Christopher turned 12 on February 7th. That is really hard to believe! He was ordained a Deacon the same day and was given the Aaronic Priesthood. I am a proud mom!
Christopher continues to amaze me on a daily basis as to his strength of character. I know that the word "good" is really generic and vague but Christopher is really GOOD. He tries hard to do what is right. He respects adults and treats his parents and leaders and teachers appropriately. He wants to share the Gospel with his friends and peers. He likes his siblings and being with them. He rarely complains about helping around the house. He is just really good.
When he was a little boy, he was a stinker. He and Emily shared a room until he was 4. When he was about 2, he would leave the room on a nightly basis to sneak food out of the kitchen. Sometimes we would catch him and sometimes we wouldn't. Finally, we put a baby gate up in the dining room so he couldn't get into the kitchen. He got a rocking chair from his room and climbed over. He dragged a dining room chair over to the gate to get back over. One night Chris sat at the bottom of the stairs and waited for Christopher to emerge from his room. The stairs were directly down the hall from his room and Chris had a straight view to see what he was doing. Christopher got out of bed and headed down the hall. Then he noticed Chris sitting there and froze. He was caught!
He really liked to play with Emily's collection of Beanie Babies. We kept them on a shelf over her bed. One night I caught him climbing on the rocking chair that he had lifted and placed on top of Emily (who was asleep) in her bed. He was standing and trying to reach the Beanie Babies. Emily never woke up.
A few days before Christopher's birthday, Chris and I took him to Sonic to give him a "Chastity/Puberty" talk. I don't think he will want to visit Sonic again for a really long time. We have may ruined it for him. It's the only time I've seen him speechless and not hungry in a long time.
I love that I can always count on Christopher to be good. I hope his goodness continues to stay with him throughout his life. Happy birthday, Sunny Son!
Last November, the Steeler football team that the boys play for decided to sponsor a trip to Kalahari Water Park over mid-winter break in February. Chris and I looked at the price the team was offering and knew that we couldn't pass it up. Our family has not been on any sort of "real" vacation since 2005. That's a REALLY long time! So we took the plunge and made a reservation. Because of our great deal, we saved over 60% of what the cost would have been without it and we took all our own food to save money.
Tuesday, Grammy came and picked up Lizzie. Poor Liz didn't get to go but we decided it would be really hard with her and she wouldn't really care anyway. We headed out and arrived at Kalahari, in Sandusky, Ohio, that evening. Even after just going through the front door, I knew it was going to be amazing. There was African safari music playing and tons of African art and animal statues. My words can't do it justice. It was super cool. We had a great bell-hop who helped the kids and I make our way to our room while Chris parked the car. On the way to the room, he stopped at a giant window where we could look out over the water park facilities. Again, my words can't do it justice. Incredible...Amazing...Totally Cool! 180,000 square feet of water park fun. We unloaded at the room, threw our suits on and headed out.
It was upon the heading out that my water park virginity came into play. I learned a lot about what to do next time.
Tip #1. Bring a cover up so you don't have to walk through the crowded hotel lobby in your swimsuit. Aside note: Even though I am fat, it doesn't really bother me that much. I am like a reverse anorexic. So it didn't really bug me to be in public in my swimsuit. But it was cold.
Me in wave pool
Tip #2. Make sure everyone brings sandals. Tip #3. You don't need your own towels. Tip #4. Don't go to a water park when you are pregnant. Tip #5. Don't go to a water park if you want to relax. Tip #6. When you enter the park, your kids lose all ability to listen to a word you say.
So that night we played in the wave pool, the wet play area, water slides, hot tub and the little baby area. We went to bed so excited about the next full day at the water park! I fell asleep to the sounds of Chris and the kids playing Chopsticks and I am A Child of God on his iPhone fart piano.
Our room had two queen beds and a pull out couch. Definitely enough sleeping room. We had a small fridge and microwave. In the morning we ate cereal and Poptarts and headed to the park. We played all day. The only bummer was that the lazy river was closed. I was really looking forward to the lazy river since I couldn't go on any of the water slides. The Steelers had rented a cabana where we could keep our stuff and hang out and relax. It was great! Tip #6. Give your kids some kind of a watch so they can meet you at designated times.
After we spent a long time looking for our kids, we went back to our room and ate sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Then, you guessed it, we headed back to the park. We took a small detour and played a few arcade games and did a round of mini golf.
Tip #7. Get some kind of waterproof bag that you can keep your camera in so it's available for pictures all the time. Also, see Tip #1. Tip #1 very important. Tip #8. If you aren't careful, your wallet will open up and drain itself of money. Aside note: Someday, I would really love to be able to buy all the food from the expensive snack vendors and drinks in cool shaped glasses and get everyone a t-shirt. I feel guilty that I want to but I really do want to. Someday. Just once.
Cam helping me enjoy my smoothie.
