Saturday, October 20, 2012

You don't understand what I'm up against. This is a force more powerful than anything you can imagine. Even *Superman* would be helpless against this kind of stench.

I used to be a perfume freak.  I remember the first perfume I got was Love's Baby Soft from my Aunt Mary.  She gave it to me at the Platte Christmas Party and I put some on in the car on the way home.  I put a lot on. My mom had to open the window.

Since the first gift of perfume, I've always loved perfumes.  The smells of them remind me of different occasions. I can't smell Eternity without thinking about standing in the bus line in 8th grade with Sandy Jackson.  I can't smell Beautiful without thinking of my stinky apartment in Provo.  Champs Elysees makes me think of my wedding day.  Perfume is so pretty.  And cologne.  I love cologne.  Doesn't Drakkar take you back to high school boys?  And Escape makes me think of Chris on our wedding day.

But something happened to my nose during my last pregnancy.  I couldn't stand perfume or cologne or any strong smell be it good or bad.  No air freshener.  No strong chemicals.  No candles.  Nothing.  The only smell that didn't bother me was citrus.   I thought it was just a pregnancy thing.  I figured that after Teddy arrived that my nose would go back to normal.  

It didn't.

The problem is more that just "I don't like it."  It literally makes my nose hurt to smell a strong smell.  Chris can no longer wear cologne.  When someone sprays strong chemicals to clean toilets or the kitchen, I have to leave the room.  If I hug someone wearing perfume, my nose hurts.  Yesterday, Chris sprayed cologne in our room while I wasn't there.  When I got back to the room, I had to open all the windows and clear out the smell before I could be in there.  He sprayed our vacuum bag with cologne.  I can't be in the room when he vacuums.  It's so stinky!

I don't know if my nose is broken or what.  But it's really sad.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just the fact that you remembered means everything.

Lizzie's 4th birthday was earlier this month.  We had her party on Saturday and it was our traditional "Lizzie's Birthday Oktoberfest."  I wish I would have taken pictures of the food because it was pretty and yummy.  We had rouladen, altbier chicken, a whole mess of wursts, German potato salad, gurkensalat, potato pancakes and spaetzel.  This year I did not make a  Kirschtorte because last year's was a little too Kirsch-y and I didn't want anyone getting drunk on the birthday cake.  Lizzie had lots of friends and family to celebrate with her.  She had fun opening her presents and eating cake.  I love Oktoberfest.  I hope Lizzie always wants to have it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yeah, and when I see freaks in the street, I never ever stare at them, and yet I'm careful not to look away, see, because I want to make the freaks feel comfortable.

I'm a freak about the Relief Society clipboard.

It started in the University Ward in East Lansing.  We didn't have a clipboard in my BYU ward, so my first introduction to it was at MSU.  The RS president held it up as she talked about announcements and showed us what fun classes we could sign up for or how we could sign up to have the missionaries over or take a meal to someone who had a baby.  Then she'd had it to usually the sister on the farthest left or right on the front row.  And it would go from sister to sister until it reached every sister or time ran out.  This clipboard has been a staple of every Relief Society I've been in from MSU to Toledo to Plymouth.  And I've always been a freak about it.

I watch the clipboard going from sister to sister.  I worry that the date I want for the missionaries will be taken.  I worry that  all the slots for the class I want to take will be filled.  I worry that I won't get to sign up for a meal for that good friend.  Most of all, I worry that the clipboard won't make it to me.  When it gets to the end of a row, some people don't know which way to send it.  They look at each other with puzzled looks and finally send it on it's way.  I want to run over and be the clipboard traffic director and make sure it goes the right way.

So now you know, I'm a freak.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

After the song, babe.

It's funny how when I hear a song on the radio, it will bring back such a clear memory for me.  This morning on the way home from driving the carpool, I heard the song, "I Won't Back Down." by Tom Petty.  I love this song.  Love Tom Petty.  It took me back to my senior year in high school.  We had to participate in a yearly retreat each year of high school.  It was a requirement for religion class.  Senior year, I went on KAIROS.  I can't tell you exactly what happened there, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.  I spent four days with peers and teachers learning about myself and my relationship to God, my family and other people.  I really grew a lot those four days.  I wish there was a KAIROS for adults.  It would be really cool and I would totally pay to go.

Part of KAIROS involved music.  Songs were played that had meaning for speakers and most of them were very touching in one way or another.  They weren't necessarily religious songs.  They were rock songs, songs from musicals, just songs with meanings.  I left KAIROS with an awesome mix tape.  Wish I still had it.  The speaker would play the song and also give you a sheet of inspiring quotes to read.  I still have all mine in my KAIROS folder.  

So I left KAIROS feeling very inspired and closer to God and family and friends than I ever had.  Maybe this is what EFY feels like?  Anyway, in Young Women, we used to have a devotional every Sunday.  One YW would give a quote or tell a story in front of the group that was inspiring in some way.  So the first time I have devotional after KAIROS, I decide to make a quote sheet and share a song that had some meaning for me.  So I played "I Won't Back Down." by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  I'm sure that makes some of you and probably made my YW leaders at the time squirm in your/their seats.  Rock songs are hardly appropriate for Sunday YW opening exercises, saith the letter of the law.  They endured and let me play it.

