kids’ night out


As the mother of ‘boys of a certain age’ I feel a certain responsibility to come up with dating ideas. It’s not unusual for me to suggest a hike to Red Pine Lake followed by shaved ice, or to mention a free concert at the U and the pizza place nearby. This week I enthusiastically described the store windows and Christmas decor at the Grand America where you can fill out a scavenger hunt card and receive a cookie as an award at the posh French bakery.

My prompts are rarely ignored because a. I’m excellent at divining cheap or free activities and b. I’m a girl and have a certain sense of feminine fun. When Stefan appeared freshly showered and in a collared shirt and sweater Saturday night, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear he was headed to the Grand America. Erik and I were hosting a party and had banished the kids to the basement with a bag of clementines and the password to my computer; of course Stefan would want to get out of the house.

“Who are you taking?” I asked, mentally scrolling through the darling girls in our area (and they are darling! Have no fear for the future; these girls will save the world.)

“I’m taking the little skittles.” he replied. A rush of footsteps and coats and boots tossed over the banister put an exclamation point on his statement. Shouts and giggles filled our kitchen as they pulled hats over their ears and filled coat pockets with Christmas chocolates. Just before the first guest arrived they skipped out to Stefan’s car, filled every seat with their bundled little bodies and drove away.

What would have, could have, been a leisurely, even romantic, stroll with a pretty girl through the halls of the Grand America became a wild race and thinly disguised game of tag. The hour-long activity was accomplished in ten minutes and every face turned to Stefan, “What are we doing now?”

They drove to Gateway, but found that the wait for California Pizza Kitchen was ninety minutes long. Undeterred, Stefan herded them to the food court where he fed five kids for $10.78 at Subway.

If you are from Utah, you know that the next, and most obvious, activity is strolling through Temple Square. Millions of lights adorn the trees, walls and buildings. The reflecting pool shimmers with floating lighted spheres, lanterns line the walkways, Nativities from around the world capture the eye while Christmas carols fill the air.

Temple Square is a good mile from Gateway and falling snow made the ground slippery. But the walk was easy Stefan said, because most of the time they were “almost there.”

Holding hands, they navigated the sidewalks and street crossings. When their five abreast group blocked someone walking in the opposite direction they curled up potato bug style– the ends coming into the middle– until the wide sidewalk was free again. I was told that they soon recognized that the middle was the prime position and had to form a rotation to give each person equal time on the coveted spot.

And when sleepless nights erode my hopes to worries, that is the image that I summon– my children laughing, eyes shining and cheeks burnished red from the cold, hand-in-hand as they walk through life together.

December 15, 2010
January 2, 2011



  1. Kevin

    January 1, 2011

    Hooray, way to go Stefan! Awesome big brothers and good examples are what every young family needs and the Lehnardts produce some really good ones! Glad you guys are home, can’t wait to hear about your island adventures….in person:)

  2. Selwyn

    January 1, 2011

    So glad to be able to drink of your words again, and be reminded of the awesomeness of your family.

    Hugs – as always – from me to you, from mine to yours!

  3. michelle

    January 1, 2011

    Priceless. (And I, too, have missed your words.)

  4. Rachelle

    January 1, 2011

    Okay, you had me at “I’m taking the little skittles” and now I’m trying not to cry. I LOVE this.

  5. Michelle

    January 1, 2011

    I’m having a hard time trying to come up with the words to say that I hope! hope! hope! I am the kind of mom who creates and molds such amazing children.

    What love, Michelle. Surely you must be filled with awesome joy!

  6. Melissa

    January 3, 2011


  7. Adri

    January 3, 2011

    This is the greatest thing I’ve read in a long time!

  8. Queen Scarlett

    January 3, 2011

    This brings happy tears to my eyes…and reinforced purpose.

    You all deserve a standing ovation…and the rest of us following in your footsteps.

    Thank you.

  9. Cath

    January 3, 2011

    Ah, this is so precious. Your imagery makes me melt. You have so much good in your life! Missed you. Can’t wait to reconnect. love you.

  10. Zina

    January 3, 2011

    What a great story! Love it.

    I just uploaded my Christmas photos and was happy to see how many of them featured all five kids gathered around while one of them opened a present. (This is partly because we make them take turns, but also because they’re genuinely interested in each other’s Christmas joy.)

  11. Tracy

    January 4, 2011

    Oh my word. Beauty.

  12. Mitchell Family

    January 4, 2011

    Wish we could spend more time with your little skittles. Yesterday Will told me how much he wanted to go to Utah. “Why,” I asked “Do you always want to go to Utah.” “Because Gabe is there.”

  13. Kristin

    January 5, 2011

    What a truly inspiring message. Your children are such a tribute to who you are. Even though I only sortive know you through the reaches of the internet, I can feel of the geniune charity of your soul through your beautiful writing, your touching photography, and the geniune kindness and generosity of your children.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Brooke

    January 6, 2011

    i pretty much love everything about this! sigh…

  15. emily

    January 10, 2011

    i know i’m reading this late, but i still have to comment and say that it does my heart good and i can only pray that my kids will someday like each other as much as yours do! thanks for sharing and tell Stefan that he’s a pretty great big brother … but i bet he already knows!

  16. Blue

    December 6, 2011

    I remember reading this last Christmas when you first published it. Now, a year later, I’m wondering if you give mommying lessons? How do I get my skittles to be like that with each other? #atalosslately ♥

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