I was looking through some pictures and realized that I never did a post about Christopher's birthday party at Casa Fiesta. Our family went with Grammy and Grandpa and Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jamie, Tyler and Morgan. It was a special night at Casa Fiesta because they had a live mariachi band there which was loud and fun. The best part of the event was Grammy accidentally lighting her napkin on fire and watching the fire spread when she tried to blow it out. She finally put it in her drink. It was absolutely hilarious and I wish I had caught it on camera. Feliz cumpleaños, Christopher!!Whatever Emily told Grammy just then was really amazing.
A post has been ruminating in my head for a few weeks and I wanted to save it for Mother's Day because it seemed more appropriate but I just have to get it out now. (This blog is such a lifesaver for me. Sometimes there is just stuff you have to get out! ) Anna had a post on her blog last month about women who influenced her during her lifetime. It got me thinking about the special women who influenced me. I think of them often but don't credit them enough for helping me become the person that I am.
My mom was so sick at different times that she was hospitalized for extended periods and during these times I did not live at home. As a child, it felt like I was away for months at a time. The first experience I had was living with my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ken. I lived with them when I was small--maybe 4 or 5--and I'm not sure for how long. It seemed like a really long time. Living with them was very different for me than living at my own home. They lived on a farm in the country and I was used to living in a townhouse in the city. They had 5 children at the time and I was an only child. I was used to spending a lot of time with my dad and their dad worked at night and slept during the day. You couldn't make noise in the house that would wake him up. The prospect of him accidentally waking was terrifying to me because he was very, very tall and stern. I think he's probably 6'5" and to me as a child, he was a giant. I missed my dad so much during this time that I was away from him and once I was crying and my uncle picked me up and rocked me in a chair and just held me until I stopped and felt better. It was such a tender moment and from then on, I was not afraid of him. I wish that I could say that I learned specific things from my aunt during this time with them but I think I was too little to soak anything in. I do know that she loved me because she took me in and cared for me during a time that was difficult for our family. I always think of my Aunt Pat as a woman who has had a gentle influence in my life.
Another summer I lived with our Stake President's family. They had nine children at the time and I think they rounded it out to 10 eventually. The family ranged from college students to babies. I learned so much from them! The mother was the most soft-spoken woman I have every known. I NEVER once heard her voice above a regular speaking tone and even her speaking tone sounded like a whisper. I aspire to be that great, but I fail miserably. I learned to hate waffles at their house because that was all we had for breakfast. You could have waffles or homemade cereal. I really missed my Grape Nuts, which was my favorite cereal at 8. So I hated waffles after eating them every day for weeks. I learned how to clean at their house. Sis. Cheney gave me a little card each week with my jobs on it. I had to clean the tubs with comet and a scrub brush. I had to dust the living room including their daughter's harp. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Once I got scolded by Pres. Cheney for leaving my shoes in the kitchen. I never did it twice. Even at my young age, I learned that spending time with individual children is very important. As parents, they would take out each child individually periodically. It made an impression and I follow their example in our home today. I also learned the importance of Sabbath Day observance from them.
For a while, I had to go to another family's house after school because my mom was in the hospital and my dad was at work. This family had a very interesting mom. I would not say that she was overly expressive with her affection. Even her smiles seemed forced. It bothered me because I was used to my mom being cheerful and lavishing me with hugs and kisses. This mom scared me a little and I would try and stay out of her way when I was at their house. However, she was a good woman. I found out that my mom had given birth to Anna while I was at her house. I was so excited and thrilled to have a sister and after I hung up the phone with my dad, she hugged me and was so happy with me. There were times that my parents had to leave me with them in the middle of the night and rush my mom to the hospital. There was never a question as to whether they would take me in. I have seen her on her hands and knees scrubbing our floors because my mom was too sick to do it herself. True service above self was what this sister taught me.
Another time that my parents needed to leave me in the middle of the night, the above mentioned sister couldn't take me in because she was having a baby of her own, so I went to another family's house. I didn't know them very well and I was so scared. I remember the mom putting me to bed and I was crying because I missed my parents so much. (I was such a crier when I was away from home. I can't tell you how many sleepovers I had to leave because I just couldn't stand being away from home.) The mom laid down with me on the bed and told me a very wonderful story about a husband that she had had who died and something about an airplane. I can't remember it very well, but it calmed me and made me trust her and know that I was going to be alright. Her kindness towards me will never be forgotten.
