Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Tis the season to be merry.

Emily is ready for the chili-mac!!

Things I loved about Christmas this year:

1. Caroling at the nursing home. There was this one old lady. When I saw her, I just knew she would love to see Genny. I took Genny over by her and the lady took my hand and smiled so big. She laughed at Genny. I put Genny on the ground in her bucket right next to the lady and while we were singing, the lady tickled Genny's feet. Genny gave her the cutest smiles. Finally, I took Genny out and held her on the lady's lap. The lady held my hand and told me that Genny is the cutest baby ever. It was the sweetest thing. I'm so glad we did it.

2. The children's reaction to their gifts. They seemed to really love everything. I'm so glad when they are happy.

Calvin just noticed the xbox 360!

Lucy likes her camera!

3. Lizzie dancing with Pa playing the harmonica.

4. Making cookies with my sister. Cooking snacks with my sister. Eating chili-mac with my sister. Picking out Wixey's danishes with my sister. Hugging my sister. Talking to my sister. If it involved my sister, I liked it.

5. The mimosas that Chris made for Christmas breakfast.

6. Playing The Game of Things with Jodi and kids. Best game ever! Lots of poop! And a little pinworm.

7. When we were leaving Carol's and I just knew that she shouldn't be alone and we left Calvin to stay with her and distract her a little from her heartache.

8. The video that Emily made.

9. Eating Wixey's danishes Christmas morning.

10. Shrimp

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club. Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving

So no mailed Christmas cards again this year. I still wrote the letter though. Enjoy!

December 2010

Merry Christmas to you, our dear friends and family! We have had a busy year and are so excited to be receiving your news and sharing ours. We so look forward to everyone’s Christmas news. Here’s our rundown:

Emily is in the 9th grade but her teachers tell us that she is reading at the level of an average 50 year old. She plays concert piano every week at local nursing homes to lift the spirits of the residents there. She was recently contacted by the USA Olympic swimming team and is so talented she gets to bypass any kind of tryouts. Look for her in London in 2012! Emily never wastes time watching TV or with Facebook. Instead, she spends her time volunteering at local soup kitchens and knitting hats for unhatted babies in foreign countries. We love Emily so much and her bright smile is so bright that it is brighter than the noonday sun.

Christopher is in the 7th grade. He was awarded the “Best Student in our School” Award last semester. He gets A++ in every class and will be teaching next semester instead of learning. He has wrestled every available wrestler in the area and simply cannot be pinned. We are currently in negotiations with the WWE for him to become the youngest wrestler ever. Christopher abhors the Wii and all computer games. Instead he would prefer working in the garden, washing the car or writing in his journal. He will be performing on his Bass at the National Theater in Washington DC over the Fourth of July holiday next year. He became an Eagle Scout earlier than was thought humanly possible.

Calvin is in 5th grade and is the youngest person ever to be recruited by Ohio State’s football team. He will probably skip high school completely and go directly to college where he will be on the varsity football, basketball, ice hockey, track and baseball teams. Calvin is a very serious young man who loves to write poetry and was contacted by President Obama to write a poem to be read at his inauguration in 2013. Too bad that’s not going to happen. Calvin prefers playing with his baby sisters to being with his friends and can often be seen having a lovely tea party with them. After homework and his nightly 1000 push-up and sit-ups are complete, of course.

Spencer is in the 1st grade and he lost all of his teeth this year and they all grew back in within a week. His doctor said he is a miracle of modern orthodontia. Spencer keeps his room so clean that we eat off the floor in there every night. His classmates love him so much that they bow in his presence and spread rose petals on the floor for him to walk on. In addition to all of this, Spencer will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Mathematics next year.

Cameron goes to preschool where he has mastered crafts, blocks, magnets, stories, gym and snack. He is the best student they have ever seen at Tiny Tots! Cameron loves to help me do the laundry and can often be seen begging to hang shirts and match socks. Cameron has learned to tame wild animals and often I will find a chipmunk or squirrel nestled next to him on his pillow at night. What a dear!

Lizzie is 2 and has been contacted by Baby Gap to be the face on their new ad campaign. So in addition to her already rigorous competitive gymnastics schedule and her traveling dance troupe, we now can add modeling to her schedule. Lizzie started playing the tuba last year. She just picked it up one day and we were all amazed! Lizzie has the most beautiful hair that we suspect that Pantene will begin calling any day needing a new hair model. Be on the lookout for her sweet face everywhere.

Genny was born in June. She was born reciting the ABCs and had all the Articles of Faith memorized before she was four weeks old. Genny started eating solid foods at two weeks. She was also born potty trained! What a blessing! Genny has never cried. She uses her words to tell us when she is hungry or tired. She is literally an angel sent from heaven. We are planning on starting her on piano lessons next month. She loves to sit at the piano and play Emily’s music. I think she’s ready to start.

Chris has had a rather eventful year. Not only did he complete one of his life goals of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest but he also ran in a marathon every month. Chris makes so much money it is absolutely ridiculous. We just don’t know what to do with all of it. He stopped speaking in regular sentences this year and now will only quote scripture to communicate. In Chinese. He was elected president of the local Rotary Club, Lions Club, Civitan Club and Optimist Club. He re-sodded our entire lawn this summer, build an addition on our home, taught all the local children to ride two-wheelers and reads for the blind twice a week.

Jennifer has a cleaning lady that comes daily to make sure her house is always clean and organized. In addition, she drops off her van for a daily detail while she shops and gets a massage. Jennifer pays her nanny really well and that’s why she has so much time for the hair salon, mall and volunteering. She is room mom for every child including the older ones. The schools said they didn’t really need room mom’s in high school and middle school, but Jennifer is proving them wrong. Jennifer’s scrapbooks are so up to date that she has already scrapbooked the future. Jennifer bakes her own bread with the wheat she grows and never serves her children anything artificial or store bought. She prays daily that any future pregnancy will bring twins. She lives a storybook life.

