I took Emily clothes shopping today. She is outgrowing all of her "girls" clothes and has been in desperate need of a more "pre-teen" style for some time. During break, she did a ton of babysitting and so we took her earnings and headed for the stores. I had so much fun with her choosing skirts and tops and shorts and shoes. We found some good sales and some great buys at a teen resale shop. She even bought her first pair of earrings for when she can take out the piercing studs in a few weeks. Very exciting! Emily said she felt like she won the lottery and could choose anything she wanted. I was so happy for her.
There was one downside to the whole experience and that was the three indians that tagged along with us. Christopher slept over at Grammy's last night, so he wasn't a part of the trip. For some reason, 7, 4 and 1 year old boys don't really love clothes shopping. There was a lot of whining. There was some running and hiding. There was crying. There was spinning out of control in a chair. There was crawling under dressing room doors. There was a lot of threatening and some brief thoughts of abandonment. J/K. It really did try my patience.
The whole experience took me back about 9 years ago to formal dress shopping with Anna. Formal dress shopping with any teenage girl can be difficult. But add in to the mix that the dress has to be modest AND that the said teenage girl has a vision in her mind exactly what the dress is going to look like and no store has it and she doesn't want anything else AND that you are dragging 2-3 whiny toddlers with you AND that you always end up at the mall about 1 hour before closing. It makes me shudder to remember some of those trips we had. They always started out fun. Her trying on pretty dresses...looking really nice...but then she never really LOVED anything. And then she would LOVE something and they wouldn't have her size. We would go from store to store to store to store to store... Usually she would return to the very first store and purchase the very first thing she had tried on. At least one of us, usually both of us, would end up crying at some point in the trip. The children, in their double stroller that was about as difficult to turn as the Titanic, would eat their weight in fruit snacks and throw toys and sippy cups overboard at every chance. We must have been quite a spectacle to see.
Anna and I have both decided that when it comes to Emily and Lucy and *hopefully* Lizzie going to a formal dance, they will chose their dress from some Utah-owned, all modest, formal dress catalog. No shopping, no hysterics, no stress. It sounds like heaven! For all my complaining, however, I wouldn't trade those shopping trips with Anna and Emily for anything in the world.
I love yogurt. It is one of my favorite foods. Growing up we ate yogurt all the time. My mom had a yogurt maker that made little cups of yogurt. We ate it often as dessert with different fruit toppings like strawberry, pineapple and rhubarb. I loved it! I also loved Dannon Fruit on the Bottom. My favorite flavor was boysenberry. I would eat all the plain yogurt off the top and then have two or three spoon fulls of sweet berries. So yummy!!
About 10 years ago, I had a love affair with the Dannon Double Delights. Oh my gosh, so good!! The Bavarian Raspberry Creme was my favorite along with some kind of Lemon Meringue. I can't remember the exact name. I loved these Double Delights more than any dessert. They were my absolute favorite. And then for some reason they discontinued them. Who knows why? Probably to replace them with some low-fat, activa frusion crap. The Double Delights were not low-fat but they weren't horrible for you. Can't they leave some unhealthy yogurt out there for those of us who want to eat food that actually tastes good?
Well, I survived the loss of my Double Delights only because I still had the Boysenberry Fruit on the Bottom and the Lemon Supreme Yoplait Thick and Creamy. My fridge used to be stocked with yogurt all the time but with money tight and kids who devour food faster than I can buy it, yogurt is a big treat. So I go to the store this week to get a few things and I linger past the yogurt section. I looked at all the various kinds of yogurt that are out there now, tons of crazy smoothies and cremes and digestion aiders. There are hardly any Fruit on the Bottoms stocked. I find them in the midst of all of the light and fit and what am I to discover? There is no boysenberry. There is not even a spot for boysenberry. I was so disappointed. Here I was going to spring for a little cup of yogurt as a treat, (it was even on sale) and my favorite flavor isn't available anymore. Sadly, I bought raspberry and enjoyed it but not as much as boysenberry.
I looked on Dannon's website and found that they claim to still produce the boysenberry flavor. I am going to have to write a letter to my grocery store and ask them to bring back boysenberry so that I can buy it from them once a year.
