Friday, November 28, 2008

I can't forget it. I am sorry. I had no idea it was your cab. Let me make it up to you. How about a nice hot dog and a beer?

Happy Thanksgiving from the Littlest Turkey!!

I've been thinking about this post all day and I know I am going to have a lot of trouble writing it. Our Thanksgiving Day was so perfect that I don't think there are words in the English language to express how I feel about it. I am so thankful for every blessing that we have been given this year especially my wonderful family. Without them my life would be terribly empty.

We carefully planned the menu. In our household, snacks are the most important feature of the meal. Anna and I both agreed that we were going to do mostly snacks and we were going to skip the turkey and just get a chicken and the fixings. However, we were blessed with a free turkey so we changed our plans a little bit. We still did the fixings...stuffing, potatoes, rolls, squash and green bean casserole. But the snacks were really the star of the Thanksgiving show.

In all, we had fourteen different kinds of appetizers. Some of them I didn't even get to eat. They were all soooooooo awesome!! Here's the awards:

Best Newcomer: Boneless Buffalo Chicken Fingers
Returning Favorite: Cranberry Puffs
Fan Favorite: Pigs in Blankets
Best Use of Balled Cheese: Crab Ball Dip
Best Use of Pickled Bologna: Pickled Bologna

Snack Eating.

Lucy's right...we all need to go for a swim to work off all those snacking calories.

After we let our stomachs rest from the snacking, we took some family photos. Here are some of my favorites. I wish I had a video of us taking the pictures. It was hilarious!

Just the gals.

Lucy's not a fan of this pose.

Four little Indians.

Emily made the cutest place cards for our table. Vos' are the Indians and Onofrio's are the Pilgrims. Aren't these the best?!

Funniest part of the meal was when Tony noticed that Spencer was molding his mashed potatoes. We were sure to get a shot of his hands.

Other favorite things about this Thanksgiving: not having any stress, not having a timetable, being with my dear sister and her dear family all day long, not having to get dressed up, the food was so good, being with all my children and having them get along with each other, having Chris home. It was a glorious day!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday 11/27/2008

1. Pammie is ok.

2. People who ask Emily to babysit.

3. Free homemade pie.

4. Free Wall*E

5. Our cute Thanksgiving placecards.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub.

You might remember this post from last week. It wasn't one of my better days and I'd like to re-address part of it. I still cannot keep Cameron in his new big boy bed. Someone help me with some ideas of how to keep him in bed. Here's what I've tried:

1. Putting a child-proof door opener thing on the knob. He picked it off in about 3 minutes and was out.

2. The door has a keyed lock. I tried locking him in. He figured out how to unlock the lock and was out.

3. Threats of spankings, promises of treats, laying there for a while with him...he still comes out.

Last night at 3:15 AM, he arrived in my bedroom saying, "I'm out!" and then proclaimed, "I lost my sock." He roamed around the house for about 45 minutes eating animal crackers and bugging the sleeping big boys until he finally fell asleep in a chair. According to Christopher, he tapped him on the head for a while telling him to "Get up, Fer(His name for Christopher.)"

I can't do this every night! I'm thinking of putting a baby gate over the doorway to keep him in. I did that with Christopher when he was that age. Christopher, however, figured out how to get over it and I think Cameron will do the same thing.

Why can't he just stay in his bed!!!!???? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Weekly Top Five 11/24/2008

In honor of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue last's my top five Sexiest Men Alive Not Including My Husband:

1. Matthew McConaughey

2. Daniel Craig

3. Farmer Hoggett

4. Colby Donaldson

5. Simon Baker

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maw, maw, maw, maw, maw

Chris was gone to Houston for three days. The kids, while very sad to see Daddy go, had been planning the sleeping arrangements in Mom's room before the wheels were up on his 737. Last night we slept as follows: Emily and Lizzie in Mom's bed, Christopher in the chair, Calvin and Spencer on the floor. In the morning, Cameron joined the girls in the bed. We laid there and watched "Little Einsteins" together. Pretty soon I heard Christopher say, "I think if their parents knew they were flying to Egypt in a jet, they wouldn't be able to go." His comment totally cracked me up and then made me ponder all the crazy things cartoon kids do without parental involvement.

Little Einsteins is one example. They are always going somewhere like Egypt or Venice or to fight Big Jet to a spider web. Are their parents aware that they have a secret lair in the tree in their backyard and a jet that can also turn into a helicopter or submarine or whatever? Are these parents like the parents of the Columbine killers who didn't know their kids had guns in the garage? What's up Little Einsteins moms and dads? Get more involved in your kids lives!