This song had a meaning that I wanted to share with the girls and I couldn't find a better way than through it.  I wanted them to know that we have to stand our ground in this world.  We have to live our standards and not back down.  I wanted them to know that they could go to the gates of hell and I would still be there loving them.  I was only 18 but I really thought I was inspired to share the song.  But you know, I'm a spirit of the law kind of person.

Every time I hear this song I'm reminded to stand my ground.  Even when the world is pushing me around and telling me that what I'm doing isn't important or that my standards need to be relaxed or that it's ok to break commandments.  I'm going to stand my ground. And I won't back down.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You know where I got this? I found it in the garbage can. It kept terrible time. I brought it over to Jimmy Sherman right here on 85th and Columbus. Gave it to me back the next day. Works great. What kind of idiot throws away a perfectly good watch?

Did you own a Swatch in the 80's?  In 1986, I was DYING to own a Swatch.  Everyone in my school had a Swatch.  EVERYONE.  I didn't own one.  There was no prospect of me getting one.  I seem to remember they cost $35.  My parents wouldn't have spent $35 on a watch for me ever.  Not only wouldn't they, but they couldn't have.  We were poor.  I wouldn't have ever even asked for a Swatch.  But, man, did I want one sooooo badly.

This is the Swatch that I really wanted.  It had the 9,6 and 3 really big.  And the Swatch protector.  So cool!

Being poor would have been ok if I didn't go to school with an entire student body that had money.  I went to private school on an academic and need-based scholarship.  I envied everything those other kids had.  Especially their Swatch's.  So one night, my mom and I are out shopping for Christmas and I discovered that you could buy just the Swatch protector.

The Swatch Guard.  I started thinking.  Could I put the Swatch Guard on my current watch and pretend I had a Swatch?  Would the other kids at school be fooled into believing I was cool?  I was willing to give it a try.  Please don't laugh when I show you the watch I was putting the guard on.

It wasn't this exact watch, but it was close.  So I put the guard on my Timex and thought I was the shiz.  And I went to school the next day.  I was pretty sure I was so cool.

A mean kid named Mike Kotnik, let me know how cool I was not.  He noticed my Swatch Guard on my very uncool Timex.  He grabbed my wrist and showed another boy in the class.  "She thinks she can put this on her watch and make it a Swatch!"  They both laughed.  They told other people.  I was humiliated.

I ripped the guard off my lame Timex and threw it away.  I remember how mad and embarrassed and stupid I felt.  I've never forgotten that day.

I never did get a Swatch.  My mom actually got one from my dad when she was dying.  She had a hard time seeing and she couldn't read her watch so he went to the store looking for a watch with really big numbers.  It was a Swatch he bought for her.  He had no idea how cool it was.  He just wanted a watch for his dying wife and he would have probably paid 8x the amount if he found one that worked for her.  After she died, I tried wearing her Swatch but I couldn't.  I still have it in a box.

When I met Chris, one time I was looking through a drawer in his room.  No lie, this is what it looked like.

That boy had the Swatch's.  He used to let me wear them.  I was in heaven.  I have no idea where they are now but we should find them because I would look cool wearing a vintage Swatch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For once, I'd like to be gaga!

I have boxes and boxes of memories.  Silly things that I don't want to throw away.  Anna and I had talked about it and she said I should take pictures of the items and blog about them and then I can throw them away.  Good idea.  So this is the first installment of that process.

When Chris and I were dating, his family invited me to go to Chicago with them for the weekend.  They had a suite at a hotel downtown with plenty of room for everyone.  It was supposed to be a great weekend of shopping and eating and fun.  At this point in our relationship, I really liked Chris a lot and the prospect of this weekend with his family was very exciting.  I went shopping and borrowed clothes from girls in my building.  I got my hair cut.  I was thrilled to be going.

We stayed at his house in Plymouth the night before we were leaving because we were taking the train to Chicago and the train was leaving very early in the morning.  I got to sleep in his old bedroom.  Chris helped me put my bags in his room and on the bed was a Godiva Chocolate box.  I was thrilled.  I had never had Godiva Chocolate before but had heard much of its delightfulness.  I didn't want to open it and eat it then.  I wanted to savour it and make it last.  Chris was like, "Open it and eat one."  So I reluctantly opened the box.  Inside was not chocolate but a gold bracelet.  It was beautiful.  I had never been given jewelry so beautiful before.  I put that bracelet on and did not take it off until it fell off years and years later because the gold wore out and it broke.

The first item I picked out of my memory box was the gold Godiva box with the original ribbons and tissues still inside.

As a side note, I had never slept on sheets as soft as the sheets on Chris' boyhood bed.  I didn't know sheets that soft existed.  I was responsible for the laundry and had never been clued in to something called "Fabric Softener."  Also the sheets were probably 700 thread count.  They really were wonderful.  I put my head on my pillow that night and thought, "This is what it's like to have your mom do your laundry."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am not going to hell and if you think I'm going to hell, you should care that I'm going to hell even though I am not.

When I was a freshman in high school, the vending machine sold Lipton Iced Tea.  I tried it and it was delicious.  I bought one every day at lunch.  It was my favorite drink.

About half way through the year, we had a lesson at church on the Word of Wisdom.  The teacher went through the usual no tobacco, no coffee, no tea. No tea, hot or iced she said.  I sat there horrified.  I had been breaking the Word of Wisdom!  It never occurred to me that iced tea was part of it.  I felt terribly guilty and I told my mom what I learned that day when I got home.  She assured me I wasn't headed straight for hell and to stop drinking it.

