{ 100 Things We Did This Summer }

It seems as the beginning of the school year rolls around, the kids go back to school and always end up writing papers about all the fun things they did that summer. Sometimes I have heard my kids say, “I don’t know…we didn’t do anything” What?! Were you not here for our summer-o-fun? This year I wanted that to be different. I wanted my kids to remember all the great things we experienced the whole summer long-both big and little. At the beginning of the summer Brianna helped me to make this poster that hung in our hallway by the garage door. Over the course of the next few months, we filled that paper up to the brim. We would write down anything we did that was memorable when we would think of it.

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By the end of the summer we had a list of 100 amazing ways we spent our summer.

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Each one certainly deserves it’s own post, and eventually you’ll get all the great details about each one, but for now, here are the 100 things we did this summer:

  1. “How to be a lady” Camp
  2. Play with white goopy stuff (cornstarch and water-the funnest stuff!)
  3. Go to Flatrock park and catch tadpoles
  4. Art Camp
  5. Go swimming
  6. Have Brianna’s 14th birthday
  7. Young Women’s Camp (Brianna)
  8. Soap on the trampoline with the neighbors
  9. Run 2 miles to Subway for dinner
  10. Wet/dry walk around the neighborhood
  11. Mom and Brianna trip to Nebraska for Matt and Nicole’s temple sealing
  12. Plant a garden
  13. Watch old episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos on Netflix until REALLY late into the night
  14. My first dance (Brianna)
  15. Do my first backflip on the trampoline (Erika)
  16. Go to Boy Scout Camp (Austin)
  17. Go to soccer camp (Austin)
  18. Do summer goals
  19. Do a water fight
  20. “Book Buddy” camp with If You Give a Dog a Donut book
  21. Tooth fell out (Erika)
  22. Learn to ride my bike without training wheels (Abby) I love how she wrote it on the list-“lrnd to ride my bick with awt chranin ywerls”-so cute
  23. Go to work on Will and Zac Murphy’s Eagle project
  24. Go to first Red Star game (Austin)
  25. Visit Georgia Aquarium
  26. Went to Wonder Works in Gatlinburg, TN
  27. Learned 6 new soccer tricks (Austin)
  28. Went on before school date (Austin)
  29. Puff ball art
  30. Go on a back to school date with mommy (Erika)
  31. Go swimming in Tennessee
  32. Hike the Little Grand Canyon (Providence Canyon) with Mike and Desirea and family
  33. Hike the side of a mountain (Aaron, Austin, Brooke, and cousins in Gatlinburg)
  34. Go to the 6 Flags Waterpark
  35. Play for a night at Gymnastics Unlimited
  36. Sleep on a double decker bed (Brooke, Erika, and Abby)
  37. Eat strudels
  38. Nap (Aaron)
  39. EFY (Brianna)
  40. Have a week of staycation Olympics
  41. Watch the Olympics
  42. High School math packet
  43. Play volleyball with new net
  44. Play badminton
  45. Play indoor homemade ping-pong
  46. Back to school date (Brianna)
  47. Make cowboy cookies
  48. Mike & Desirea & cousins came to visit
  49. Play Yahtzee on uncle Mike’s iPad
  50. Get bit by Tori
  51. Go poopy in the potty (Ryan)
  52. Beat Warren and AJ in wrestling (Aaron)
  53. Make superman shirts for the family reunion
  54. Play pool at the cabin in Gatlinburg,TN
  55. Pick blueberries and blackberries in Gatlinburg
  56. Have BYF (Bishop’s Youth Fireside) finally!
  57. Play glow stick hide and seek   
  58. Play foosball
  59. Play air hockey
  60. Have a grandparent family history night
  61. Go to see new Batman movie (Aaron)
  62. See real live bears in Gatlinburg
  63. Play in the sprinklers
  64. Austin teaches soccer camp to the girls
  65. Dance camp by Brianna-Learning dance to the song by One Direction What Makes You Beautiful
  66. Listen to funny church cd’s-Hank Smith and John Bytheway are our favorite
  67. Plate art contest in Gatlinburg
  68. Make necklaces with Anna at family reunion
  69. Minute to win-it desserts
  70. Red Star soccer tryouts
  71. Watch new kid history videos on youtube
  72. Have missionaries over for dinner
  73. Get stuffed animal dogs Goldie, Anna, and Cole on vacation (Erika,Abby, and Scott) with goal money
  74. Cook on Aaron’s new grill
  75. Get cool soccer haircut (Austin)
  76. Straighten hair for the 1st time (Erika) 
  77. New school clothes fashion shows
  78. Scott and Ryan go on bike ride with Mom and Dad on bike trail
  79. Monae goes on tornado at Six Flags Water park (I am not agreeing this was a “fun” thing we did-just memorable and a bit scary) The kids thought it was SO fun to see me go on that.
  80. Move dad’s office over to the hospital
  81. Answer riddles on iPhone
  82. Aaron gets new iPhone
  83. Monae gets Aaron’s old iPhone and is SO happy that her old prepaid phone SIM card works in it
  84. Meet Siri on dad’s phone and ask her funny questions
  85. Play National Geographic game from Grandma Starbuck
  86. Play Rummikub
  87. Play Mancala against iPhones
  88. Scott gets funny haircut (not on purpose)
  89. Eat and make deluxe waffles
  90. 2nd year anniversary for Aaron being the bishop
  91. Young men and young women come over for a water activity
  92. Celebrate Father’s day
  93. Ryan Lochte (that was Brianna’s I think) They enjoyed watching swimming this year for the Olympics and he was the main event. I think I heard the girls say about a hundred times-“He’s so cute!”. Oh yeah, and he’s a super fast swimmer too!
  94. Organize game cupboard (Brooke)
  95. Karate lessons from dad and sparing fights up in the playroom
  96. Chase deer out of the yard
  97. Rearrange bedrooms
  98. Watch Ebony for the Folsoms-Ebony is their black lab dog
  99. 4th of July party at the Apffels’
  100. Ice on the trampoline

