Friday, August 26, 2016


We made it through the first week of school!  Well, it was only three days - but we still made it.  I played Dominion with Preston when he got home from his 'short day'.  I won!  Hopefully he'll play with me every Friday and hopefully I will win every time!  Jorja walked home with her friend Hailey and was there until just after 5.  Then she wanted to go back at 6:45.  She went to Kate's house.  Mike ended up picking her up just after 10.  We would have picked her up earlier, but I fell asleep while we were watching a movie with the boys.  Well, it was a stand up comedian, so not really a movie.  Before the show we played Apples to Apples.  Stockton won the first game.  Then we played where we put our worse card in, but the judge still picked the best.  You did not want to gain a card in this game.  It was . . . interesting.  I lost that game.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Collin Jeffrey

My brother John texted this picture this morning.  His newest baby was born at 5:55 am.  5 pounds 10 ounces.
Collin Jeffrey
WHAT?????  He is a tiny little guy!  Stockton was 5 weeks early and weighed 5 pounds 9 ounces.  Collin was 5 DAYS early and weighed 5 pounds 10 ounces.  John said the doctor told him it might be because his umbilical cord was super twisty.  I hope he is okay because that is way tiny.  I wish I could hold him!  I can't wait to find out more about him.  Stockton is disappointed that they didn't name him Kyle.  That is the name he was rooting for.

I watched Millie today.  I went and picked up Ange and Millie and dropped Ange off at her doctor appointment.  Millie and I watched ponies.  It was great.  She let me work on Cassie's Christmas stocking while the show was on.

After school I took Jorja to the dermatologist.  She has been begging me to get an appointment for awhile.  I have procrastinated because that is what I do best.  Also, her breakouts aren't even close to being bad.  Anyway, the doctor gave her some prescription face washing stuff. When we went to get it filled the lady said, "It would be $500 without insurance, let's see how much your insurance takes off."  My heart dropped!  There was no way I was going to pay $500.  I was trying to think what I would be willing to pay when the lady said that the insurance took it down to $5 a piece.  I was okay paying $10.  I wonder how much the medicine really costs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Eleventh and Fourth

My boys started school today.  Stockton humored me with a first day of school picture but would not hold up one finger on both hands to make 11.  Oh well, I'll take what I can get!
Stockton did not think he needed more than one picture.  He hid around the corner, but I chased him down!
 Refusing to put on his backpack for me
 Stockton finally agreed because he didn't want me
to follow him all the way to his bus stop!
Stockton had finance, AP Stats, AP physics with Calculus and AP US History today.  Lots of disclosures!  The physics teacher is new, I was kind of worried.  The old teacher was great!  He won teacher of the year for the entire district two years ago.  When I asked Stockton about his physics teacher his reply was, "He's amazing."  When I wondered if he was being serious he laughed and told me all about how funny he was. Let's just hope it stays this way!  There are only 12 people in the class, so that is another added bonus.

Here is a picture of Jorja leaving to school.  I had to chase her down too.  At least I got pictures yesterday!  Jorja didn't have as good a day as Stockton.  She doesn't like a lot of her teachers.  Her math teacher she had last year, Jorja didn't like her at all.  She complained about her all year.  The only thing keeping her in that class is Katlyn.  Oh boy. Her English teacher is the one that hated Stockton.  Jorja is intimidated of her because of that.  Most people seem to like her, Jorja does not want her to find out that Stockton is her brother!
Preston had a great day.  He is going to love this year.  I am not worried about him at all!
 Preston doesn't understand why I want him to hold up 4 fingers
 Fine Mom!  That doesn't look creepy at all!
 He did let me follow him and get as many pictures as I wanted.
 There he goes!
 Still using Jorja's backpack.  He's so low maintenance.
 My boys!
Stockton & Preston
Jorja had her first softball practice today.  I dropped her off and was so thrilled to see her talking to a few different people.  She knew two girls from softball camp and one girl who was on her team last year.  (Not last spring, but last year)  I couldn't stay, but I got back a few minutes before practice was over.  Jorja cried on the way home.  She is so scared and nervous.  This coach yells.  She has never had a coach that yells before.  Jorja's scared of her already.  She wants to play catcher, but is afraid the coach will yell at her and tell her she is a bad catcher.  Jorja doesn't think she's going to like it.  I told her this is probably a good stepping stone to see how much she likes softball.  She really wanted to be on a competitive team, but hasn't played long enough to be able to make one of those.  If this coach makes her hate softball, I'm sure the competitive teams would be worse.  If she still loves softball after this then she'll probably love it forever.  I guess we'll wait and see what happens.  I wish Jorja had a better day.  It didn't help that I got frustrated with her at the end of the day.  Right at bed time she mentions that she wants to redo her summer math homework.  She had all summer to do this, so it was pretty annoying.  I was sitting by her ready to explain things if she needed and she submitted it without asking me.  That kind of frustrated me, especially since she couldn't understand why she got some answers wrong.  She always complains about not understanding math, but she will never ask me for help. Right now I can totally help her and I would love to help her.  I can not help at all when she gets to Stockton's stage!  I wish she would listen to me instead of feeing she needs to do everything on her own.  I love that she's independent, but sometimes asking for help is not a bad thing.  I snapped at her which made her cry, which annoyed me because she can't handle any type of redirection.  That makes me frustrated which gets me upset and I really snap at her to stop crying because there was no reason for her to cry in the first place.  By snapping at her the second time it gives her a reason to cry and on and on it goes.  In conclusion, Jorja didn't have a great day.  I didn't handle it well at the end.  She'll survive.  Hope I can survive her teenage years.  I think she is going to make this a lot harder than Maysen did!