Stop drinking my favorite drink!  It was hard but I did it.

In 1996 the Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, was interview by Mike Wallace on 60 minutes.  They discussed the Word of Wisdom.  Here's what was said:

Mike Wallace: No alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea, not even caffeinated soft drinks... 
Gordon B. Hinckley: Right

So I gave up caffeinated soft drinks.  Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper.  All of them.  Because the prophet of God said the word "right."  It was hard but I did it.  I haven't had a caffeinated pop in years with the exception of some Sunkist Lemonade that we didn't know was caffeinated and all spit out simultaneous as a family about 3 years ago.

Then the Church issues On Wednesday (Aug. 29), a statement on its website saying that “the church does not prohibit the use of caffeine” and that the faith’s health-code reference to “hot drinks” ‘’does not go beyond (tea and coffee).

Ok So this is confusing.  Was President Hinckley just giving an off-handed "right," when questioned by Mike Wallace?  Did he just not want to get into it with him?  Have I been teaching my family the right thing for the last 16 years?

I'm really not ready to start drinking caffeinated Coke.  It just seems not right.  However, when school started and I began getting up at 5AM every morning and going to bed at 11PM every night and getting up several times in the night to feed the baby, my butt started really dragging.  I mean really.  So I talked to my sister and told her I was considering a Coke or 5 Hour Energy or something.  I was desperate.  Anna told me about this really great thing called Water Joe.  Water Joe is water with natural caffeine.  Just water and caffeine.  Only two ingredients.  So I went to Meijer and bought it.  I felt about as sneaky as a 18 year old trying to buy a 6 pack of beer.  I didn't drink it for a couple of days but then finally when I was dying, I drank one.  It felt like on Desperate Housewives when Lynette takes her kids' Adderall.  I was worried I was going to get caught or in trouble.  But I didn't.  And the most AMAZING thing happened.  I don't feel tired.  It is keeping me awake all day.  And I still feel tired at night when it's time to go to bed.

So no coffee, no tea-hot or cold, no alcohol.  That's in the book.  Black and white.  No caffeine?  Still a grey area.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I mean once for like, no reason, I flattened my hair and I had all these strands hanging in my face all the time...

In sixth grade, I got a really bad haircut.  This would have been 1986 and I got this awful asymmetrical 80's style.  I seem to remember that it was on a magazine in the salon and I told the stylist to do it like the picture.  But I didn't leave the salon with any product or hair-doing know how.  The haircut was really bad.  I remember no one liked it.  I didn't even like it but I was fierce in it's defense.  My mom would ask me all the time, would I like to get another haircut and I was determined not to.  Finally after weeks of this haircut growing out and progressively getting more and more awful, my mom must have had it.  She came into my room one day and said "Jennifer, your hair makes you look like a slut."

You can imagine my response was not very receptive to her criticism.  But it hit me in a way that her "nice" comments had not.  First of all, I heard my mom use crass language very rarely.  I knew when she used the word "slut" that she meant business.  Second of all, if she was willing to hurt my feelings by being so blunt, that hair must be really bad.  Grudgingly on the outside, but willingly on the inside, I had her take me for a new haircut.  Luckily it was right before picture day so my new haircut was what lives on for posterity.  I have searched for a picture of my ugly haircut but one doesn't exist.  I should probably be thankful for that.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson. I  could always trust my mom's taste in hair, clothes and other things like that.  She knew what looked good and what didn't and she would be honest about it.  I hope my kids will trust that I am honest with them about their appearance and won't lead them astray as to what looks good and what doesn't.  And I hope I never have to use the word "slut" to describe something they are wearing!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, you don't know what's good for bad!

A few months ago, I noticed that we have two types of children in our home.  I continued to observe them and came up with two Vos teams.  They were originally called Team Evil and Team Good.  For obvious reasons, I've been trying to come up with new names for them.  Poor little Genny does not need to be brought up thinking the whole time that she's evil.  Last night Emily and I had a brainstorming session on what the teams should be called other than good and evil.

Team Good consists of Christopher, Spencer, Lizzie and (I assume) Teddy.  These children are and always have been really good.  They worry about making the right decision.  They get upset when they are in trouble and are quick to say sorry.  They are eager to please.  They are hard workers.  They love the rules and are quick to point out when the rules are being broken.  They were really good toddlers.  They get along really well with each other. Chris leads Team Good because as a toddler his idea of fun was putting on a three-piece suit and dancing around the house.  We might want to put Chris on Team Gay.  J/K.  As a side note, how many toddlers own a three-piece suit?  Also his mom said he was always good as a teenager.  I can envision many easy years ahead with these four children.

Team Evil consists of Emily, Calvin, Cameron and Genny.  These children are clever and have really good senses of humor.  I would say they are quick wits.  They were difficult toddlers always challenging authority.  They would run away when asked for a kiss and hug.  They get along really well with each other but not with Team Good.  Team Evil is very passionate.  They aren't really evil.  They are just ok with bending some rules a little.  Team Evil would hide your secret evil doing but they might blackmail you in the process. When I say evil, I don't mean true evil.  I mean eating someone else's candy or hiding in the bathroom to get out of bringing in the groceries.  Just little evil.  They are really all good kids.  I head up Team Evil because I imagine I was a bit of a handful as a child.  I also am pretty darn funny.  And clever.

