When I was a teenager sometimes my dad would hold down the fort at home while my mom took a day to go write.

All alone.

They were (are) authors and with a gaggle of nine kids at home she would love that opportunity to have time to think and organize her thoughts.

I was in awe of that because I couldn’t imagine being alone.

I thought it would be so boring.

And lonely!

It’s funny how many different vantage points life takes you on, because now I love a good day alone. And thank heavens my mom had some of those days because who knows, maybe I’d never get to have my favorite book my mom wrote: “I Didn’t Plan to Be a Witch” to get me through those years with my own gaggle of kids hugging my legs (oh I miss them!)

Well, kind of a weird lead-up, but when I think of “alone” I think of those days where my mom was alone.

And now I think of this one being alone:

(Luckily there’s always Bo Jangles!)

I think I mentioned before that although I miss my kids who leave the “nest” terribly, there is something so beautiful about watching the next-in-line move into the “oldest” position in the household. The responsibility they naturally take on. The shine that comes with that new role.

But there’s something different when there’s only one.

And this one is used to having such a great support crew with her older siblings.

So I really do believe that this is a little “tender mercy” from Heaven:

An extra sweetie-pie to stay with us during the transition.

Not just a friend, but a cousin who “gets” Lucy (and sort of gets me and Dave too:).

Her family arrives tomorrow, but we have so enjoyed having her here.

First of all, she was a pretty great co-pilot on the long drive home from Bear Lake:

And she took pictures for me every time I asked (It was SO BEAUTIFUL!).

Dave and Lucy went to Wisconsin for doctor appointments and flew home from there, so they were sad they couldn’t join us…ha! They had their own driving to do there! (“A day in the life of Wisconsin doctor visits” is back HERE if you care to know all that travel…)

She has been so helpful as we’ve worked on projects around the house, trying to clear out all Grace and Claire’s stuff they “thought” they cleared out:

Even taking down stuff like these hearts on Claire’s door was somehow not as sad since our house isn’t quite as empty as it could be:

Elsie has been such a good sport about not being able to start school on the very first day with Lucy (some missing documentation), and was a champ about heading into that great unknown humongous school the second day after a little mini orientation:

And it was fun to have our second traditional first-day-of-school “cookie chat” (preceded by some fruit Lu is eating) as both these girls spilled out the details of that day:

First day both of them left for school together:

It’s been fun because these girls are so different yet with such similar backgrounds which somehow makes them gel so well together. They can do parallel things yet be such good friends.

I love having Elsie around to let Lucy know things like how it’s not the worst thing in the world to have your mom drive you to school or it’s cool to pack healthy lunches the night before so that you’re more prepared in the morning and it’s really ok to have a bow on the inside of your shorts rather than outside (Lu is so particular). And even when that convincing doesn’t work, Elsie figured out how to actually change that tie on Lucy’s shorts.

I hope Lucy has taught Elsie some things too.

But every time I think about these girls together I feel so grateful.

I count it as a little miracle from God that we’ve had this little helper in transition.

Excited for the rest of the family to arrive too!

I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of other little miracles with that good news that they’re coming.

I hope they don’t all melt in this desert heat, and that although it will be so different for them, that they’ll have their own little miracles in this place along with us.

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  1. I think that when you live with an open heart towards others, your home will always be filled in one way or another. 😉

  2. If you have any pointers or tips on the “stuff” when kids leave the nest…I would love it! I am torn on holding onto bins or things, or just moving it out to transition the space to a guest room or office that is needed. Would love to hear anything that has worked for you.

    1. We are still figuring that out as well, but each kid gets one hanging file folder of their school work through the years (talked about that back here: https://71toes.com/2014/08/post-school-organization/ ), and one plastic tote filled up with special keepsakes (trophies, special little toys, a favorite pair of pjs filled up with so many memories!). I also try to keep some of their t-shirts (from clubs or school activities or sports) and make them into blankets to keep the memories. (There’s a picture of Elle’s near the end of this post: https://71toes.com/2016/07/elles-high-school-graduation/ , but I’m still working on Grace and Claire’s!)
      Then that we get rid of LOTS of stuff!

    1. Oh that is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. This is a strange part of life as the “nest” continues to empty, that is for sure! So interesting to be in the midst of it, along with friends, trying to sort it all out!

  3. When your kids leave for college do their bedrooms become guest rooms/gym/den/office/etc? Or while they are in school they stay as their rooms so they have somewhere to come back to for holidays and summers? Curious how you navigate this!

    1. Mostly guest rooms. They each have their boxes of memories that I’m keeping for them in the closets, and Grace and Claire’s old bedroom has filled up the most with a jumble of all the “treasures” of all of them. So it felt good to clean it all out. Good and bad all at the same time. So grateful for places for them to land when they come home here and there…and for Elsie and her family to fill up now.

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