Monday, November 28, 2016


She's the caboose. When she arrived we had this calming knowledge that everyone had finally shown up. I knew she was the tail end. So I held her longer, smelled her fresh baby skin and kissed her tiny baby toes. I soaked her in.

I still find myself trying to soak her in. But from a distance of course. Teenager and all. I watch her with my mother heart and catalog every smile, every eye roll and every "Love You" as she walks out the door. More often than not I find myself sneaking a peek at her humming along with headphones on.

She has attitude for miles. #whatever. But no matter how much she argues or how much she yells, I still see my tag-a-long toddler who adored me and I adored her. And now, at 14? She has my heart. All of it. For all time.

She's a good friend, a great sister and a clever organizer. She loves to chew ice and sleep late. She can't wait until her braces are off. She is my everything. All the time.

She's a part of my very heartbeat. She completes this family. And forever just wouldn't be the same without her. She is our joy.

Have the loveliest of birthdays #3.
Love You Lots So Many

Sunday, October 30, 2016

So, She Needed A New Bed

And just for fun, because rolling on mattresses wasn't enough, she heal clicked down the isles. I haven't been this entertained in years.

Oh how I adore this girl.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

She's 20

It happens every year. On each birthday, I remember the very beginning. How she came into the world and we started life together. How she was the first to make me a mother. I remember that day so crystal clear, probably because it's written across my heart.

And now she's grown and living a new life. One of her own direction. One that makes me so very proud. In all the ways, she is still making me the mother I'm supposed to be.

I want to wrap my arms around her and soak her into my skin. But that will have to be for another day. She's too busy serving the Lord and becoming her divine self. Her work and living and teaching are literally inspiring. Hugs will have to wait until next June.

But love doesn't wait. It's here and it's there with her. And it ties us together. Just like we started 20 years ago. You are the air I breath and the joy in my heartbeat. As it should be.

Happy Birthday to this girl of mine.You are a part of me. The very strands of my soul. May you feel that love all the way to California. Hold it tight and don't let go. You are my light. Guide the way.

20 never looked so good.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The First Week 2016

That first day is always an eye-opener for me. Have I prepared them for this moment? Do they leave this house every morning know they are loved beyond even Heaven? Do they know, really know, who they are? Step by step they're knowing who they are becoming. Small steps can move mountains.

The oldest begins every missionary day at 6:30 am. Her days are full of studying and teaching and offering service. She's thriving and growing into a young woman we are proud to call ours.

Daughter #2 is a Senior. That I didn't see coming. Truly. It snuck up on me. Here she is so grown and beautiful with big decisions on her hoizon.

The Baby Child is now in 8th grade. For the last days she's compared classes, teachers and supposed  homework. This child of mine was in preschool when we moved here. Now she has grown into a fine young woman.

I can't quite place what it is about the start of a school year. It makes me look back, but it also makes me look forward. Life is living beyond the borders of our home. For years I never thought that was possible. But, they're slowly gaining speed and a little direction and a whole lot of faith to spread their wings and fly.

They are the very strings that hold my soul in place. And as they soar off to new freedom and new places and new life paths, they take my very soul with them.
They will always be my forever.

Happy New School Year, friends.
Love 'Em While Ya Got 'Em

Friday, August 12, 2016

Float The River

The whisper in the wind is "You're not a real Texan until you've floated the river." I've lived here 9 years and I had no idea there was a river to float. This summer, we took the challenge.

Being with great friends and family- check
Eating at amazing restaurants- check
Being entertained at a glass blowing factory- check
Late night trip to In and Out- check
Floating the river- check
Almost drowning- check

We floated while it rained. An interesting experience. Guess what else is interesting? It's a river. Like, with real river "stuff" floating everywhere. Twigs, leaves, long grass. For a paranoid OCD person like myself, that's tough stuff. Guess what else is tough? Daughter #2 almost drowned. Like, for reals. So for reals I got scared and she was terrified. She got caught in an undercurrent section. She was turned upside down on her tube. She lost her brand new $150 birthday Ray Bans and her shoes. When she was underwater, she couldn't find the surface. Can I just tell you how big of a prayer I sent to Heaven that day? Huge. I look at her even now and think, "miracle".