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{ Our First Week Back to School }

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Every year when school starts up again, my heart almost bursts with gratitude for my kid’s teachers. I just love all the work they do, and  I am always so thankful when we get those teachers that just seem to gel well with my kids personalities. A few days before school officially started, on verification day we got to go to the kids schools and meet their teachers for the year. I took the three little girls to their school first on Wednesday night. As we looked at the class lists they had posted out on the windows in the front of the school, the girls quickly perused the lists for names of their friends or kids they knew from last year. Erika got a good friend from church in her class, and both Brooke and Abby had kids they knew from last year. We picked up our bus passes and car rider number from the Media Center, then headed to each of their classrooms to take a peak at what this year would bring. I think I get almost as excited as the kids do as I walk into their classrooms. They have all these fun posters and stations and activities all set up and ready for the first day of school. Their teachers greet them with smiling faces, and I secretly say a little prayer of thanks in my mind for such awesome teachers. Really, they are the best teachers! You can tell they thoroughly love what they do, and that makes the kids love it too. I knew immediately that this year was going to be great.

Austin and I made a trip the next morning to get his schedule for the year. Can I just say how much I love the non-stressfulness of 7th grade compared to 6th grade? Love it. I am all about a little less stress in my life, and this time our middle school experience is a piece of cake. We picked up his schedule, and got to meet two of his teachers for the year. They are awesome! Austin is pretty paid back, but still needs that special kind of teacher that shares his sense of humor, but is motivating enough to keep him on track. He got a great mix of teachers that do all of that for him.