We have a pet dog, Nala. We love her so much. She recently won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. And rescued a family of 6 from fire.

Our house is just full of love and never a cross word is spoken. Share our joy with a visit this year!

Merry Christmas from the Vos Family! Chris, Jennifer, Emily, Christopher, Calvin, Spencer, Cameron, Lizzie and Genny

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So self-absorbed and egotistical, it's like those hip musicians with their complicated shoes!

It's a good football weekend. The Plymouth Wildcats are playing in the Michigan high school state championship game at Ford Field on Saturday. Chris and the kids are going and are looking forward to whooping Lake Orion. Go 'cats!

Michigan State is playing Penn State at Penn State. I'm hoping for another Spartan win.

Wisconsin is playing Northwestern. I know it's a long shot, but I'm hoping for Wisconsin to fall.

The most exciting game this weekend will be Ohio State v. Michigan. The are playing at the Horseshoe in Columbus.

I am feeling terribly conflicted.

I hate Michigan.

But I haven't always felt that way. I once was a Michigan fan. I used to wear the Maize and Blue. I learned the fight song on the piano, recorder, clarinet, bass clarinet and electric saxophone. I went to a OSU/UM game wearing the Maize and Blue with OSU fans sitting in the OSU section cheering for UofM. I almost was killed. I was die hard.

And then I visited a little place on the Red Cedar River. A place that bleeds green and white. A place I call home. A place that sets couches on fire when they lose games. Or win them. Aaahhhhh yes...Spartan Country.

There's nothing like Michigan State. I love it. I love every inch of it. I hope all my kids go there. I wish I had a diploma from there. I'm looking at Chris' on the wall right now and pretending it's mine.

So growing up I hated OSU with a passion. I hated them. And now, I continue to dislike them alot. However, my son Calvin, loves them. He chose to be their fan because he was born in Ohio and he feels he shares a connection with them. He is also a lot like me and my dad and has to pick something to like to be different from the pack. We are all State fans--bun us--he's going to like OSU. My dad, while he also loathed OSU, would have secretly loved Calvin's affinity for them. Me too.

So I've been rooting with Calvin for OSU this season. Luckily, they didn't play State this season. Next year we will crush them.

But now they are playing U of M. Under normal circumstances, I root for everyone who plays Michigan. But if OSU falls and Wisconsin falls and State wins then we will be better positioned for a bowl game.

Can you see my dilemma? Will my hatred for U of M win out over my love for State? I don't know the answer yet. Right now I'm saying "Go State!" And "Go Bucks?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

mmmmmmm donuts...

I love a good donut. Always have. I really like a lemon filled with the powdered sugar outside.

But Krispy Kreme...those are good donuts. I remember the first time I ate one. We went to South Carolina on vacation with Chris' family. All the way down, Jeff and Jamie were talking about Krispy Kreme donuts and how wonderful they were. I kept thinking..."It's a donut. Get over it."

And then I ate one.

Have you had a fresh, warm Krispy Kreme donut?

It is aurora borealis in your mouth.

I ate a lot of donuts that week. It seems like there's a Krispy Kreme on every corner in Myrtle Beach. And they flash that "Hot Donuts Now" sign. It's like the batman symbol for fatties.

Imagine my delight when they built a Krispy Kreme store in Toledo just minutes from my home. The line was out the door on Saturday morning. That place was always busy.

And then it vanished. Now I can only get Krispy Kremes from the corner gas station and they aren't hot and they aren't aurora borealis in my mouth. Where did all the stores go?

I wish I had a hot donut now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And, then we're going to slaughter 'em. And, after the slaughter is over, we're gonna come back here and ring that victory bell.

Calvin's football coach wrote and article about him and another boy on his team that don't play in Sunday games. Here's a copy for all to enjoy. It's the article on the far right, titled "Dedication and Commitment." I am so proud of him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Poor Pinkus, poor little Pinkus.

On Tuesday, I ran some errands with my mother in law. I took her clothes into the dry cleaner for her. I had to give her phone number so the dry cleaner could look up the account and after he found it he said, "Hi, Carol." I said hi back without correcting the name.

I immediately remembered going to the dry cleaner for my dad when I was young.

We had to go the the cleaners every Saturday. We drove 6.22 miles every Saturday morning to my dad's favorite cleaners, Adams Laundry and Cleaners. There was a perfectly good One Hour Martinizing about 5 blocks from my house and why we never used it, I'll never know.

I always put the laundry under my dad's name, Blair Ballard. Pretty soon, one of the guys that worked there started calling me "Blair." He thought I was Blair Ballard. I could have been. Blair is a gender neutral name. And I was too embarrassed and silly to correct him. So I was Blair Ballard to the Adams Laundry and Cleaners for several years.

One time, one of my dad's friends went to pick up my dad's laundry. He gave the name "Blair Ballard" and the guy working there wanted to know how SHE was doing. My dad's friend blew my cover and told him that I was Blair's daughter named, Jennifer. The next time I went to the cleaners and every time after, the guy always said (with great enthusiasm), "Hi, JENNIFER!" Made me feel so stupid.

I wonder how long it will take OK-Cleaners to figure out that I'm Jennifer and not Carol.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yes, you can. Rub some unicorn oil into it. Whoever hopes to marry the Prince must be perfect.

"Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees."

My hands hang down and I am ashamed.

They hang down because I can't seem to do everything perfectly and I get discouraged.

