOU GROW UP?

Guess what? They do.

Although Utah is a desert, we went hiking and found TREES!

We stayed with my sister and family where Cope walked little Autumn to first grade. On the first day, Autumn cried and clung to Cope. Cope looked at me with big eyes and panic, mouthing, “WHAT DO I DO?”

I said: Give her a hug and kiss, I’ll see you later, and walk away.

Oh dear, I feared I would be Autumn in a few days.

We made it! She has a room key. I don’t. What the heck?

We love her dorm and roommate!

After buying out the entire local Target (when people tell you that bringing your child to college is the most expensive trip you will make – THEY ARE RIGHT. I, the tight-fisted budget mom was suddenly spending her feelings on lamps and hangers and “Honey, look at this llama lamp, do you want it for your room???! No? How about mug with your initial or how about M for Mom? Make-up? Do you want make-up? What can I buy you???”) Who was this woman???

We spent HOURS debating about room decor (Believe me, Pinterest IS NOT YOUR FRIEND). However, after agonizing over the tapestry and bedding for literally DAYS, we had just what she wanted. Bless you, Amazon, and your free Prime 2-Day shipping.


“Dad, mom knows she’s not staying, right?”

We walked around campus, reliving the college years (Gregor and I met at BYU!) Cope patiently endured us.

¬†This is a much bigger pond than our little town…

Of course we had to get pictures with the BYU cougar. “Moooooom!” And yes, we are now completely dressed from head to toe in True Blue BYU fan gear. I’m sorry if you find me annoying for the next four years ūüôā

On the bright side. The BYU bookstore has the best cinnamon gummy bears IN THE WORLD. This is not a joke. For $2.50 a bag, I’ll just eat her way through college.

On the wall in the bookstore: We went to spy on her the next day at freshman orientation (we didn’t see her). Um, is this what they mean by “helicopter parents”? Clearly, we are part of the problem.

We made up an excuse to meet up for a few minutes before our flight took off. When she came walking across campus she looked like she could be in college. Oh wait…she is?

Final hugs good-bye, in the Joseph Smith building, where Gregor really fell in love with me ūüôā

And so it begins.

We left her in the capable hands of mighty Mount Timpanogus, my most favorite mountain. Can you see her lying across the top, left to right? Keep an eye on my girl, Timp.

She will, as this girl does, read. And study. And learn. She will, as BYU’s motto states: “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”

The Class of 2017. “You Are the Y.”

Excuse me while I go get a tissue. As Gregor says, “this is the happiest sad I think I’ve ever felt.”


The Last Day

I knew this fall, that this was the last year…
that all the sweet cherubs would ride home on a school bus together.  I feel lucky they had each other this long, at our little k-8 school.  
It was a great school year, that went by at just the right speed, and was filled with opportunities and experiences.

Baby girl graduated.  She gained so much confidence this year, learned to read, and be brave without her Mama by her side all day.

Little buddies

She had GOOD teachers. ¬†Now that I have kids in school, I appreciate teachers so much more. Just this week I saw them buy drinks for kids who don’t have anything to drink. ¬†I saw them share their own snacks when a child forgot, and was embarrassed to think of the days my kids hadn’t packed enough and told their teacher they were ¬†hungry. ¬†Teachers don’t get paid enough anyway, but on field trips I saw them pay for kids who didn’t have money – out of their own pocket.¬†
This last week I spent a couple days at the school, helping out, and accompanying children on field trips.  I tell you what, I was exhausted.   
I often have to get out of the house early, but this time I had to do my hair.¬† I had to look nice. ¬†This was on top of making breakfast, helping pack snacks and lunches, wanting the kitchen to be half-way clean for when I got home, running down to feed chickens – and did I mention my hair having to look nice? ¬† It’s hard getting kids out of the house and being gone all day! ¬†And then, you have to come home and think about dinner. ¬†Then there’s¬†house, homework, piano, bedtime, etc. etc.
Our kindergarten teacher has twin kindergarteners at another school.  She rises at 5:20 everyday to get ready, drop her children off, and then comes to teach my little girl all day long.  Always with a smile on her face and a soft, patient voice.
I know men and women do this day in and day out; bless you. ¬†I’m in awe, and know you carry heavy loads.