Speaking of Maysen, I miss her!  I texted her and asked how her day was.  She said, "Long and frustrating."  I asked what was frustrating and she texted back, "Blog".  This blog is going to be a blessing and a curse!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Meeting Teachers

Jorja's first day of 8th grade was today . . . kind of.  She is part of the WEB program.  The WEB program is an orientation for the new 6th graders.  Jorja went twice last week getting ready for today. She was given a group of 6th graders to be in charge of.  She did a tour of the school, played games, did question and answers . . . she basically worked with them for 1/2 the day.  She was a bit nervous, but it all worked out.
 Jorja & Hailey
Stockton went to school to get his ID picture taken.  We also walked around and found his classes and locker.  He has a pretty good setup, so that will be great.  Preston had his 'Meet the Teachers' night.  His English teacher is Mrs. Mickelsen -- so excited about that!!!!  His Chinese teacher is Mrs. Chung -- also excited about that.  Mrs. Chung was Preston's 2nd grade Chinese teacher.  We love her!  Preston is in the 'Red Utes' class.  The other class is the 'Blue Navajos'.  He will be with Brian and Able, but not with Burke and Griffin.  In the past, the kids go to English first for a month, then Chinese first for a month. This time they will switch every day.  I think that is great!  Preston will start in English, around lunch he will switch to Chinese.  They won't have to switch at the end of the day because they will just start in the Chinese class the next day.  Mrs. Mickelsen said they figured it saved over an hour in class time per week.  I am excited for Preston's school year!  It's going to be great!
Mrs. Mickelsen & Preston
 Preston & Mrs. Chung
We watched Anne and Jeff today so Matt and Sam could go to the temple.  Jeff was not happy about that!  He cried and cried!  After I fed him dinner he seemed to warm up to me.  He didn't want to be put down, but at least he wasn't crying!  When Mike came home I asked if he could hold Jeff so I could fold the last load of laundry.  Jeff didn't like that!  He calmed down once Mike held him in the football hold and even fell asleep for about three minutes!  The kids had fun playing with Anne.  She freaked out when she saw the toy snake in the kitchen. Stockton had fun teasing her with it.  He videoed it, but I haven't gotten a chance to see it.

Jorja blew up an air mattress for Stockton to sleep on.  The first two days Maysen was gone Jorja slept in the boys room.  The next two days they slept in her room.  Stockton was uncomfortable but told Jorja if she got a bed ready for him he would sleep in there.  Jorja does not want to sleep alone.  Hopefully she will get over that.

I texted Maysen last night and asked her to text me a first day of school selfie tomorrow.  She called me a crazy lady.  Haha!  Man, I miss her!  I hope her year is the best she's ever had!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Best Case

Stockton has had two moles on his back for a long, long time.  A few months ago I started to get worried about them.  I even took a picture back in March.  When I was bothering him again about letting me see his back, I noticed that one of the moles had changed colors.  It now had a white stripe down it, which was weird.  I looked up my picture from about five months before to confirm that the color had changed. Mike's mom died of melanoma, so I was more than a little concerned. We had Stockton's dermatologist appointment today.  Everything is fine.  He documented the different moles. Mostly the two on the back and the one on his foot.  He looked at them under this weird light magnifying glass.  He said to keep at eye on them, like every few months, not every day.  He doesn't anticipate any problems though. Yay!  Yay!  Yay!  Best case scenerio.

