Friday, August 22, 2014

Dog days of summer

Dog days of summer
Just too hot
"Please, mommy. I want to ride my bike."

New challenges.
Look both ways.
Ride to the side.
You're growing too quickly.

One fall, two falls, three falls,
I stand to help.
"No, mommy. I can do it all by myself."
I sit back down.

Ride a little further. 
To the next driveway.
And the next.
Steps away from babyhood. 
Steps toward little girl giggles,
Adolescent struggles, teenage angst.

But for now, "Look, mom!!! One hand!"
I sit and watch.

An entourage of emotion even before I start my day.
All from one little girl.
On a warm summer day.
Learning to ride her bike.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not so little anymore...

Today I took Libby and Connor to the library. We have a great new library in town and I have a feeling that I will be spending a lot of time here once the kids are in school. Next to the gym, one of my favorite places to be is the library. I could spend hours here.

So naturally, I want to bring the kids. The kids' area is amazing, but it leaves me a little sad each time we come. You see, in my mind, Libby and Connor are no bigger than they were a few years ago. But the funny thing is, they now tower over the other "little" kids playing in the same area.

Truth is, Libby is not 2 and Connor is not 4.

The children's room is a playful area, populated by young moms with very young kids. Baby carriers, strollers-galore, sippy cups and bottles. Diapers and wipes and tantrums and baby giggles surround me and I feel right at home. And then I take a look at my (almost) five year old and my (almost) nine year old. Both opting for computer time over puppet shows. Neither interested in story time, but both opting for Wii and movie rentals instead.

I'm not so concerned about the lack of desire to - GASP - check out a book...yet. No, I'm more focused on the fact that in a few short years, this children's room will become obsolete...a thing of my past and their past, and that makes me just a little bit sad.

So for today, I will capture a few images of a very brief cuddle moment. I will relish in the fact that for a little while longer, I DO belong among the baby toys, the baby Lego blocks, the toy trains and the reading cubbies. 

And I'll say a prayer or two that with their growth out of the children's room comes a love of reading as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"I Am Gossip"

I am Gossip. I hurt people, create hate and rumors.
My name spreads like a cold.
I go in and out of mouths,
Making people hurt,
And curious.

This is what I do.

I am a deadly thing. The words I say are horrible.
They can lead from one thing to another with me.
I can say something nice one minute
and awfully mean the next.
I can be sneaky
Or caught right on the spot.

No one likes me.
They hate my words and my lies.
I get people upset all the time with my cruel looks and rude
I get everyone talking when I start something with someone.
Everyone wishes I didn't exist.
They wish I would go far away and
Never Come Back.

I am Gossip.

This is what I do.

~Abby English

This beautiful, talented, kind, funny, intelligent, quirky wonderful young woman starts high school tomorrow. I can only wonder one thing:

Where did my baby go?


Friday, August 8, 2014

No apologies. Write. Every. Single. Day.

I promise that I have stories about the kids. I just haven't posted them. Haven't found the time, or the desire, for some reason. I love writing but it has gotten away from me. For heaven sakes, it's a blog about my KIDS - where are the stories about the KIDS?

Recently I attended a book reading here in Lawrence with some friends. The author, Jenn Mann, is the author of the popular blog,, as well as the author of two popular books, I Just Want to Pee Alone and I Just Want to Be Alone

I was intrigued by her life - her stories - her blog - and her uncanny ability to write, even when she may have nothing to say. 

You see, I love writing. But what the hell? Have I had nothing to say lately or what? Some major writer's block, perhaps? So I asked her "How do you keep your blog going even when you don't want to write?" "How do find the motivation to find a story in everything?"

I mean, seriously, how DOES she do it?

Her answer was simple. 

"Just like you find the time to workout, you must find the time to write. Every. Single. Day. Even when you don't want to. Even when you think you have nothing to share. Just write. Don't necessarily publish. But write. Something. It will come to you."

So here I am. And here is where I will start. No apologies for no recent posts. No explanations. Just stories about my four kiddos. Because that's what this blog was designed to do - share their stories with you. From the funny to the sad, I want to capture these moments. I don't scrapbook. Who has the time? This is my scrapbook. I better get back to work.

After all, they are only young once. So, in no particular order:

Abby begins high school next week. Holy crap. High school. That's about all Im going to say on that one. We'll just let that one settle in a little bit. Holy crap. HIGH SCHOOL.

Connor's first week of Premier soccer was this week. Am I the only parent who thinks that three-hour practices four days a week is a bit much for an 8-year old? It won't be this way all year, but seriously? I understand that it's a higher level of playing, but wow. That's a lot of soccer. Here's hoping he loves it as much as he has in the past.