I think these differences in groups of our children are really interesting and I don't know if you find such divisions in smaller families.  I'm having a really hard time hearing my little kids calling themselves evil.  So Emily and I came up with some other names.  She was quick to call Team Good:  Team Blah, Team Boring and Team Nothing.  We thought of Team Clever for Team Evil.  She came up with Team Nephites and Team Lamanites but that's still too Evil. We talked about Team White and Team Black.  Both colors are good in their own ways.  Both are very different.  Then we came up with Team Metro (for Metroman) and Team Mega (for Megamind).  Cuz Megamind wasn't all bad and Metroman was really good.  I think we'll get shirts made.

Monday, August 13, 2012

You slept on the floor huh? We slept outside with the bugs and the wild animals. A bridge nearly killed us. Nobody knows where the hell Redbud is. And we haven't eaten since yesterday morning. So stay the hell out of our way and keep your mouth *shut*!

We moved into a new house on June 18.  It is the most beautiful house and I want to live in it until I die.  Moving was not the most fun thing I've ever done but we survived and it was less painful that I anticipated.  We had so much help from great friends.  The house didn't really need any remodeling or updating but we did a few things to modify it for our family.  We finished the basement and made a sleeping area and play area for the kids.  We put in an egress window that I hope we never have to use.  We built a banquette in the kitchen area so that we can all fit around the table to eat.  We painted alot of the rooms.  I am sitting here trying to figure out which room is my favorite and it's really hard.  I really love the master bath.  It has glass block windows making up part of the shower and two shower heads.  I really love the quiet living room.  I really love the first floor laundry room.  I really love the colors in the girls room.  I really love the view out of Emily's bedroom window.  I really love the landscaping and the great variety of the plants.  I really love the space the boys have to sleep and play.  Seriously, I love almost everything about this house!  Two things I want to change still are the fixtures in the first floor bath.  They are a little ugly.  And the counter in the kids bath.  Also ugly.  But overall I love my house.  Every morning I wake up and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.  Here's some pictures and I will try to take some more of things I missed and post them later.

 This is the living room.  I got that couch off Craigslist for way cheap and I love it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A baby is a gift, a gift from a bub.

Probably the most interesting thing that happened in the last three months was that I had a baby.  Theodore Dirk Vos was born on May 11 at 9:45 AM.  He weighed 9lb 11oz.  He beat my next biggest baby by 3 ounces!  His labor was virtually painless because I had a really awesome epidural.  The hospital stay was restful and I was so thrilled to come home to the rest of my babies.  Over the past three months, Teddy has brought our family much joy.  He nurses like a champ.  Sometimes just too often!  He is very wiggly.  Even in his sleep he wiggles.  He is fussier than any of my other babies.  This makes it to take him places.  Other babies I've had will sleep in their buckets for hours while I shop or volunteer or clean or swim.  Teddy will not do this.  I am not able to do things like I am used to.  I spend a lot of time rocking him.  I haven't been able to do my calling in three months because I can't take him with me and I can't leave him home.  It's been a little frustrating.  But I'm not going to complain.  He's a wonderful boy and I love him!  We all do.

I'm Back, Jerry, I'm back!

I've been away from my blog for over three months.  I sometimes come and sit at the computer and try to write a post and it sounds dumb so I don't post anything.  Nothing sounded interesting to me.  But then I was talking to Anna a little bit ago and she made a comment about how someday she was going to print  her blog as a book and give it to her children.  It reminded me that my blog is for me, first and foremost, and it doesn't always have to be witty or interesting or thought-provoking.  So I'm back.  I may be boring but I'm back.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This is a home! This is a place to live...Oohhh, a fireplace, are you kidding me!

We are moving.  I can't believe it.  We have been looking and praying for several months for an affordable home that has more room than the home we currently live in.  The Lord answered our prayer in a most unbelievable way.  Sometimes I still can't believe how it worked out.

We are doubling our home size and reducing our payment by quite a bit.  It's really amazing!

Our new home is about a mile away in Canton.  The elementary school and middle school are different so Calvin, Spencer and Cameron will be attending different schools in the fall.  Luckily all of them have friends in their grade at the new school.

Our new house has a really great size family room with a wood burning fireplace.  It has 4 bedrooms including a master bedroom with a walk in closet and attached bathroom.  We are finishing a bedroom in the basement for the boys.  They are going to have an awesome mancave!

The yard is 1/4 acre with forsythia, peonies, lilies, pretty trees, iris and a garden area.  It's perfect.

The rooms are painted great colors that I love.  The carpets are clean.  The windows, roof, furnace, a/c, driveway are all new.

It's really perfect.  Except for one thing.

We are getting it from a family that we know and really like.  They have to move away for an employment opportunity.  It makes me sad that they are leaving.  We got the keys from them this week and went over that afternoon to look around.  They left flowers and a gift for Teddy on the counter.  Very wonderful people that I will miss alot.

But I'm so happy to be moving.  I'm so excited!  Now to coordinate it with giving birth...

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's no contest. The guy had nothing! The ship went down, he got into a life boat, I mean, come on.

I'm having a baby in a few weeks. My due date is May 5. I've got 18 days until my due date to be exact. But my babies are usually late so I probably have more like 25 days. I'll be glad when this pregnancy is over. It's been a toughie. Emotionally lately I've been feeling like a wreck. My eyes are leaking all the time.