Another woman in my life started out as the mother of a child I babysat. I loved babysitting! I would give up any activity with friends to babysit for them. This woman became a friend to me as the time passed. She and I would go out to lunch and I would go over to her house and just hang out. Several times when her husband was gone, I would go over and we'd watch movies and eat ice cream. She and her husband gave me my first job after high school to earn money for college. She helped me financially so many times when I needed her. She taught me to have fun being a mom and have fun with my children.
My mom had a good friend who became my friend too. She took me to pick blueberries and we canned something together or maybe froze something together. Sweet Corn? I can't remember exactly! She took care of Anna after school everyday until I could pick her up and she would sit on her porch and talk and talk to me like she had nothing else in the whole world to do. I know she did because she had 5 kids and was super busy. I needed those talks with a woman then. She was so kind to do that for me. I remember staying overnight at her house once because I was going to watch her kids while she and her husband went to the temple early the next morning and she and I stayed up really late and talked. I remember her telling me know much she loved kissing her husband which I didn't understand exactly then but now I totally get it. (Sorry, Laurie!) I could always count on her if I needed her. She was one of the first people at our home after my mom died giving us her shoulder to cry on. I know she did so much more than I'll ever be able to thank her for.
I know I learned the most from the mother of my childhood best friend. I met their family when I was in the 6th grade and at that time they had 6 children. Over the next few years, I became great friends with their oldest daughter and fell in love with their oldest son. I spent a lot of time at their house and then when they moved away, I would spend entire weeks during spring break and Christmas break there. The mom was the most patient, kind person I know. I never heard her yell. How I aspire to be a non-yelling mom! Once I threw a Tootsie Pop across the room to someone at their house and it hit her baby on the head. He started crying and I felt terrible. It was the closest I ever saw to her getting mad. She said, "Oh!" at me. She was great at managing their home and getting things done. She made great meals. She also seemed to know exactly what to let go and what to make priority. I am still learning this lesson. I watched their family grow from 6 to 8 in the course of the years that I knew them. The things that I remember about them are things that are happening to my family now. Doritos and sugar cereals were a LUXURY. We had Doritos all the time growing up and now I hardly ever buy them because an entire bag lasts about 10 minutes. Same with sugar cereals. I can remember going to the store with her and buying 5 gallons of milk at a time. Same with us now. I can remember children sleeping anywhere and everywhere in their home...couches, floor, beds. Same as our house. I can remember the kitchen never seemed really clean because someone was always fixing something in there. Same as our house now. I could feel her love for her family and her love for the Lord. Being in her presence always brought me such great comfort.
The word charity can have negative meaning for some. It seems that no one wants to be the recipient of other people's charity. The word, charity, comes from a Latin word (yes, I took HS Latin) meaning love. Charity truly is the pure love of Christ expressed by a loving action towards another person. These women knew, perhaps by the influence of the Spirit, how to give me what I needed to get by during difficult times. I have learned by the example of women, special charitable women, who listened to the Spirit and acted when prompted. I am so thankful to them for the influence for good they had and continue to have upon my life.
Thank you to Aunt Pat, Sis. Cheney, Sis. Griffioen, Sis. Plowgian, Joan, Laurie, and Sis. Washburn. There are many, many other women who have influenced me and I am not trying to leave them out. I'm thankful to everyone, but this is just about a few women I have been thinking of lately.
I've got Idol Fever and the only cure is more Idol. All the members of the Vos household are faithful Idol watchers. We sit around Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights in front of Idol, shushing each other to be quiet because some of us (Christopher) are very chatty TV watchers. Each of us chooses our favorite. Emily and Chris like Brooke, Christopher likes David Archuleta, Calvin and I have not decided who we like yet. To be perfectly honest, I don't like any of them as singers. I will never buy their album. The only former Idol that I currently like is Daughtry. I know this is a singing contest but I am of the firm opinion that very little good music has been made since 1995. And I don't really care enough about the new stuff to find out if it is good.
