Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Well, Hello!

Oh my goodness. It's been a long time!

I've missed you. I've missed this space. This place to dump words, figure out life, and hold onto joy.

How are you? Are your children back in school? Maybe YOU are back in school! I know many of you have traveled far and experienced new things. Some of you have added babies to your family. Some of you have lost family. I've mourned with you, laughed with you, smiled at your life. 

You've grown. And so have your families.

We've been growing too.

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First day of School. Ali 3rd, Eliza 5th, Sami 3rd.

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Gordon and Spencer, Kindergarten.

Not just in inches. (Although Eliza did grow FOUR inches last school year! What?)

My goal this summer was to grow us in other ways too. In spirit, in intelligence, and in our relationships. 

But a few weeks into summer I realized I wasn't going to write about it. I wasn't going to get anything written. For a while... maybe the whole summer. And that had to be okay. I could have jammed it in somehow, put off my children, paid a babysitter. But I didn't. I paid a sitter so I could grocery shop instead. You know. Priorities. 

I could tell, almost immediately, this summer was going to be different. My kids were going to need me to be fully present. And I wanted to be. I wanted to use those unstructured weeks to be with my kids not just in body, but in mind and spirit. I wanted to teach them to work, to take responsibility for tasks without reminding them, to see needs. I wanted to help them academically, work with them in areas that needed support. I wanted to take them to new lessons so they could try new things. And I wanted to play with them.

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Silhouettes on the Sunroof

So that's what we did. And honestly, I couldn't find a minute. Not a single minute to even think about writing. I read zero blogs. I didn't get on Facebook. And the only books I read were the ones we read aloud. 

My girls needed me to be emotionally available. They're getting older, discovering things about themselves and how they fit into the world. My boys are getting older too. Needing me to work on reading and writing with them. Needing someone to teach them self-control, bed-making, and how to empty the dishwasher by themselves.

So if I could sum up the summer for me, it would be teaching and being present. The kids would say their summer consisted of work, swimming, tennis, and Disney World. They didn't love the job situation, and they didn't love tennis. But they did get better at tackling things without my nagging.

And most days, after jobs were done, we played.

Every night, if we made it out to our little chairs to read before dark, this is how I felt. I could barely keep my eyes open.

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It was a good summer. I felt happy. And I hope we grew. If we did, the changes were small, because most of the time it felt pretty crazy and out of control.

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On our family trip to Florida, there was a moment when Doug and I wanted to abandon the kids and leave them on the curb at Animal Kingdom, see who might claim them. Because they didn't want us for parents anymore! And we weren't sure we wanted them!

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But we had a glorious day at the beach. First time swimming in the ocean for all five of our kiddos. And they were so brave!

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After a couple hours, we had all five of them out beyond the surf with us, treading water, reading the waves and diving under. It was rather remarkable. I thought... holy moly... we have arrived!

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Doug had meetings in Orlando, so we tacked on a trip to Disney World. We got an awesome deal. It was very fun and very hot. More pics to come...

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There were lots of reunions. With family, friends, Israel students, and more friends. 

During the Keddington reunion, we spent a chilly day in the mountains.

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Canoeing and fishing were the big highlights! Thank you Lance and Dave! 

Swimming lessons were actually enjoyable this summer... for everyone... including me! I didn't have a bit of anxiety this year. Everyone was swimming well enough I could actually sit at the pool and... drumroll please... read a book!

Yes, I'm telling you. We. Have. Arrived!

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Life in symmetry. It's all about perspective.

Eliza tried diving this summer. She is fearless. It was a good fit for her. Maybe she'll do it again next summer. This picture, caught while we were watching her lesson, made me laugh. Seeing the four twinsies, almost identical in body language. 

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Eliza also hiked to the summit of Mt. Olympus with Doug. Olympus is the big peak that dominates the Salt Lake City skyline. It's the mountain I always write about, that rises right outside our front window. I wasn't sure she was ready, but Doug thought she was. And he was willing to go her speed. 

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So they started early. 4:30 AM so they could beat the heat. With headlamps. And they summited in 3 hrs. Not much slower than Doug does it solo. He was super impressed. And I was elated talking with her via cell phone from the top.

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There were rodeos. And a trip up to Kara and Dave's cabin.

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Heaven on earth. 

More pics coming soon on this too...

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The boys got haircuts. Very momentous. Here they are after their first day of Adventure Camp with the Palmers. It was "Harry Potter Day" and Gordon kept saying, "I am NEVER going to forget this day!" 

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And we celebrated my Mom's 68th birthday. With a family pool party.

She got all teary sitting poolside with this gorgeous view. The valley, the trees, her children and grandchildren. She said to me, "This makes me so happy."

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It was a beautiful setting. Thanks to my parents' neighbors for inviting our family to use their pool.

