Monday, December 19, 2011

Soup and snowpeas

Yesterday in church I was watching a father and his teenage daughter. For some of the meeting he had his arm around her in a nice comforting, fatherly way. For a while she had her head on his shoulder. It was very sweet.

There's nothing quite like a dad and a daughter. I was thinking of my dad and how it was a treat when he would sit on the couch and you could sit next to him. He didn't sit on the couch very often because he was usually in his wheelchair. But once in a while, he would transfer over to the couch and I would hurry next to him and snuggle up to him and it was wonderful.

Anna would sit on the back of his wheelchair, kind of like a bird on a perch, and watch TV with him. I can remember when he was in bed, I would sit on the wheelchair next to him and talk and talk. Anna liked to sit on his pull up bar and talk and talk.

I wonder if he ever got tired of all of our girl talking and talking.

If he did, he never let on.

Friday, December 9, 2011

See you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation

Many years ago, back when I only had 4 children and was still reasonably sane, I was sitting in a Primary presidency meeting. We were discussing issuing a calling to someone. It was brought up how this person was so great at everything they did but they were a little scatterbrained and needed a lot of reminding. We would need to call and remind them of meetings, classes, activites, etc... We might even need to remind them to show up on Sunday to teach. I sat there in the meeting and totally judged this person. I couldn't believe someone could be so dumb that they would forget to show up places.

This past week, I missed a Visiting Teaching appointment. I also missed one last month. It just flew out of my brain and I totally forgot. I did have several sick children home from school and so my schedule was out of whack. Also I didn't enter the appointments into the Cozi. If I don't enter them in the Cozi, I don't remember them. The Cozi is my brain. If you need a brain, go to for help.

So the moral of the story is, I will become everything I judge harshly. I need to stop judging people. It doesn't do anyone any good.

I feel terrible about missing my Visiting Teaching appointments. I genuinely like and love the women I visit. I like seeing them. I have been a horrible visiting teacher lately. Hopefully I'll get my brain together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They whisked us backstage, the media is sworming, champagne is flowing...whooo! I can't describe how great it is to win.

Anna from Annadotes sent me this award. Thank you! Anna is definitely my favorite blogger and it's nice of her to think my blog is great even though I am not very good at updating it.

So the rules are I have to tell you seven things about myself. And then I am supposed to pass this award on to 15 other bloggers. I know I'm not going to make it to 15. Maybe 3 or 5. We'll see.

Seven things:

1. I am pregnant with baby #8. I am pretty sure this is my last baby. Typing this sentence makes me really really really sad. I want more babies. I want infinity babies. But my body doesn't like being pregnant anymore and my wallet is beyond empty and my time is already stretched as thin as it can go. So I think I'm done. And I am going to savor every second of this baby's babyhood.

2. I have a really good memory for things that happened to me as a child. I can remember very minute details. To keep my memory good, I will go over events before I go to sleep and try to remember everything about it. bedroom as a child...Chris' and my first date...conversations with my mom. I think I was blessed with this because there would be no one left to remind me of these things.

3. I really like to plan ahead for big events. Holidays, birthdays, parties...I like the details all ironed out and the supplies purchased well before the event is supposed to happen. And I really like to have parties. I'm always thinking of reasons to have a party. I wish my house was bigger so I could entertain more often. Chris, on the other hand, likes to plan the event the morning of the event. It drives me crazy. At this very moment our Thanksgiving plans are up in the air and it is making me nuts.

4. I appreciate how easy it is to communicate with other people in 2011. I love texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I do not love talking on the phone. I also do not love it when people do not text back right away. It REALLY bugs me.

5. I really have no idea how much expensive things cost. I do most of my shopping at Salvation Army, Aldi and Walmart. This past weekend we went to Chicago and Chris and I went to the mall. I don't go to the mall ever except to play at the play area with the kids for playgroup. We went to the bathroom at Macy's and while Chris was in there I looked at the menswear. There was a tie for $185. It was the cheapest one I could find. Seriously? $185 for a piece of silk that goes around your neck. I wonder if I had money to burn would I spend that much for a tie. I don't know. I get mad when I have to pay full price at Target. It seems like a ripoff.

6. I will pay a lot for a really good meal. Thanks to Chris, I have been to some of the nicest restaurants in the country and I have developed a discriminating palate. Sometimes I wish I could go back to when I thought that eating out at Chili's was really something special.

7. If I had a million dollars, the first thing I would do was to buy two houses next to each other. One for me and one for Anna. And I would buy her a car.

Ok so I'm nominating Michelle at So Wonderful, So Marvelous. And Emily at The Emily Diaries. And Tiffany at The Wicked Washburns.

Thanks, Anna!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aah, French fries.

I went to Cedar Point on Saturday. We took Chris' Teachers Quorum and Christopher, Emily, Spencer and another friend. It was really fun. I was a little bummed at first because I couldn't ride anything. I am a super coaster lover. I had not been to the Point since 2002. That's a really long time. Growing up, I used to go a couple of times a summer. It was my favorite thing. So it was a little disappointing to watch the Dragster blast off and not be on it and the Millenium Force go plummeting down and not be a part of it. Maybe I'll get a trip next summer.

Here's some things that made it experience worth it for me:

Handcut French Fries with cheese, vinegar and ketchup. I had two servings.

Cheese on a stick.

Going really slow on the Cadillac Cars so Christopher would run into me.

Hearing all the screams.

Running my hands on the railings of the wooden fence at the Gemini. Just feeling the smooth, wooden railings worn down by 30 years of riders made my whole day. I seriously love the Gemini. I know its not the biggest or the fastest but it is definitely my favorite coaster of all time.

Watching all my boys love the Mine Ride.


Being with Chris and laughing and talking while we waited for kids on rides.

It was a great day. I can't wait to go again and actually ride stuff!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I dont know why Im so carried away!

For those of you who aren't following me on Facebook, I just wanted to let you know that our family is expecting a new baby due in early May. Wonderful news, huh?

The reaction I wish other people had is Kimmie's reaction to finding out Julianne is fake-engaged in "My Best Friend's Wedding." She claps and screams and jumps up and down. I looked for a clip to post but I couldn't find one.