Be honest, can anything out there today compete with the Beatles, U2, REM, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Def Leppard or Guns N Roses? I really don't think it can. My friend, Jodi, made me a mix of current music that is all really good. She's trying to cool me up. I especially like this song on it by Maroon 5 and one by Hoobastank. I like the mix and it is fun to listen to. Current music on the radio is not the music that I love. It doesn't have any memories attached to it. It doesn't remind me of sitting in the car with my dad after my little 8th grade boyfriend dumped me, crying and listening to "Patience." It doesn't remind me of dancing to "Head Like a Hole" with this totally HOT guy in the modern room at the Palace in Provo. It doesn't remind me of singing Beatles in the car with my mom. It doesn't remind me of making my sister memorize the names of the singers on the posters in my room and singing REM to her. It doesn't remind me of falling in love with Chris (Enigma). I guess I'm an old fogey. I remember being about 13 or 14 and listening to music with my mom that she described as "jangly." I laughed at her then but now I would laugh with her. Most music I hear on the radio I would describe that way. My mom was a devoted WJR listener, which I found to be very annoying. Our little car only had an AM radio and so we had to listen to it but when I was 14 we got a car with an FM radio and a tape player. My mom wouldn't listen to my jangly stuff but my dad was a sport listening to Metallica and other wonderful choices of mine. Now my radio is permanently fixed on WJR. The circle is complete.
So how do I choose my favorite Idol singer if I don't base it on the music? I do it the same way that I choose a winning card in "Apples to Apples." I choose the one I like the best based on their personality and annoyingness. As far as the Idols, I like Brooke White because she's a Mormon but not annoying. I like Michael Johns because he is nice to look at. We need to get rid of Amanda Overmeyer (aka Bride of Chucky) because she is NOT Janis Joplin and Danny Noriega because he annoys me. If I were a judge, I would probably be like Paula, "You stink as a singer but I love your top. You're through to the next round."
The time has come for me to blog about my husband and the strange things he has been doing the past few months. Slowly over a few months, he has been changing into someone that I don't know. Don't get me wrong, the changes aren't upsetting in anyway... just very drastic and different for him.
I have known Chris Vos for just over 14 years. I have loved him almost that same amount of time. We will celebrate our 13th anniversary next Saturday. To know and love Chris Vos is to know and love all the things about him. Even things that are a little annoying. When I was in YW, I made a list of characteristics that my future husband would have to have. I still have the list. Chris meets most of the characteristics. Funny, loyal, spiritual, Eagle Scout, RM, check...check...check...check...and check. However, I ignored one item on the list because it didn't seem relevant the more in love I fell with him. This characteristic was that of being an avid reader. Chris does not love reading the written word. As we courted, I realized that in high school he did not read books required by teachers. Pride and Prejudice...nope, The Scarlett Letter...ditto, anything by Shakespeare...again no. The last book he read was called "Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang," by Mordecai Richler. While this book is funny and rewarding, it's not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing classical literary works. Growing up, I had a very good friend (who happened to be a boy) that I also was completely enamored with who was an avid reader. We had the most interesting and wonderful discussions of literature and I wanted this type of conversation for my future life as well. However, my heart won out and I married Chris in spite of his lack of literary prowess. (You can ask him what he gave up to marry me. I'm sure the list is long.) During our 12+ years of marriage, I would many times read a wonderful book and long for Chris to read it so we could share and discuss. He did read during our marriage, however his choice of books left much to be desired. Some of his favorites: "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki, "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins, and anything by Steven Covey. Excellent books, perhaps, but not what I prefer on my nightstand. After finishing the final Harry Potter this summer, I sighed and wished aloud that he had read them so that we could discuss. This must have gotten the gears turning in his brain because last month he says to me, "Go downstairs and get me the first Harry Potter book. I think I'm going to read it." There was nothing he could have said to me at that moment that would have shocked me more. In fact, I was certain he was kidding and did not retrieve said book for him. He kept bugging me about it and so finally I went and got the book for him. Which he read!!! He read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We had a nice little discussion and much to my delight, he asked for book #2. This has blown my mind. I. am. totally. blown. away.
Ok, change #2. Or should I say #"er." A few months ago, he says to me, "I think I'd like to learn to speak Chinese. Could you look into it for me at Schoolcraft?" I looked at him like he was speaking Chinese at that very moment. Am I understanding correctly? You want to take a college course to learn to speak Chinese? My surprise came from the fact that he didn't love school. Didn't really love college...not math or communications or really anything he had to take. He loved knowing where you could get the greatest burgers on campus at (Peanut Barrel). He loved listening to Duran Duran on the jukebox and eating wings at BW3. He loved using the IM's and working out. But the actual work of school...not so much. Knowing this about him, I was again blown away that he wanted to go to school and take a class. Like the book, I didn't take it seriously. I didn't look into it for him. He started to beg me to do this...so I finally gave in and now he is taking a class called "Conversational Chinese." He loves it and is learning. Just in time for "Ni Hao, Kai-lan."