It takes hours to float the river. So of course, we took food. They have special cooler tubes for all that jazz. Just like Daughter #2, those tubes got turned upside down and the food sunk away. Awesome.

Would I head to the river again? Probably not. But at least we can all say we're real Texans now.

The best part of the trip was being with family and friends (who are like family). Lots of laughter and good times.

And of course the internet is a genius and tells you all the best places to eat and visit. Even Slurpees from 7-11 were on the list.

We had some of the best barbeque I've ever tasted. Ya'll, real Texans eat real barbeque. For sure.

We found a place to junk shop. I nearly died with happiness. We also visited a glass blowing shop. Amazing is the only word I have to describe it. Crazy talent.

All drowning aside, it was a great trip. There is some kind of magic that happens when you step away from your regular work and life. It allows you to enjoy the people right in front of you. It's a gift of time. One we fully enjoyed. Because of course we went outlet shopping on the way home. Spending a gazillion dollars is the best way to wrap up a trip.

From our Texas home to yours, Happy Friday.
School starts in a week :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sisters Day 2016

Years ago we created our own tradition. Sisters Day. We've been celebrating this day so long, I can't remember when we even started. Here they are on Sisters Day in 2008:

Wow, time is a funny thing. It erases all the hardship and leaves you with the joy. I look at them at this age and I'm happy. My love for them just oozes all over the place.

Here they are today (well, yesterday. Aug. 1st is Sisters Day):

With Sam on her mission, this is the first year they haven't all been together. It makes my heart heavy. But we still celebrated in our own way. And Sam was with us and we were with her.

Having sisters is an extraordinary gift. If you're lucky enough to have one or two or more, count yourself blessed. Sisters are forever.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

But A Moment

I met them outside with one simple request. "Take a picture with me."
The moaned and complained, but still smiled.
They truly are my joy.
I want to hold them forever.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How We 4th

3 girls in 3 different places for Independence Day.

Girl #1 with her companions in the mission field:

Girl #2 at home with her boring parents:

Girl #3 staying with a friend. I haven't seen her for days. Ah!

We partied all day long with Girl #2 in tow. I was so excited that she was actually willing to be with me. I begged her to take a selfie with me. That. Did. Not. Go. Well. So here's how I improvised in the moment. I took a picture of her and a picture of me and squeezed them together. Now I can pretend she was standing slightly near me and was enjoying it. See? We're both looking down at our phones. It's almost like were matching BFFs!

What's more American than baseball? The Houston Astros! A large group of friends gathered at the highest tier of the stands and had a blast. Baseball is actually interesting. Who knew?

We ate enough sports food to be slightly sick. When at a sporting event, soak in the beauty of the concession stand. And enjoy being with friends.

Fireworks finished off the day. Freedom feels like a beautiful thing.

Friday, June 17, 2016

And Just Like That, She's 17

I laid in the dark early this morning. Remembering. How she came into the world and into my heart. It was a short labor for a beautiful baby girl. She came out looking exactly like the sister before her. With her arrival, we became a family of "girls".

There has literally never been a dull moment. I can't think of any one calm space of time. She has challenged me and challenged the world. She has always looked at life from a different angle. She marches to a beat unknown to me. Sometimes it's chaos and sometimes it's pure beauty.

I have loved her always. Even that day she threw her entire bedroom out her second story window. I may have used my outside voice. But I still loved her. She continues to push my mothering skills way past any place I've ever known. She's forced me to see with new eyes and to love with my whole heart.

She is my joy. This girl that makes life one big adventure.
She is the brightest light in every way.
Her smile infectious.
Her laugh contagious.

She is a gift.
Unique and extraordinary.

Happy Birthday Little Layne

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Yesterday and Today

My brain lately feels hardwired to look back. Into different days than these. I've tricked myself into thinking it was easier then. I know it wasn't, but I'm telling myself it was. Deep in my bones it feels like life was fresher in different days than these.