1.Cartwheels and anything gymnastic related. I could never ever do a cartwheel. Even when I was young and in shape. I could never extend my legs right and I didn't go all the way around. I remember dreading the gymnastics unit in gym class. I STUNK at it and Mrs. Duschel, the world's worst gym teacher, made me feel like crap every time I tried anything.
2. Being organized and keeping track of stuff. I really don't feel like elaborating. It makes me feel too stressed. You get the idea from the topic.
3. Hiding my feelings. Chris says I wear them on my sleeve. I try and try to hide when I am angry or disappointed or crabby but I just can't.
4. Playing Scrabble. I love love love to play, but I really stink at it. You should see my Scrabulous score on Facebook. It is pathetic.
5. Taking pictures. I love to take them but they always turn out stupid. I don't know anything about isos, micros, flashes, settings, speeds, lenses, etc... I am glad that with a digital camera, I can take hundreds of pictures in the hopes of getting one or two good ones.
Five things I'm Good At:
1. Public Speaking. I like doing it. I like preparing talks, lessons, sharing time, etc... and delivering them. I don't know that I'm really great at it, I just really like the process.
2. Spoiling people and spending money. When financial circumstances permit, I am not a penny-pincher. I am happiest shopping for something that will make someone very happy. I am good at choosing clothes, gifts, food that is going to really delight. I don't mind going over the top to really impress and make someone feel really great. These past few years, I have had to really learn to curb this instinct.
3. Writing in my journal. I have been doing this since I was very young and have many volumes recorded of my life. Some of them are wonderful to read (early motherhood years). Some of them should be burned (junior high).
4. Loving my children. I'm good at it. I love being with them. Love taking care of them. Love snuggling with them in the morning. Love cooking for them. Love helping them. Love teaching them. I think they feel good in our home. I'm good at nurturing them and building them up. I hope they turn out better for my efforts. 5. Making appetizers. "A word about Mrs. Flax and food: the word is "hors d'oeurves." Fun Finger Foods is her main source book and it's all the woman cooks." I love making appetizers and I wish that it was all we ate.
Today was day #1 of my Spring Break Spring Cleaning plan. The kids were a great help as we deep cleaned Cameron's room. It looks really awesome considering that yesterday it was so full of clothes and old baby toys, I couldn't even walk in it. It feels so wonderful!!
I didn't take many good pictures on Easter. Mostly they were of our little egg hunt Sunday night. The kids had fun searching for the eggs. Lucy participated with her cute little basket, too. Everyone enjoyed eating the loot!
3. None of my children are neglected. It is true that some times they do not get the one-on-one time their small family counterparts do. Having a small family does not guarantee success. There are many parents who brag about how they provide for their children, yet in the pursuit of career and wealth, spend little time with their kids. From the outside, it may appear that that child and his one sibling are in a perfectly size family, yet the reality is they are receiving less attention than a child in a large family.
Certainly, a mother and father need to be involved and interactive with their children, but siblings play a big part in a large family dynamic. In fact, there are times when our own children do not want us around and would rather be with their sister and brothers. Often heard in our home on Sunday afternoon is a chorus of, "Mom and Dad, go take your naps. We need some Kid Time."
During sports seasons, we had several children playing various sports. There was only one game where someone had to go for 1 quarter without Chris or I there. But, what do you know? Grandpa was there! How special was that?
4. I am continually amazed by how much most large families are able to provide their children with. Video games, toys, nice clothing, outings, vacations, and more. The difference is, most large families view these luxuries as extras. Giving your children toys to play with is something all parents feel is important, but does a child truly need a whole room full? Do they honestly need so many clothes that they grow out of some before wearing them? Isn't it true that in many ways, camping can be just as exciting as spending a week in a nice hotel? Our family has vacationed in some of the most luxurious hotels in the country. We have also camped on our best friends' muddy property. Guess which outing my children ask to do more often.
Right now our financial situation is precarious, yet prospects brighten each day. Financial situations, such as most things in life, are subject to change. It is wrong to say a family should never have more children just because they can't afford it now. It is wrong to judge someone as irresponsible for having a large family when in the past they did have adequate means, but perhaps suffered a job loss or other tragedy that put them in an adverse position.