What about Max and Ruby? Who left Ruby in charge? She is the meanest, grouchiest sister out there. It's always, "No Max" or "Stop it, Max." I would hate to have a sister like Ruby. Occasionally you see the grandma but she only enables Ruby's bad behavior. You never see parents.

What community would let the Peanuts Gang use their community center or school gym or whatever it is to put on a Christmas pageant with no apparent adult supervision? If it weren't for Linus, this thing would be a total bust. And where are Pigpen's parents? CPS would be called in two seconds if you sent your kid to school with bugs flying around him.

How many parents wouldn't notice that Tommy Pickles has a screwdriver and a bottle in his diaper almost all the time? I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't miss that.

Curious George would not get in so much trouble if the Man in the Big Yellow Hat wasn't leaving him alone all the time. Have you seen the airport episode? He leaves him all alone at least three times. In a busy airport. What an idiot! Also, does no one in the cartoon think it is weird that he is raising a monkey as a boy? It all seems perfectly normal.

Don't get me started on Caillou. This kid is the most annoying, whiniest, complaining kid there is. He needs a firm swat to the backside and to sit in his room for an afternoon.

I really do love cartoons. Some of my favorite shows are cartoons. I was just laying there this morning thinking about CV's comment and started to think about cartoon life. It's a good thing Chris will be home soon. I guess I need some adult conversation!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday 11/20/2008

1. Foam Blankets Chris says these are really the lowest and cheapest form of blanket out there but ever since I was a kid, I've really loved them.

2. Reece's Peanut Butter Cups

3. Free Stuff

4. Lucy's cute hair

5. The way my kids will wake up when I go to check on them at night and sleepily say, "Love you, Mom."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just smile and wave boys

It's been one of those days. Full of interesting events. Our rocking chair completely broke. It has been on it's last legs for about a week now and today it officially gave up. It is off its rocker. :)

Cameron experimented with Emily's lipstick. Sorry, Em! This pic was taken after he tried to wash it off a little.

Then he dumped his water at dinner. At least it was water and not juice, right? There's always a silver lining.

Then he and Spence bathed in my tub with the whirlpool jets on and made a sudsy mess. They looked cute tho. Again the silver lining.

This is Lizzie's first experience in her crib. She looks very skeptical about the whole thing.

Cameron's first experience in the big boy bed. Right after I took this he jumped off and I can't get him back in. I'm not seeing any silver lining on this one.

This may be the last photo you see on the blog for a while because as I was just typing the above sentence, Cameron grabbed the camera off my desk and threw it on the concrete laundry room floor. It will not turn on.

I was going to write a cute paragraph about Elder Wirthlin's talk from General Conference and how I have been able to laugh through my trials today but losing my camera is too much to bear. I am not smiling.

I can't take a picture of my frown, so this will have to do.

***Since this post was published 5 minutes ago. I was able to fix the camera. And Chris came home with a gently used La-Z-Boy from his mom to replace our broken rocker.

Here's the smile:

Never lose faith.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Top Five 11/17/2008

Top Five Favorite Animated Movies Not Disney

1. Iron Giant

2. Charlotte's Web--The classic one

3. An American Tail

4. The Prince of Egypt

5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm It

I got tagged.