Because, here's the thing: they were all mine and they were all home. End of story.
Life now feels like a game changer. One is on a mission, the second graduates in a year and the third wishes shes didn't live here. You see? When they were little, they liked me and they loved home. Now no one's ever home. Dinner feels on the fly. And lives are spent elsewhere. It leaves me spinning sometimes. How did I ever get here?

I have lived this part of my life in knee-deep mothering. I just can't imagine it any other way. But now, mothering takes a different role. Sometimes it's ugly and sometimes it's beautiful. It's just the way of things. And teenagers somehow push you to examine yourself and life in an entirely different scope. That's a truest story.

But this I know. Right here, right now, this is where it's at. Not tomorrow, not yesterday. But today. With these people that literally take up all the room in my heart. My very soul is made up of theirs. They are the air I breathe.

Days pass. Ages change. Life moves. I know I got here one day at a time. One daughter at a time. And here is where I'll always be. In THIS today. Soaking up all it has to give. Not wishing for different days. But taking today as it stands. And holding it's bounty in my arms.

Let's gift ourselves with life where we are. To love and hold and cherish these moments. And to take courage in what is to come.

Look at your people and breathe them in. Love them where they stand and as they are.
Enjoy your story as it unfolds.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

One Of The Heart Strings

I've been through a few Mother's Days by now. Some were good, some were not so good and most were just "fine". But this Mother's Day? There simply are no words.

We got to talk to our missionary!!! Tears just started as I write this. The moment was pure joy and excitement all rolled into one. She's still her sassy self, just missionary style. That was nice to see. She now loves real, and I mean real, Mexican food. She has sung quite a few times in quite a few places and she got to shake hands with Elder Bednar. Bucket List for sure.

We talked for an hour and a half and it nearly flew by. For just those few moments, our family felt whole and right. Just complete. Laughter held a higher meaning, simple stories became golden moments. And best of all? She prayed with us. In. Spanish. Stop. Right. Here. And imagine your daughter praying for you in another language. Words left me and my heart opened right up and she poured right in.

That final cut-off goodbye was rather difficult. She left us with , "I'll see you soon." Tears were everywhere.

Just now, days later, I'm finally able to soak in the full moment of her call. It has been stored in a place in my heart for my dearest treasures. And ya'll, she's doing it. And she's doing it well. She is obedient and hard working and tries to follow the Lord's will in everything she does. When she graduated from high school, I wrote in her journal, "Be The Good." And look. At this girl right here. She's doing the good. From sun up to sun down.

She really, literally, is my heart.
One of the 4 strings that wrap and hold it all together.

And this Mother's Day. Oh, this day. Will be remembered forever.
And stored on a heart string.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Through The Blinds

In the mornings, I watch her through the blinds. She has no idea that I stare at her and think of all the ages and moments she has been. This stage, this 13 year old torture, is a hard one to swallow. She pushes me to the brink in all her teenager ways. She only speaks to me if she has to. And when I try to talk to her? You would think she was in pain. She hides in her room, behind her phone, headphones plugged in. It's the way of things. A phase? Maybe. Maybe not. Perspective is hard to come by when you're knee deep in the thick of it.

So, I watch her. Every morning. She comes alive when she's with her friends. And I soak in her smile. I want to reach out and touch her joy. And my memories flood with her as a sweet, little girl. A best buddy. I was convinced she would always be that way. I was wrong.

The internet is flooded with advice for toddlers. Teenagers? Advice doesn't exist. At least, real advice. In the trenches kind of advice. Why? Because it's so dang hard. And who wants to talk about all that trouble. So, we stand on the sidelines of their life and we give it everything we've got. Literally, everything. We try and we love and we love some more. It's the only way. Teenagers can pull your soul right out. And every time, I give it right back to them. Every. Time.

Through the blinds I see the girl I adore. And I pour all my love right in her. I want it to surround her every moment of every day. I give it all with my mother's heart. Me to her. Always.

Let's give it all. Every day. Love and patience, and love some more. Sure, it's ugly. And hard. And constant. But deep within me lies a strength of love so strong to make the ugly and hard blur away. Let's hold on to that. Our soul deep love. Let it give us the strength we need as we muddle through the hard stuff.

