a long goodbye

These three went back to school today.  We realized that a good way to make our summer seem longer is to live somewhere that starts school two weeks later than most of our friends.  It sure seems to stretch out the long summer days.
Today started what I have decided is a very long goodbye.
Letting go of my kids.
I have felt like I was letting them go for years now, since I sent my little Luke off to kindergarten.  I let a lot of rope slip out of my hands today as I sent Isabel off on her last first day of school.  The last year of school that any of my kids will be at the same school.
A growing shorter string of lasts ahead of us.
Last football games, last dances, last swim practices, last of the silly high school blow off classes…a long goodbye to high school.  Which leads to a long goodbye to childhood really.  We say goodbye every single day that we have with these kids, because we can’t get them back.  Our days just seem numbered here on out.
12th, 10th and 7th grade will fly by this year.  Luke will find new freedoms this year as he starts junior high and will become an official teenager.  Max will have to adjust to not having headphones in his ears non stop and will slip away a little more when he gets his drivers license this year.  And Isabel will wrap up her high school years with a tidy brown and gold Davis high bow and move on to greener pastures filled with jobs and budgets and big adult decisions.  Big decisions that don’t always include moms and dads.
We’re one step closer and said a few more little goodbyes today…but will holding on to these goodbyes with everything we have.


A year and a dozen days ago we climbed out of our overpacked vehicles, stretched our legs and wiped the tears from our eyes, and started a new life.  Well, we cried some more tears as the weeks and months unfolded…and a few more as our old life faded further from our rearview mirrors.  
It seems to have taken a year to fully awaken from a zombie like slumber as we transitioned.  The first snow fell and we grew accustomed to wearing sweaters and closed toed shoes.  We said goodbye to Jim and Paula and a little more reality set it.  
I may finally feel like I am in a place to share a few more pieces of my heart again.  I held them close for the last 12 months because I felt so unstable that if I let a little piece out into the world I may not have enough to sustain me.  I have smiled and laughed and set goals and repeated affirmations and worked, worked, worked the last year to hold my head up.  To not feel broken.  
I have fought.  And I have realized some things about myself along the way.  
“I used to feel like happiness was somewhat of a shallow emotion.  Something felt by the un-examined heart that had not yet reached deep into the soul to grasp a fistful of sadness at the center of life.  Granted, I am a product of the grunge filled nineties, a broody middle child who loved creative writing classes.  Still, a narrow minded viewpoint to have claimed no matter the age or naivety.  I have since tried many flavors of happiness, and I may not be an everyday vanilla kind of happy but I certainly enjoy a regular doses of the double dark chocolate raspberry kind of joy.”  
I want to get in the face of the heavy things that come my way and stare them down.  I need to know what I’m facing and feel the complete weight of life along with the bright rays of sunshine and positive affirmations of happier days ahead. 
My emotions don’t define me, my future, or my character.  Sometimes I feel depressed, that doesn’t mean I am depressed. Or negative.  OR weak.  Emotions are how I feel.  Not who I am.   
I am strong and whole and happy.  Even if there are days where it is harder to feel those things. 


On Jane’s 45th birthday I escaped for a few minutes in the early morning and sat at her graveside.  I had been there a few nights before and captured this photo of the sun setting through the clouds.  
I think she’s close.  I think she cares what we are doing and how we are feeling.  She was always worried when we worried.  She wanted to fight for us and with us and fix anything that was hurting us.  A quiet morning in a cool cemetery may not be the same as having my scrappy sister in my life, not even close, but it gives me peace and reminds me that we aren’t done with our relationship, it just looks different now.  I’d have her back in my life in a heart beat, but I’ll settle for these clouds and fleeting sun rays for now. 

A little bit of AZ in UT

A little bit of AZ spent the week with us in the middle of July.  We were so excited for the Lavenders to visit with us and eat with us.  We have a great time together and we eat the best food.  
I think it says a lot about friendships when you can pick up where you left off and laugh all day long. We literally spent 6 days eating and laughing with a little manual labor mixed in there.  Jesse and Aaron rebuilt our closet so Jesse could hang his shirts without them folding over at the bottom.  Their friendship wouldn’t be complete without a project.  And our friendship wouldn’t be complete without a sheet cake.  
We miss these guys and our date nights.  As much fun as 10 desserts from Taggarts was, I would trade all the desserts to have these guys live close by.  Even the carrot cake, which is really saying something.  

Montana Summer

At the beginning of July Isabel and I made the beautiful drive to Montana to help Abbi with Rigly for the week.  It seems that every time I make this drive I find the most stunning grey skies along one stretch of prairie.  The light breaking through the clouds this particular day was so captivating.  I wished I’d had time to just sit and watch the world float by.  
I had Isabel drive me home through the canyon and was continually finding myself amazed at the trees and the light and the mountains.  I love that there is so much beauty around us and that I have the eyes to see it and heart to appreciate it.  Inspiring and sometimes simple views of nature have given me peace and hope to keep moving through some difficult times in my life and continue to lift me. 


After being home from a week two of the kids dressed in some pioneer costumes and packed a few things and walked for 37 miles across the plains of Wyoming with a few hundred strangers and one cousin.  
You would think that when we picked up these kids we would be greeted with tired faces and exhausted people but the smiles that beamed from them were just that.  Beaming.  They were glowing and energetic and infectious to be with.  They had nothing but positive things to say and would probably do it again in a week or two. 
Isabel and Max had the unique opportunity to do a trek in AZ and UT back to back years.  Sariah had never had the chance to go at all and magically was allowed to go with our stake after they announced that no guests would be accepted.  
Their strength amazes me.  Love these kids!

Bryce Canyon

For the Stevenson Family Trip of 2016 we ventured down south to a little place called Bryce Canyon.  We hiked.  We ate.  We drove and gazed at some amazing vistas, and we laughed with our loved ones.  
There never seems to be a shortage of laughter or food at these gatherings and we wouldn’t want it any other way.  

The end of Elementary

It is the end of an era at the Deller house.  The last of the kids graduated from Elementary today and is moving on to bigger and brighter things.

I wasn’t sentimental at the little graduation ceremony, in fact I felt the same way I did watching the other two kids, silly practice having a “graduation” ceremony.  I was a little upset when the teacher admitted in front of everyone that she didn’t make Luke a diploma.  However, as I was walking out of the school with this blond boy of mine, I was happy with the person he is becoming.

I am hoping he remembers to be smart and work hard.
Happy Advancing day Luke!

Isabel is 17

Do you think this girl of mine is excited to be 17? She was, don’t be fooled by her sullen expression. 

Despite being the hardest of my kids shop for, she is not very hard to please.  The only reason she is hard to shop for is that she doesn’t want anything.  She can’t come up with things to ask for.  It makes me so proud of her and at the same time frustrated.

In one short year she will entering her last week of high school and planning for the rest of her life.  Her smile may be just as wide, but with each day that passes her thoughts are increasingly heavier and she becomes more and more aware of the adulthood responsibilities that are coming her way.

I am proud of her for thinking about big things.  And my heart aches for her that she is already leaving some of the childhood naivety behind.

Dream big little lady, let your heart be light.  There’s time enough for worry.  Just keep that big smile on your face not matter what comes.

Happiest of birthdays my dear.  

Brace free and running

Max wrapped up his first year of track with a 5th place relay finish at district.  Not to bad for his first year.  I am proud of how hard he worked.  Or more accurately, I’m proud of him for being him.  The extra is just extra.  
And then he got his braces off and looks like this.  Handsome looker if you ask me.