8 Favorite TV shows
1. The Office

2. Worst Week

3.30 Rock


5. Bones

6. Seinfeld

7. Beverly Hills, 90210

8. The Mentalist

8 Favorite Songs
1. Here Comes the Sun--The Beatles

2. The Tide is High--Blondie

3. Hysteria--Def Leppard

4. Welcome to the Jungle--Guns N Roses

5. Julia--The Beatles

6. The Boxer--Simon and Garfunkel

7. Anything sung by my aunts especially The Wedding Song

8. Something in the Way She Moves--James Taylor

8 Favorite Restaurants
1. Mancy's--Toledo, OH

2. Hunt and Grunt--Farmington, MI

3. Mitchell's Fish Market--Livonia, MI

4. Ideal Hotdog--Toledo, OH

5. Lawry's--Chicago, IL

6. Tony Packos--Toledo, OH

7. The Knight Cap--Lansing, MI

8. Sconecutter--Orem, UT

8 Favorite Movies

1. Gone with the Wind

2. The Truman Show

3. Sixteen Candles

4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

5. Cast Away

6. The Godfather

7. Sense and Sensibility

8. Pride and Prejudice, The BBC/A&E version

8 Things that happened yesterday
1. I cleaned off my dreser

2. I ate yummy chicken for dinner

3. I caught up the laundry

4. I texted Anna

5. I played Scrabble JR. with the kids

6. I read blogs.

7. I took shoes to Emily.

8. I worked on my lesson for Sunday

8 Things I am looking forward to
1. Thanksgiving.

2. Chris having a new job

3. Summer Vacation

4. Playing a game with someone

5. Worst Week

6. Going to church

7. Halloween next year

8. My birthday

8 Things on my wish list

1. New Sewing Machine

2. Baby Trend Sit and Stand

3. New wardrobe chosen by me

4. Housekeeper

5. First floor laundry/mud room.

6. Someone to clean out my car every day

7. Bikes for everyone in the family.

8. Wii

8 people I tag
1. Emily

2. Anna

3. Jennifer Garner

4. Daniel Craig

5. Suzy and Mark

6. Joni and Chachi

7. Donna and David

>8. Obama

Friday, November 14, 2008

A family's faith-promoting journey toward peace, understanding and eternal promise.

This week I got a letter from a relative I've never met. He is a second cousin on my father's side and he lives in Washington state. He found me and my contact information on a submission I made on the Family Search website. I was so excited to know that there is another member of the Church out there that is related to me. I've been used to being only one of a few members in my family. For some reason, even though I don't know this man, I love knowing he and his family are out there being good Mormons too. He asked me to share my conversion story with him. I don't feel like it is my conversion story as much as it is my father's story. I sent him an email relating the story and I thought it was pretty interesting so I am posting it here too.

I don't have my dad here to confirm all the dates and details. I have heard this story a million+1 times but he didn't always give dates so they are estimates. Anna, if you see any glaring errors, let me know.

My dad graduated from high school in 1960 in Lansing. It was right after graduation that the missionaries knocked on the door of his parents' home. My grandma tried to say no and tell them to go, but something made my father stop and let them in. He had all the discussions and did not commit to baptism. Over the next 10 years, he served in Vietnam and graduated with degrees from LCC and MSU. He did not have contact with the missionaries during this time, but his parents did. The missionaries would visit them regularly. My grandma called them "her boys," and would take them out to dinner and knit them afghans. However, she and my grandfather did not commit to baptism during this time. My dad and mom married in 1972 and moved to Toledo. The missionaries knocked on their door a few years later and they heard a few discussions but my mom had been recently diagnosed with cancer and they were so busy with that problem that they didn't have time for the missionaries then. A few years later, my dad and his boss had a discussion about religion and the boss invited our family over for dinner. His boss was a bishop in the local ward. After being friendshipped by their family, my parents agreed to have the missionaries give us the discussions. We went through several sets before my parents agreed to be baptized. I was only 6 so I couldn't get baptized with them. My parents were baptized in August of 1981. I remember the day pretty well especially how shaky my grandma's hands were when I held them as my parents were being baptized. One year later on August 13, 1982, we went to the Washington DC Temple with that same bishop's family and were sealed together.
My parents' baptism day.

My parents went through quite a bit of persecution because of their decision to join the church. My mother grew up Catholic and came from a long line of very stalwart, faithful Catholics. Her parents were very disappointed with the choice she made to do this. There was quite a bit of tension between them for a little while. My grandma went on a Catholic retreat (For those of you who don't know what Catholic retreats are like, I'll post on it sometime. They are quite interesting.) to meet with a special priest. She talked with the priest about my mother and the choice she made to leave the Catholic church and what should my grandma do. The priest counseled her that as long as our family was going to church all together and was happy, then she should be happy for us and let us be. From then on, my mother never heard another negative word towards her decision. I'm sure that her parents were still disappointed and upset but they never showed it. I am thankful to that priest, wherever he is. My mother's family has never treated us any differently because of our different faith. They are people of highest character.

My father grew up a little bit of everything Protestant...Baptist, Congregationalist, Christian Scientist, etc... I think he was baptized in a Baptist church. While my mother was a faithful Catholic, he would not go with her to church. He took her and me to church every Sunday but he didn't go at all. I don't have any idea what he believed about religion before he gained a testimony of the Mormon faith. His parents were not upset with his decision to join the church. In fact, they wanted to join as well and probably would have in 1981 if it had not been for my uncle who is extremely anti-Mormon. I can remember heated arguments over our church between my dad and his parents and this uncle and his wife. Anti-Mormon literature was distributed at my mother's funeral by him and his children. They were hateful people. My grandparents finally decided to join the church in 1991 with the threat that if they did, this uncle would never speak to them again. (He didn't make good on the threat.) They were sealed in the Chicago temple, with my dad, a year later in 1992.