They hang down because I set goals for myself that I don't attain and I get discouraged.

They hang down because I am bombarded with messages all the time that I'm not good and I get discouraged.

I hear

You're too fat. You're late. You're messy. You're disorganized. You slept too late. Your dinner isn't healthy. You went to bed too late. Your sheets are dirty. Your laundry isn't put away. Your hair is ugly and needs to be cut. Your house is ugly and has too many cut-out hearts. You have shoes by the front door and someone is tracking in leaves. It smells weird in here. The baseboards are dirty. Someone wrote in crayon on the door...wall...bed. Your dog is bad. Your kids are loud. And disobedient. And unappreciative. Your Family Home Evening is not focusing on the talks from General Conference. Your scripture study was not meaningful. You are not trying hard enough. You need to be a better example. You need to invite a friend. You need to watch what you say. I want to watch a show. Put on a show for me! I want to eat McDonalds. Get McDonald's for me! Get me a treat! I forgot my money, parka, shoes, books, project, food, card...stop what you are doing and bring it to me right now. That area we just cleaned is messy again because you didn't keep it from getting messy. There is no room in here. The baby is crying. Feed the baby! Family Home Evening didn't happen this week. I'm not going to have it ready for you. You can't have the one you want. Your mom is dead. There's too many car seats in this car. I don't know where it is. I can't find it. Your account is overdrawn. He hit me, kicked me, yelled at me. I'm not going to do that. Your lawn needs to be mowed. Your garden was a miserable failure. You're not attractive. Stop texting! Your son can't read. Your daughter has a messy face. And her nails aren't trimmed. And her shoes are one size too big. Where's your coat? You are a bad driver. If you forget the take the pill, you WILL get pregnant again. Your books are overdue. That cupcake has a lot of unnecessary calories. I drank your last coke. You have HOW MANY children? You're done now, right? We always, always, always use a hot pad.

Every word I hear is like a brick being thrown on my shoulders. I picture my hands flopping on the ground. Hanging as low as they can go.


I don't want any help.

I don't even want anyone to lift them up.

Isn't that weird? Because if someone helps and lifts them up that makes me feel worse. Then I feel even more worthless. It confirms my inability to take care of myself and my family. Yet I probably need someone to lift them.

Satan has really figured out how to get me. Just plant a seed of doubt about my abilities in my brain and I'm cooked. I focus on that doubt for days, weeks, months. I get down and discouraged. I flounder around doing not much of anything worth anything. I can't figure out why I can't hear the good stuff. I must be doing some good stuff. Why are the negative messages so much louder than the positive?

I don't need my hands lifted up. I need a kick in the butt.

My visiting teachers visited and kicked me in the butt reminded me to refocus my priorities. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Elder Uchtdorf's talk from General Conference has been knocking around in my brain for two weeks. At first I got mad at his talk.

Imagine telling me to cut back! What the heck can I cut back??? In order to cut back, I'd have to get rid of a child.

But then as I've been thinking about it...I don't really need to cut back. I need to do more. I need to do more of the big rocks. The essentials of life that will get me back to Heavenly Father and help me lift up my hands.

I need more temple worship.

I need more meaningful prayer.

I need more feasting on the word and less nibbling.

I need to put these big rocks in every day. Then maybe as the stresses of life hit, I'll be better prepared to handle them.

I heard a really great talk last night about this very thing. Heavenly Father seems to be telling me that life is a process. A continual process that probably isn't going to end for a really long time and so suck it up and do a little better each day and it's going to be ok.

So what should I do now?

I'm going I've decided to make a list of everything I need to do and figure out each thing's priority in my life.

That's my first step. I'm going to take this one step at a time. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't you know what happens on Halloween?



Yummy dinners

Trick or Treating

That's what happens on Halloween!

This year we had a silly girl band member, Mark Dantonio, Jim Tressel, Mario, Luigi, Abby Cadabby and Elmo join us for the fun.

My favorite house to go to is on Woodland Place. They give out hot dogs and warm cider. Awesome!

Happy Halloween to all!

I love Lucy!

Lucy turned 3 on Halloween. I love living so close to her and being a part of her life. She is so bright and funny. I find delight in every moment I spend with her.

Happy Birthday, Goofy Lucy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Iris Myandowski is a hand-walking queer!

Does she know that I'm sorry for when I wouldn't ride home with her on my first day of first grade? I wanted to ride the bus home and she came to pick me up. I told her to go home. Does she know I'm sorry?

Does she know I'm sorry for every time I complained about having to clean the basement with her?

Does she know I'm sorry for dropping my library book in the sink full of water? I was reading it while I was doing the dishes. She had to pay for it.

Does she know I'm sorry for lying to my dad?

Does she know I'm sorry for the times I was mean to my sister? I didn't know she was going to be my best friend someday.

Does she know I'm sorry for the time I made her so mad at me that she bit me on the hand? Why did I push her to the point of being so angry? What was wrong with me?

Does she know I was wrong when I told her I wasn't going to get married and have kids? I told her that I was going to be a brain surgeon career woman and not end up in (my exact words) "out of date, ugly clothes with a mom-hairstyle."

Does she know I'm sorry for embarrassing her by telling one of my aunts that I thought she and all my aunts and cousins were red-neck hicks?

Does she know I'm sorry for not waving at her when I walked to school? I was so mad. I should have turned and waved but I didn't.

Does she know I'm sorry for the time I embarrassed her in front of Joe Vetter? I'm not going to say what I did. It's still pretty embarrassing. I'm really sorry. Does she know?

Has she forgiven me for every thoughtless comment and missed opportunity?