Not being able to afford a child is subjective. Feeding, clothing, schooling and providing adequate love for a child is really all that is necessary. Many people would be amazed how affordable raising a large family can be if they looked at it from what is needed, as opposed to the wants and luxuries which can be costly but are not required to raise children.
My children might have to get through college the same way millions of other children do. Hard work and student loans. I do hope that we are able to provide for their missions but I will expect them to work and save to help pay for this as well. Luckily we have mostly boys so we won't have all the costly weddings to worry about. :)
So critics and naysayers...leave me alone because I don't care what you think. I don't judge anyone else's choice of family size. I am happy, my husband is happy and my children are happy. This child that we are having now isn't going to be our last, so prepare now to think of something polite to say to us in 2-3 years when we announce baby Vos #7.
This weekend, Chris had some appointments in good ol' Toleedo. I took advantage of the ride down and spent several hours with the kids at the world renowned Toledo Museum of Art. If you are an art lover, you know what a treasure the TMA is. If you don't love art, visit this museum and then you will. I have been to the museum before with children. But never with five. And never by myself. This was either going to be really wonderful or really horrible.
It ended up being wonderful. We saw lots of interesting pieces. The kids favorite was the mummy display. My favorite was the glass display. We were followed everywhere we went by highly efficient docents. I think they thought we might be a pack of vandals. In the end, several of them ended up complimenting my little brood and their excellent museum manners.
I highly recommend you take a visit. It's a wonderful (and free) way to spend an afternoon. We were there for 3 hours and I was starting to lose the children's attention at the end, but they were really good sports over all. Enjoy the photos. Many were taken by the children.
The Museum is a great place for a nap!
Christopher next to a very beautiful Van Gogh
Mom, I'm tired!!
My little thinkers
Photo in the Cloister, one of my very favorite parts of the museum
Posing by an outdoor sculpture.
Glass Windex bottle. Could it clean itself?
Calvin's silouette in front of my very favorite piece, Vitrana.
Famous Libby punchbowl.
I'm hungry and tired! Can we go now?
Emily doing some sketching.
A funny video shot by Christopher in the Cloister. This is going to be used by the TMA as what "NOT" to do in the museum.
In my opinion, the Easter season is the best candy season of the year. There are so many candies out that you can only get at this time of the year. This post stands as a tribute to all Easter candy.
One of my very favorites is Hershey's Eggs. I don't know when they first were introduced into the candy world, but I know I have been loving them for a really long time. These candies are solid milk chocolate with a crispy candy shell. I have received a bag of them in my Easter Basket since as long as I can remember. I would ration them and eat just a few a day so they would last longer. They are my very favorite.
Another favorite are Cadbury Creme Eggs. Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, ba-gawk! These are so rich and yummy. I love the new addition to the family, the caramel egg. Also in the Cadbury line are the Mini Eggs. These are very, very good.
An Easter candy post wouldn't be complete without mentioning Jelly Beans. Jelly Beans are a staple of the Easter season. I love all Jelly Beans, including the often hated black licorice.
One Easter candy that I do not like at all are Peeps. They are just too sugary and yucky. I know some people really love Peeps, but not I.
Some newer Easter candies that I enjoy are the Milky Way and Crunch Eggs. They are delicious!
Russell Stovers has a wonderful Easter candy line including their chocolate bird nests. Soooo good! Also they have a great selection of chocolate eggs with flavored fillings. My favorite are the truffle eggs. Russell Stovers used to carry a Crispy Caramel-filled Chocolate Bunny that was sublime. Calvin was born a few weeks before Easter and everyone got the above mentioned Crispy Caramel-filled Chocolate Bunnies in their baskets that year. When I discovered how great these bunnies were, I liberated them from my children's baskets and put them in a cupboard way up high that only I could get to. At night, when Calvin would cry to be fed, I would sneak into the cupboard and eat a bunny. They were sooooo good! The next year at Easter time, I was looking forward to the bunnies and I could not find them anywhere. THEY WERE DISCONTINUED! I have tried several other brands of bunnies but nothing compares to the Russell Stovers ones.