I wasn't feeling so enthusiastic when I first found out. I still have a baby! I'm going to have a 3 year old, a 1 year old and a new baby. Plus 5 others. Seems a little overwhelming. Also, I was pretty sick with Genny for the entire 9 months and I was not really looking forward to that again.

Then I heard Elder Andersen's talk on the Saturday session of General Conference. It was like Heavenly Father said to him, "There's a lady in Plymouth and here's what she needs you to say." He reminded me why Chris and I started our family right away even though he was still in school. His talk reminded me why we choose not to limit our family size for worldly reasons. It reminded me that I'm doing the Lord's work on a daily basis in my home. It was just what I needed.

I find it so interesting that women often tell me that they wish they could have another baby but it's their husband that won't budge. Sometimes men are so logical and can't work out how another baby will work in their life. I am so blessed to have married a man who lets his faith determine the course of his life. Chris is a man with the courage it takes to follow the Lord's plan for our family. I was raised around some excellent examples of these men, many uncles and fathers of good friends, who share this faith.

I have been feeling pretty sick. Zofran and coke are this pregnant girl's best friends. I hope it's just going to last a few weeks and not 9 months.

I can't wait to find out if we are having a boy or a girl. I don't have a feeling either way. The only feeling I have is that this baby is meant for our family and we will love it with all our hearts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

misty watercolor memories

This post is for Anna. The rest of you will find it really boring.

Grandma Ballard's house. I don't want to forget the details. Fill in what I have missed and correct what I have wrong.

You pull in the driveway and a rusty mailbox is on the right. Big yard on both sides of driveway. Some big rocks on the left? There's a cherry tree near the driveway and a plum tree that grows little tiny really dark plums. Push doorbell. It's round and white. Garage door opens. White and wood paneling station wagon on left. Golf cart or El Camino or empty on right. Lots of tools and grease. Smells like dirt and grease and cars. Open door that has like a frosty diamond pattern. Shelves on right. Oh man, what I wouldn't give to go through all that stuff now. I'll bet there were some awesome treasures in there. (I have a feeling I'm going type those two above sentences over and over in this post.) Laundry and freezer on left. Messy and cluttered but I never really gave the mess a second thought when I was growing up. Stairs going up, were they gray? I think they were gray or brown. White walls. Was every room in the house white? Did they not believe in color?

Up the stairs. Railings were wooden and smooth. Kitchen on right. Dark cupboards. Light counters. Hexagon rugs on floor? Octagon? Orange and brown? Cheap table with vinyl chairs that had a big vinyl button in them. Am I remembering that right? Old stand mixer. Giant salt and pepper shakers on the stove. Super old stove and fridge. Freezer on bottom. Stuff piled up. Dishes were white with blue flowers. Wish I knew the name of the pattern. Pans were hung on the wall. Remember that pantry built in the wall with the doors? There was a hanging on the wall that I can't picture. Grandad always said the prayer. Something like, "For this food we are about to eat, may the Lord make us truly grateful. Amen."

Outside kitchen, hallway to bedrooms on left, living room on right. Mirror on wall. Full length. Wall hanging with owls? Living room had big gray? couch. Two chairs. Table between them with a lamp that looked like the glass was cracked in it. But that was just the style. Mail on table with letters Grandma would save for other people to read. Organ. Fireplace. Pictures of grandkids on mantle. Red recliner across room next to something old. Some kind of cabinet. Picture on wall was people getting married with big old frame. Another table with pictures of grandkids. Next room had big clock that I would give my first born to see again. (Sorry Emily.) Grandma's chair and yarn. Couch with flower slipcover. Remember those vinyl pillows stacked up in bright colors? A TV. Another organ. Bookshelves with books and photo albums. Toys. Red truck toy that was like a wrecker or something. I can't picture the other toys but I know there were more. Was there a picture of a duck and a gun? Or was that in big room? Sewing plant room. Bench next to window to sit on. All windows with lots and lots of plants. More shelves with stuff and sewing machine. Ironing board. Hanging plants. Exercise bike.

Dining room with most beautiful dining table and chairs. Give second born to own that. Side table. Hutch. Wish I could go through that. More plants. Chairs by window. Can't remember what they were made out of. Chandelier was glass.

First bedroom was small. Double bed? White chenille bedspread. Several dressers and a closet all of which I wish I could see what was in it. Second bedroom two twin four poster beds...third born for those. White bedspreads. Two dressers. Fourth born for the mirror and brush set that sat on one of the dressers. LOVED that mirror and brush set. Fifth born for the old electric alarm clock that sat on the bedside table. What was in those dressers and closet? Treasures untold, I'll bet.

Grandma's room fuzzier. Didn't go in there as much. Big bed. Dresser. Grandad's coin purse on dresser. Grandma's jewelry behind door.

There was a book there about a little girl named Penny that goes to church. I would give sixth born for it. Glad I have so many kids.

Bathroom had weird hanging light. Rug on floor. Doorstop was baby food jar with water and fake flowers in it. Mirror on wall. Fancy towels and shower curtain. Mint green?

Saving yard for another post.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Unit, One Team, One Family

I wrote this article for the Plymouth-Canton Steeler newsletter.

We've been hearing every week about what it means to be a Steeler Dad. It's very wonderful how you all love the smell of leather and the sound of helmets bashing together.

But, what does it mean to be a Steeler Mom?

Being a Steeler Mom means that at any given time there are cups floating in the suds in your bathroom sink. I don't mean drinking cups. Sometimes they can be found on the floor of the family room. Even in your purse.

Being a Steeler Mom means that at 4:30 at least 4 days a week, you will spend at least 15 minutes trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle of protective gear in pockets that don't seem designed to hold them. You will also break your nails threading a belt through very small holes. Obviously men designed this system.

Then at 4:45, your kitchen will look like it was napalmed with ice and water as your kids get their water buckets ready for practice. And your ice maker will forever be empty from this day forward until the end of practices.

At 4:50, boys will start getting nervous because they don't want to be to be late even though they are on time every time.

Around 7:30, they re-invade your home smelling like a combination of sweat and dirt and other stinky smells and dump their stuff in their gear buckets and are famished. Your kitchen table must look like a Hogwarts feast in order to satisfy their appetites.