Libby's schedule changes a lot this fall - she will be in school five afternoons a week. I'm trying to evolve my business, which means she {may} go to a friend's house one morning a week so I can get some things done. I'm not sure how she will handle this {Im thinking back, with dread, to the end of the school year last year when she cried every day that I dropped her off. Can we say MOMMY-ATTACHMENT?} I hope that is a thing of the past, because she also is going to be enrolled in Parks and Rec gymnastics and dance classes three mornings a week because I begin teaching more fitness classes this fall. You know, why not? Right? So I hope she's over that ridiculous moodiness that reared its UGLY head last year. Truth be told, this momma doesnt have the patience to deal with that again. {And I cannot tell a lie. I love her dearly, but DO wish she was beginning all day kindergarten this year. Darn September birthday}.

And then there's Keely. Because I'm such a good mom, I let her have some friends spend the night last night for her birthday {even though her birthday was in June. But hey, who keeps track?} Their activity of choice was shopping and dinner downtown, followed by a sleepover.

I don't like sleepovers, I really don't. Not sure why. The girls were very polite. It has nothing to do with them. I just would prefer to not have more kids than mine here in the mornings. Isn't FOUR enough? {Now is probably not a good time to mention that I have baby fever, is it?}

The fact that I heard giggling and screams all night may also have something to do with this. But Owell. My mommy-birthday duty is done for another year. 

I should go. Im having mommy guilt because Libby is watching TV - STILL - as I type this. And getting off online is easier than listening to incessant talk about Scooby Doo. Kill me now. 

Summer has come to an end. Im not quite ready for the chaos of school, coupled with soccer x 2, choir, volleyball, student council, school dances, HIGH SCHOOL, a potential new driver in the family and just running ragged. But it's looming. It's coming. 

I better stock my liquor cabinet. ;)

Monday, June 9, 2014

20 minutes of swimming lesson hell

Ahh, swimming lessons.
Gotta love the swimming lessons.

It's time. Libby needs them. It means the floaties come off.
{It also means that my days of lounging by the side of the pool are numbered, as I know once that floatie comes off, I'm gonna be on her like YOU KNOW WHAT to be sure she is safe. Goodbye, leisurely afternoons. I feel as if I'm regressing back to toddler stage - you know, when you can't leave the kids alone by the pool at all. Yeah, I'm there again. Joy.

But at least Libby LOVES to swim. Teaching her will be a no-brainer. Day after day, she jumps into that pool over and over and over again. Down the slide, off the side, off the diving boards. No inhibitions - she will be GREAT!! I mean, what could go wrong?

Seems Libby had other ideas in mind. First off, she is starting these on the heels of that crying phase she had at the end of school. Then, OH NO!!! Her teacher was a BOY!!! Not a GIRL!!! I knew I shouldnt have mentioned if it was going to be a girl or boy. I had spoken with a woman, so I assumed it would be a woman. I assumed wrong. Immediate tears. I thought to myself "Oh hell, no, Libby. Just don't."

I admit it. I was annoyed. I mean, really? So we pushed her {gently, I promise} to take off her flip flops and head to the pool with this young man. He was so nice. I was a little less nice.

We approached the pool. You know, the one...the one I mentioned earlier. The one she jumps into over and over and over again. This morning??

Really, Libby? You won't get in? You won't do ANYTHING??
I really don't have patience sometimes. I know this about me. I try to keep this in check.
This morning I tried. I was rolling my eyes on the inside, but trying to be supportive on the outside.

And then, I realized bribery would work best.
Her teacher: "Libby, I promise it will be fun. Would you like to walk one more step in? It will be so much fun. I won't let anything happen to you and your mom is right there."
Me: "Libby. Listen to him. You do this every day. If you don't learn to swim, we won't come back to swim. You MUST listen to him. Now."

So her teacher tried another approach and took her to the baby pool. Whatever. I wanted to stay out of the way but she wasnt listening so yes, I bribed again.
"Libby if you don't do what he says I'm going to sit by the other pool."

{He wasn't crazy. He was great with her. I was the crazy one. I know this. But hey, it worked.}

They got through the lesson and she even graced him with some high fives. Lucky kid. He probably was counting down the minutes until this session was over.

But she accomplished three of her tasks for the completion of level 1 so skill-wise, I think she is good. We've gotta get those tears out of the equation. If we don't, I'll REALLY feel like we are regressing. Libby may begin looking like this: 

And I may begin looking like this:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Me and my Shadow

Well, we have hit an impasse with little Libby as the school year draws to a close. This sweet one, who has loved school all year long, is done. We've gone from shedding a few tears while at school to full-blown crying as I walk her to the door.

And the behavior isn't confined to school. She opted to forgo dance class yesterday. She didnt want to go to her friend's house the other day. All because, according to Libby, she misses me too much. 