It's the same old thing. I miss my mom.

I miss her so much when I have a baby. A few months ago I took a meal to a friend who just had a baby. Her mom greeted me at the door. She whisked the meal to the table, got it all set out and had my dishes washed and returned to me before I was done snuggling my friend's new babe. I want that too. I want my mom to come here and stay a week or two and watch my kids so I can get extra sleep and drive the carpool so I don't have to worry about it and catch up the laundry and dishes and reorganize my cupboards and refold all my sheets. I want her to hold my babe and smile at me and tell me how he looks just like I did when I was a baby.

It's just not fair.

I feel like a selfish 13 year old girl when I say those words. It's just not fair.

NieNie never says it's not fair. People dying of cancer never say it's just not fair. People with infertility issues never say it's not fair. I have so much in life to be thankful for. And I am thankful for my blessings.

Why can't I just get over this?

I have a lot of faith. I really do. I believe with my whole heart that someday I am going to walk with God and He is going to show me the super important reason why I had to spend most of my mortality without a mother. And He is going to hug me and it's all going to be ok.

But it's not ok now. And now is what really matters to me now.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mom Academy Awards

The 3rd Annual Mom Academy Awards were held last weekend and they were spectacular, as usual. The location, home of Sue Barfuss, was primo this year. It was lovely to have so many fun, talented, wonderful women together for an evening.

This year, we once again gave out the coveted "Spoony." 30 moms were awarded their Spoony in 30 unique categories. New this year, were tributes written by husbands and children, and read aloud to each mom. After all were read, few dry eyes were left in the room. It's nice to be appreciated by those we work so hard for day in and day out. I love the Mom Award's night. I'm so glad so many people were able to participate this year!

Here's a complete list of the winners:

Patti Banka: Most Well Read Mom
Sue Barfuss: Renaissance Mom (Cuz she's so good at everything)
Amy Benson: The Coolest Mom
Ramona Bertrand: Most Patient Mom
Penny Bitner: Best Hair and Makeup Mom
Yoshimi Burnside: World Traveler Mom
Buffie Christensen: Do it Yourself Mom
Rachel Clawson: Great Decorator Mom
Courtney Cope: Outdoorsy Mom
Stacie Dalebout: Mom who is always thinking of others
Angie Gardner: No Sleep Mom
Leah Goering: Savvy Shopper Mom
Kristie Hicks: Social Butterfly Mom
Senta Hill: Mom with the Best Sense of Humor
Serena Humes: Newest Mom
Kayla McEwen: Multilingual Mom
Nadine Medley: Most Supportive Mom
Valerie Mercado: Sporty Mom
Teresa Murphy: Most Organized Mom
Lisa Nielsen: Volunteer Mom
Mari Noble: Iron Chef Mom
Anna Onofrio: Best Blogger-Seamstress-Crafty Mom
Esther Rogers: Fashion Plate Mom
Teresa Strum: Miss Congeniality Mom
Cathy Sullivan: Scriptorian Mom
Bethany Swalberg: Mom always Serving others
Jennifer Vos: Taxi Mom
Tami Valgardson: Happiest Mom
Deanna Wilkerson: Most Experienced Mom
Becca Winder: Musical Mom

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Yeah. It's a beautiful name for a boy or a girl. Especially a girl... Or a boy."

I started working on Family History when I was 8 and received a Book of Remembrance at my baptism. I'm 37 now and not completely clear as to what the Book of Remembrance is for. I kept papers in it that were important to me. It came with some sheets to be filled out like the Family Tree and Personal History. The book is now in the garage in a box. I haven't really done a great job at remembering it. But I did enthusiastically fill out the Family Tree page when I was 8 with the help of my parents. I really found the whole thing very interesting who I descended from. My dad worked on family history quite a bit during my childhood and gave me a great head start when I was an adult.

I've worked on Family History as a semi-serious hobby since Emily was a baby. I love finding people in my family and making it possible for their temple work to be completed. Since marrying Chris, I have worked on his side of the family as well. I have long been interested in finding the Vos' that first came to America from Holland. I could never find them. There seemed to be no information on them out there that I was reaching. I kept them in the back of my mind, hoping that someday I would find them.

A few months ago, I was called as a Family History Consultant at our local Family History Center. Although I would give my right arm to serve in Primary, this is the next best thing. I go to the Family History Center for three kid-free hours a week and work on Family History. I'm supposed to help people who walk-in and need assistance. So far, I have helped a few people but I don't know as much as the "pros" that have been there for years and years. I'm sure I will learn more as time goes by and be a better aide to those who come in looking for help.

One night, one of the pros asked me if I wanted him to help me with one of my family road blocks. I showed him the info I had on John Vos born in the Netherlands in 1839. I had him on US Census' for various years in the United States. I knew he got here. But I didn't know when or how or with whom. I left the info I had with the pro, who's name is Al by the way, and headed home until next week.

The next week Al greeted me and let me know that he found lots of stuff for me. I was excited. He started to show me page after page of what was information on my John Vos and his ancestors. John came to the United States with his parents in 1855. He was 16. His parents were Dirk and Bonna Vos. They brought John and their seven other children with them on a ship. I was able to look at pictures of where they came from in Holland. I can only imagine what their accommodations were like on the ship and what it must have been like to travel across an ocean with all those children. As Al was showing me pages of information, I fell in love with this family. I feel like I know them somehow. And unless you've ever done family history and connected with someone from the past, you might not understand what I mean. Dirk and Bonna, I want to be your friends.