Being a Steeler mom means you are always doing laundry because gear always needs to be washed. It also means constantly looking for long black socks and hoping they never get lost in the shuffle.

It means standing at the fence and watching them run around the field and seeing your son trying to keep up and hearing him cry a bit as he approaches you and you make eye contact and know at that moment you have two choices: a.) Run out there and grab him and tell him "lets go for ice cream" and never make him do anything hard again or b.) Cheer him on and swallow option a, knowing that quitting never helped anyone.

It means watching your 13 year old son diet to make weight and run with a sweatsuit in the middle of August to sweat the extra 2 pounds out of himself on game day.

It means their fingernails are never clean.

It means their arms and legs are full of bruises.

It means your car is full of mud and dirt and old newsletters and wrappers.

It means your wallet is empty because they need cleats, football haircuts, athletic supporters, Steeler sweatshirts and food from the Snack Shack each week.

It means saying a prayer every time your son is snapping, catching, or carrying the ball or hitting another person or being hit by other people.

It means standing up in the stands when a player is down and hoping to God it's not your son and feeling bad because then it means it's some other mom's son.

It means listening to loooong discussions on paratroopers, 40 40's, burpees, bull in the ring, black 0, gold 0 and what mood Coach Lanava was in at practice.

Being a Steeler mom means after the game they come and find you first out of everyone and you can tell immediately how they did. Sometimes their faces gleam with happiness and they hug you so hard and tell you this is the best day of their lives. Sometimes their eyes are brimming with tears they are trying to hold back and they hang their heads and tell you they are so disappointed they lost.

Being a Steeler mom means knowing that your boys are in the most competent hands five days a week learning what it means to be a man because they have some of the most excellent examples around.

Being a Steeler mom means loving the game of football even though sometimes it makes no sense and seems a little barbaric.

Most of all, being a Steeler mom means being willing to make sacrifices for your children. Sacrificing your time and energy and money so that they can participate in a program that does a most excellent job at turning them into dependable, hard-working, polite and respectful young people.

Being a Steeler mom means holding your head high and having a certain amount of pride knowing your son has what it takes to be a Steeler player.

I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sooner or later, we all go to the zoo.

I love the Toledo Zoo. It's my favorite zoo that I've ever been to. For our family to go to the zoo, it would cost more than we have. I've been wanting to go. Cameron has never been to a zoo. Poor child! Last week, the Toledo Blade gave Chris 10 free tickets to the zoo. I was beside myself with excitement. I would find myself singing the Raffi zoo song at odd moments. I fantasized about the flashlight fish. And the baby elephant! The baby elephant! I was jazzed.

We decided to go on Labor Day. It was a wonderful, fun trip. We took our own lunches and didn't spend any money on anything else. We saw orangutans, polar bears, giraffes, tigers, lions, elephants (baby and big), snakes, hippos, birds, fish, turtles, penguins, sloth bears, apes, cheetahs and bald eagles.

The Toledo Zoo has changed a lot over the years. I was walking around remembering so many things that were different when I was younger:

Entering the zoo through the subway tunnel and yelling to hear the echo
Hearing the sound of the peacocks all over the zoo
The train tunnel that had a black light
The seals where the penguins used to be that would swim and play all the time
The smell in what is now the "Carnivore Cafe"
The petting zoo that had more than just goats
The giant tortoise
Sunday night symphony concerts at the Amphitheatre
I know there used to be another ride besides the train and carousel. Does anyone remember what it was?

I'm so glad we got to go. It was a great day. Thanks, Toledo Blade!

You can see some pictures of our trip here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who built the ark? Noah! Noah! Who build the ark? Brother Noah built the ark!

I'm a bad aunt.

Our family looks so weird in this picture.

My nephew, Noah Patrick Henry Onofrio, was born a month ago today and I haven't posted about it.

He is blonde. And soft. And quiet. And alert. And cute. And he smells soooooo good.

And I love him so much.

My sister has recovered incredibly fast. She seems back to her old self. Lucy has adjusted well to having Baby Brother in her life.

Happy One Month Birthday today, Noah! I love you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Well, I almost did once, and I blacked out. When I came to, the car was in a ditch, and the tank was full. I don’t know who did it.

I ran out of gas today.

I was running around so busy so early in the morning. Our power went out last night with the storm. We decided to go to sleep at Carol's even though I really didn't want to. It's such a hassle transporting the kids and making them sleep in a strange place and sleeping on the couch. I got a horrible nights sleep. I had to have Calvin at Smith by 7:40 so he could catch the bus to West for his orientation. When they say 7:40, they mean 7:40. We got there at 7:41 and watched the bus pull away. So I hurried him to West. I was supposed to meet Jodi at Einsteins for breakfast and because I didn't read her text close enough, I went to the wrong one. I knew I was on E but I thought maybe I had a few more miles.

At Hartsough, I felt the van tremble a little and sputter and then it died. I just couldn't believe it. Seriously, what I would like the car comanies to invent is a red light for gas. I have the yellow light. That means: get gas soon. The red light will mean: Lady, Get Gas NOW! I would really listen to the red light. Maybe.

So I walked back down Sheldon to the Speedway and bought a gas can and filled it. I started to walk back when Mari saw me and gave me a lift back to my car. A policeman showed up just as I did and helped me figure out the gas can. It was confusing. I filled up and made my way up to Einsteins. All before 8:30! What a fun morning!

Calvin got his classes for middle school. He's excited because he has a good friend in all of his core classes. I hope they don't get kicked out of 6th grade together. They can be pretty crazy. I wonder where Calvin gets that from...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's like swimming through a flabby armed spanking machine

Last night we had a really fun Relief Society activity. We all met at Carol's for a ladies only pool party. We had snacks and desserts and didn't have to share the pool with 10 kids or worry about getting splashed if we didn't want to or have to save anyone from drowning. It was heavenly. A whole bunch of ladies came and I'm so glad I got to talk to new members of the ward. They are a really great bunch of girls. It could have been a tiny bit warmer outside. That would have made it absolutely perfect. Next year, I think we'll have the party a little earlier in the summer season that way we will get a warmer night. Even with the chilly air, it really was a super fun time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You want to hurt me?