Brianna’s verification was that night in a whole orientation presentation for the parents and students. Man, am I ever excited for high school! Her school is so fun, and there are so many opportunities. Yes, I am secretly weeping inside that she is growing up a little too fast for me, but when I see all of the exciting things in store for her in life, I almost can’t contain myself. I just love having teenagers! They make our home so fun! Stressful at times, for sure, but SO much fun! They had all the students go to their homerooms, and all the parents to the auditorium for a slideshow presentation on what to expect from their school. They are a liberal arts school, which I used to think meant a lot of “arts” type things (which is awesome), but evidently I was wrong, and not the only one who thought that. It for sure does include those, but the phrase liberal arts actually means “skills of freedom” I love that! That is exactly what I want my kids to have for their life is the skills they need to be responsible and “free”. They also gave us the rundown on service hours they have to have each year (yes, service hours for school, not just church-I LOVE it), the manners and etiquette courses they take and the lunches and dinners they have each year to practice, and a list of the field trips for the year.

Brianna got her schedule, and then they armed them with a map of the school and let them loose to find all of their classes. Her school is this two story school built in 1920, that I like to call the “movie school”. It’s like every old school you see featured in a movie, with big stairs at the front, and outside courtyards in the middle. It’s so cool-and so big. Brianna was nervous (just like ALL the other freshman there we reminded her), but after finding all of her classes she felt much better. They let the kids out before the parents, and so we had quite a time trying to find her in the school. We would wander down some hallway, and she would be on another floor at the other end of the school. We were sure we would find her with someone she knew having found all of their classes, or in a hallway somewhere sobbing. We were glad when we finally found her smiling, and having found all her classes. She was sure to remind us though, that if she had a cell phone, she could have been able to find us a lot easier. All in time-we’re working up to it. My mom-heart can only take so much at a time. I need to adjust to the whole high school thing for at least a week or so, then a phone.

As school has been in session now for a whole week, I can say with confidence that we are in for an amazing year. I was a little worried with how our new earlier rising time would work out since we were on such a bad waking/sleeping schedule this summer. Seriously, I am embarrassed to even mention how late we would let the kids stay up, which in turn led to waking up a lot later too. Let’s just say we had a lot of brunches this summer. With Brianna in seminary this year, we decided on having family scripture time at 6:00am-30 minutes earlier than last year. I was fully prepared for grumps and groans from everyone-myself especially, but we have had some of the best attitudes all week long. This family is just so awesome! My kids great attitude definitely helped to smooth over my tired attitude as well. Early rising is not a specialty of mine.

I feel like we have entered this school year with great attitudes, lots of first’s for some of our kids, and we are confident this is going to be one of our best years ever. I just love having all the fun activities of my elementary kids, the confidence of my middle schooler who is an old pro at the middle school thing now, and all the fun of having a high schooler.

There are some years that the first day of school sneaks up on me-I feel like I blinked and the end of one school year suddenly turned into the beginning of another. This year we had such a full and fun summer, but we somehow managed to actually be ready when school rolled around this time. And so far I feel like we have kept up on the mass of papers that are already flowing in, are on board with all the classroom procedures for each of the girls classes, and are ready to be a lot more involved this year. Their teachers are so great to work with, and our kids just love them already.

Abby, Brooke, and Erika on the first day of school.

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Abby in 1st Grade

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Loving that new space she has right in front-she has had one front tooth that has been hanging on for weeks now, and it decided to pop out the night before school started.

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Erika 2nd Grade

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Erika was obsessed with finding a “wing shirt” on her back to school date with me. We found one for Brooke on her date, and Erika was determined she would have one too. When we went back to the store they had one left in a different color than Brooke’s, but in Erika’s size. She was thrilled to say the least. She is demonstrating flying like and eagle-her school mascot.

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Brooke 4th Grade

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Brooke’s perfectly picked out outfit-with matching earrings and all. Story about this outfit that I know someday she will be able to laugh about. She was so concerned about having a white shirt to wear under this pink shirt-and we bought two white shirts on her back to school date because we go through white shirts like nothing else. I had washed this shirt several times trying to get out a small stain in the front. I couldn’t get it out, but assured her she could still wear it because the pink shirt covered it up. There was some heated debate about that, with promises from me that I would wash her other shirt in time. Fast forward to Sunday night, I forgot to wash her shirt-you see where this is going? Not a happy girl. I tried to reassure her that no  one was going to lift up her pink shirt and see if she had a stain on her white shirt. Insert some huffy breathes from both of us, and a few tears from one of us. She managed okay, but must have been making a big deal about it out of my ear shot too, because Austin had heard about her fussing and had asked her after school if anyone noticed her spot. She smiled sneakily and said,”no”. I tell you, if anyone can keep me true to my “promises” this girl can. Love you Brooke!