Does she know that I am currently living the best life ever as a mom in out of date, ugly clothes with a mom hairstyle? Does she know that my sister is my best friend and I love my aunts and cousins so much? Does she know that I am trying to raise my kids as well as she raised me? Does she know that I think about her almost every minute of every day and am trying to live up to the example she set for me?

Does she know I love her and miss her so much it takes my breath away?

I hope she does.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday!

My sweet Lizzie turned two last week. It's hard to believe she's two!

Some words that describe her are: little, snuggly, obedient, curious, loving, blonde.

Lizzie likes to play with her babies.

Lizzie doesn't like to have to take a nap.

Lizzie likes to eat snacks.

Lizzie doesn't like to eat peas or beans or anything green.

Lizzie likes her binkie and a soft piece of fabric for bed time.

Lizzie doesn't like putting pants on.

Lizzie likes to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, little Star," "Itsy bitsy Spider" and "Jesus wants Me for a Sunbeam."

Lizzie doesn't like being put in the car to run errands.

Lizzie likes to play "Ring Around the Rosie."

Lizzie doesn't like being wrapped in a blanket by her brothers and then tickled to death.

I like everything about Lizzie.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekly Top Five 10/4/2010

Top Five Things I Like About October

1. Children's Primary program at church

2. Oktoberfest

3. Cider and Donuts

4. Trick or Treat!

5. Fuzzy, warm baby pajamas

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Give Away

Don't we all love a giveaway?

Free stuff?!

Free stuff is good.

Free good stuff?!

Good stuff that's free is even better!

Which is why we're giving away a super cute nursing cover,
3 coordinating burp cloths, and a coordinating tote bag!

These genuine mama-made burp cloths are made out of 100% cotton fabric and a 70/30 poly-cotton microfiber that is naturally antibacterial, super-absorbant, and very soft!

This super-stylish mama-made nursing cover slips over a nursing mama's head easily with an adjustable strap. Boning in the neckline makes eye contact with baby a breeze.

No longer nursing? No problem! This would make a very sweet baby gift (and you don't even have to wrap it- just put everything in the tote).

You have 4 chances to win:

1. Follow Sew Many Mamas.
2. "Like" us on Facebook.
3. Repost our give-away on your blog and leave us a link in your comment.
4. Submit yourself or another deserving mama to be featured on Meet-A-Mama Monday (for details go to our "Know A Mama?" tab).

Leave a comment for each entry, making sure to leave your name and email address so we can contact you! Comments will stay open for one week (to give you a chance to get your Meet-A-Mama Monday submissions together). That means comments will close on Friday, October 8th at 5 pm. We'll pick a winner using and announce the lucky person by Saturday!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random Thoughts by Jennifer Vos

How can you cancel a tv show after just two episodes?

Around 2:15pm my chest starts to feel tight. My head feels like it is ready to explode.

If I had three wishes right this second, I would wish for our house to be complaint free, thicker skin and that I could never lose anything.

I need three more wishes.

A house keeper, one meeeeellion dollars and a wardrobe entire made of clothing by Sigrid Olsen who is currently no longer designing clothes but I would wish her out of retirement.

Is that technically four more wishes?

I need some cider and donuts from Parmenters. Really fresh ones. Not the old hard ones that are on my counter. I also need a Coke. I wish that all the fountain pops here were like in Provo. Caffeine free. That's all I wish that was like Provo here. Except for fry sauce. And Sconecutter. But I think, technically, Sconecutter was in Orem. But that's it.

How many wishes am I up to now? 7?

If Jon Stewart ever quits television, I am too.

Not really.

Come visit me in the snack shack on Saturday. Bring me valium. Or anything you may have that is stronger. And doesn't transfer through breastmilk.

It's conference weekend. Big breakfast. Conference bingo. Hip Hip Hooray! Oh yea, and the only living prophet on the earth today will counsel us. Just a small detail I forgot.

Genny peed in my bed this morning. I still haven't changed the sheets. I'll know if Chris has read this by tonight if he asks be about it before he gets into bed.

Calvin has a project due tomorrow to display his family tree. We are supposed to work on it as a family which I think is teacher code for, "Mom does it." I found a cool picture of a tree and mounted it on posterboard. I printed out pictures of ancestors to glue on tree. We are writing names and details by the pictures. I think it will be cool. I talked to Calvin about it last night. He said a girl in class turned hers in already. Its a real tree with faces hanging from the branches. Its really cool, he says. I'm ready to disembowel myself. Chris whispers to me, "She's an only child." Sometimes he knows the exactly right thing to say.

Sometimes I'm pretty sure my children don't think of me as a real person.

Sometimes I'm pretty sure I'm really stupid.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Top Five 9/27/10

It's back.

Top Five Famous People I Would like to Be Friends With

1. Mother Teresa

2. Oprah

3. Dane Cook

4. Katie Holmes

5. Nienie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


So, I don't even know where to start.

Kids are back in school. I have five kids in four schools. Emily is a freshman. She is loving it and I am so glad. Her school consists of three high school buildings on 500 acres. The total student population is over 5,000. I went to her open house and was not loving walking between the buildings between classes. She gets 10 minutes "passing time." I was the only parent with a baby with me. What's up with that? Emily died of embarrassment when I told her that I nursed the baby during math class. She said her teacher is going to mark her down now. If anything, I think she would get a higher grade. At least out of sympathy for having such a kooky mom and krazy family. My Emily's mornings consist of trying to make it to Seminary on time and fighting with the kids to get the front seat in the van. My Her afternoons consist of trying to make it to swimming on time and yelling at everyone when we don't. She is doing a great job with swimming and her team has won all their meets so far. Way to go, Wildcats! Emily is supposed to take the bus home, but she cannot make it all the way from the far west end of Plymouth to the Salem bus loop before the bus leaves. I was picking her up every day at 2:15 and interrupting naps and getting very annoyed. A friend and I devised a carpool for that and I am not so annoyed any longer.