It took many years, many missionaries and many faithful members to do the work Heavenly Father needed for my parents to feel the Spirit and make the conversion. I don't even know the names of the first missionaries who contacted my dad that first time. I wish I did because I would love to let them know that their labors were not in vain. Because of their knock on a country door almost 50 years ago, 15 individuals are sealed together forever.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday 11/13/2008

1. Surprise Leaf Rakers

2. Hand Me Downs

3. This talk. I REALLY needed it.

4. Mrs. Visser

5. Worst Week

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And I think that they're bright, and sensitive, so I have no doubts whatsoever about their intelligence.

This week has been the annual parent/teacher conference week for the Vos home. Going to parent/teacher conferences has always been and still remains scary for me. As a child I worried about what the teacher would tell my parents. Now as an adult, I worry about what they will say about my children.

My teachers always said the same things about me. I was bright...gifted even. However, I talked too much. I remember my report card would be perfect with the exception of my talking grade. Yes, in Catholic school we had a grade in talking. I think it was titled something like, "Refrains from extraneous talking." I usually got an N. N meant "needs improvement." Occasionally I got an S-. The S- meant "A little better but still pretty crappy." I liked to talk a lot. I'll never forget in first grade in the beginning of the year, I sat next to this kid, Mike Kotnik. We were getting along pretty well, I thought. After a little conversation, he finally asks me my name. I was thrilled! I was making a friend! I told him and he immediatly goes up to the teacher and tells her: "Jennifer Ballard is talking too much." I got in trouble for the first time for talking too much. I learned to be more judicious about who I gave my name to from then on. I was also labled "The Talker." I guess I had alot to say. I still do.

None of my children, as of yet, have inherited my need to express themselves at inappropriate times during the school day. Their report cards/conferences were not perfect this time around. However, they were extremely satisifying for me and I am going to gush a little. Christopher's teacher talked about how enjoyable a student he is and how much he likes having him in his class. He talked about his maturity and how he always shows respect for the teacher and his peers. Calvin's teacher talked about how helpful and kind Calvin is during class. She told of a sitauation in which Calvin really shined. There is a boy in his class who is handicapped. He has an aide with him usally, but one day he was without the aide for a bit. Calvin stepped in unasked and did the things the aide usually did for the boy. He saw the need and filled it. Spencer's teacher spoke of his enthusiasm for learning and how well he listens and how he is such a good cleaner-upper. Emily's teacher gave their seal of approval on Emily by not requesting a conference with me. In middle school, no conference is a good sign.

Their cards weren't perfect; they all have stuff to work on and improve. However, their character...their behavior...the most important stuff to me is right on track and I left conferences last night and today on cloud 9. I felt like that LDS commercial from the 70s or 80s that says, "Mom, you're doing alright." I'm doing alright.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekly Top Five 11/10/2008

Top Five TV Shows That My Dad Would Watch That I Hated

1. Hee Haw

2. 60 Minutes

3. Lawrence Welk

4. Airwolf

5. Star Trek

Friday, November 7, 2008

Are you pretty, Lizzie?

Our little Lizzie turned one month old today. I wish I could take her and freeze her just like she is now. I can't believe how big she has gotten in just a month. She is a good baby...a little fussy at bedtime is my only complaint about her. She is still sleeping with me. I's a big no-no. I tried to put her in her cradle last night. The whole time she was in there I kept thinking about her and wishing she was with me. Finally, I just went and got her. I'm a softie.

She doesn't have any new accomplishments or talents. She is just cute and soft and smells really great. Most often she has a little perplexed look on her face. Its like she can't quite believe this is real. She also has quite a bit of baby acne. I'm hoping this is the only time she will have a less than flawless complexion. It's everything I can do to not pop those tiny zits.

She's really very sweet and I like her a lot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Random Thoughts by Jennifer Vos

I didn't vote for either main party candidate for president. I didn't agree with either of them. However, when I listened to Obama's acceptance speech on Tuesday night, I felt energized and excited. I hope he does a good job. If we had to sit down together and discuss politics, he and I would probably not see eye to eye. But, unlike our last democrat in office, I have respect for him and his family. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with this opportunity.

Regarding my last whining post, my trial has been our lack of financial security. We have been very insecure this past year. Chris had renegotiated with his employer in September for a deal that was going to take care of everything. The deal fell apart last month and not only are we not getting it, but we are taking a 50% pay cut on top of that. So it's back to the sending out resumes and job hunt. Chris is looking for something from 5-1am to supplement our income. It really stinks right now. I know it's not the worst crisis in the world but it affects us in a big way. I have been thinking about the challenge so much lately. I have faced challenges before that cause me to accept a change to my life that will stay that way forever. Like death or illness. But this challenge can easily be fixed. I guess that's why it seems harder or different because I'm looking for a fix or guidance towards the fix and it hasn't come yet. I will work hard and wait upon the Lord.