We decided not to purchase any of the yummy looking snacks from the snack stands all over but I did convince Chris to get me a fruit smoothie. A $4.50 smoothie. It was really good though. We laughed our selves silly at all the people losing their swimsuits in the surf board area. One of the football coaches did a really great job. A picture of him is below. Christopher got on too and kept his suit on the whole time! We didn't get any pictures of him, though. We exhausted ourselves and headed back to our room after another round of "Hunt down your children in a building the size of over 3 football fields in a mob of people." It was like real live "Where's Waldo." Calvin fell asleep at the foot of the bed immediately. We ate more sandwiches and decided to get a little treat of some loaded french fries and chicken wings. That was fun. Everyone went to bed early. Except Cameron. I woke up at 3am to the sound of him ripping open the Poptarts and helping himself to a nice glass of pop. Got him back in bed and then we slept in. We had to check out by 11 but we could still use the park until 3. We checked out and went back to the park. The lazy river was open, hooray! I could have spent all day in there if Cameron would have cooperated. He didn't really love it. We played another game of "Where's Waldo," got everyone dressed and were on the road around 2pm.
It was serious fun and I really can't wait to do it again. I think that by following the tips of what I've learned, it will be an even better trip next time.
We picked up Lizzie as soon as we got home and she gave me the biggest, nicest hug. Totally rewarding! Nala was thrilled we were home too. She didn't have any accidents in the house while we were gone, thankfully!
I am so glad we were able to do take this trip! I give it 4 out of 5 stars. We are definitely going back!
It's winter Olympics time. I don't like the winter Olympics as much as the summer Olympics. I am only interested in a few events like the ice skating and the curling. Have you ever seen curling? It is a pretty interesting sport if you have the patience to give it a chance.
My dad had some friends who were curlers. Once we went to the ice arena to watch a curling match. It was pretty interesting and my dad loved it. His friends really wanted him to give it a try, but he walked with crutches then and crutches and ice rinks aren't the greatest mix. Finally, though, they convinced him and he headed out to the ice with their help. He really wanted to throw the stone all by himself. So that's what he did. They helped him out on the ice, stood next to him and handed him the stone. He threw the stone and his crutches went flying. He fell, spread eagle, on the ice and slid a little ways. Looking back, it was an absolutely hilarious scene. He was so proud of himself for getting out there and throwing the stone with no help.
We didn't take hardly any vacations when I was a kid. I can only remember three. One was a weekend trip to Grand Haven. We went to the beach on Lake Michigan. I remember it was really cold. My dad was walking with crutches then too. Mostly he sat in a lounge chair on the beach while we played. Finally, he gets up and starts walking towards the water. I watched him as he struggled in the sand and makes it to the water. He goes in until the water is about calf high and then he stops. The cold water is affecting his muscles and he can't move. Also the waves are causing the sand to move and he is sinking as well. He stands there for a while, getting lower and lower. My mom goes out to see if she can help, but she has congestive heart failure and is unable to exert herself at all. I was only 11 or 12 and couldn't do anything. Finally, some men come over and pick him up and carry him back to his chair. He didn't care about that. It was like with the stone. He was so proud of himself for getting out there by himself.
Our husbands can attest to the fact that Anna and I have both inherited, sometimes to our detriment, his "I can do it by myself" attitude. But most of the time this attitude is a good thing because it helps us get through things that are hard. I know that I can do anything. One thing I've learned in my old age though, is that sometimes it's better to ask for help.
Happy Birthday, Dad. And thanks for helping shape me into who I am.
Last night during book club, Teresa recommended a book that I am definitely going to read called, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker. She said the author talks about how sometimes you'll get an icky feeling about someone. Maybe its a man on the elevator or someone who is trying to sell something at your door. The author says you should trust that icky feeling because more often than not, your instincts are right. It sounds like a very interesting book.
I have had some of those experiences where someone I was interacting with seemed "off." Thankfully, I have never been a victim of a crime as a result of one of those people. Usually, I listen to my gut. I have gotten off elevators at wrong floors because someone in there was creeping me out. I have driven around my block several times because it seemed like a car was following me and I didn't want them to know where i lived.
The discussion at book club made me remember one time when my instincts were really off. I was a young girl, maybe 11 or 12. My dad worked for an architectural firm in downtown Toledo. I thought that it was a really scary part of town. After being in truly scary parts of Detroit, I have come to realize that there isn't a scary part of Toledo. But, in my 11 year old mind, we were in grave danger every time we went to my dad's office. He and I would often go on Saturdays. He would do work and I would play with the office supplies. Every time we'd go home, I would try and hurry as fast as we could back to the car before the bad guys could get us. But fast as we could go was not very fast because my dad walked with crutches at the time. He was very slow. I used to imagine that men in big vans would pull up as we were hobbling along the sidewalk and grab me and kick him and he would fall and I would be taken away and he would be lying there unable to do anything. My imagination was very vivid! So, one Saturday, we are headed for the car but this time, Dad wants to bring home several boxes full of junk. So I am pushing a cart of boxes towards our car and we are going slowly and my worst nightmare comes true. A clunker car pulls up next to us and two big, black men hop out and start walking in our direction. I remember thinking, "This is it. I'm dead. My dad is dead. It's over." The men approached us and asked if they could help. !!! I was shocked. They loaded the boxes in the car and helped us take the cart back up to my dad's work. We got in the car and pulled away and I breathed a sigh of relief. We were safe. I'm glad I was wrong about those men.