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Austin ready on the first day of 7th grade.

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Austin 7th Grade

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I love those blue eyes, and dimple!

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My beautiful high schooler, after school on her first day.

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Brianna 9th Grade

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Monday morning we got up bright and early at 6:00am for scripture time. Aaron took Brianna for her first day of seminary at 6:45am. Seminary here is early morning, but the last few years since school has started later, they pushed it back to go from 7-7:45am instead of starting at 6am. Brianna still had to get up at 5:30am to get ready, but we realize it could be much worse. I am so glad we live somewhere where she has the opportunity to go to seminary. I loved seminary, and she was just as excited as I was for it to start. This picture is of her before she left, dark outside and everything.

After seminary one of her friends in our ward takes her and 3 others to school. Her school starts at 8:25am, so she got there in plenty of time to find her first class and not be worried she would be late. She was SO nervous about going, but after the first day felt totally at ease. I was relieved that her nerves settled down, and she was able to take it all in and fully enjoy her first day.

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With Brianna off, the three little girls got ready like champs and we left and were to school early-yeah for us! We are always late going places-almost always! On Brooke’s report card last year she had over 40 days that she was tardy. Yeah, we’re late people. I am already loving our earlier wake time-it just makes everything go so much smoother.

We dropped off Abby at her class first. She was a little nervous, but her sweet teacher instantly made her comfortable. She is such an awesome teacher-so fun and gentle with the kids. She has so many positive activities to make the day fun, and it constantly telling the kids how great they are. I owe my life to amazing teachers like this.Back to School 2012 blog-15

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Here she is looking at the assistant principle who stopped in to meet all of the kids. Her teacher was bragging about how they were the best class in the school. All the kids were smiling about that. Ahh, great teachers. I love ‘em.

Erika was next to be dropped off. She has a temporary sub for now, who will probably end up being her teacher, and she loves her! She is new to the school, and has just taught for a few years. She spent a year teaching at an all boy’s school in Thailand, and now here. Erika was telling me how she used to get to ride on an elephant that would pick her up by the trunk and lift her up to his back. Her teacher reminds me of what Erika would be like when she grows up. She has blond curly hair, and is petite but has these big cheeks like Erika-so cute, and she is so happy and bubbly. She is just all fun with these kids. They have a Olympic theme in their classroom that they use to help promote good behavior. She just loves teaching, and it shows big time. Erika already thinks she is the prettiest, nicest teacher ever.

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Brooke was at the end of hall, and by the time we got there, most of her class was already there. I guess in fourth grade, most kid’s parents don’t walk them in. Her teacher is super sweet, but fourth grade is all business. We let her quietly sneak in, and watched from the window. Her teacher is nice, and doesn’t like a lot of worksheets and unnecessary paperwork-I love her already!

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Austin was the last to go to school, and for this first day we took him. He was calm and cool, and was probably the least nervous of anyone. He was an old pro at this middle school thing, and was just excited to meet all of his teachers, and see his friends again. He already has plans with his other buddies to “own the school bus” whatever that means. I think pretty much, you get to sit in the back, and everyone thinks you’re cool.=)

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The girls get dropped off practically right outside our front door, and walk across the lawn home. They love riding the bus-and I LOVE them riding the bus. I get to keep the little boys sleeping for their nap for a little while longer before we go to pick up Brianna from school.

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Our afterschool snack on the first day.