As an update, my Mom started her triple drug chemo several weeks ago. 1 IV drug, 2 oral. The IV drug was causing increased neuropathy. So they have discontinued it and hopefully some symptoms will abate. She is walking better than she was a few months ago, still working hard to use her left hand, and is fighting nausea and exhaustion. But she is happy when we come to visit, always inspiring to talk with. And we feel so grateful each day for her life, and her love.

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And these ones? Playing cards together on the back lawn? They are my sunshine. My friend Saydi calls those rays of light angel slides. Perfect.

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I have loved the crazy morning hair, the slower days, and the brown bodies folded into couches.

Now, we're back to the routine of homework, dance lessons, soccer, piano practice. And that feels good too. With the boys in half-day Kindergarten I have a few hours every day of quiet. It's marvelous. And it helps me rise above the intensity of home and all we are doing. Lets me hover above our life and see it with a little distance. That? That feels really good. 

Even if I'm just moving laundry and rinsing dishes, it's quiet. I can think. I can hear. I can prepare my heart. I can plan.

So, as a fun finale... how 'bout some cousin time with our favorite Kesler clan? Here's their annual summer music video! Kelsi said this year was all about channeling their inner Disney. And they do it well. Enjoy!


  1. I'm so glad you're back. I've missed your thoughts. I may jump back in soon, too. We will see!

    1. I always love reading your words. Yes, jump back in. xoxo

  2. This was so fun to read! It made me think about how deliberately we have to choose to be present for our children; I am so guilty of having fractured focus and sort of skimming over things that are too important for that. Also, congratulations on being able to read at the pool! My kids are old and I still get a little spark of joy when I sit at the pool or beach with a book and don't have to worry about anyone drowning. And finally, sending love and prayers for your mom. My heart is with you.

    1. Shelley, you have been such a cheerleader here. Thanks for your words, for always understanding, and for your honest perspective and confessions. You make me smile. Love you dearly!

  3. The quiet is always what I enjoy the first few weeks when the kids go back to school. I can move about the house with no other noise to distract from the mundane chores and I just think. Love it! But, I do miss having my kiddos home :) Even more than I enjoy the quiet...ha ha!

    1. I can see myself missing those kiddos much more next year, with the boys in all day school. That will be quite the transition! xoxo

  4. I'm so glad you're back. I've loved seeing pictures on instagram, but I've missed all your deep words. I love the way you poeticly describe life in such beautiful ways. I also loved your instances of "We have ARRIVED." It gives me hope, especially since we are having a particularly "We are in the THICK of LITTLE kids that make me crazy" kind of day over here. I look forward to those moments of peace and quiet so that I can center and hear my thoughts and be a better mother when I am around them. It's actually why I came to your blog right now. What can I do to lift my tired soul and make me want to keep trying the rest of today? Ah, Catherine's blog. I love you, my friend.

    1. Cute Steph, you're striking such a beautiful, dynamic balance (if there is such a thing) with your painting and your family. Somehow you are allowing them to bleed into each other and coexist, rather than contest with each other. Being in the trenches (still there lots of times) is way hard. Hard to see the forest through the trees. But before you know it, you'll have arrived too. Childhood zips by. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. You're an incredible mom. And I love you.

  5. Beautifully written as always...just a treat to read your blog. The kids look great...I particularly love the one of your kindergarten boys. Although I teach preschool (kids start tomorrow!) now, after years of teaching kindergarten, I still think of that year as magic. Very impressed with the video. The amount of energy it took to even make it boggles my mind. Best wishes to you for a year that brings happiness and continued good memories!

    1. I didn't know you taught Kindergarten. And now preschool! Those lucky, lucky kids! I agree - those are magical years. What a joy to be a teacher. Thanks for reading here my friend. xo

  6. Why do I come to your blog and still expect to see pics of toddlers and preschoolers??? The kids are SO big Catherine, I still remember that video I shared once of you getting lunch ready for them all-remember that? (I'm sure you do!) They are gorgeous children, and I love that you took the summer off-that is the greatest thing about a blog-the ability to walk away when needed and come back when time opens up our minds a little. I think the pic with the sun rays should be your Valentine card this year! :) It's just gorgeous.

    1. Sweet Sarah, oh I miss you! Yes, of course, I remember the video. How can I forget? Sometimes I've tried to recreate it. Do an updated version. But everyone is so incredibly mobile - no one stays in the same room! So I just gave up! Yes, they're growing too quickly. How about you?? How can your Jane be nearly 3?? And your oldest ones, flying the coop? It pains my heart and I'm not even their mama. You're doing all you do with such wisdom and love. I admire you and your journey. Thanks for leaving a note here. Love you!

  7. Such a lovely update. And angel slides! I need to remember that one.

    Hugs to you and your mom. My mom had to do the cancer thing this past year. Hard for everyone.

    1. Hugs to your mom too! I'm sorry. Cancer is such a challenge. Is she doing well?

  8. I love the Kesler videos. Thanks for always linking them here. I love that picture of us all at the ranch. Its a moment frozen in time. And the shot of you in the chair, a boy on your lap...oh man. So perfectly describes life right now! These are all so fun.


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