I love the Wendy's Breaded Chicken Sandwich. I don't remember when I first started loving this sandwich but I was probably in high school. Wendy's was my dad's favorite fast food restaurant. It was my job to cook dinner each night and if I ever just didn't feel like it, Dad would take us to Wendy's. We never went in and ate; we always ate in the van in the parking lot and threw french fries at the seagulls that lived at that lot. It was great amusement. I would always get a chicken sandwich. I loved the juicy chicken, the flavor of the tomato mixed with the mayo, the crispy lettuce. Mmmm...my mouth is watering! The only part of the sandwich I didn't like was sometimes on the end, there was this gristly piece of chicken that was really gross. I would try and pick that piece off first.
One of my best high school friends shared this love of the sandwich with me. Sometimes after Young Women, we would stop at Wendy's and get a sandwich. She and I once drove really far for one. A post in itself would be my trip from Toledo, Ohio to Provo, Utah. I will have to do it someday. For now let me say that it was just Stacy, age 17 and me, age 18 in my Chevette, which kept overheating, in the middle of Iowa. We were separated from our caravan somewhere outside of Chicago. We didn't have cell phones then so here we were, two girls, traveling across the country by ourselves. We thought it was AWESOME! Our parents did not agree. So, we are in the middle of Iowa and decide that we want a Wendy's chicken. We start watching the exit signs and see McDonalds, Burger King, etc...but no Wendy's. So we keep going. And going. And going. But still no Wendy's. Finally, we are starving and decide we have to stop and eat somewhere so we go to Burger King. Their chicken is disgusting compared to Wendy's. The whole dining experience was so disappointing. We got back in the car and headed west and what do we see at the next exit? Wendys. UGH!! I have hated Iowa ever since. If I was ranking the states from 1-50, Iowa would be #50 right behind Kansas coming in at #49. Why is Kansas so long and sooooo boring? I don't know but I loathe Kansas. We finally met up with our group in Nebraska and made it to our stop in Wyoming. We spent the night in Cheyenne and the first thing we did was go to Wendy's and get a chicken sandwich. It was delicious!
For a while, Wendy's changed their sandwich. They thought it was an improvement, but it wasn't. They changed the bun and the lettuce. They took away the mayo and replaced it with some yucky sauce. It was nasty. Several years ago, they brought back the original Breaded Chicken Sandwich. I applaud them!
A couple of days ago, I got some Wendy's coupons in the mail. One of them is 2 chicken sandwiches for $5. I am dying to use it but need someone to share with. I do love the sandwich, but even though I'm eating for 2 (and have been for several years) I can't eat 2 sandwiches. Anyone interested in sharing a coupon, let me know.
We've had some fun happenings in our family over the past several days. Christopher's scout troop held their annual Blue and Gold Banquet. The theme was "Chinese New Year." We ate some rice Chinese food and watched the boys display some of their more interesting projects. Christopher received his Bear badge and moved up to the Webelos level. Way to go, CV! On Saturday, we celebrated Emily's 12th birthday with family and friends. We had a fun pizza party at Cici's pizza. It was a great time eating pizza together, laughing and opening some neat presents. Emily's cousin, Morgan, even made her a bracelet all by herself. Saturday night, Anna, Tony, Lucy, Jodi, Aaron, Jamison and Gavin came over to celebrate. We had fun snacks and played Apples to Apples. Emily was allowed to play with the adults for the first time and she enjoyed it. We learned that Jodi's very favorite swear word is "groin." As usual, we had a hilarious time.
Emily and her friend, Taylor
Emily loving the bracelet that Morgan made her.
Cameron, Cici's #1 Fan!
Aunt Jamie, Emily and Morgan
Cameron and Tyler
That's not Anna and Tony! Everyone wants to hold Little Lucy!