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Brianna’s “movie” school. Back to School 2012 blog-27

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We picked up Brianna from school after the girls had time to have a snack and chat with me. Her school is about 20 minutes away, and I love getting to pick up her each day. Why? Because the whole drive back she does this…Back to School 2012 blog-29She tells me everything about her day. I love it! All the details about everything! Her first day could be summed up by this…Back to School 2012 blog-30

..okay, lots of excitement! Have I mentioned that this is going to be a great year? We are all so excited! Austin rode the bus home after school and we caught up with him on his day as he and the other kids organized binders and handed over mountains of forms for me to fill out.

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On the last day of the week we had these cute pencil treats for an afterschool snack-thank you Pinterest. The kids asked me a while back-“Remember when we used to have after school snacks?”


I guess I have dropping the ball on that one a bit, and yes, they noticed. I am all vamped up for this year though-after school snacks all ready-nothing too fancy, just there, and time to talk about all the amazing things that are happening at school x 5.

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{ What it Takes to Send 5 Kids to School }

We have finally entered the time in our life when we are spanning our kids across 3 schools. I can’t believe I am old enough to have a high schooler! Where has the time gone? Seriously, I feel like we just moved here and I was getting ready to send Brianna off to kindergarten. I was so sad to see her grow up. My days with her at home were becoming shorter and shorter and the thought of all day kindergarten was almost too much to bear.

Now here we sit, and my days with her at home are becoming shorter and shorter, and I know that in four short years she will be heading off to college and I will be crying some big tears then. It’s funny to think that then we will be spanning FOUR schools. We will have kids in kindergarten through college. Such a weird thought.

As we were getting everyone ready for school this year, I was pretty good at getting supplies a little at a time when they were on sale, and grabbing this or that when I thought about it. I was so glad as the stores were packed the weekend before. As I started gathering the supplies, I would stack them up on one of our kitchen counters. The stack would grow and grow and grow! I couldn’t believe all the stuff that it would take to send these 5 back to school. I can’t imagine what’s it’s going to be when all 7 are in school.

Last night before school started, we finally got all their supplies in one place. This was one massive pile! The kids were so excited to see all their stuff. They kept walking by it while pointing out which things were theirs. There is something so exciting about getting new school supplies. I loved it as a kid, and I love it now too. New folders without any rips, perfectly sharpened crayons, a full bottle of glue, a fresh pack of lined paper…it always felt like a brand new start.

So, here is our mountain of supplies…back to school supplies blog-2Let’s get a bird’s eye view of all this stuff.back to school supplies blog-5..and from the back. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff!back to school supplies blog-1 And this is just the stuff to send to school. It doesn’t count any extra pencils and paper we may need at home for homework. Those are in a separate pile to go in a plastic bin in our front closet.

What exactly does it take to send them to school? Here’s a breakdown of it:

  • 18 packs of lined paper
  • 5 reams of white copy paper
  • 10 1 inch 3 ring binders
  • 3 1/2inch 3 ring binders
  • 10 regular folders with prongs
  • 5 plastic folders with prongs
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  • 20 glue sticks
  • 4  boxes of 24pack of crayons
  • 4 pairs of scissors
  • 3 packs of markers
  • 9 composition notebooks
  • graph paper
  • 4 highlighters
  • 1 pack dry erase markers back to school supplies blog-7
  • 4 big erasers
  • 3 packs (25 each) of pencil top erasers
  • 50 blue/black pens
  • 10 red pens
  • 64 mechanical pencils
  • 144 pencils
  • 3 packs of colored pencils (we managed to collect enough we had around the house)
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  • portable 3 hole punch
  • 13 packs of tabbed dividers
  • 2 protractors
  • 1 compass
  • T1-84 plus silver edition graphing calculator
  • daily planner notebook
  • tape
  • paper clips
  • pack of sticky notes

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  • 6 boxes of Kleenex
  • 3 rolls of paper towels
  • 2 boxes of Bandaids
  • 1 container of  Clorox wipes
  • 2 plastic rulers
  • 2 large hand sanitizers
  • 4 mini hand sanitizers
  • MLA Handbook

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  • 3 boxes of Ziploc baggies (quart, gallon, and snack size)
  • index cards 3x5 and 4x6
  • 5 new lunch box containers with 5 mini fruit containers

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…and one pack of baby wipes that aren’t shown because I didn’t have any. Of all the things not to have, it’s kind of ironic we didn’t have those.