Preston had his first scouts today since summer break.  I was excited about it, and promptly forgot about it.  I remembered at 9:00 tonight that I never sent him.  They made robot hands.  He would have loved it! Ashley sent the link, so Mike and Preston will be able to make them together.  I also signed Jorja and Preston up for diving.  I have been excited to sign them up for lessons this fall.  We signed up for the Monday/Wednesday time because Tuesday/Thursday Jorja has softball.  Right after I hit send I remembered about scouts.  I don't know what to do.  I called Jeanette and asked her when the Webelos met.  I figured if they met a different day then we would just deal with it for a few months.  Nope.  They meet at the same time.  I'm so disappointed.  I'll have to have Mike help me figure out this one.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

One Bench Family

Day one of life without Maysen.  She did text me for awhile this morning, which was great!  The most exciting thing for my momma heart is she has decided to keep up the tradition of blogging everyday. She has started her own blog.  It is at  It is penguin, but instead of pen she uses quill.  Anyway, I love this idea and I hope she sticks with it!  It will sure make missing her not hurt so much.  It was weird being a one bench family at church.  For the last several years we have sat on the front left side of the chapel, but we sit in two different rows.  Usually three in front and three behind.  Now five of us fit perfectly.  I'm trying to be okay with that.  Makes it obvious that Maysen isn't with us though.

I taught my primary class today.  I taught them about Samuel the Lamanite.  I did not have a chance to prepare this week, so I worked on my lesson this morning.  It went well, although I didn't get to half of the things I wanted to do.  After the class Stella (my team-teacher) said, "Great lesson.  It was the wrong lesson, but great lesson."  I couldn't believe it!  I told her I taught the lesson she texted me. I looked up her text.  Nope.  I didn't.  Geesh, how do I do this so often.  Stella was super nice about it and said not to worry, she would teach the one I skipped and I could teach the next lesson, which is practically a continuation of what I did today.  It will work out, I was just a little embarrassed.

Preston's friend Maggie is moving.  Which means my friend Melissa is moving.  They are from Chicago.  They moved here when Preston was in Kindergarten and Maggie was in Preston's class.  They are moving to Pennsylvania.  It will be a lot closer to family, so that is exciting for them.  We are really going to miss them.  We had a neighborhood party for them.  They are not members of the LDS church, but everybody loves them!  Sometimes it is hard to meet people who of different faiths when we get so wrapped up in our callings.  Not the case with them. Everybody knows them and it seemed like everybody showed up to say goodbye.
Preston & Maggie
Jordyn stopped by while I was at the party.  It was perfect timing. Preston and I were able to spend an hour there before we needed to leave.  This is the picture Mike texted me to let me know Jordyn was here.
Jordyn & Jorja
I asked Jordyn if she could come and teach Jorja how to do nails.  Jorja loved it and they turned out so pretty.  Jordyn then asked if she could do my nails.  I hadn't even thought about it.  It was a lot of fun and I love them!  Crazy how old my hands look in this picture.  When did that happen?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye to My First Baby

Today was a long day.  It was sad.  It was happy.  It was full of conflicting emotions.  Maysen watered her new tree one last time.  Sure hoping we don't kill that one!
Mike gave Maysen a Father's blessing, then the kids said goodbye to her.  It was so hard to watch.  Preston had a hard time holding it together.  Tears would start to come and he would leave the room really fast.  His face looked haunted, although only when he thought no one was looking.  When we were at Lagoon Preston was talking about how he didn't want Maysen to leave.  Maysen said, "Don't worry, I'll come back every six weeks." (For her laser hair treatment.)  Preston said, "Every six weeks!  I thought it was every ONE week!"  He has not been happy about this new development.
Jorja, Maysen, Mike
 Maysen & Stockton
 Maysen & Preston
Preston kept hugging her.  I'll put another picture with him because it looks like I didn't take a picture of Maysen with Jorja.
Maysen sat up front with Mike.  She played "On My Way" from Brother Bear while we were driving away.  I couldn't really hear it, so I looked up the lyrics.  It says:

Tell everybody I'm on my way
New friends and new places to see
With blue skies ahead
Yes, I'm on my way
And there's nowhere else
That I'd rather be

Tell everybody I'm on my way
And I'm loving every step I take
With the sun beating down
Yes, I'm on my way
And I can't keep this smile off my face