I sat there that night very choked up looking at the pages, entering information into the computer and finding more information because I was able to piggyback off what Al had started. I was so excited and enthralled with everything I found and learned. Those of you who work on family history know that other people are about as interested in hearing about it as you are about hearing about someone's daily work out at the gym. Their eyes glaze over and they give you a faint smile and nod occasionally. It's just not everyone's thing.

But I wanted what I found(or what was found for me) to be shared and remembered. All I could think of was to name our little Teddy's middle name Dirk. I kept thinking about Theodore Dirk and how we couldn't forget about Dirk and his family if one of our kids was named after him. So I went home and proposed the idea to Chris and he agreed and so there you go. No one else thinks it's a really great name. Some people laugh out loud when I tell them. But I don't really care. It's a middle name, which isn't used as often, and it means something to me. Hopefully someday it will mean something to Teddy too.

I seriously cannot wait to meet Dirk and Bonna in the afterlife and talk to them and find out all about their life in 1855.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My brother paid a dollar last night to see your underwear.

Sixteen years ago I gave birth to the most beautiful and wonderful little girl ever in the history of little baby girls.

I was a typical first time pregnant mom. I took my prenatal vitamin. I followed the doctor's instructions exactly. I took birthing classes. I drank cranberry juice every day in hopes to get a baby with hair. I bought the cutest, softest, sweetest baby clothes and washed them in Dreft. I sterilized EVERYTHING. I studied "What to Expect when You are Expecting." It was never far from me for 9 month. I researched everything baby using the library's copy of Consumer Reports. This was before the internet. I made sure we had the safest car seat, stroller, pack n play, bottles, binki's, swing... My bag was packed months before I was ever going to need it. I was determined to give our baby the best possible start in the world that I could.

I was in labor with her for about 12 hours. It was hard labor. I didn't get an epidural. I was determined not to because our birthing class teacher said it wasn't good for the baby. I'll never forget seeing that squirmy, bloody, gooey baby for the first time and hearing her cry and knowing she was mine forever. You mom' know.

And today she is 16.

Now I don't worry about her hair anymore. She does it beautifully. I don't pick out clothes for her anymore. In fact, I know that if I see something that I like, she will hate it. I don't need Dreft. She washes her own clothes. Instead of baby books, I read articles online by Denise Witmer at I no longer worry about her car seat and binki...I now worry about her driving a car, dating a boy, peer pressure and the "c" word. College.

To be honest, though, I don't worry that much. Emily has grown to be a very responsible, very careful, very wonderful young woman. I am really proud of her. She has done an incredible job building on that first foundation that Chris and I provided for her. And as she has grown, we have provided opportunities for her to develop her talents. I know that Chris and I have done our best to give her all the tools she will need to be successful in her life. We have continued to provide her with a good foundation. We have never stopped planning and providing and praying and working and cheering for her.

While my heart aches and my eyes grow wet with tears at the thought of her leaving home in just a few short years, I know she will be successful because of who she is and where she came from.

Emily, I couldn't be prouder of you and who you are. Happy Sweet 16!

Monday, February 27, 2012

I want my scholarship back, so I can be a city planner.

I have lots of thoughts that knock around in my head at 2AM and don't let me sleep. Most of them are stupid things I said and did in my younger years. Worrying about how my mouth may have offended others keeps me up at night often.

I went to elementary school at a Parochial school in Toledo. The tuition was more than my family could afford. My parents were not members of the parish and so the amount of tuition for us was higher than the average family. My mom worked at the school as a lunch aid to help with the costs until she was too sick to be able to do so. After that, I received a scholarship and financial aid to cover what it cost. If you go to Parochial elementary school in Toledo, the traditional next step is to choose one of the Parochial high schools. In 8th grade, all the girls go and visit the 2 all-girls schools and the two co-ed schools. I was smitten with St. Ursula Academy from the beginning. I wanted to go there so badly. I applied and took the entrance exam. I had it in my head that I was going there. My mom was the voice of reason. She knew we couldn't afford it. I can't remember what the tuition was in 1989. I looked online to see what the tuition is now and the official SUA website doesn't have it listed. So you know it has to be a lot. I found an independent website that listed the tuition in 2008 as $8800 a year. So in 1989 it was probably around $4000-5000. It was a scary amount of money for my family. I did well on the entrance exam and got some kind of scholarship but not enough to cover the whole amount. And the scholarship only lasted my freshman year. Every 8th grade applicant that is accepted is given an appointment to meet with the counselor to choose classes and pay the tuition. My appointment arrived in the mail with an * next to the tuition due amount and a note that said we would discuss it when we met with the counselor. My dad and I were hopeful that maybe I was getting more of a scholarship but my mom kept reminding us that we needed more than just "something" in order to be able to make it work. Me and Dad went to the meeting at St. Ursula and instead of meeting with a counselor, the principal met with us. She signed me up for all the classes I should take and then looked at me over her half glasses (no she was not Dumbledore) and said that my tuition had been paid for by someone else. The donor wished to remain anonymous. I could only communicate with him via letter. I cannot tell you how elated I was. Words cannot describe how I felt. Dad took me to the book store and bought me an SUA sweatshirt that I wore every moment of my life for the next year. I was an arrow! My life was complete.