I was trying to think back to what I took to school. Lots of folders, lined paper, crayons (never the huge pack with a built in eraser), markers, pencils (not mechanical), erasers, spiral notebooks, a cardboard school box to put all of our pencils and crayons in, and sometimes 3 ring binders. I loved getting a new backpack and sometimes a new lunchbox-other times just brown bags (as we got older brown bags were way cooler than “baby” lunch boxes). I loved that I found in some old school stuff a list of school supplies from one of the years that my mom had kept. Man, how the times change.

I wonder what my grandkids will have to bring to school one day. Maybe by then it will just be an iPad. If I mentioned that to my own kids I’m sure they would think that would be awesome. There’s a great old fashioned part of me though that hopes that won’t completely happen. I hope they will never give up the need for crayons and markers and colored pencils. The thrill of opening a brand new box of crayons or a fresh box of markers-it makes the creative juices flow. It helps kids get to be kids for as long as they can.

It made me smile inside to see my freshman in high school get just as excited that she needed markers this year, as it did my kindergartener.

I love the start of school.


{ A Doer or A Dreamer }

Years ago, when our house had a lot fewer feet running around on it’s dirty floors, I thought of myself very much as a “doer”. I had my To Do lists of jobs and cleaning and organizing, my mental list of creative projects, my scrapbooking lists of all those out–of–this-world pages I was making, and I had my family to do list that consisted of outings and vacations, and this and that’s all over town.

As our family grew, my “to dos” grew too, but unfortunately my time seemed to stay the same. All my to-doing became a lot of dreaming instead. My mind would wander with the most fabulous ideas for decorating my house, or making this “thing” that would help things be so much smoother around here, or the best vacation ever we should take. My frustration would grow as my dreamer list would become much longer than even my to do list and certainly longer than my “Done” list. I felt like if I mentioned my dream list to anyone and than didn’t accomplish a single thing than I would be seen as a flake or one who has great ideas, but not a lot of follow through. Man, do I sure envy those follow through kind of people.

As I sat down more than a half a dozen times this summer to work on this forever behind blog of mine (which in on my dream list), I would have a little toddler climb up on my lap and want to help me by happily pounding on the keys. Then I would hear frantic cries of laughter from the door from dripping wet kids who were in need of a towel because they were drenched from the sprinklers out back. Kids would ask to snuggle for a nap, and I would give in. Neighbor kids popped in and out, snacks were consumed by the handfuls, nights were spent way past bed time talking with my older two or being conned into joining someone for “just one more episode’ of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Those amazing minutes of joy added all together, resulted once again in a large hole in this family blog of mine. This time though, I have realized that the things I might have wished were done on my “to do” list were neglected because I was living the dream. I was in fact doing so much DOING that my dreams were being fulfilled. I had failed to see before that those little things should have always been on my “to do” list. Were there vacations that I still dream about that go untaken? Sure. I still love to dream, and I want our family to have some amazing experiences together in this life. Are there projects that I would love to get to? Always! But, for now I look back at the last few years on this blog and see those big gaping holes smiling back at me reminding me of how much fun I have had in the doing of those things that have been the most important. I see my kids getting to experience me. To be with me, and me with them. What’s a better dream than that.

One of my favorite movies is “Cheaper By the Dozen”, and I love a quote in it at the end. Steve Martin’s character comes to tell his boss that he is resigning as their head coach, to take a job that allows him more time at home with his family. His boss makes the comment, ”Giving up the dream, huh?” to which Steve replies, “No. Just going with a different one.”

Someday I’ll get to that pesky to do list of mine, and along with many other things, I will actually get to write down all these great doings I have got to experience so we can remember them forever. Until then, I have a few more days with my kids before I have to give them back to school-so I am going to relish this time I have in my doing.