I mean, I think I'm a good mom. But as much as I appreciate the sentiment, I'm calling BS. I don't play as many games as I should. Im sure I should be reading to her more, playing Play-Doh and Barbie and doctor and house. Bike rides should be more frequent {except for this darn cool weather we are having}.

Truth be told - I think she's better off - having more fun - away from me! :) 

But I know, it's a phase and it will pass. At least Im hoping. Because although I love cuddle time with her - she won't want it much longer, I am torn between truly cherishing it and looking at her with confusion and asking "WHY, all of a sudden, do you not want to be ANYWHERE without me?"

I started calling her Shadow yesterday. She wasn't amused.

So alas, another phase of growing up. I dropped her off crying today. I hope she has a good day. She loves school, I know she does. :(

It breaks my heart a little to see her so sad. But why the sadness? You get to hang with your friends, go to centers, and PE, and play on the playground. Im not nearly that entertaining. 

But I suppose shadows dont really have a say in what is entertaining or not. They simply follow you EVERYWHERE YOU GO! :) 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Conversations with Libby...just trying to keep up!

Today, Libby came home from school very excited about what she learned. I guess I better learn to better interpret her descriptions:

L: Mom, guess what we learned about today?
M: What?
L: D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D.
M: The letter D?
L: {Annoyed - already.} No, mom. D-D-D-D-D-D, you know...with humans and animals?
M: Not the letter D?
L: {Sighs}. No. Guess what letter we learned about?
M: {A little apprehensive to ask} What letter?
L: Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y
M: Y? Like Yes and Yellow?
L: AND LIBBY, mom!
M: Yes, Libby has a Y in it.
L: So does Lucy, and Abby and Keely. But not Isaac. 
M: You're right. Anything else?
L: D-D-D-D-D!!!!
M: I don't know what you mean if it's not the letter D.
L: {Annoyed again}. V-V-V-V-V-V!!!!
M: The letter V???
L: Yes, as in VET, MOM!!!!! V-V-V-V-V-E-T!!!!
M: Oh, great, you learned about vets. 
L: That's what I was TRYING TO TELL YOU all the time, mom! Humans, animals, D-D-D-D-D-O-C-T-O-R-S and V-V-V-V-E-T-S mom!!! {Rolls eyes}

Well, then, why didn't you just SAY SO, Libby???? ;)
Seriously. I think that entire conversation made me tired. 
Life with a four {AND A HALF} year old!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Growing Up Before Our Eyes

This morning, I find myself really reflecting on the fact that my kids are getting so old. I am still down to the last sippy cup, really only used when Libby is in the television room. Where did the babies go? Where did the snuggles go? The bottles? The late night songs to get them to go to sleep? They seem like yesterday and yet really, they are not.

This makes me sad. I miss those days. I loved my kids as babies. I love babies period. The time I had with them as younger kids is so quickly replaced by their big kid activities. School dances. Soccer. Hip hop. Volleyball. Sleepovers. Homework. Lots of homework. Weekend plans. Movies. And so on and so on. 

This morning, the following video captured my attention. Maybe it is because my oldest is 14, or maybe it simply is because this man so beautifully captures how our kids grow right before our eyes and before we know it, they are no longer kids. :(

Recently, though, I have experienced some "little kid" moments. Like when my 14 year old woke from a bad dream and asked to go back to sleep in our room so she felt safer. Like when both my older girls make it a point to come say goodnight with a hug or kiss every night before they head upstairs. Like Connor coming into our room every morning and coming to my side of the bed to give me a hug to say good morning. Like when Libby, who sometimes falls asleep on the couch in the afternoon and has a hard time falling asleep at bedtime, asks me to read her a story or two, late at night, and she falls asleep as Im reading to her. 

These are moments I will cherish. 

Yesterday, I got the older girls out of school early for a day of shopping, dinner and the Miley Cyrus concert in Kansas City. It was Abby's birthday present. They have been counting down for weeks. 

Long story short - Miley cancelled and the girls were devastated. But we made the best of the situation and had a really nice time together, laughing while shopping both day and night. Fun memories of them pulling me away from the little girl section AND the workout section of some stores {I fall prey to buying more than I need of both of those things} and just enjoying them, as young women, growing up. 

I cherish my kids. I hope they know that. Sometimes I wish time would stand still. Other times I wish I could go back in time with each one of them to baby cuddle with them one more time. Ill have to take what I can get - and those "little kid" moments I mentioned earlier? I cherish those just as much. 

Happy mom. Lucky mom. Blessed mom. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Break 2014

What a fun spring break this year! We traveled {by car, YIKES} to Durango, Colorado for a week o skiing, hiking and just a lot of outdoor fun. The kids did awesome skiing, even Libby, who, after spending a morning upset that she didnt know where me or Chris were, mastered her slopes and is excited to go again!