I wrote letters to my anonymous benefactor telling him how I was doing and thanking him for his kindness and generosity. I continued to do this through my junior year. At the end of the that year, right before summer vacation, the principal came to me to tell me that the benefactor had decided not to continue my scholarship through my senior year. My heart fell into my toes. I cried right there in front of her. I knew we couldn't afford the tuition without the scholarship. My mom died during the summer between freshman and sophomore year and my dad was contemplating quitting his job and living off of his social security and disability. I had visions of me at Bowsher HS (no offense, Michelle) and I was just so sad. I was going to have to leave my friends and everything I had built at SUA. I was not a slouch of a student. I was freshman class president and had just been elected senior class president. I was involved in clubs of all kind from academic to service to fun. This was my life. I can just say that I was devastated.

The principal left me that day with the assurance that she was going to find a way to help me with this. A few days later she pulled me aside to tell me that the school would take care of my tuition. It was paid for and I didn't have to worry about it. I was grateful beyond words. I cried again and told her how much I appreciated what she was doing for me. I finished my senior year and graduated with high honors. I have continued to let that principal know over the years how much an SUA education has meant to me and has helped me in my life.

So what part of this story keeps me up at night? It's not who was the benefactor. I don't have to know that. The best kind of service and love is done in secret with no recognition in my opinion. The part that bothers me is what did I do to make the person not want to help me through my senior year? Did I say something offensive to him or his family? I totally could have because my mouth works way faster than my brain and often says the dumbest stuff imaginable. What did I do to upset this person to make him not want to help me? I'm not even sure that I really want to know because it would probably hurt my heart to know how I hurt someone else. But part of me wishes I knew. I have a feeling that this will be one of those experiences that will continue to nag at me at 2AM for the rest of my life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh, also.. my fiance died from licking toxic envelopes that I picked out.

Emily and I were in the car this week and the song "A Little Respect" by Erasure came on the radio. I immediately started singing along with the song. Loudly. Emily was pretty annoyed. It's an awesome song. Hearing it took me back to my senior year of high school. I was obsessed with the album that it's on "The Innocents." I listened to it 24/7.

I proceeded to tell Emily about the time during senior year when my dad had to go into the hospital for some treatments for his MS and Anna and I lived with a family in our ward. I don't know how long we lived there. Seems like several weeks. They were a great family to stay with because they didn't have any kids at the time and they had a nice big house with an extra bedroom for us. Thinking back it was pretty incredible that they let us stay there. I was like the messiest person on the planet and they were the neatest. They let me spread my homework and shoes all over and never yelled at me. They let me cook fried chicken in their kitchen. Who knows what other crap they let me do. They had the missionaries over for dinner at my request. One of the missionaries was hot with a capital H and I had a huge tiny crush on him. The mom took me dress shopping for my school's winter formal. Now that I have been dress shopping with a teenager, I know it must have been torture for her.

The only drawback about their house was that it was in the middle of nowhere. It was out passed the Toledo Express Airport off of Airport Highway. The drive from their house to my house was about 12 miles and took 20-25 minutes. I had to go to early morning seminary which started at 6. So I got up around 4:45 to get ready and head out from Swanton back into Toledo. It was very scary for me. The house was very dark and I tried to be really quiet so that I wouldn't wake Anna or the family. No one got me up. No one made sure I was getting ready. I had to be responsible for myself. It scared me to drive by myself out in the middle of nowhere. I was sure I was going to get rammed from behind by a crazy band of marauders looking for Catholic school girls out on the road at the butt crack of dawn. In addition, the weeks we stayed there were the beginning of winter. I remember the swirling snow on the side road that led off of Airport Highway. It was terrifying. As I was telling Emily this story, I was thinking to myself, "What the heck? Why did I keep going to Seminary? Why didn't I take off a couple of weeks?

Three reasons popped into my head. First, our teacher was awesome. I loved going to seminary just to hear what she was going to teach. She was inspiring and I'm so glad I got to have a year of seminary with her and wish I could have had more. I remember so much about the lessons of the New Testament because of her preparation and dedication. Plus she made the BEST spice cake. She would bring a spice cake for everyone's birthday. Second, my best friend Stacy was in a different school from me and I wanted to see her everyday so the only way I could do that was in Seminary. Last, sometimes the awesome teacher invited the missionaries to come to seminary to scripture chase with us and I wouldn't have wanted to miss an opportunity to see the aforementioned hot missionary. Two of my reasons were pretty good.

So I went to Seminary every day even though it was freaking early and scary. I would drive, white-knuckled, down the road as fast as the snow would safely let me, trying to outrun the marauders, with "The Innocents" tape blasting in my dad's van's tape deck. All the songs on that album remind me of that time in my life going to seminary, going to school and doing schoolwork, trying to take care of Anna, visit my dad in the hospital, keep up with things at my empty home and have some kind of a social life. Sometimes I think about different periods like this from my childhood and I just cry because I wish I could have had a bit of a normal life just for a bit. I wonder what it would be like to have a mom to take care of me all the time and wake me up when I fall back asleep and drive me everywhere and hug and kiss me.