Go ahead if it makes you feel better.
I'm an easy target.
Yeah, you're right.
I talk too much.
I also listen too much.
I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me.
I'm not changing.
I like--I like me.
My wife likes me.
My customers like me.
'Cause I'm the real article.
What you see is what you get.

Feeling better today. I went to bed still feeling weighted down. Chris took me to The Box Bar to cheer me up with some mediocre food. We know one of the waiters there and when I jokingly told him I wanted to see the beer menu he said he wouldn't serve it to us even if we wanted it. Cupcake Station was closed by the time we got there to get a cupcake so I settled for a Magnum bar. I sat in bed on my 800 thread-count sheets, watching Seinfeld and eating my Double Caramel Magnum bar. What more could I ask for?

I hate all the cutbacks the school district is making. I have to drive Cameron one way to school this year. The buses will only run one way. The bus taking teams to sporting events will only go one way. It costs $230 to play a sport at the high school. Our swim team is totally handicapped by the fact that we have to share a pool. I know that there are countless other cutbacks that are being made all over the district this year. I hate taxes but I would vote for a millage should it be proposed now. Wish I could have raised my kids in the 80s/90s. This is what we talked about during our mediocre dinner at Box Bar.

So I woke up feeling like I can't make everyone happy and I can't do everything. I'm just going to do what I can do. If that doesn't work for other people, in the words of Blair Ballard: "Bun 'em!"

**Name the movie quote at the top of this post and you'll win one million dollars!***

Monday, August 22, 2011

Random Thoughts from Jennifer Vos

I'm in a really bad mood.

It's really hard to have so many kids and today I'm really feeling it. My calendar over the next few weeks is incredibly busy. I feel like bricks are piled on my shoulders.

I have a lot of car seats. One is for Cameron that can move all over the place cuz it's really light and just uses the lapbelt. Lizzie and Genny's seats belt in with the latch system. Those latch hooks are so hard to get in and out. I really hate moving their seats around. I like to keep their seats on the ends of the first two benches closest to the doors because when I have to get them in the van it is so hard to hold on to both of them and climb in the van at the same time to get to the farther seats. If I let go of one of them, they will run away from me. So by putting their seats on the ends of the benches, I quickly and easily pop each girl up into their seat and then buckle them. I say quickly and easily but I really mean a little quicker and a little easier. It's still pretty slow and hard. I'm sorry to all the high school and middle school kids who I give rides to that have to climb over car seats to get to a seat. You are welcome to move them if you want to reattach them for me after you get out.

I have to say that I'm sorry to Tamara Howard for not being friendly when she first moved in to our ward. I am really scared to talk to people I don't know. I am worried what they might think of me. I'm fat and I don't dress cute. I had an experience about 13 years ago. We had just moved to Toledo and I didn't know too many people at church. I went to Relief Society and I told myself I was going to sit by someone who was alone and talk to her. I did but she was not receptive to my reaching out. She didn't reach back. It was awkward and uncomfortable and I told myself that I wouldn't do it anymore. I would just talk to people I knew from then on. And that's what I've done pretty much ever since. I wait until I get to know someone from playgroup or book club or a calling and then reach out. Tamara didn't do any of these things and I never got to know her. I didn't reach out or try to get to know her at all until we had to serve together in Young Women. And then I found out what an awesome person she is. And now she is moving away. What a waste. I vowed I wouldn't ever do that again.

I have put that promise into practice by reaching out to people who have come to our ward from the old Westland Ward. I've met lots of really great, nice women because I was willing to say, "Hi, my name is Jennifer Vos. Who are you?" Somehow I'm able to forget that I'm fat and frumpy. I try and focus on looking into their eyes and letting them know that I am sincerely welcoming them. It seems to be working ok. I wish I had a smile like my mom's. She had the greatest smile. It was so welcoming and reassuring. How could you not love her?

Facebook and social media and blogging is not the devil. I was really surprised when our Bishop used my name in his admonition yesterday that social media is a scourge. It really could have been taken wrong by members of the ward. I knew what he meant. A few years ago, he gave a talk about social media being bad and said he would call it "T squared W." Said to tell him if we figured it out. I figured out that it meant "total time waster." So he tells ward to beware social media and that it's a "T squared W" and just ask Jennifer Vos. Someone could take that to mean that Jennifer Vos wastes all her time on social media. Just ask her how that's working for her. It really took me aback. I wish he hadn't said my name. And I really don't think social media is a scourge.

I am doing the snack shack for Steeler Football again. I really love doing it. It's so much work. But I love helping and being involved. The boys had their first scrimmage on Saturday and their first game is this coming Saturday. I'm excited for it! They love playing so much and are really dedicated to it. The parents who participate as coaches and volunteers are some of the best people I have ever met. I'm so glad our family is involved in such a worthwhile organization.

Emily was moved up to the senior level of the varsity swim team. I'm so proud of her. Yesterday we were singing primary songs on the way to church and I picked "The Books of the New Testament." When it came to "Timothy, Timothy, Titus and Philemon," somehow I pronounced "Titus" as "Spidus." We all cracked up and then Emily held out her hands like Spiderman and yelled "Spidus!" We are going to add that to our "KISHKUMEN" joke.

I love my family.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday 8/11/11

1. Hitachi

2. The Miracle of the Air Conditioner

3. Uglies Swim Suits

4. Drop7

5. A Brand New Dishwasher

Friday, July 15, 2011

Random Thoughts from Jennifer Vos

I don't like Fred. He drives me nuts.

Tomorrow is Spencer's baptism. Last night I was quiet and Chris could tell I was thinking about something. He asked me what was going on and I told him I was worried about the baptism. I was freaking out because I don't have an embroidered white towel for him to dry off with and I don't have a sign in book for people to wish him well and I didn't get all his relatives to write their testimonies down for him and then scrap them in a keepsake book... I could tell Chris thought I was crazy for a second and then he reminded me that it's the ordinance that's important. My mind went to this talk. Chris is right. It's the ordinance and not all the other junk. Why do I put such an emphasis on the junk sometimes?