Christopher is in middle school with no other Vos' there to torment for support. I didn't make it to his open house because
I am a bad mom I didn't have anyone to watch the four babies I would have had to take with me that night. Four babies is just too much to take to an open house. His mornings consist of getting to Orchestra on time and being happy he is the first one in the van and gets to choose his seat. His afternoons consist of complaining that he doesn't get to go to Grammy's house and FOOTBALL.

Calvin and Spencer are in elementary school. Spencer is learning how to ride the bus and how to eat lunch at school. He leaves each morning repeating the lunch choice over and over so he doesn't forget it. "Chicken sticks and mashed potatoes, chicken sticks and mashed potatoes..." Their mornings consist of hurrying to eat their chocolate cheerios and make the bus. Their afternoons consist of FOOTBALL.

Cameron is going to preschool. He seems to really enjoy it, although the only details I've gotten from him so far are that he does nothing there and the school has a gym in the basement. He is lucky to have three church friends going with him to his same class. He spends his mornings trying to figure out how to get fruit snacks out of the bin on top of the fridge and his afternoons sleeping in the van.

Lizzie and Genny are along for the ride. We go to the park sometimes and play. Sometimes Lizzie and I play outside while Cam is gone and Genny is sleeping. Lizzie and Genny spend alot of time in the van, as well.

As for me, I'm great. I get up at 5:55 to holler to Emily that she is going to be late for Seminary and then run around the house finding her missing sock and shirt 5:30 to see Emily off to Seminary. I get CV up at 6 and we leave to pick up the Seminary kids at 6:40. I come home and fall back asleep until 8:30 when I frantically race around getting Spencer and Calvin out the door and do laundry and dishes until it's time to get up Spencer and Calvin. I get them on the bus and then Lizzie and Cam are ready for breakfast. Somewhere in between all these comings and goings, Genny usually eats once or twice.

Some days I can stay home all day. Like today. I don't have to go anywhere until it's time to take Emily to swimming and the boys to football. I get to watch TV all day and order pizza and drink coke and read books and eat chocolate and play Plants vs. Zombies catch up on cleaning and laundry.

I am in charge of the volunteer job from hell snack shack again this year. I've spent a fair amount of time shopping for food and the like. Our first game was this past Saturday. We did a great job in the shack and sold $2300 worth of non-organic walking tacos and other tasty treats. We did have a couple of crazy moments like when the grill caught fire. Repeatedly. And when some of the Styrofoam cups had holes in them and coffee and hot cocoa went all over the floor. And any time Seth came in the building. Other than that, tho, it was great. The boys did a great job on the field. Spencer and Calvin's teams both won. Christopher's wasn't so lucky. The team they played was bigger and faster and just tougher than they were. I didn't get to see much of the games but I did take a break for a second to watch Christopher snap the football. I couldn't have been prouder of him. It brought tears to my eyes.

Some random notes:

We held our 2nd Annual Outdoor Movie Night. Tony made an awesome screen! It was so great. We watched "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" outside on the coldest night of the summer. It was super fun.

Jodi and I had our annual chocolate party that celebrates mourns the loss of our children for 6-7 hours a day. We had some really yummies like homemade fudge, fondue and fruit, chocolate lava cake, chocolate trifle, Irish coffee cheesecake and something else really yummy with a crust, chocolate and apricots. It was delish.

The Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview arrived. I love it. Fall TV season is here!

I ate my first Parmenters donut on Saturday.

You should try Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse on Ford Road. Yummy.

Fall Festival was a little lame this year. What's up with that? CV won a fish which thankfully sadly died in two days.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Daughter of Blair and Gloria
Wife of Chris
Mother of Emily, Christopher, Calvin, Spencer, Cameron, Lizzie and Genny
Had a super hard busy day yesterday
Got up at 5:30
Went too many places
None of them were for me
Nursed the baby in four different parking lots
Had to go to Open House with three babies
Met the teachers
Found Calvin's desk
Read his bio-poem
"I want less brothers and sisters and more money"
Left the school blinking back the tears stinging my eyes
My life's work to nurture and love seems to be for naught
Finally fell into bed at 11:45
Feeling like a failure

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Settle Down

Settle down.

My dad used to say this to me all the time. Not in a mean, angry way. But in a calming, kind parent way. Usually I was in a panic or sobbing or ranting and he would look at me in a soothing way and say, "Settle down." He always knew that whatever it was that I was in a tither about was going to be okay. After the "settle down," we would talk and his words always made me feel better.

I can remember crying about something when I was very little and he said this to me while sitting on my bed. I can still see the sun coming through my Holly Hobbie curtains and sitting with my dad and knowing that he loved me and whatever I was upset about was going to be ok.

I remember sitting in the library parking lot with him crying over a boy that broke my heart. He said those words, "Settle down." It was going to be alright. There would be other boys.

I remember holding onto him after Mom died and sharing tears with him. Crying so hard that no sound was coming out. But, Dad could make it better.

The last time I remember him saying these words to me was when he was in the hospital and I was upset about it. I was very pregnant and worried and he simply said, "Settle down." And I did.

I realized recently that I say the same thing to my children when they get worried or upset. They come to me with their fears, so giant in their tiny little lives, yet so small in the grand scheme. What if they don't like their teacher? What if they aren't good at swimming on the Varsity team? What if they get tackled really hard at football? What if they get yelled at for forgetting their scout book? What if there's nothing good to eat? What if they lost their DSi? What if they need new school clothes? What if we have to clean the house and go to piano and football and pick up the big coat? What if we're late? What if their foot, chest, finger, back, *insert body part here* hurts?