You get the idea.  She is pretty excited about this new adventure.  She has an amazing place to live.  I think she will love it.  Here is a picture of the outside of her apartment building.
Maysen's room is on the top floor.  That is going to be great!  Except for move in days.  It was easier to get to the stairs than the elevator, so we carried everything up to the fourth floor.  It was nice exercise I guess.
Maysen finding her room
We helped Maysen get everything set up.  I'm glad Mike was able to get her computer all situated.  It will be nice to not have her struggle with that.  We really wanted to get her a laptop to send her off with on this new adventure, but the funds were not quite there.  I think this will work out well.  She is great friends with this computer.  It is very familiar to her.  I think she prefers this to a laptop.  Especially since we were planning on getting her a Mac.  Anyways, look how great her room is.  She has a full bed, a desk, nightstand and a few drawers.
Maysen and her new room
This is the view from Maysen's window.  You can't see it well in this picture, but she has a perfect view of the Logan Temple.  It will be especially beautiful at night!
Maysen's roommate is named Demetria.  She seems really nice.  She is from Arizona.  She did her generals at a community college there, so she is not a true freshman like Maysen.  That will be great for Maysen. She has always fit in better with people older than she is.  I wanted to walk around campus with Mike and Maysen.  I wasn't sure if Demetria would still be here when we got back, so I got a quick picture before we left.  Demetria's mom and sister are here and are staying until tomorrow.
Demetria & Maysen
We walked and walked and walked today.  We walked up to campus, which is a bit farther away then we thought.  There is a shuttle that will take Maysen up there that runs Monday through Friday.  I'm glad we walked instead of used the car.  Now Maysen will be aware of how much time she needs to get to class each day.  We walked up to the TSC first and had lunch at the Aggie Market.  I think that is what it is called. I was a little worried that it wouldn't be open.  It was closed during the summer.  We were really hungry by this point, but I wanted Mike to see what food options Maysen would have.  Luckily it opened today!  It was delicious.  Mike told me he feels better knowing Maysen won't starve. We got her a block meal plan.  She doesn't need to use it, but it will be there for her.  It's nice because Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays she is on campus all day.  This way she will be able to have her largest meal at lunch.  When she goes home after this long day she can just fix herself something small.  Maysen told me that she would try new things and eat vegetables every time she came.

Once we finished eating we walked and walked and walked around campus.  Most of the buildings were locked, but we were able to go into the education building where she will have a psychology class and a horticulture class.  They are back to back in the same room.  That's some great accidental planning!  After walking until our feet were super sore we made it back to the car.  We went to Lowes and looked for a lamp.  I wanted Maysen to get a lamp with a USB port in it.  They didn't have anything like that, so Mike ordered one from Amazon.  Maysen should get a package on Monday.  We went grocery shopping and stocked Maysen up.  There is a store that is just under a mile away.  It could be done, but not fun carrying milk and shopping bags that far. There is a bus stop out front.  That wouldn't be terrible, but we were thrilled when we found out that they deliver!  It will be a $5 charge, but that will be worth it!  Unless she is just buying one banana.  That would be a bad idea.  Anyway, we feel a lot better about things.  Mike was really worried about her being up here without a car.  I did not want her to have one.  She's going to be just fine.  I'm glad Mike was able to be here with us so he could feel that way too.  

Maysen has a great set up.  She has her own bedroom, her own (huge!) bathroom, her own closet.  She shares a kitchen and living area with Demetria.  She is quite spoiled.  Nice that she worked so hard so she could have this.  Mike and I payed $50 for this semester, including housing.  Maysen paid for everything else with scholarships.  She is amazing!  Here are some pictures I took before we left.
 Maysen & Mike
 Maysen and Stephanie
I realized that I didn't get any pictures of Maysen's kitchen, living area. I asked her to text me some. The next three pictures are ones Maysen sent me.  The first picture has a door open.  That door leads to Maysen's room.  It's cool.  You go through that door and to the left is Maysen's bedroom.  Straight across is her closet and to the right is her bathroom.  She also has a lock on the door.  Fancy.
Living area
You can see Demetria's door from here.  Pretty nice setup for two people.
I asked Mike to show Maysen how to work the tv before we left.  She has more channels than we do now!  Monsters University was just starting.  Maysen was excited!  She said it was the perfect movie to start off her college career.  It was nice for us to leave her watching a movie. Crazy to just drive away when she has been such a huge part of our life for over 18 years.  So hard!
Mike & Maysen
 Maysen & Stephanie
A while ago my aunt Renee posted something written by Beverly Beckham.  I have no idea who she is, but she understands my heart.  I am obviously not a fantastic writer.  I wish I had that talent.  I will just have to borrow the words of others.  This is what I'm feeling, written by Beverly Beckham.

It's not a death.  And it's not a tragedy.  But it's not nothing, either....