Anna is due in 2 weeks. Due to have a sweet, delicious baby brother. I am super excited. We decided that society needs to create special pre-labor retreats for mothers to be. You can go your last two weeks of pregnancy and be pampered. Manicures and pedicures. Room service. Movies and TV on demand. Full library. You can have visitors upon your request. Sounds heavenly. I am in full support of a portion of my tax dollars going to fund these retreat locations. It's definitely better than paying for this. Who's with me?

My friend Jodi had a baby on July 4. He's a firecracker! He weighed 5lbs at birth and is the tiniest human I can remember holding. His mouth is delightful and he is too adorable. I just want to gobble him up. Jodi had some complications after his birth and is doing better now. I was watching her boys last Friday when her husband showed up at the back door with tears in his eyes and said that Jodi needed to see me right away. I raced around to the front of the house, thinking it was the baby. But it was her that had something wrong. I was relieved! Sorry, Jodi! I love you too but was just so happy Nolan was ok. Jodi is doing better. All is well! Hooray!

Our stake dissolved one of our wards due to the fact that attendance is so low. The economy here is so bad and people are moving out looking for better prospects elsewhere. Our ward is getting new families and I am really excited about it. I can't wait to meet everyone!

Go eat this. Now.

Chris went camping with the Boy Scouts from church last weekend. One of the leaders put the keys to another leader's truck in his pocket. Then he swam in Lake Michigan. And was pushed off his raft a zillion times and covered a lot of territory on the beach full of people. Everyone got back to the truck and the keys were gone. You knew I was going to say that, right? So they looked everywhere. No keys. So they said a prayer. Chris and five boys stood on the beach and walked out into the water in a straight line. Did I mention its Lake Michigan? I looked it up. Lake Michigan has 1.2993182339658045 quadrillion gallons of water. They walked a little ways out and then one of the boys steps on something. The keys. Unbelievable. Don't tell me prayer doesn't work. I won't believe you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When you control the mail, you control information.

I used to love to write letters and get letters. I had an expanding file folder with letters and cards that I wanted to send. I spent lots of money at Hallmark picking out cards that said the exactly right thing I wanted. I bought stamps by the roll. I wrote to my aunts. I wrote to my best friend and her brother in Michigan. I wrote to kids I met at smart camp. I wrote to my grandma. After I went to BYU, I wrote to Anna and my dad. After I got married, I wrote to the lady who was so nice to me at the temple when I got sealed to Chris. After I moved to Toledo, I wrote to my friends in East Lansing. I wrote to everyone.

And I loved to get mail. The mailman used to be my favorite person in the whole world. I loved him and the wonderful letters he brought to me from people all over the place. Was it a love letter or a cute card from my Aunt Mary or just a nice note from my friend Nancy? I would wait all day for the mail. First thing I did when I got home from anywhere was check the mail.

I'm ashamed to say that the internet and email and Facebook ruined me for letters. I haven't written a letter in months. I think the last letter I sent was to my grandma before she died and I had to borrow a stamp from my MIL in order to send it. I have no idea when I bought a stamp last. Why take the time to write a letter out by hand when I can just type a few lines out?

Lately I've noticed that I need to send more letters. My sister is a good letter writer, tho she too uses email alot, she still takes the time to keep in touch with people that are important to her. I need to be more like that. So many of my friends have moved away. I miss them so much and I need to take the time to say hi and find out how they are doing. Today in the mail we got a letter from Chris' cousin, Jay, who is fighting in Iraq. He took the time from fighting a war to send us a letter. I feel really ashamed that I have let this go.

So get ready. Get ready for mail from Jennifer Vos. Cuz it's coming to your computer and your mailbox and your phone inbox. It's headed to you wherever you are...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

They were women who idolized their children..and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels

When I was a senior in high school, I really loved my English Lit teacher. She was young and newly married and funny and interesting. I pretty much listened to everything she said and took it as gospel. One time she told us about going to the grocery store and watching a mom push her baby in the shopping cart and singing the "ABC's" out loud to try and keep the baby happy. Mrs. Rode told us she would never do that when she had kids and that we should be careful to never lose our identities in our children. I think it had to do with the book "The Awakening." I was right there with her. Wrote it down in my notebook: "Never lose your identity to your children."

And I thought about it today as a pushed a cart with three small children through Randazzo's singing rather loudly, "Lucy Lucy bo Bucy banana fana fo fucy fee fie mo mucy...LUCY! Let's do Genny..."

Monday, June 13, 2011

That was interesting music, Marty.

Chris' 39th birthday was last Wednesday and we celebrated in a very unique way.

Lately he's been getting into a genre of music called trance. He's always really liked electronic music. Trance is a sub genre of electronic. Usually it has no words. Being a fan of techno and dance music, it's ok. I prefer words in songs. And breaks. Trance has no breaks. So he finds out that his favorite trance dj's are playing at a club in Detroit on his birthday. It's a sign. He gets tickets and I freak out a little.

I have not been dancing at a club in 17 years and 100 pounds ago. I used to love going dancing. Ladies night at the Palace in Provo. Seriously did not leave the Modern Room ever. The Bay in Salt Lake City. Loved it. East Lansing was a little trickier. Lots more drinking and unsavory-ness going on. I tried out some place kinda by El Azteco. I can't remember the name. So Chris wants me to go dancing now...I had serious reservations. The last dancing I've done was at Lizzie's dance party in the basement to "California Gurls."

What am I going to wear? I'm pretty sure I couldn't wear crocs and a t-shirt. I still have the black Girbaud jeans that I used to rock in. I remember buying them with a roommate at BYU and when I tried them on she said, "Your butt looks hot." Of course I bought them. It's been a long time since anyone (other than Chris and he has to say it) has told me that my butt looks hot. I consulted several friends on what to wear and came up with something.

We arrive at the club and seriously at first it was like a church dance. Everyone was hugging the walls. I guess they had to let the alcohol take effect. The owner of the club wanted to buy us drinks because it was Chris' birthday. We talked with her at the bar for a bit. She was shocked and I'm talking "YOU DON'T EAT NO MEAT??" shocked when we told her we don't drink alcohol. What the heck are we doing there then? Seriously hook up speakers in the living room and dance for free. She gave us our Sprites and we sip on them. Chris was super excited. He really loves the music. Pretty soon people are dancing. More and more people come and it's really crowded. It was like trying to fit my whole ward in my living room. Girls are walking around with some kind of glowing drinks in test tubes. There's bottles of vodka with some kind of sparklers on them. I don't know. It was crazy.