And first I say, "Settle down."

And then I listen and try to solve.

Usually it works. They calm down and we talk and resolve the issue.

I imagine that Heavenly Father is the same. I come to Him with my fears looming so large in my life, yet tiny in eternal perspective. I cry and stomp and sob. I tell Him that I can't see how this problem is going to possibly work out. I make quite a production.

Yet He knows all and he can see the resolutions to all my worries. And He simply and quietly tells me, "Settle down. All is well. "

And He's right. Every time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Did you see "Alien"? When the creature was in that guy's stomach? It feels like that. Freshman

My baby girl is starting high school in 10 days, 15 hours, 33 minutes and 57...56...55. Not that I'm thinking about it at all. Maybe just a smidge.

She went to school today for Freshman Orientation. She found out her schedule, got some books, got her picture taken. She said it was fun and she ate lunch with her swimming friends. Yay for swimming friends!

She had several outfits picked out to wear. I shouldn't call them outfits...I think that would make her gag. She had several really cool shirts picked out to choose between. In the car going somewhere yesterday, she asked me what I wore for my freshman picture day. I told her my uniform and a John Lennon pin that said "Give Peace a Chance." She made a face and thought the pin was really dumb. Why did I wear a pin?

I explained about the old St. Ursula uniform. Try to imagine this. It could be any fabric you wanted. Anything. I had a red one with bears, I had plaid, I had one with frogs...I can't remember the rest. It was a dress, three pleats in front, three in back, long sleeves and knee length, matching belt around the waist. If that wasn't hideous enough, we wore a white detachable collar with a pin that connected the two sides. It could be any pin as long as it wasn't offensive. When I googled "old st. ursula toledo uniform," no pictures of the uniform came up. This one did however, which I thought was HI-larious.

I had to scan my freshman yearbook to get these beauties. I had also forgotten that we could wear a matching sweater over our uniform. We were a collective hot mess.

Here's me in my monstrosity complete with ugly hair and cool John Lennon pin. Why did someone not tell me to wax my eyebrows?? I'm holding all the women in the Toledo 1st Ward responsible for not giving me this tip. I look like a Yeti.

The next year, we got much better uniforms. Traditional pleated shirt, oxford shirts and blazers. I loved wearing uniforms and I wish my kids wore them now.

I don't know if my John Lennon pin story wore off on Emily because she wore her Abbey Road t-shirt and Beatles hoodie. You can't really tell it's Beatles-wear but it is. She thinks the picture looks stupid. Honey, you think you look stupid?? Take a look at my beautiful mug two inches up. You are gorgeous.

Two most important tips for first day of Freshman Year:

1. Wear enough deodorant. I didn't and I felt like I stunk all day long.

2. Go to the correct classes. If you end up going to the wrong Biology class that is full of Sophomores, they will laugh at you and you will feel stupid.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm out there Jerry and I'm loving every minute of it!

A few weeks ago, I was at Steeler practice with Cameron. He had an accident on the track. A #2 accident. The only toilets available there are porta-potties. Ugh. I go over with him to the facilities armed with tons of baby wipes. I started to clean him up but the underwear was impossible so I just tossed it in the gaping toilet hole. He had to go commando for a few hours during practice. No harm done, I figured.

On Wednesday, we went to practice again and he was running around the track. This time, no accident, but he wanted to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to go into the potty with him cuz it smells so bad so I stood outside armed with wipes to disinfect him when he got done. He came out and got cleaned up and looked at me and said, matter-of-factly, "I threw my underwear away." I was floored. I guess he thinks that standard procedure in a porta-potty is to throw your underwear away.

I'm still laughing about it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Well, now, guess what, this is happening.

My mom died on August 4, 1990. It's a painful day for me to get through. I don't know why it is so hard because I think about her on all the other 364 days of the year too. It's not really any different. It just feels different.

I have a good friend who has commemorated her death in some way every year since our friendship started. One year she gave me a lilac bush which is thriving in our yard. She usually gives me flowers. It is very sweet. I have known this friend for only about 8 years which isn't terribly long but she's the kind of friend where it feels like we've been friends forever. I knew I wanted to be her friend when we were rehearsing a skit for our church group in which about ten women sang "I Feel Pretty," in shower caps and bathrobes. She and I laughed and laughed about it. It was really funny. I knew I wanted to be her best friend when we went to see "Anchorman" together and my head almost burst from the pain of laughing so hard with her.

She and I almost share the same brain. We say the same things. We think the same way. We laugh at the same stuff. Sometimes we think we were separated at birth because we are so much alike.

Our friendship struggled several years ago. We had some issues and some fights. I had never fought with a girlfriend except one other time in high school when I yelled at Marybeth Bauer to stop acting like my mom. I don't know how to fight...I don't like conflict especially when I can't see how there can possibly be a comfortable resolution. So I run.

I ran from this friend. I sent her an email the day before her 30th birthday...a week before August 4th. An email that said I couldn't be her friend right now but maybe someday in the future we could be friends again. Goodbye.

And then I cried. She was such an important part of my life and I cut her out just like that.

She still sent me flowers on that August 4th. She remembered that it's the hardest day for me.

And then life started to go on. I would think about her all the time and wonder how she was and if she made new friends. I looked for her everywhere...the spray park, Kroger, Target, Maya's. She was never there. I had a new baby and hoped and prayed that she would walk through the hospital door with a hug for me and my new little one. I dreamt about her all the time. I would wake up so disappointed because we weren't friends in my real life.