I haven't sent thank you notes out yet to people who brought meals and bought gifts for Lizzie. I'm working on them. If you are someone who knows you have one coming, I'm sorry it is taking so long.

I want to play games. Will someone please come over, bring some snacks and play games with me?

Thankful Thursday 10/6/2008

1. Surprise sandwich from Maya's Deli

2. Football practice is done

3. The fog is gone.

4. Mindless TV shows

5. Text Twist Turbo

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our RS lesson yesterday was based on Elder Uchtdorf's talk in General Conference about the power of hope. Our teacher defined the word hope as "a desire with expectation of obtainment." I sat listening to her and pondering in my mind the definition. I looked around the room at all the sisters sitting and listening and I wondered if any of them feel like I do. I feel like I am losing hope. I wonder if the Lord is hearing my prayers. I wonder how long I can endure this trial that I am going through right now. I am a big baby whiner.

Do other people lose hope? Do they feel lonely like me? Do they hear people bearing their testimonies of how much God loves them and wonder, "Does He love me, too?"

Of course, He loves me. Of course, He hears my prayers. I know these things. I know them. Right now, though, it feels like He isn't answering. I need Him to say, "Here's your solution," or "Here's what you should do," or "Sit tight, you're almost through this." I don't feel like he is saying any of these things to me.

What do I need to do better? Where can I improve? Am I failing His expectations of me? Is that why He is not blessing me now?

I know all the right answers...count your blessings, serve, look outside yourself, serve, read, pray, ponder, serve. I am trying to do these things. I fall short of perfection. I get discouraged. I don't understand right now. I am trying to smile through it. I am trying to see silver linings and lights at tunnel ends. But, the brightness of my hope is dim. I just have a tiny little birthday candle light.

What is He trying to teach me? What am I being prepared for?

Weekly Top Five 11/3/08

Top Five Favorite Movie Soundtracks

1. William Shakespeare's Romeo+Juliet

2. Forrest Gump

3. Evita

4. Some Kind of Wonderful

5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ahh... Halloween's finest *trick*-ortreaters...

I really really really really love Halloween. I love the costumes and scary music and trick or treating and parties and everything. As a child, I usually had a homemade costume. I can remember 2nd grade being Annie. I was the "orphan" Annie complete with raggedy dress and curly red wig. My mom made the whole thing. I got to school and my nemesis, Sue Justen, was the "rich" Annie with the little red dress and the perfect curls. I was annoyed. From then on, I was determined to go the gross route. I was disgusting witch in 3rd grade and disgusting vampire in 4th grade. The more blood and warts the better. After having children of my own, I was determined to make their costumes every year. This worked for several years. Emily has been a homemade Dalmatian, Pooh, Teletubbie, Minnie Mouse, Dorothy, Jessie, Wonder Woman, and Hermione. I've slaved over monkeys, Pokemon, airplane and Mickey Mouse. I love to make costumes! However this year I didn't have time to make any of them. I was lucky to have Grammie sponsor a trip to Halloween USA to get the kids costumes.

This year we had fun going around the "Great Pumpkin Caper" at downtown Plymouth with the Kimballs. It is always so busy but it is still fun and the kids love it.
We carved pumpkins. This year they turned out a little lame. Cameron's pumpkin was so hard I could barely carve it. I just did a tiny mouth and little eyes. It looks stupid. We had fun, tho.

We watched the kids parade at their school. That was really fun too.

Anna helped me plan and execute the Halloween Party for Christopher's class. The party turned out really fun. We had fun, "gross" food for the kids to eat and games for them. Chris did a really fun magic show. Christopher told me the party was "totally awesome" which made me feel good. I couldn't have done it without Anna's help. What would I do without her?

After the party, I took the kids to the hospital to see Grandpa. Everyone in the halls liked seeing the kids dressed up in their costumes. Grandpa seemed in good spirits and is hoping to come home on Monday. It was a short visit because HELLO HAS ANYONE EVER TAKEN 6 KIDS TO THE HOSPITAL????? It isn't pleasant.

After that we had a party for Lucy's birthday and then we went trick or treating. We always trick or treat in Grammy's neighborhood because they give out the best candy. Tons of whole bars. Tony's parents joined us halfway through as Salt and Pepper. They were really cute. We topped off the night with cake for Lucy and her presents, which was also very fun.

The kids all slept together in the basement and had themselves a "candy trading party." I love to here them all getting along and being friends.

Halloween 2008 was a great success! Only 364 days until next Halloween! I'm counting down.
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