Chris danced the whole time. He loved it! The DJ's that he wanted to see are called Above and Beyond. I danced a little. I liked it. I wish I could have sat down somewhere. There were no seats unless you purchased a booth and in order to purchase a booth, you had to purchase an entire bottle of alcohol for $275. Some of the bottles were $1000. I'm not kidding. It was a nice club. Not that I am a qualified judge. It just seemed nice.

We stayed until 2AM. I was dead tired. It was fun and I'm glad that Chris had a great time and loved it. I'm glad I'm married and happy and don't have to go out and do that every weekend.
Happy birthday, Chris! I'm glad we got to go do something so fun for your day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Remember what your parents said, James... Try looking at it another way!

Has anyone read the book "James and the Giant Peach?" It's one of my favorites. Remember the part where James is given the back of green, squiggly crocodile tongues and told that they are magic and he starts running with the bag and (if memory serves) he trips and rips the bag and the little green squiggly things fall all over the ground and they start to disappear into the ground and James is frantically trying to get them back but it's too late and pretty soon they are all gone. I remember that part. I remember feeling so sad for James who tried so hard to catch the magic but it was gone.

I feel like James trying to catch those squiggly green things.

My babies are growing up so fast. Emily is almost 16. She wants to drive and talks about college. My older boys are modest about dressing in front of me. They like privacy now. Cameron is starting Kindergarten in the fall. Genny took her first step on Tuesday. I don't want this magical time to be gone.

I am frantically trying to keep up with them. I am pleased and proud with every new step they take yet I become a bit sad too as they move from stage to stage and progress. I am amazed by how these two opposing feelings can both be present within my heart. Grieving over what I am losing and yet delight with what is gained.

James didn't know when he dropped that bag that something wonderful and magical was about to happen in his life. I can't see it yet either. But I know it's there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Well and what are you three dears up to? Up to? Up to? Up to?"

What we've been up to...

Emily received her Patriarchal Blessing last month. It was a wonderful experience hearing the words of the patriarch meant just for her in her life. I'm such a proud mom. She's swimming four days a week for the Bulldog Aquatic Club. It's hard work. She went to Mormon Prom with some friends and had a super great time. And she looked super beautiful. She wore one of Anna's formal dresses from high school. It looked amazing on her.

Christopher swam for West this season. He did great and now he is running on the track team. Running isn't his favorite sport, but he's doing it to get in shape for football season which is fast approaching. So far this school year he's played football, wrestled, swam and done track. What an athlete!

Calvin is playing baseball for the first time. We are finding out that he is super fast. I asked him if he liked baseball as much as football and he stole a look at Dad and whispered, "Maybe." He must really love baseball!

After 3 years of struggling with reading, we have finally discovered the root of Spencer's problem. He has several defects in his eyes. He sees 20/20 but his tracking and convergence are not right. We have had preliminary tests run on him and he goes for further testing and therapy at the end of the month. The therapy should really fix the problem that he has. I am so grateful to a observant teacher and reading specialist for figuring this out.

Cameron, Lizzie and Genny are usually just along for the ride. In the mornings, we do chores together. Ok...Mom does chores and they make more messes. Then we play and watch TV and go to the park and have fun.

We had a very nice Easter spent at Chris' mom's house. On Easter Sunday, I really wanted a nice picture of all the kids in their nice clothes. On the way home from church, I spotted a forsythia bush in an out of the way location and I pulled over because I wanted to take their photo in front of it. Chris and I drove separate that morning and I didn't have my cell phone for some reason so we sat on the side of the road and waited for Chris to drive by and then we would honk and hopefully he would pull over. My plan worked, even though he thought we were a little crazy honking and waving our arms at him. We got the kids out to take the picture and then I realized that Lizzie had been given chocolate candy in nursery for Easter and she decided to be a good sister and share it with Genny. Genny loved the treat very much. It was her first taste of chocolate. She had it all over her face, dress, hair...everywhere. And I was out of wipes. I told Calvin to lick her off. He gave me a weird face but did it. She was mostly clean except for the dress. It doesn't really show too bad in the photos.

My day gets so busy around 2:15. I have to pick up preschoolers and high schoolers and get them home. I drive girls to swimming. I have kids coming home at various times on the bus. I have to pick up from track and go to track meets and baseball games and wherever else. I spend alot of time in the car after 2:15. Usually I don't mind. Some days, it really gets to me. I love Tuesday because there is no preschool and Emily gets a ride to and from swimming. I don't usually have to leave the house until 5:00 to pick up Christopher from track. Tuesday is my favorite day. I love going to playgroup with the babies (Cam, Liz and Gen are the babies) on Thursday. I've noticed lately that I don't fit in to any particular group of women. I'm not just a mom of older kids. I'm not just a toddler mom. I have a wide variety of ages in my house and I don't feel like there are many women out there who are having similar experiences as I am. If they are, I'd like to hear about them!!

I've read some good books lately that I can recommend. Anything by Gary D. Schmidt. "Okay For Now," was my favorite. I read, "The Hunger Games," and loved it and the subsequent books in the series. I don't recommend, "The Stand," by Stephen King. And I don't know if I recommend, "The Handmaids Tale" by Margaret Atwood. It was weird.

We have done some moving of kids and offices in our house. Chris had his office in the basement toy room. I laugh even typing that sentence. You can imagine how much work he got done in the toy room office. Not too much. We toyed with many solutions but finally decided to move his office to his mother's basement where his dad used to have an office. It worked perfectly. All his stuff went over there and he has a nice, quiet place to work and think.