August 4th approached again. The hardest day for me of the year. And in the afternoon, the doorbell rang. It was the flowers from my friend. She signed the wrong name on the card because she wasn't sure I would want flowers from her but I knew the handwriting. The flowers were yellow because she knows it's my favorite color. My heart was bursting with sadness at missing my mom and yet this gesture from this friend at this moment had a great healing effect. The pain I felt was diminished that day.

I went to my computer almost immediately and sent her an email thanking her for the flowers and telling her how much I missed her. She sent one back and pretty much said the same things. She missed me too! She didn't hate me. I had been afraid that she did.

We continued to email for a few weeks and finally I got some courage. I dressed Lizzie in the outfit that my friend had given her before she was born and we headed to her house. I pulled in the driveway and my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I rang her bell and I heard her voice say, "Who is it?" I heard her son say, "It's Jennifer." I saw her come down the stairs and I could not contain the tears. She opened the door and opened her arms and I fell into them whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I cried and then we sat on her porch and talked for a bit. She had to leave to go somewhere, but in those few moments we were together again, I knew it was going to be ok. I knew our friendship could be repaired and ultimately overcome our year of silence.

It took some time to iron out the issues that had led to me withdrawing my friendship. We worked through it and I am happy to say that she is my best friend again.

This year on August 4th, she gave me flowers. Yellow and white. She remembers that day and how painful it is for me.

This year on August 4th, I gave her flowers. I remember her gift of flowers a year ago that were the catalyst for bringing her back to me. It is our friendship anniversary of sorts.

I love that I have something joyful now to share on that day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

But at ten they start the aquasonics Thirty-five geriatrics throwing elbows. It was like I was swimming through a flabby armed spanking machine.

Great news! Emily made the varsity swim team at Plymouth High School! I am so excited for her.
She's a great swimmer. She started when she was 7 swimming for clubs and has worked so hard to get where she is. I am just thrilled!

I can't wait until she gets her team suit and the "big coat." I found out that the "big coat" is actually called a "swim parka," but I am probably still going to call it the "big coat."

I had a lot of swimmer friends growing up and for some reason I was so jealous of that big coat. I just loved it. They would wear it before and after meets. I was so cool. So I keep telling Emily that while she's in school, I'm going to be going around the house wearing her big coat. She just rolls her eyes. Like it could even come close to fitting me.

Come out and see Emily swim in her meets. She's going to be great! Way to go, Emily!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Please don't take my sunshine away.

Summer Platte Party:

Saw Gwen and Amy and Jeremy...LOVE THEM!

Saw all aunts but one...LOVE THEM!

Kids played and played and played...LOVE IT!

Heard beautiful singing and guitar playing...LOVE IT!

Got homegrown sweet corn...LOVE IT!

My family is the best. It's filled with happy, positive, God-loving, caring, wonderful men and women...LOVE THEM ALL!

***Please pray for my cousin's baby, Brody Smith. He has leukemia. Visit his care page at Search for brodysmith.***

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Because I'm REFRESHED. I finally found a way to sleep in my office. Under the desk. I lie on my back. I tuck in the chair. I'm invisible.

My grandad took a nap every afternoon. He took it on the davenport, which is an old person's word for couch, with a red pillow and covered himself with a homemade afghan. You could almost set your watch by Grandad's nap. I didn't play in the den when Grandad was sleeping even though that's where the toys were at Grandma's house. Sometimes I would lay down with him. I'll bet he just loved that. He probably got the worst naps ever when I was there.

My grandad had a huge garden and grew everything. I was especially adept at helping him harvest strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. In the fall, I was good at relieving him of his concord grapes. He worked in the garden wearing a straw hat, navy work shorts and a t-shirt. He wore the hat because he was bald and the sun would burn the top of his head.

There was a pool at Grandad and Grandma's. It was a round, above ground pool. I wanted to swim in it all day, every day. Grandma would sit inside and crochet and watch me through the window. We used tire inner tubes as floats. They were great because they would rarely get a hole. You had to be careful though because the valve stem poked inward and you could get a bad scratch from them. Grandma would give me a handful of pennies and I would spend all day throwing them in and diving for them. The best was when Grandad would put on his swimsuit and swim with me. It was such a treat!

Grandad was a beekeeper. If a honey bee got into the pool, you carefully scooped it out and put it on the grass so it could fly away. You NEVER killed a honey bee! Grandad would wear his beekeeping suit sometimes when he worked with the hives. I can remember making honey in the basement at his house.

When I was little Grandad had a blue truck for his "work/junk" car. It was a Ford. I can remember tracing the letters F-O-R-D on the back gate. He had a really cool El Camino for his junk car too. I LOVED the El Camino. I wish we still had it. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Off he rides, on his noble steed, a valiant figure, straight and tall! To wake his love with loves' first kiss! And prove that true love conquers all!

When I was little, my favorite movie was Sleeping Beauty. I loved Aurora and her charming Prince Philip. I hoped someday I would grow up and marry someone brave and handsome like him.

Most of the time, my husband is every bit the charming Prince Philip. And that's quite a feat considering that I more resemble the evil Maleficent over Sleeping Beauty.

I fell in love with him on one of our first dates when he told me that he always wanted ten kids. A man who wants ten kids is a rarity. I've only met one other guy that wanted ten kids. I knew I couldn't let Chris get away when he shared this desire with me. I just loved him from that moment on.