I feel like this little boy walked out the door today, not the fine young man we've raised.  Today is hard.  Very hard.
I wasn't wrong about their leaving.  My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another, and then the last packed their bags and left for college.
But it was the end of something. 'Can you pick me up, Mom?' 'What's for dinner?' 'What do you think?'
I was the sun and they were the planets.  And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.
And I got to beam down on them.  To watch.  To glow.
And then they were gone, one after the other.
'They'll be back,' my husband said.  And he was right.  They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.
Always is what you miss.  Always knowing where they are.  At school. At play practice.  At a ballgame.  At a friend's.  Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sign, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. 'How was school?' answered for years in too much detail. 'And then he said . . . and then I said to him . . .'  Then hardly answered at all.
Always, knowing his friends.
Her favorite show.
What he had for breakfast.
What she wore to school.
What he thinks.
How she feels.
My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Wiliams yesterday.  They are her fourth and fifth children.  She's been down this road three times before.  You'd think it would get easier.
'I don't know what I'm going to do without them,' she has said every day for months.
And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?
A chapter ends.  Another chapter begins.  One door closes and another door opens.  The best thing a parent can give their child is wings.  I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words even mean?
Eighteen years isn't a chapter in anyone's life.  It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.
Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager.  Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands-on.  Now?
Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change.  It's a sea change.
As for a door closing?  Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too.  And would that they occupied just a single room in your head.  But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.
As for the wings analogy?  It's sweet.  But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.
Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem.  Because that's what going to college is.  It's goodbye.  It's not a death.  And it's not a tragedy.
But it's not nothing, either.
To grow a child, a body changes.  It needs more sleep.  It rejects food it used to like.  It expands and adapts.
To let go of a child, a body changes, too.  It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.
The drive home alone without them is the worst.  And the first few days.  But then it gets better.  The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.
Life does go on.
'Can you give me a ride to the mall?' 'Mom, make him stop!'  I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee.  But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine....

Friday, August 19, 2016

Last Day of Real Life

I dropped Mike off at work today.  We stopped at the UPS store to mail back some things.  One is our dish network.  One less bill a month, which will be nice.  The other was Maysen's new crocs.  We ordered them from Amazon, but they were a bit small.  We ordered the size up a few days ago.  They came today, except they were the wrong size.  I looked up my order.  Yep.  They sent the wrong size. Frustrating!  The rest of the day was spent working on my primary lesson, watching Olympics, taking Jorja school shopping for binders, signing Stockton up for the ACT, having a scout swim party pack meeting, packing up Maysen and trying to stop my heart from breaking.

Today was the last day we could sign up for the ACT in September.  I decided I wanted him to have as many chances to take the ACT as he can.  October's test is over fall break.  Diving will also be starting, so I don't know if we will have any conflicts.  It will be good to have a test under his belt this early.  It took forever to sign up.  We skipped most of the questions.  Here is the picture we uploaded to his profile.
The scout pack meeting was here at my house.  It was funny to see the boys who earned their wolf.  They were given their awards in the pool, then they came out dripping wet to pin their moms.  So cute!
Luke & Ashley
Lots of people had to leave early for football and other things.  All of the leaders left an hour early.  That was kind of weird.  I don't know if they realized that they planned the party and no one was able to be there.  I just sat out there by myself while the last of the scouts finished up swimming.

Stockton and Jorja went to the high school football game today. Stockton went with Mason, a boy who moved into our ward not quite a year ago.  He didn't come back until close to midnight.  Jorja went with Hailey and Katlyn.  I dropped them off and Mike picked Jorja and Hailey up.  He picked them up early and took them to 7-11 for bring your own cup slurpee day.  The promotion was over, but the guy was nice and charged them for a refill or something like that.
Jorja & Hailey
Maysen wanted to watch Looney Toons Back in Action before she left. We watched it while Stockton and Jorja were at the football game. Then we started packing and loading the car.  We had gathered all her things in one area, just needed to box them up.  Mike started playing Suzy Bogguss "Letting Go".  That made me cry and I left.  Mike said I left before the verse about me.  The first verse was sad enough!

I tucked Maysen in for the very last time.  I'm sure I will tuck her in when she is home, but this is the last time when she is 100% mine.  I don't have to share her with anybody (except our little family), I don't have to share her with any place.  I laid in bed trying to fall asleep thinking about how tomorrow everything changes.  I am not good with change.  Even if it is a good thing, like this is.  I feel like my heart is breaking.  I can't imagine not seeing Maysen every day.  It doesn't seem like that long ago when she was happy to talk to my feet.  I have loved, loved, loved this part of my life.  Having all of my children with me. Teaching them.  Playing with them.  Vacationing with them.  It has been amazing.  Now it is done.  I know I can't stay in this part of my life forever, but it hurts to leave it.  I hope I love this new phase of my life. It will be hard to top this one though.