Ok, the last change is the strangest by far. As long as I have known Chris he has been an onion hater. Hate isn't really strong enough to describe his dislike of onions. Loathing, repulsion, horror, disgust: these are better. He loathes onions. My dad put onions in most of his cooking. Chris hated it. My dad wasn't one to cater to personal dislikes and food aversions. His philosophy was, "learn to like it or go hungry." Chris will go back to Taco Bell if onions are accidentally left on any of his items. He will tell waiters and waitresses that he is "allergic" to onions so they don't forget to leave them off his order. I once watched him choke down a dish made by some dear friends of ours entirely of beans and onions. Very strong onions. It was not pleasant to witness. So last night we are on a date and want some Chinese food. Our budget is limited and so we opt for a little dive where the prices are low. The dishes have some onions in them and he starts to pick around them. He says, "I really wish I liked onions. It would be so much easier." Pretty soon, I am witness to him putting large pieces of onions in his mouth which he proceeds to chew and swallow. "Not bad," he says, "I guess it's just mind over matter." For the third time in just 2 months, I have been left totally flabbergasted. Not a sound comes from my mouth. I cannot respond to the scene I have witnessed. We finish our meal and he continues to eat onions and trade Chinese pleasantries with the wait staff.
It was like an out of body experience. I am looking at my husband who I know so well reading books, learning foreign languages and eating onions. If I wasn't completely sure of his loyalty to me, I would be concerned about maybe a Chinese, book-reading, onion-eating mistress. I know this isn't the case however. I am learning some very important lessons from Chris' new interests. First, you can make changes to yourself to please your spouse. He is reading because he loves me and knows it makes me happy. Second, you can improve yourself in ways you never thought possible. Who knew Chris Vos would learn Chinese? It seems outside the realm of possibilities. Who isn't to say that one day I might possibly be Jennifer Vos, Certified Nurse Midwife. Or Jennifer Vos, writer of books. It could happen. Third, just because something is a certain way and has been that way for a long time, doesn't mean it has to be. I can change. Thank you, Chris, for teaching me. I love you.
Tomorrow is my Sunday to teach Relief Society again. You may remember that my experience teaching last month was disappointing. I have been preparing and praying and preparing and praying a lot about the lesson these past weeks. Today I was reading in my mom's journal and this was an entry I came across:
Sunday April 12, 1987 Dear Diary, I taught R.S. this morning. I feel I failed. My time ran out. I didn't feel the Spirit. I thought I was prepared but I was not. I need to be more prayerful when I teach. The next time I will do better. I helped Opal in the nursery for a little while. She is ready to be released from that calling. Goodnight, Gloria
This lifted my spirits today. I am almost the age she was when she wrote this. She was perfect by now and I am sure her lesson was great even though she felt it wasn't. She was too hard on herself. Just like me sometimes. I loved how she helped out in another calling that Sunday that wasn't hers. That was her...always turning the other cheek, going the second mile, giving the cloak and coat also.
I am going to leave the RS room tomorrow believing that I did a good job because I have prayed and prepared and done my best to deliver the words that the Lord wants the ladies in the Plymouth Ward to hear.
Thank you a million times, Mom, for faithfully writing in your journal!