I hope she always remembers to stop and smell the flowers

I held it together quite well during the graduation ceremony until they began playing, “What a Wonderful World.” ¬†Oh my goodness – stop it! ¬†I considered curling up in a ball and sobbing…

Sprinkled with fairy dust…and magically…she became a first-grader!

And then the very next day, when my heart was not at all fully back together, Cope graduated from 8th grade, the little school she’s gone to since kindergarten. ¬†Nine years of her life, in some of the MOST formative years of her life, when often, she was gone more than she was home. ¬†That school has done wonders.
This. ¬†I remember this day so clearly. ¬†Yesterday, this little girl was just a little girl. ¬†I’m trying to wrap my head around the time warp. She used to hold my hand and walk to school, which was just across the street from our faculty house on campus where we worked. ¬†Sometimes she would cling to me and not want to go in and I would be annoyed she was making a scene and try to peel her off and say, “be a good girl.” ¬†I wish I hadn’t been annoyed.

And now this girl is borrowing my clothes, rolling her eyes, and debating me like a state champ. ¬†I’m still trying not to be annoyed. ¬†She still likes me to snuggle with her though.¬†

When she sang “For Good” from Wicked, I had to intensely study my new cloud-blue fingernail polish and blink, blink, blink…it didn’t quite work. ¬†I would load the video here, except Blogger is refusing to cooperate. ¬†But then I would sob again. ¬†So perhaps it’s best. ¬†

She was given a diploma and skipped down the aisle

The three musketeers
Who went to preschool and started kindergarten together. ¬†You see the problem with my heart, don’t you? ¬†You understand.

Every time this boy sees me he pumps his fist in the air and yells, COACH!  Honestly, it can make my entire day.

My darling was even given an english and social studies award.  Mr. Tucker mentioned her great debating skills.  Could this be translated to:  You daughter loves to argue?    

Not to leave the boy out…he went to his last dance of the year the next night. ¬†And made sure his pants were pulled up. ¬†He said he chugged two sprites and ate ten airheads – YES! ¬†I love those school dances. ¬†So does the dentist.

Then it was the last day, of Paige getting on the kindergarten bus at 11:20. ¬†Yep, that may have been me you saw again…on the side of the road…weeping. ¬†What is wrong with that woman, you ask?
One of my friends said how HAPPY she was that FINALLY her child was going to be in school all day next year. ¬†I look at her like she’s nuts. ¬†She looks at me like I’m nuts. ¬†It could be true, in both cases.
I loved having my little buddy home in the morning. ¬†Next year there is all-day school for kindergarteners. ¬†I thank my lucky stars it didn’t pass until this year!
What I love about little children is that they aren’t embarrassed to show affection; they RUN to you.

And hug you tight without worrying that everyone is watching

The last day of school was yesterday. 

Even though I was at the school most of the day I had them take the bus so I could get a picture of them getting off together.
One last time. 
Today is the first day of summer break!  Soon, I may be crying for different reasons.
Happy summer…!


The (s)mothering of the rat

Times are changing for me and my 13-year-old.

Yep, I’ve officially turned into the Don’t Carpe Diem, mom. ¬†I’m sorry, it just can’t be helped. ¬†My first-born is almost as tall as I am. ¬†She’s definitely smarter. ¬†Discussions somehow always turn into the state debate. ¬†I especially like when she corrects my grammar.

She’s on facebook.
Her homework in on the internet.
She wants a smart phone.
Her new room in the basement is her hang-out of choice.

My little girl is growing up and like she likes to blissfully tell me, “I’ll be gone in five years!” ¬†Off to college, off to freedom and a dorm room and no one to tell her to wash her hair.
This is her last year at her little K-8 school where she still plays 4-square at recess.  I love that she still has recess.  We should all have recess.  

But change is a’coming. ¬†Because my husband works at a private boarding school, and she is a “faculty brat,” she has the opportunity to apply for high school. ¬†She took the SSAT in November, had to submit a lengthy application, have an interview, and turn in four recommendations. ¬†

For the past three years she’s heard us say, “Better get good grades if you want to get in…better have some extracurricular activities…show good character – your teachers need to have something nice to say!”

The picture above is of the day she had her formal, sit-down interview with an admissions officer.  She was so nervous, so excited.
She and Gregor foraged my closet for a suitable and demure outfit.  