Maybe these stressful, crazy times prepared me for a time when I would have 7.5 kids with busy lives and a husband and a calling and volunteer positions and family to love and friends to be with and service to do. Maybe I can handle so much now because of what I went through then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

oh is it two-ply? cause it it's two-ply I'll take one ply, one ply, one, one puny little ply, I'll take one measly ply

I have great success with potty training, but it hasn't always been so.

When Emily was about a year old, my mean grandma berated me that she wasn't potty trained yet. All of her babies were potty trained at 7 months old. I felt like a horrible mother and went out and bought a book called, "How to potty train in a day." We tried it and it was a disaster. I forced her to use the potty and she had a lot of accidents. She just wasn't physically and verbally ready to do it. She was about 2 before she didn't have accidents. So basically, I spent a year potty training her.

With Christopher I tried the same thing when he was about 18 months. I really wanted them to go to nursery potty trained. He was even harder. He got the pee part down pretty fast but the pooping was another story. He pooped everywhere but in the toilet. He pooped on the other side of a closed door. When I opened the door, guess what I stepped in? He pooped in Anna's shoe. He pooped everywhere. It took about 9 months to get him to not poop everywhere. Nine months is a long time to be scrubbing poopy underwear. And poopy carpet.

I got smart with Calvin and listened to a wise friend who told me to wait until they are ready. Even if they are three. Skeptically, I took her advice. When I thought Calvin was old enough to grasp the concepts and do it, I started asking him every day if he wanted to wear underwear. He said no everyday for about 3 months straight. The stigma of having a child over the age of 3 not potty trained was KILLING me. Finally on the busiest day of my life (I had a million things going on that day), he says yes he wants to wear underwear. And he did and had maybe one accident in a week and never a poopy accident and was potty trained completely in about two weeks. Including bed time.

I was blown away. My friend was right. You just need to wait. Even though all the mom's at play group are trying to potty train their 18 month olds. Even though the commercials show kids barely 2 going on the potty. Even though you have to spend money on diapers for a little longer. Just wait. This method worked with Spencer, Cameron and Lizzie. Lizzie has been wearing underwear for a week now and has had a total of 1 accident. She wants to wear underwear to bed and has woken up dry each time. It's the best method of potty training ever.

Monday, January 30, 2012

You mean she was asking me to wear this ridiculous shirt on national TV, and I said 'Yes'?!

On Sunday in Sunday School we discussed my very favorite story in the Book of Mormon. It was the story of Nephi being told by the Lord to build a boat. I love Nephi's response to the Lord so much. "Whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" 1 Ne 17:9. He did not doubt. He did not waver. He did not question. He just said "tell me what to do and I'll do it."

Here's what I would have said if I was Nephi: "What? I don't know how to make a ship. I can't do this. You have the wrong person. I'm just little ol' Nephi. Please ask someone else."

Chris and I had been married for about a year when we were called into the stake president's office. We were both given new callings. Chris was called as the Elders Quorum president. That didn't phase me. Chris is awesome. But then the stake president called me to serve in the stake YW presidency. I was floored. My response went something like this: "Do you know who I am? I am Jennifer Vos. I think this is a mistake. You might have the wrong person." He assured me that I was in fact the Jennifer Vos that he wanted to call to this calling. I accepted the calling and it turns out that I was really good at it. The Lord knew I could do it.

I have thought of Nephi being called to build the boat often lately. I have been called to add another child to my family. Although I am always willing to welcome a new baby to our home, I doubt my abilities. My first response is not always, "Whither shall I go that I may find diapers that I may change this baby?" Usually, it's more like this: "I am just Jennifer Vos. I don't know much. I don't do great. Are you sure that this is what you want for me to do? Why are you trusting me to do this?"

Sometimes I just don't feel equal to the task. It doesn't help that most of the world around me thinks I'm led away by the foolish imaginations of my heart. I'm lucky to have some very special Sams who always are encouraging and must see something in me that God sees for calling me to this work in the first place. I truly thank the Lord for Nephi's example and courage. Because of him, I'm a little more willing to trust the Lord's plan in my own life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fourteen years down the drain.

I throw up alot. Multiple times a day. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Any time.

Usually it's a smell that hits me. Like chicken or fish or cologne or poop or basically any smell that is strong. Good or bad. My husband is forbidden from wearing cologne for the next four months because I just can't take it. I hugged a woman at church on Sunday and almost threw up down her back because the perfume smell was sickening.

If Chris wants a kiss, he knows the drill. He must scrinch up his lips really tight so not one bit of air or saliva can escape. He can lightly brush my lips but must never ever exhale when he is close to me so that I don't get a whiff of his breath and have to make a mad dash to the toilet.

I threw up at Kroger outside the pop can return area. I threw up at Meijer at the Lobster tank. I threw up while driving the car, inside a bag. After, I hoped the bag just had some trash or something unimportant in it. It had Calvin's scriptures in it. He got new ones for Christmas.

I was going to throw up yesterday and Cameron could tell the signs. "Hurry, Mom," he says, "put a wipe under your nose. And use this cup." As I threw up in the cup, he ran and got me a can of coke, which settles my stomach. Lizzie rubbed my arm and said, "It's ok, Mama. It's ok." Emily laughs at how I can lean over the sink one minute, throw up and then turn and finish making dinner. But sometimes I just can't finish it. And then Chris is wonderful and brings home pizza.

I'm going to be 24 weeks on Friday and I wish, wish, wish that this throwing up would end. But I have a feeling that it's going to be with me all the way to May 5.
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