And let's watch. Through the blinds, in the car, asleep on the couch. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can overcome a mother's love. We'll give it all we've got. Every time. Every day. In every way. Love just may be our road to recovery. No matter the outcome.

Love them through it.
It may just save us both.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Catch Up

There was a trip to the Alamo with the Baby Child and Her Friend (who feels like one of our Foster Children). 7th grade is the year for Texas History, so this is the 3rd time we've Alamoed.

Traveling with 2 teenage girls and 1 crazy husband has definitely been checked off my bucket list. Oh the Alamo, we love you. And your Riverwalk Boat Tour is always awesome when you're traveling with 2 girls who think it's dumb. Teenagers are my fave. Like, for reals.


The Husband and I had an anniversary.
21 years. Boom.

 He is my joy.
Oh, and did you know our anniversary is also his birthday. Boom again.
I get a gift and he gets a gift. "In Theory". It's a genius way to celebrate.


We had the Rain Apocalypse of 2016.
People, it poured. Like, massive buckets.
School canceled for 5 days straight.
Flooding everywhere. It was crazy.

Wanna know what else is crazy? The Turd (our nickname for this car) was parked on the curb. Then it started raining during the night. And it rained HARD. The Turd filled up with water all the way to the steering wheel. The car was full, the trunk was full. Water everywhere. Once it drained, it wouldn't even start. So it sat. In the heat. For a full week before it was towed. Just for fun we opened the car doors to see what it smelled like inside. There are no words to describe. I think Daughter #2 has been praying for it's death for a loooonnnngggg time. Prayer answered.


I leave you with a happy thought. Not.
20 more days of school left. Pah-Leaze.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Missionary

Just in case you don't follow along on her blog, The Missionary Life of Hermana Foster, I've got some updated photos to show you.

She's doing good. So good. Every letter home is a confirmation that she is in the right place at the right time. She's also mentioned that this is the hardest things she has EVER done. But she is learning so much about herself, The Lord and the Book of Mormon. We live for her Monday emails. I read them twice just to hear her voice in my head.

I would give just about anything to hold her in my arms and hug her. Sometimes that need is a physical ache. But then I remember that this girl was born to be a missionary in Santa Rosa, California. She is doing the right thing for the right reasons. So, I ask the Lord to hold her for me.

My favorite picture of her while she was in the MTC:

Her last companion, Sister Burton. They got along so great and even sang together!

Her newest Companion, Sister Gudmundson:

And her very best friend from the MTC is Sister Bennett. They got to see each other last week and it made them both so ridiculously happy. They are determined to be companions one day.

She is now in Sonoma and there are vineyard EVERYWHERE.

She is my light and my joy. She strengthens my testimony with her own. She is constantly teaching me. Missing her is a small price to pay for this incredible life experience. I simply adore her.

Sami, you are loved beyond the stars.
I think of you every moment of every day.
Thank you for using your life to do good.
May angels surround you and protect you always.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Birthday, An Anniversary and Team Riley

The weekend started with a birthday and an anniversary.
We got married on Todd's birthday. Every year I give him a birthday present and he gives me an anniversary present. It's the best win-win situation all around. In all the truth I know, this man is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

21 years. That's quite a number. I even dragged down our wedding album out of the closet just for a reminder. Todd's hair is shorter now and mine looks exactly the same. I'm not sure what that says about us. It just boils down to this: We're perfect for each other. And I'm fairly certain that's all that matters.

On Saturday morning Team Riley all gathered at the Houston Zoo for the Easter Seals event. We made quite a presence. And all for one precious, angel girl who happened to be one of the three ambassadors of the event.

These 2 girls have a part of my heart. I would literally do anything for them. Including arriving at the Zoo by 6:45 am. We walked, we talked and we cheered.

The Texan cheerleaders were there. Wow is all I can say. I seriously pondered how they can dance in those boots. It's a mystery. But Addie was determined to get a picture, so she jumped right in.

What a day for being together for an amazing girl and a great cause.

Kellie and Keagan

Me and My Amazing Sister

Keagan and Her Many Talents

I hope your weekend brought you as much goodness as ours.
Life really is all about loving those close to you.
And wearing matching Team shirts.