“It looks like I’m dressed up in my mom’s clothes,” she complained. ¬†

“That’s because you are,” I replied. ¬†Her book? ¬†Les Miserables, which she apparently discussed at great length during the interview. Which makes me laugh.

One more picture, Copey! ¬†“Mom, no, stop it…”

“Bye mom!” ¬†Bye honey…you might get in someday, too if you can remember to bring your homework home and stop forgetting it at school. ¬†Maybe clean out your locker once in awhile…

The other day Cope told me she heard a story on NPR about rats.  She loves NPR.  

“They said that mother rats licked their babies‚Ķ”

“So I’m supposed to lick you?” I interrupted.


“Sorry.” ¬†Bad Listener.

“They lick their babies and snuggle them and dote on them and up to first year they absolutely can’t give enough love and affection.”¬†¬†

I nod, approvingly, remember all the rocking, holding, rocking, napping, nursing…

“But…” she raises her eyebrows and uses her finger while she talks, “Once they get to be a certain age the mother rats have to let go and the babies have to go off on their own and if you don’t let them they actually regress in progress.¬† They start to go backwards ‚Äď they actually¬†die.”

“I bet you made that up,” I say, knowing she’ll freak out.

“I did not!” she says, stamping her foot.¬†

“What are you trying to tell me?”

She giggles. 

I swear it wasn’t 5 seconds later when I heard her say in a little voice‚Ķ”Will you come snuggle with me after you tuck Brynne and Paige in?”

I smile.¬† And I don’t ask her if she’s going to¬†die¬†from my smothering. ¬†Mothering smothering. ¬†It’s all good.

This is what Cope is still supposed to look like:

Everyday she tells me how many more days she has to wait until she gets the golden letter, which is something like getting the owl from Hogwarts.  Will she get in? 

Today there are 31 more days to wait!

This is a picture is of her dancing on the table on campus, something she did quite a lot of, when we were dorm parents to twelve teenage boys. ¬†Ah, those were the days…room inspections, boy odor sniffing, and ramen noodles. ¬†Sometimes I actually miss it.

If this girl gets in, and you see her dancing on the table next year, they’ll be a lot more (s)mothering discussions.

Love, the mother rat.


The 5-year Plan: Where Do You Want to Be?

Paige peers through the trees, where, in 14 days she will be playing. ¬†She wonders out loud, Will they like me?¬† Of course, I say. ¬†But not as much as I like you…

Miles run this morning:  6.1 (no foot pain!)
Minutes I had to go back to bed this morning:  24
I’ve been messing with my blog as you can see from those page labels above. ¬†They are going to help me focus instead of writing about hamsters. ¬†Except maybe killing hamsters could go in the “motherhood” category.
Though I stayed up way too late watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics (rather bizarre in my opionion?), I set my alarm for an unthinkable hour. ¬†Instead of the whining in my head, I kept Mo Farrah in my mind, crossing the line of the 10,000 meter race and all the hours of training it took for him to get to that moment. ¬†Did you see that look on his face? ¬†If all those amazing athletes can get up and train, then gosh darn it, I can drag my booty out of bed too. ¬†I tossed and turned all night next to a tossing and turning 5-year-old in my bed who has swimmer’s ear (my diagnosis). ¬†I still got up and was sad to see, the sun is not rising as early as it was last week.
In 7 weeks I want to run the New Hampshire half-marathon. ¬†If I put myself into overdrive, can I be ready to run like Mo? ¬†I have this constant desire to push, push, push myself forward, then being unsatisfied when I don’t have everything I want right now!¬† I want to feed the orphans around the world, write for Time, publish my book, qualify for Boston, have those twins. ¬†Then the potty chair comes into focus, the dog runs away, and someone need to go to the doctor for swimmer’s ear. ¬†No one can have everything right now! ¬†And right now I like what I have. ¬†I don’t dare wish this time away¬†even as I vacillate between the future and the present.
Gregor and I are reading the book, What Color is Your Parachute?¬† It’s a fantastic book involving a worksheet in the shape of a flower with all its supporting petals. ¬†The flower helps you focus on your end goal, identifying your strengths, and being able to articulate and write out the steps to reach your goal. ¬†Who will be your mentor? ¬†Who will be your network of support? ¬†What exactly do you need to do to get to where you want to be? What are the specific steps you are going to take?
Have you worked on your flower? Gregor asks me every night.
I have been resistant.
I don’t have time. ¬†I’m too busy to think about it. ¬†I’m a mom right now and that’s all I want to think about. ¬†Don’t bother me!¬†¬†
In my mind I have this fuzzy idea of exactly what is going to happen in the next 5 years. ¬†Everything will work out the way I see it. ¬†Back up plan? ¬†My mother always said I would be a fantastic gym teacher. ¬†To which I scowl and say, It’s physical education instructor. ¬†It was sad day when she was actually right, and that’s what I studied in college. ¬†It does bring me back to my point of the page labels where I have added “running” and “healthy yum-yum.” ¬†Focus on my strengths right? ¬†I could have said “nutrition” or “recipes” but healthy yum-yum is focusing on my inner cheerleader, (something wanted but never attained – come on, those cute skirts??)
We are planning in other ways.  We have retirement funds, college funds, ten years of wheat in our basement.  We finally got life insurance last week from a former student of ours.  He asked me questions like What kind of birth control are you using?  Do you have any breast abnormalities?  Have you ever ridden in the rodeo?  Bungee jumping?  