This week has been mid-winter break for my kids and they have been home all week from school. I love it so much when they are home. I love being with them and talking with them and doing stuff with them. I love eating lunch together and watching movies and playing Webkinz. This week we had a fun time doing lots of various things together and apart. On Monday, we did some house cleaning that they weren't very excited about but needed to be done. On Tuesday, we did some more house cleaning that they weren't very excited about again. On Tuesday night we got to babysit for baby Lucy and that was really fun. We also watched the DVD, "North Avenue Irregulars," that Grammy gave us. This is one of my very favorite movies from my childhood and I was thrilled that she found it on DVD and gave it to us. To my delight, the children loved it too! Our favorite parts are when the ladies have to sing, "Roll out the Barrel" at the hot dog stand and when Cloris Leachman comes out of the hair salon in her frosting cap and wet fingernails. It is a riot! On Wednesday, Emily, Christopher and Calvin slept over at the Heiners. They had a maximum of fun on a minimum of sleep. Spencer slept over at Grammy and Grandpas, so Cameron got to be an only child for a night. On Thursday, we went with Heiners again to see the Bee Movie for $1 at the Briarwood Theater. I didn't really like the movie, but it was fun to be with Jodi and to watch Cameron eat all of her Junior Mints. Jodi has been making me the greatest desserts lately. I guess she doesn't care how fat I get. :) Today she gave me a pan of what my aunts call: Waist Expander Bars. They are peanut butter rice crispy treats topped in chocolate. Yummy!! Grammy and Grandpa took us out for a late lunch to Dos Pesos and in all our fun, I forgot Emily's piano lesson. (Sorry Melissa! :( We'll be there next week, I promise!!) Today, thanks to Angel Tedesco at WNIC, I got my hair colored and my eyebrows waxed at Visions Salon in Novi. It was a very fancy salon and I felt sloppy there but my hair looks great and my eyebrows no longer look like the eyebrows of Shannon O'Neill's stepdad from highschool. I always thought his might take flight at any moment. We are going to have a quiet rest of the afternoon playing DS or watching a movie. I might even take a nap if I can con the kids into washing the lunch dishes for me. It might sound like we live a very unexciting life here, but I am so happy and content with my family. I couldn't want for anything more. I can't wait for summer vacation!
Today is Christopher's 10th birthday! It is amazing to me that he is already 10 years old. Seems like just yesterday I held him as a newborn. Christopher was born 10 days early and I was quite caught off guard when my water broke on the afternoon of February 7, 1998. Chris' parents were visiting us in East Lansing that day and his mom and I had spent the afternoon shopping at Meijer for what seemed like a million 6-packs of Diet Orange Crush for Chris' uncle. He couldn't get this kind of pop up in St. Ignace and we found it at Meijer and loaded it from the cart to the car and then from my car into her car. Maybe it was all that lifting and straining with the pop, but soon after we returned home, I felt a little "pop" and knew my water broke. The funny thing was that there wasn't a gush of water like in the movies, just a little trickle. I called my midwife who recommended that I go to the hospital to be checked. Chris was at work and we couldn't get in touch with him to take me so my FIL had to take me. He got a kick out of telling the hospital staff that it was his baby. I wasn't so amused.
I got checked and, yes indeed, my water had broken. I was admitted and started walking to get the labor going. This was about 5pm. Chris made it to the hospital and we spent the evening watching the opening ceremonies for the Nagano, Japan Olympics. And breathing through contractions. Finally at 11:30 I was ready to push and did so for 7 minutes and out plopped this beautiful little boy weighing 8lbs 9oz. We didn't know the gender of Christopher before this moment and I had been sure that he was going to be a girl. I was so shocked that I said, "A boy? Does he have a penis?" The midwife and nurse thought this was pretty funny and assured me that he did, in fact, have the required boy parts. He was very beautiful and sweet and I held him in my arms and felt wonderful and scared at the same time.
My Emily was the light of my life and here was this stranger, a boy to boot, that I was supposed to love too. I didn't know how I could do it. I remember calling Chris from the hospital several times during the night, crying and asking him to reassure me that I could be a good mother to two children. The next day, little Em came to visit me and the new baby at the hospital. She was 23 months old and wearing the cutest little yellow outfit. I will never forget the moment she was lifted onto the hospital bed and reached out to touch her new little brother. My heart grew that moment to have enough love for both of these little children. I had lots of visitors that day including my dad and sister and many friends. The Erekson's brought me a cake with the phrase, "He has a penis!" in frosting in honor of my question right after he was born. All the nurses wanted to have a piece of the "penis" cake. To clarify, it didn't depict a penis, just had the word on it. I spent some very challenging weeks at home over the next bit. Emily was trying to find her place in our new family dynamic and she did this by being as naughty as possible. Christopher could never have enough to eat and I spent ALOT of time feeding him. Reading my journal from this time reminds me of the frustration that I felt. It was difficult. Christopher grew into a wonderfully sweet tempered infant. My nickname for him was the "Sunny Son" because he was so sunny. Always a smile for me. He has continued this trend to become a very wonderfully sweet tempered child. I look at him now and often think that his future wife is going to be very lucky. He is kind, considerate and always sensitive of others feelings. I love my Sunny Son. Happy Birthday, Christopher!