"This is one of those hard but good things we are tasked with as grownups. I hate having hard conversations, but they are so necessary. My biggest hope through all of it is that when I am honest and respectful with another parent, they will be honest and respectful with me."

"They’ve been in school for 10 months. They’ve had regular space from each other and me, and days with friends. They’ve tasted independence and been subjugated to structure from strict, organized teachers. So the second that authority disappears, they decide they’re the ones that should fill the vacancy."

"The goal isn’t staying busy just to stay busy; it’s to bond with each other and get the most out of these favorite months of ours. I want to make memories with my children that will last their entire lives. Our hope is that our fun, simple bucket list really will make this the best summer ever."

"Having older siblings seems to grow up babies so much faster. They’re exposed to more words, older TV shows and activities that my first few toddlers didn’t see or hear until kindergarten," wrote Omaha mom Rachel Higginson. "Saxon, my latest 2-year-old, learned to count to three by hearing it as a daily threat. He even uses his fingers and plants his other hand on his hip like he means business. The songs he sings are the ones we listen to in the car that everyone can sing along to, not the sweet lullabies his older siblings learned first."

"As I write out my New Year's resolutions and decide which area I need to work on in my professional, personal and spiritual life, I’m going to include parenting to the list. How can I be a better mom to my kids? How can I engage with them more and listen to them better? What strategies can I apply to curb my impatience before it gets the better of me? How can I make school mornings smoother to avoid the sharpness of my tongue?"

"Their sharp heartbreak made me nervous for this coming Christmas. Would it be ruined for them? Would they give up feeling the warmth of the season and the special magic that hangs in the air no matter how old you are? I was so worried about how they might be disappointed, I forgot to look for reasons Christmas would get better for them. Instead of wallowing in grief and lost imagination, they’ve crossed over into how fun it can be to make Christmas special for someone else."

"Middle school has been a daunting milestone waiting for me on the horizon ever since my first daughter was born. Helpful strangers have passed along the advice to enjoy them while they’re little because eventually I won’t be able to stand them. Even friends have warmly offered warnings that brought about fear and trembling. So for the past 12 years, I’ve dreaded these middle school days. I’ve fretted over and prayed about them.

"And finally, we've entered them."

"A friend recently asked how we manage it all with our already-busy lives, and I told her the truth — we say no a lot. Meaning, we fight to keep things simple, turn down invitations and only go to one extended family function a day. It might seem backwards to be antisocial during the happiest time of the year, but we disagree. Rushing from event to event does not necessarily mean a good time is guaranteed. In fact, with this many kids, we know it’s highly unlikely."

"Our situation isn’t perfect and, honestly, it’s stressful, completely chaotic and overwhelming. I seem to always be racing deadlines until the very last second. And often my house is flipped upside down, and laundry — clean and dirty — is forgotten. My kids complain I work too much and my work complains I don’t devote nearly enough hours to growing my business. My life is messy; blending work and home together in a slurry of chaos. And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have loved staying home with my children."

"I will never forget those images or the horror of that day. I remember the silence as we walked the hallways and sat through our classes, which were only continued coverage of what had happened. I sat closely with my friends, huddled in groups as we processed a terrorist attack on our own land, in our own country. It’s a weight I’ve carried with me ever since, and a story I hope my children listen to and learn from."