Seriously.  If one of us keels over I hope it was worth the urine sample. 
Which brings me back to my 5 year plan. ¬†It is exciting. ¬†It is terrifying. ¬†The roller coaster isn’t stopping so I may as well get on. ¬†I reluctantly ordered the 2013 edition of Writer’s Market, which is a teensy weensy baby step in the right direction. ¬†Even if I did it with my eyes closed and someone else pushed my finger down on the “order” button. ¬†If that doesn’t work out, I could always teach your child how to throw the javelin. ¬†Which is a class I actually had to take in college. ¬†And was by far the worse and most comical thrower.

Here we go!


Cope Can See!

After Cope miserably failed her eye appointment last month we made an appointment at Dr. Barban’s. ¬†She was jumping up and down she was so excited. ¬†Glasses! ¬†Who knew?

Reading to Paige in the waiting area – a GREAT help to mama.
It’s just fun to observe this transformation
I had Cope go in by herself but the nurse came out and said she wanted me. ¬†This made me happy. ¬†I didn’t even have to be pushy about it!
Cope was sad we didn’t immediately leave with the glasses, but with an Rx in hand, she was sufficiently assuaged.
“Mom, stop it,”¬†she says. ¬†After the dilation, and squinting at sunlight, she wore my sunglasses into the grocery store. ¬†I had insisted she was going back to school but after begging and pleading, I let her come home for the rest of the day.
Thanks to Deb for the great web find: ¬†! ¬†Cope’s glasses were just that: ¬†$39! ¬†They came quickly and the Rx was perfect. ¬†The family gathered around for the unveiling. ¬†She chose the design and color herself: ¬†burgundy starfish. ¬†Lovely.
Brynne and Paige keep yelling, “I want glasses too!”
A studious Brynne
Glasses changed the way Cope looks. ¬†Cope kept telling her sisters, “I’m still me!” As we drove she kept saying, ¬†“Mom, I can see all the individual leafs!” ¬†
With her beret, glasses, and long sweater, that girl is finding a style all her own.  I love it.  Off she goes to school, nervous about what her peers will have to say.  They were all nice.
Speaking of peers and style.
Cope has her first “Homecoming” dance tonight. ¬†6:30-9:20.
Sixth-Eighth graders.  Boys and Girls.
In the dark. ¬†All that “jungle” music. ¬†(ha ha, I’m kidding kindof)
No parents allowed.
Isn’t that strange?
I need an explanation!
All the sixth grade girls are super duper excited.  The outfits have been planned, (jeans, t-shirts, messy buns or loose.  No dresses or fancy hair), the boys have been asked for one slow dance each and boy oh boy am I milking it.  Cope has never cleaned her room so fast or practiced the piano so well!
This is a very exciting night. I’m still trying to figure out how to sneak in without getting caught. ¬†If I’m arrested for espionage, you’ll bail me out, right?
On another fun note, check out my article HERE for an edited version of a blog post I wrote about Cope!
(Post-edit comment…Cope declared the dance “the best night of my life.”¬† She was asked to “go out” with three boys, which she declined ūüôā That’s my girl!¬† As my dad used to always tell me…”boys are bad.”)