Dear Ben- everything at our house turned upside down in the last few days. With much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, we moved Stefan down to Provo Wednesday.

Wait, everyone looks happy. That’s because we have no intention of letting more than a week go by without seeing him. Oh yes, we were all mature and gave you your space (kind of) but we miss you so much these days, we plan on visiting Stefan obnoxiously often. His roommates will just have to put up with us and his dates when we all tag along.

Everyone hauled in his massive amount of belongings.

Hans and Xander put the bed together.

While Gabe and Mary hung clothes.

You can see Gabe peering curiously into Stefan’s roommate’s closet (I didn’t let him open the door).

We took a break at one of your favorite places–Sammy’s Pie Shakes. You remember the Waddoups– Basic Joy? Annie and her family are moving to Australia, while cute Lauren stays at BYU.

Next we were joined by California friends. Silly Meggie insists she’ll beat the boys in an armwrestle someday. Uh huh.

Happily, our goodbye was shortlived, since Stefan came home Sunday to be ordained an Elder. Our bananas were turning brown without him. I need to stop buying five bunches at a time.

A hug after his ordination.

With Grandpa and Grandma, the Bishop and Stake President.

And me. Dad insisted I put up this photo, but you can see why we also need the one above. Everyone was so much smilier– especially Grandpa Fritz, and I would hate for you to think he’s become a grumpy old man. He’s the same silly Fritz you’ve always known.

The mandatory Mary/Stefan photo (she sat on his lap all during church because, “he won’t be here again for a long long time.”)

And the Hans/Stefan photo. 😉

After, Stefan set about all his normal Sunday things– filling the family room with music.

Making banana bread (while eating a banana popsicle) because we’re such slacker banana-eaters.

Reading one of Mary’s American Girl books because he’d promised.

Offering his grudging approval.

Mary piled all the pillows on a chair for back-to-school blessings. Remember how President Tingey told you to give your mom a blessing as your first task as an Elder? He gave Stefan the same challenge. I could tell he was nervous, but he had a few hours to think about it and gave me a beautiful heartfelt blessing. Then dad said, “My turn.” and Stef broke into a cold sweat.

A bit of wild dancing to finish off the evening, and off he went. But like I said, no tearful goodbyes, because we’ll probably visit him on Saturday. But… with Stef moving out things have changed– his name is off the job chart (but as you know, the dishes rotation goes much better with four kids), Hans is now in charge of turning off the upstairs lights and we just had to do a room shuffle.

Thanks to you, every child in this household feels like having their own room is some sort of cruel punishment. Hans is still OK with your bed with the hope of Stefan returning for the weekend, but Xander was done with solitary. He lured Gabe to the upper bunk (Mary and Gabe have been sharing) and helped Mary move her bed into the pink room. So now, the old Gabe/Mary room is Lego/dollhouse heaven and Mary is FINALLY–after eight years– sleeping in her own room.

Except she’s actually sleeping on the old brown couch in Xander and Gabe’s room.

Ooh, isn’t is beautiful? You may never see this room so clean again. Looks huge with my wide angle lens, doesn’t it? Yep. So we have four bedrooms and two of them sitting empty. By the way, Hans has been sleeping in your bed since you left, but still keeps his clothes in Xander’s room. You are all strange little children.


Sophomore Hans off to his first day of high school.

Xander obsesses over mechanical pencils and nice pens just like you. Eighth grade seems so much easier than starting as a brand new sevvie.

And yeah, what’s Gabe doing up? Your sleepy little brother is no more. When I came home from running before 7 he was at the counter dutifully filling in a math worksheet.

With two hours to spare, Gabriel quadruple checked his school supply list, made lunches and practiced every violin song ten times.

Finally, finally, time to leave. They say there are two kinds of mothers– the kind who cry when school starts and the kind who cheer. But I think crying vs. cheering is all about timing. We’ve had an incredible summer (sorry to rub that in), fall is creeping over the mountains and everyone is excited to learn new things, make new friends.

Some years I’ve cried, but today I moved the couches and kitchen rug into place and knew they’d stay there a few hours. Sang as I swept the floors, wiped the counters and wiped fingerprints off the back door. Made a list of every project I need to finish this month (twenty-seven and counting) and cheered just a bit.

Love and kisses to my darling Benny boy,


August 26, 2012
August 31, 2012



  1. Tracy

    August 28, 2012

    Oh my word so much beauty in all of these pictures. So much joy. We have 8 more days before school starts. We are all ready(except for maybe Astrid).

  2. annie

    August 28, 2012

    How do you feel about arranged marriages? ‘Cause my darling daughter started 10th grade today too. A sure sign that they’re made for each other. Kidding! Maybe. Sort of.

  3. Kerri

    August 28, 2012

    I’m so glad I get to read about all these transitions through your family before I live them, because Josh turning into a junior is killing me. Only 2 more years. I’m going to try to channel my inner you when everyone goes back to school Tuesday and I feel like life is changing too fast. Maybe I’ll feel like cheering, too? I’ll try…

  4. ellen

    August 28, 2012

    You got to see Annie?!? She’s the best.

    You have such a nice family. I smiled through this whole post.

    Is Stefan in Heritage Halls?!?

  5. Kate

    August 29, 2012

    Beautiful post! All of it…Your writing is so beautiful and from the heart. I felt the same way when school started- (although I still have two home with me:) Isn’t it amazing that they are so prepared for that next step- as difficult as it may be? And the priesthood- what an amazing blessing!! xoxo

  6. Rachelle

    August 29, 2012

    Sigh… loved this and I wish you a blessed Fall.

  7. Tifani

    August 30, 2012

    Why? Why does your post make me cry? It’s a happy, optimistic post, but I’m in tears.

  8. Mormon Women: Who We Are

    September 1, 2012

    Beautiful. Reading about him giving blessings was powerful.

    I had one of those not-crying years. There’s a certain wonder in watching them grow and become their own people, and we’re moving into that phase. Sure, it’s bittersweet, but I realize in watching moms like you who are ahead of me in terms of the stage of life that I’ll always be their mom and they’ll always be my precious ones, and that relationship can continue to be sweet and rewarding — because that is what you are choosing. Once a mom, always a mom. It’s the beauty of the choice to live up to that eternal role. What a legacy you are leaving for your children.

    And for your readers.

    I love you.

  9. Anne Marie

    September 3, 2012

    Could your family radiate any more love or goodness? I just don’t think so. Gorgeous, inside and out. Wishing you happiness as you transition to everyone back in school.

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