When he took his stuff out of the toy room, we put up an Expedit. This is the boys dresser now with bins for all of their clothes. Chris and I installed a closet bar for their shirts. It's a great walk in closet/toy room. The bunk beds have been ordered and as soon as we get them up, we will disassemble their room upstairs. They will have a nice little mancave in the basement complete with TV, Wii, Xbox and leather reclining couch. They have a bathroom, too. It's a great set up for them. Emily will be moving into their old bedroom on the first floor. We need to paint it and repair some wall dings first. Lizzie is going to have Emily's old room and Genny will be on her own too. All the girls get their own rooms. This really gave us more life out of our tiny little house. If and when we have another baby, we have space for him/her now too. That is not an announcement!!

Anna and I are going to plant our garden this week. She's been growing seeds in her house for a month and they need to go into the ground!

This is reading like a traditional Christmas letter. Sorry about that. Just wanted to keep my faithful readers informed on our lives.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's my porcelain Udder Buddy

My house has cut-out hearts and I don't care.

I'm confessing it to the world.

Any of you who have been to my house already know it but I need the rest of the world to know.

Why the need for this confession? A few years ago, I went to a RS conference and took a decorating class. The teacher, who was extremely well-meaning, had a list of decorating don'ts. I'm fairly certain that my house broke each rule. It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was the first time that I realized that my house decorations are out-of-date. I started to feel really mad at the teacher. And terribly embarrassed by what was in my house.

I came home from the event and walked around my house. I looked from one wooden shelf with cut-out hearts (Don't #1) to another. I looked at hunter green and country blue (Don't). I looked at out-dated rafia (don't) and needlepoint and hats and wreaths. And I felt bad about my stuff.

I decided I would make some decorating changes. I started with my bathroom. In the bathroom for decorations, I have a hat hanging on the wall. I have some painted hearts hanging on two ribbons, one gray and one blue. And a tiny wooden shelf with a blue heart on it. I took down the hat. And the hearts. And the shelf.

I put the stuff on my bed and went back into the bathroom. I tried to imagine what else I could put on the walls in place of the things I had taken down. I stared at my treasures hastily tossed on the bed. I felt the tears welling in my eyes and I hurried to lovingly place my things back where they belonged. The hat, made by Anna at Girl Scouts, given to me as a gift from my sweet sister. It had to go back up. The painted hearts hanging on two ribbons. I chose the ribbons for my mom. She bought the hearts somewhere. Probably ordered them from a Home Interiors catalog because when she got them she was too weak to go out. She sent me to the store with my dad and told me to pick out a ribbon to go with the hearts. Something that would go with the blue in the hearts but also the gray of the bathroom trim. I stood in the store in front of the ribbons for a long time. I didn't know which color to buy. So I bought blue and gray. I took them to her and she declared them perfect and put them together with the hearts and hung them on the bathroom wall. The shelf was made by my grandpa and painted by hand by my aunts. Taking these things down, for me, was like taking the people they represented right out of my life.

The things on my walls and in my home represent love. The needlepoint design on my wall that my mom did. Her fingers touched that thread. Part of her is in that picture. The picture cut out from the Ensign of Emma Smith playing with her children that Chris gave to me because he said it reminded him of me with our children. It's framed and hanging over my desk reminding me of the good that I do each day. The artwork that my children and my sister have done over the years is placed around. A shelf full of Wades collected for me by my dad. Framed art from Carol, each picture she chose has special meaning for me. Hansen Statues and Willow Tree mothers (headed and headless) mingle with dollar store "Mom" plaques. Things I had in my room as a child, things from our first apartment, things that were my grandmother's...I could go on and on.

In my mind I am walking around each room in my home and I am seeing everything I have as decoration and everything has a special meaning for me. Taking it down is like taking down a piece of me. And to what end? So my house is updated? I don't care. It's my house. It's my home where I want to sit and feel the safety and love it affords me each day.

So come on over and look at my stuff. I welcome you with open arms. And cut-out hearts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm bored. She's boring, I'm boring, we're both boring. We got out to eat, we both read newspapers

I don't know why I haven't been in the mood to blog lately. Maybe it's just too much going on and I am not making time to do it. Then when stuff happens, I let days or weeks go by and it feels too overwhelming to do all the catch-up work.

Here's some things that have happened that I should have reported:

The New Beginnings program that I planned back in January went really well. I was pleased with the turnout of girls attending and with how strongly the Spirit could be felt that night. And I'm glad it's done.

Christopher turned 13 in February. Emily turned 15 in March and Calvin turned 11 last Sunday. We now have two teenagers in the family. Emily has been asking to talk drivers ed. I pretend not to hear her.

I planned a YW activity last month incorporating the game of Clue and Personal Progress. This activity was fun to plan and I think the girls had fun too. It was too short for the night, though. I should have had other stuff planned too.

I just remembered why I haven't been blogging. All the stuff I think of to say is really boring.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Society has rules and the first rule is: You go to college. You wanna have a happy and successful life, you go to college.

Emily is giving me a lot of grief for giving BYU fans a lot of grief over their sad loss in the NCAA basketball tournament. She keeps telling me I don't like the Lord's school and calls me a hater, etc... I really can't defend myself because it's true. I didn't have a great experience at BYU. Sometimes I tend to blame the school itself even though it was really my own fault.

I'm writing this post to help her understand why I didn't love it there.

I had a difficult time deciding where to attend college. I applied to and was accepted at four universities. They were all at least two hours from home. I was so nervous about leaving my dad and my sister all alone. I really wanted to give BYU a try because my mom told me that she really wanted me to go there. My stake president told me not to worry, that the ward would step up and take care of my family. (And they did in such an incredible way, but that's another post.) So, I prayed about going to BYU and I really did feel like it was where I was supposed to go. My dad was very disappointed in my decision and I don't really know exactly why. But he did not lend me any support after I made my decision. I'm not talking financially. I mean he distanced himself from me in a way that was extremely painful. I had a great friend take me to BYU after I was accepted and tour it. I remember my dad was so upset that I was going just for a visit. He wouldn't look at the pictures I took after I got home. I have felt like since that decision, I have never done anything to make him proud of me. (Again, probably an entire additional post.)

So while most kids had parents who were taking the reigns and helping their kids with financial aid and housing and choosing classes, I had no one but me. I didn't fill out the financial aid stuff right. I didn't choose wisely on my housing decision. All of you BYU grads are going to think this was my biggest mistake: I lived off campus my freshman year. I can hear you all going, "Yep, that's it." I choose extremely difficult classes for my first semester. Stuff like Honors Advanced Chemistry and Honors Advanced Calculus. I was a smart girl but didn't know that the first semester is for figuring things in life out and spreading your wings a little and having fun.