Trips to Mesa Verde and the Great Sand Dunes National Park also got us outside - for some challenging hikes and some exposure to the sandy beaches {sans water} at the Sand Dunes. I had never been to any of the places we went, so it was a lot of fun.

My favorite day was hiking Mesa Verde. A beautiful part of southern Colorado where ancient cliff dwellings are still visible today. We challenged the kids to a lengthy, challenging hike over steep rocky terrain, but they did great. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Now, we are back, the girls are with their friends and Chris and I are {trying} to recuperate! ;) 

Before we know it, these kids won't want to be with us for Spring Break. Trips with us will be replaced with trips with friends. They are getting old so quickly. We simply cherish the time we have with them and smile at their achievements - and there were a lot of them this week. I loved being with them!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Happy holidays to you! What a great Christmas and New Year we had. Family in town, but we missed Matt and Laurel! It was wonderful having my aunt in town to celebrate with us. Electronics ruled the gifts this year...and exercise equipment and apparel!!  This, of course, I love! :)

Blessings to everyone for a happy and healthy 2014! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

A short tribute to a wonderful woman

Five years ago, on December 27, Chris' mom, Janet, passed away after battling cancer.
She never met my youngest daughter. But what many people don't know is that little Libby was conceived in the wake of Janet's passing.

I like to think, for many reasons, that Libby was given to us as a reminder that life goes on, that surprises will come at you no matter how well you plan your life, and when it all comes down to it, your family is what matters. I believe Janet believed all of this and more.

I loved my mother in law. I was blessed with one of the good ones. She welcomed me with open arms, she cared for her family with everything she had to give and she made her kids and grand kids smile.

I hope she knows how much she meant to me. I hope she knows how much Chris and I miss her and wish she was here to see our family...her family...grow. I have faith she can see us from where she is. I'm sure she has some definite opinions on decisions we have made and how I wish I could get her sound advice on some things at the center of our minds and hearts.

Instead, I will cherish the short time I knew her. Thank you, Janet, who, with Steve's help, raised a beautiful, kind, loving man who I have the privilege of being married to while on this Earth. 

You are missed and You are loved.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Lucky Mom Indeed

Good morning. Today it is December 18 - in one week, probably close to this time, it will be Christmas morning. I love this time of year, I really do. I hope I carry this love of the season with me throughout my life, despite what curveballs life may very well throw at me. 

Lately, I've been reflecting, not surprisingly, on my kids. They are growing so quickly, I know. At times it doesn't feel that way {like when I'm annoyingly trying to find Libby in Hobby Lobby. I mean, who wants to stay with a cart while mom shops - BORING!!! - when you can run and hide from your mom and make her look, act, and run around the store looking so FUNNY!!!}. But time goes by - and it goes by quickly. So I have to take a moment to remember a few things that make me one very lucky mom:

1. My 13-year old and my 11-year old still {voluntarily} find us to say goodnight, complete with a kiss and/or a hug. I mean, really? So lucky, right? It makes me happy. We tell them it's bedtime and {after about 10 minutes of checking their phones, their Instagrams, their FB, their Snapchats} they seek us out to say goodnight to us in person. LUCKY!!!

2. Connor {who would kill me if he knew I was sharing this} still exhibits no shyness in his nakedness. I hope that doesn't sound weird - it's just - well, it makes me happy that he is still at the point where hey, it's just mom. He will grow out of that soon, I know, and will be replaced by a young man who wants his privacy and I will be out of the picture. For now, though, I still get these glimpses of this little boy who, with his toothless grin, can melt my heart. LUCKY!!!

3. So Libby is still all mine!!! ;) At four years old, I still "have" her for awhile longer. Long gone are the crib days, the staying up all night days...they have been replaced by the "Mom, I had a bad dream. Will you sleep with me for a little while?" days. She still falls asleep on the couch and I still carry her upstairs like I did when she was a baby. I still tuck her in and I still watch her sleep. LUCKY!!!

I know there are so many more things that these children bless me with each and every day. The ones I have mentioned are the ones I have taken note of recently and I wanted to capture them. I look forward to one week from today, when all of my kids will be up and ready to celebrate what will be a most glorious Christmas morning.

Yes, I am one lucky mom indeed. Merry Christmas! :)

Tracey's bookshelf: read

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
My Sister's Keeper
Nineteen Minutes
The Pact
The Tenth Circle
Change of Heart
Keeping Faith
Handle with Care
House Rules
More Than It Hurts You
Amy and Isabelle
A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Widow for One Year
The 158-Pound Marriage
To the Lighthouse
Between the Acts
A Room of One's Own, and Three Guineas
The Help

Tracey English's favorite books »