I'm also glad for "instinct" or "gut feelings" or "promptings" that I have that have not been wrong. Thanks, Teresa, for the great book suggestion.
Yesterday during Primary Brother Kimball brought his favorite picture of Jesus and showed it to the children and talked about why it was his favorite. His favorite picture happens to be my favorite also. When I was a little girl, this picture hung in my room next to my bed. I can remember lying in bed looking at the picture and imagining that I was the girl that Jesus was looking at. I imagined that the other children in the picture were my cousins: Jeremy, Justin and Kara. I wondered what it would be like if Jesus visited us.
I've often heard that if Jesus were going to visit a church that the first places that he would visit would be the Nursery and the Primary. I believe that is true. Children are so sweet and pure. Even the difficult ones. I would rather spend my Sunday with a room full of difficult children than anywhere else.
Often I have people ask me, "How do you do it?" They mean raise 6 children and still have a bit of sanity.
When I really stop and think about it, I know that it's easy. It's easy because I have GREAT children.
I'm gonna gush and brag here for a little bit. I don't do it very often so please indulge me.
Lately, I've been very nauseated. The slightest odd smell from poopy diaper, to vomit, to burnt toast to garlic can send me heading for the nearest drain. Emily has really stepped up. She has had to change diapers, cook meals, clean and take care of so many "mom" things while I try and get through this time.
Often, she does this kind of stuff for me when I'm feeling fine too. She'll ask to put Lizzie to bed and I'll hear her in Lizzie's room singing to her and playing with her as she lays her down. She'll take care of laundry and cleaning that I know she doesn't really love but does because she knows how much it helps me.
Christopher is so good at helping out when he is needed. He heads out at the first bit of snowfall to clean the driveway. He is great at cleaning out the van, hanging up shirts, taking care of kids. This spring I am going to teach him how to mow the lawn. I know he looks forward to it.
Calvin is my speedy helper. Ask him to do something and he does it quick and is right back for another assignment. He is the best floor sweeper I've ever seen and also is great with Lizzie. I can trust him to take good care of her if I need him to.
Spencer is something of an enigma. Spencer cleans without being asked. He will wash dishes, sweep, put things away, vacuum all on his own. Yesterday he told me that he organized the dirty clothes in the laundry room for me. Indeed he had. Everything was neatly stacked in baskets. He loves to clean and organize. I can take no credit for it. It's all Chris.
Cam has yet to show any special skills towards anything other than making messes. However, after he is put to bed every night he always visits my room at least once for another kiss. His lips pucker up in the sweetest way as he tells me he loves me.
And Lizzie puts up with being last. She tolerates our fly by the seat of our pants schedule. She greets me each morning with the best hug. She eats what she's given and rarely puts up a fuss.
Sometimes I feel like the Country Bunny with the Little Gold Shoes. I am the luckiest mom in the world to have such wonderful children and I love and appreciate them with all my heart.
The reason I love the Beatles so much, besides the fact that they are the most talented and awesome band ever, all stems from one day in 1986. I was 12 years old and it was Christmas Eve. My dad and I had gone shopping for my mom's present weeks before. It wasn't hard. All she wanted was the "Abbey Road" cassette tape. We went to Peaches (Toledoans do you remember Peaches?! It was the ONLY place to buy music. I spent infinity time and money there.) and bought the tape. I remember thinking it was pretty stupid looking. Four guys with long hair in suits crossing the street. Definitely not my cup of tea. We wrapped it and set it under the tree to wait for Christmas Eve.
This was the first Christmas Eve in my life that we didn't spend at my grandma's house. The few weeks preceding Christmas were very tense in my house. My mom had a lump in her breast and she had a biopsy to determine it's threat level. This was the second time my mom had cancer in her body and just another issue for her in a long line of medical conditions and surgeries. My parents decided a trip to my grandma's would be too stressful this year. So we had our little Christmas Eve party at home. I remember getting a Michigan hat and gloves and scarf set. It was my favorite. Hard to believe I was ever a Michigan fan!
Just before we were set to open our presents there was a phone call. It was my mom's doctor telling her that the lump was not malignant. It would have to be removed but there wouldn't be chemo and radiation. This time. At the time, I didn't understand the magnitude of how wonderful that was. I just knew that my mom and dad were so happy.
My mom opened her tape and had me go get my boom box. She put the tape in and we listened to side one. It was ok. But then we flipped it to side two and I first heard the song, "Here comes the Sun." I remember my mom picked up my sister and danced around the living room with her singing that song. She would play it over and over and over. I loved the Beatles passionately from that moment on.
I like to believe that the words of the song spoke exactly how she felt at that moment. Here comes the sun and I say its all right.