I left my house in Toledo for BYU on August 2, 1993, with my little Chevette crammed full and a dear friend by my side. A sister in the ward volunteered to caravan with me to Utah. Again, I had terrible disappointment that my dad wouldn't go with me. I know he had MS and that it was hard for him to travel but deep-down I think he really could have done it if he had wanted to. I saw him do incredible things when he wanted to. I cried myself from my house to the Indiana-Illinois border. Looking back, I just can't believe I left them-my poor dad and sister. It feels like a horrible, cruel thing I did.

I lost the sister from the ward that I was following outside of Chicago. Stacy and I were on our own-an 18 year old and a 17 year old-in the middle of the country. We drove ourselves from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. In a car that would repeatedly overheat. And without cellphones or GPS or anything like that. If that was Emily, I would be beside myself. I would have police helicopters finding her. National Guard would be called in.

Anyways, I got to BYU on August 4. I found a job at the MTC in the cafeteria. I hated it so much and quit and found another job at Krystal Kreations in the University Mall. That was better. I lived at Roman Garden's Apartments. I moved my stuff in, knowing no one. We had three bedrooms. Two of them had girls in them that were friends with each other. They met living on campus their freshman year. (I know, I know...) The other room had one girl who was not a student. She was 22. She taught me some very interesting ways to disobey the law of chastity while still being "technically" a virgin. It was awful. I will never forget my first night there, on the top bunk, crying myself to sleep. But I thought things would soon get better because I had orientation things coming up and then I would meet people.

I went to the orientation things but all the kids had friends from their on-campus buildings. I was extra. I didn't feel any guidance. No one was there to help me figure out stuff. I had to do it on my own and I was not well equipped for it. When I talked to my dad, I would try to be excited about the things I was experiencing. Here's how conversations would go: "I was studying in the Lee Library and it's huge, Dad. It's really incredible." Him: "The library at MSU is the largest and greatest library on any campus on the planet." I know now that I was depressed and trying anything to make myself feel better. This included spending way too much time dancing at The Palace and The Bay in the modern room and too little time studying. And spending way too much money on things to cheer me up and not being wise in the use of my resources.

I was floundering.

I had one friend and I told him how unhappy I was and what should I do? He suggested we fast together and maybe that would help. Such a good friend. So we did. We fasted and I remember sitting on the grass with him outside the library after fasting and we shared a turkey sandwich and I felt better. I hadn't decided what to do, but I felt better. This friend had an aunt who lived really close to me and I walked to her house one day just to talk. I needed someone to talk to who could help me. She was kind and wise. It was so nice to be in a home. I hated my apartment. I hated the stupid guys all around like sharks sizing girls up. I hated not feeling like I belonged anywhere. I hated being lonely. I failed at being away from home.

I decided to go home. I re-applied and was accepted to MSU. I secured an apartment at the LDS Living Center there. I felt happy. I felt like this was going to be a good thing for me.

I left BYU on December 16, 1993. Good riddance, I said. I left Utah having made one friend. The best memories I have of being there are of food I ate. I haven't been back since I left almost 20 years ago.

I moved into the Living Center right after January 1, 1994. I made friends right away. I met my future husband on the first Sunday I attended the university ward there. The rest is history.

I vowed to help Anna when she applied to school and be supportive no matter where she chose to go to school. I helped her fill out her forms and made sure she had everything right. She chose MSU too. But I didn't pressure her in any way. She was just a really smart girl.

I don't really hate BYU. What I hate are the bad, sad memories that my experience left me with. Those four months were pretty awful for me so in my mind BYU is synonymous with a bad, disappointing experience. What I hate is that so many LDS people feel like it is the only valid option for LDS youth. And it's not. Just thinking quickly, I can name 16 couples that I know who met each other at the ELSLC and were married in the temple and are still married today. It's a wonderful place. I want my kids to know that they can go anywhere...MSU, OSU, Schoolcraft, even BYU (But not U of M. I couldn't stomach that one.) and they can be happy and successful. I will do my best to help them. And if they get 1600 miles away from home and have given it a good shot and hate it, I will go get them and help them find another place that fits them better. That's probably not a love and logic mom, is it? But its what I would do.

The only recourse I have to use against BYU is to root against their sports teams. It's just a little thing and probably a little petty but it works for me. This post has been extremely therapeutic for me. I feel much better.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jerry, it was a whirlwind. They whisked us backstage, the media is sworming, champagne is flowing...whooo! I can't describe how great it is to win.

Last Thursday, we held the 2nd Annual Mom's Academy Awards.

We had some good food and good conversation. We played a couple of "mom" themed games. We watched a fun "mom" video and then handed out the coveted 2011 Golden Goblet Awards.

I hope that everyone who attended felt uplifted and had their decision to be a mom reaffirmed as the best decision they ever made.

Here's the list of the winners:

1. Most compassionate mom—Rachelle Beer

2. Most musical mom—Bethany Swalberg
3. Most athletic mom—Rachel Clawson
4. Fashion Plate Mom—Esther Rogers (2 time winner)
5. Most patient mom—Ramona Bertrand
6. Renaissance Mom (Great at everything)—Mari Noble
7. Beauty Queen Mom—Teresa Strum
8. Best Juggler (I mean her schedule)—Sue Barfuss
9. Best seamstress/crafty mom—Anna Onofrio
10. Mom that always greets everyone with her beautiful smile—Kimberlee Jensen
11. Most out of the box mom—Cathy Sullivan

12. Most organized mom—Teresa Murphy and Buffie Christensen
13. Mom most often found taxiing kids—Jennifer Vos
14. Mom with the best sense of humor—Melissa Farnsworth
15. Greenest Mom—Becky Soubeyrand

16. Newest Mom--Nettie
17. Most Plugged in mom—Patti Banka

18. Saavy Shopper mom—Becca Winder

19. Mom Happiest to Volunteer—Lisa Nielsen

22. Most punctual Mom—Angie Gardner

Related Posts with Thumbnails