I've had several inquiries as to the baby countdown posted on my blog this weekend. Yes, I am expecting baby #6 due September 20. It sounds really stupid to say we were surprised by the news of this newest Vos. But we were. I guess when items are 99.9% effective, you have to remember the .1% non-effective chance is still out there. "So you're telling me there's a chance." Even though we were surprised, we couldn't be happier to have a new child to love. I have been feeling various levels of nausea and exhausted various levels of tiredness over the last few months. I have been to my midwife and everything looks great. I even got a picture of the baby, which looks a lot like a Sour Patch Kid. I am affectionately calling it, "SPK." I am looking forward to finding out if we are having a Mitchell or an Elizabeth (Lizzie). The children were all thrilled to find out they will be welcoming a new sibling. Emily is keeping all appendages crossed in hopes of a sister. Christopher shed tears at the news and gave me the biggest hug ever. Calvin and Spencer jumped around and yelled. Cameron is pretty much oblivious. This baby is going to be very much loved.
Yesterday was Emily's 12th birthday. This was such a milestone day for both of us. I loved that she had a snowday and was able to spend the day at home. Her new Young Women leader and two of the Beehives visited her today. They brought her balloons in the value colors and all the YW books and pamphlets. I was delighted to see how they welcomed her so openly and helped her feel comfortable with this transition. She is very nervous about attending YW this Sunday. Seeing her being unsure of this new situation reminded me of how scared I was when I started YW. I remember how grown up and sophisticated the Laurels were and how tiny and young I felt. Emily is blessed to have associations with great leaders and also older girls that are setting such a good example for her. I am so excited for her! They gave her the torch necklace, which she secretly calls the "fire lady necklace." She put it right on and wore it to school today. Entering YW is such a landmark in the life of an LDS girl. She is not a child anymore and will only get more mature and competent from here on.
Emily 1 year old
Emily age 4
Another milestone completed was getting her ears pierced. My mom had a rule that I had to be 12 to get my ears pierced and I held to the same rule for Emily. After dinner of homemade pizza, (her dinner choice) we took a family trip to the Westland Mall. We stopped at the Piercing Pagoda where she looked at the spinning display of earrings and said she was so nervous. Anna and I reassured her that it doesn't hurt and that she could do it. (Anna, you should blog about your piercing experience.) I could tell by the look on her face that she was sooo scared! She chose a very cute pair of posts and then a few minutes later, she was pierced! She looks very beautiful and grown up.
Another landmark event today was her opening a letter written to her by my mother. My mother wrote it to her in 1987 and it was addressed on the envelop to "Jennifer's Future Daughter to be Opened on Her 12th Birthday." This letter has been sitting in my jewelry box for years waiting for Emily to turn 12. I have seen her come into my room and look at the envelop, turning it in her fingers, probably wondering what her Grandma Gloria is going to tell her. I am confident that Emily grasps that this is a most precious item. I feel so fortunate that my mom was so close to the Spirit to feel the need to pen such a note. The letter was the first thing Emily asked about in the morning. She opened it and read it and let me read it. It was one of the best things I have ever read. It was lovingly addressed and told of my mom's and my relationship at the time (I was 13 when it was written). My mother implored Emily to see me as her friend and develop our relationship as mother and daughter. She said some beautiful things that I will hold dear to my heart always. Emily was visibly touched by the moment.
Emily age 8
My daughter, Emily, has been so precious to me even before she was born. When I was expecting, I knew she was a girl and I knew her name would be Emily. I would talk to her and felt so close to her. When she was placed in my arms for the first time, I knew her! She was familiar to me already. She was the sweetest baby, a delightful toddler and so enjoyable as a child. That is not to say that she was perfect. She had her moments. I recall one of them being in the Lansing Ward building when I was on assignment to visit a ward there. I often traveled to various wards for my calling and because Chris' calling was such that he couldn't take a toddler with him, she would travel with me. For the most part, she would quietly play with toys or books. One day she was just out of sorts and was screaming and carrying on. I was at my wits end with her. I took her into a classroom and was going to punish her but was overcome with a feeling that I should sing a Primary song to her at that moment. I did so and she calmed down. I remember feeling thankful for parenting help from the Master Parent. At 12, she still has her moments, but in spite of them, she is just the most wonderful daughter that there ever was. I used to get upset at the thought of her growing up and leaving home. I don't so much anymore because I know that we will be great friends forever. She and I have a bond that time, age and distance cannot overcome.
Emily, you are so dear to me and I am a better mother because I have you for a daughter.