When Chris was getting close to graduating from college, I was starting to dread his job search because it meant we might have to go far away. I didn't want to leave my family. I didn't talk to him at all about it because I was so nervous about what he might say. One day he comes to me and tells me he's decided to look for a job only in the Toledo area because he knows we'll be needed there by my dad and sister. I was relieved and so happy. I didn't think I could love him more that I did at that moment! We started sending out resumes. I think we sent well over 100 to every company in Toledo we could find. He had some interviews but no offers. We were both starting to get nervous. Here he was graduating with a wife and two children and has no prospect of income. Finally, he gets an interview with a radio station based on a recommendation of his boss at the Wharton Center who is friends with a manager at the station. He was offered a job and the same day we leased an apartment about 2 miles from my dad's house. It was divine intervention that brought us to Toledo. Two days before we were supposed to move, my dad had surgery on his bowel that caused him to have quite a long recovery in the hospital and nursing home. He was never the same after that and wasn't able to live at home with my sister. We were really needed there. Chris listened to the Spirit and put his potential career to the side to care for family. He's such a great guy.

He was a hero to me when he was able to recognize someone in need and struggling and rescue them from peril. Again, he listened to the whisperings of the Spirit and did as prompted.

Again and again, time after time, he has come to my aid. He has never had to fight dragons or Maleficent's Goons but he yells at mean neighbors for me and mean people on the phone. He tells the kids to stop fighting and be nice to me. He gets me out of jams and picks me up when I am falling down. There are times when I ask him for something that seems impossible for him to deliver on and I bug him about it and he says, "Have I ever let you down before?" And I think and think and I can't think of a time.

He's not perfect but he's perfect for me. And when it comes to the big stuff he is perfect. It's the big stuff that counts and he always delivers when it counts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Genny Genny, You're the Girl For Me!

The birth story. People have been asking so here it goes:

It was Monday morning (June 28) and I went for my regular appointment at the OB. Chris dragged me there. Lucky for me, both of the doctors were not in so I got to see the nurse practitioner. They hooked me up to the monitor for a while to see how baby was. Baby was great and I was having very mild contractions about 10 minutes apart. I didn't really think anything of it because I have a lot of false labor at the end of my pregnancies. We left the doctor's office planning on being induced the next morning.

I spent the day doing regular stuff. I went to the grocery store, did laundry, cleaned, etc... The contractions stayed with me getting a little stronger as time passed. My mother in law went with me late in the afternoon to pick out a new dishwasher (hooray!) and by that time, the contractions were quite a bit stronger. Chris researched the dishwashers online so I knew which one to get when we got to ABC Warehouse. I was so uncomfortable by this time, I could have cared less what features it had or what color it was. We got the dishwasher loaded in the van and a good friend came and installed it for us. By this time, Chris came home and I pretty much installed myself on the couch with a Coke while he took care of everything. I could tell he was getting panicked with each passing contraction because he kept thinking of last minute things he needed to take care of before we went to the hospital like paying bills and vacuuming. I think both of us expected the contractions to just stop like they had in my previous labors. But they didn't...they just kept on coming stronger and stronger.

Finally, around 11:30 I had Chris go get Anna so we could head to the hospital. The contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and strong enough that I could not talk through them. I found the coolest app for my Blackberry that kept track of them for me. We arrived at the hospital at 12:30 and they checked me. I was at 4 cm and had a bulging bag of water. So i thought they would break my water. By 4cm, that's what all my other midwives/doctors did. But not this hospital. If you admit in the middle of the night and water is not broken, they let you labor through the night and break water when your doctor gets there in the morning. I guess the delicate genius needs his sleep. :)

So I got my epidural and I labored. It wasn't so bad. I went from a 4 to 9 in 4 and a half hours. By 5am I felt like pushing. I also felt like the epidural wasn't as strong as it should have been, which was upsetting. They paged the doctor and, since it was middle of the night, it was a fill-in doctor. She ended up being really great. I had her and a midwife on staff at the hospital and two great nurses. The doctor finally broke my water, which was full of meconium. Started pushing and I could tell that it was not going to be good. It reminded me a lot of Calvin's birth in which I pushed for 2 hours and thought I was going to die. I was really scared I was going to have to go through that again. Then, her head turned in a more favorable position and I pushed twice really hard and she was out!!

There is nothing in the world like the sweet relief of pushing a baby out.

She had three knots in her cord, which the doctor said was very unusual and that it was a miracle that she was healthy. They took her and checked her for meconium aspiration. She did not aspirate it. It took a while for them to give her to me. I am used to being handed the baby right away on my belly. She weighed 9lbs and was 21 inches long. I nursed her for a bit. She had dark brown hair and a perfect little round head. Her ears weren't smooshed at all. Her little face looked just like her daddy's.

Then they took her away to the nursery for bath and other checking. This was also very unusual for me. Usually, they do this right in the room where I am. She was gone for several hours and I was getting impatient. I took a shower and ate breakfast but I wanted to have my baby! Finally they brought her into my room.

She had lots of visitors the first day: Jodi, Anna and kids, Grammy, Trish, Uncle Jeff...

Funny story: Anna brought all the kids up to see us Tuesday afternoon. She had mine minus Christopher plus Lucy, so six total. When she went to leave, Chris walked out with her to help and a desk lady told him, in a snotty tone, that only siblings can visit new babies. He said these are the baby's siblings. She looked at Anna holding Lizzie and said, even the little one? Her too, he replied, they are all mine. Love how proud he is of his kids.

We got to go home on Thursday. I missed all my babies so much and was so relieved to be home with them again.

Tomorrow Genny will be two weeks old. Where did the time go? I feel such a weird mixture of happiness, sadness, exhaustion, overwhelmedness, joy and loneliness. My emotions are taking me for quite a roller coaster ride. It is hard to explain and I'm hoping that it will pass soon and leave me with just the joy and happiness.

So I have 7 kids now. 7. It seems like a lot but also not quite enough. I love my little Genny and feel so happy snuggling her and playing with her little fingers and toes. Being a new mom again is wonderful.
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