For years I have written up a "family snapshot" at the beginning of the year.
I have a lot of "snapshots" of images here on the blog, but years ago I figured it would be great to have a snapshot of a moment of time in words as well. Words that would remind us in the future what life was like "way back then." (Last year's snapshot with links to all the others is HERE.)
So the original idea is to do the "snapshot" right at the beginning of the new year, but last year it was at the beginning of the school year and this year I haven't been able to get my act together before now either so here we are in August (my "one word" is coming too...I'm running more behind than usual this year!)
But I started writing this to be a snapshot back at the end of last year, when we still had four kids at home. Because that is a snapshot I want to remember.
I was almost done when summer hit and I never got the chance to post it, so let's just go back in time for a minute and pretend we're back there in April or May.
And while we're at it, let's pretend that picture up there was taken back then too...and not blurry. Ha!
Here we go:
Then the little girls and I are alone (sometimes with Dave but often he's off for a meeting right away and it's just us). They do their jobs, we hang in their bathroom, baths every other morning and braiding wet hair or curls, and spilling out the beans on who's doing what at recess and sometimes they finish homework as I do hair.
Sometimes these little girls of mine even match.
Grace and her friends are thick as thieves and are constantly in need of a ride somewhere and are counting down the days until they each will get their driving licenses.
Elle, as a senior, has kind of checked out of school.
I mean, she still does her homework and studies her guts out, and I don't ever have to worry about her grades, but her heart isn't in it any more.
Her heart is soaking up these friends before she leaves.
She has lucked out with lots of photography jobs and a part time babysitting job after school (she goes half-day this year) so she's doing well at saving up for college as she wills it to stay at bay for as long as possible.
We do FHE (or family council) right after church every Sunday. We do an activity on Monday night.
STILL after all these years this is just what works for us.
Plus, I can't complain about how the light bathes the people who sit in that room...
My favorite part of FHE is when, on the first Sunday of each month (fast Sunday) we have our own family testimony meeting.
We hold on to each of his words and find ourselves laughing about the funny things he says days after we hear from him.
Sometimes his letters make us cry. And sometimes, when they think about him too much and the missing starts to swell bigger than usual, the girls will bawl.
We miss him. But we LOVE having him out there at the same time.
We have planted a garden (finally after years and years of good intentions), and have big plans to figure out all the ins and outs of gardening in the desert.
This is still Lucy's preferred mode of transportation to the bus:
Either Dave or I run alongside her as she rides (she's getting so good at bike-riding but we're so worried about her eyesight). And this is how we get home:
There are kids at our house a lot and we love it.
In an effort to feed them (and get our kids so they don't like it any more), Dave has had a plan to stock our pantry with sugar cereal. He figures if it's always around, the kids will get sick of it and not like it any more. That plan is not working.
But it sure makes the neighborhood kids happy!
Claire babysits once a week for our sweet friends who just adopted two kids from Ghana. She sparkles when she comes home because she loves it.
Lucy is tidy.
She has taken it upon herself to make sure everything in her bathroom (the one she shares with Grace and Claire) is put away each night before she goes to bed and each morning before she leaves for school. I think it is darling.
There is always art all over the house from Lucy. She works diligently at so many projects and I adore them all.
We have "gifted" our kitchen sinks to our daughters. They are in charge of every dish that goes in them. This grand plan worked for a while, but is unraveling quickly as the school year draws to an end.
Job check-lists too.
We will start anew next school year and figure out some whiz-bang plan to keep them going.
But for now, I'm ok to let things slide.
Because my babies are leaving one by one. And I just want to memorize them.
I love this chalk board barn door we have going into the kitchen from the girls' bedrooms:
I love writing up new things on there every once in a while.
At church I get to work with the 14-15 year old girls and I love it.
Especially because Grace is in there.
Dave gets to teach Sunday School lessons with this group too so we get some good Grace time.
We gather with extended family as much as we can, but it gets busier and trickier as the years go by and there are more teenagers in the mix.
We love them so much and feel so grateful to live close so we can get together when we do.
Family FHE bike rides make my heart turn all mushy.
Lucy has sort of taken over this homework space and uses it as her desk:
It is always quite organized, and filled with her art.
From here she makes her signature table name tags...which some times, on a good day, turn into name-tag-notes:
And, since Lucy adores that big sister of hers who helps her the very most, sometimes she gets a special name tag.
...and sometimes Lucy is lucky enough to get one right back:
I'm so grateful for all those moments and things that make us a family.