Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy 60th Birthday Dad!

My Dad turns 60 today. He's a one-of-a-kind Man. Everyone who knows him loves him. We're blessed to call him Dad and Grandpa. Since he's not close to home right now, we created a slideshow with pictures and reasons why we love him so much.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Happy Big Birthday!!!
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Our Studious One

Today I picked up the kids from school. On our drive home, I asked the kids individually how their day was. Mason's was "OK" but not great because at recess, the football game got a little hairy and some kids ended up angry at him because he made the touchdown. Abby had a great day and was pleased with herself for eating all her lunch (I had saved a bag of Doritos for her to share w/ cousin Leah for an after-school snack if she could eat all her lunch--bribes ALWAYS work for that girl!). Taylor's response was, "Great." After inquiring about what was so great, he, under his breath, mentioned that he had detention.

Detention? My smart, responsible son? Why detention?

His response cracked me up. "Well, I kind of chose to go to detention".

Why would any child choose to go to detention?

He went on to tell me that the class had been given an assignment to write three paragraphs, each talking about something they did or saw this past summer. When sufficient time had been given, the teacher collected the kids papers and sent them to recess. Taylor has a very creative and detailed mind. He had barely gotten into the first paragraph when time was up and asked his teacher if he could stay in detention during recess and finish up his assignment. He told me that one of his paragraphs was six pages long, and the other two were three pages. All the other children turned in one sheet.

Then he went on to tell me (chatter, chatter, chatter) that his 10-year-old life is too busy and he doesn't have time to write down all stories in his mind and that if he could have one wish, it would be to have two more hours each day that he would dedicate to writing his thoughts down. Weird? Awesome? Not sure what to think on that one.

But it's true. After friends are home and things are quiet around here, I frequently see him at the table writing. He has a few folders of his writings, organized to his liking. He's currently working on a story about a few boys that go back in time and search for clues about something or other. It's pretty impressive. Every couple of days, he asks me to do some editing for him. Maybe one of these days, I'll type his stories up for anyone interested.

Where did that brain of his come from?

I love 10-year-old boys!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy 10th Birthday Taylor

Taylor turned 10 today. A few times this past month, he has asked what we could do to celebrate. His ideas for a party just wouldn't work: Pool party (we have no pool and he's too big for the little slip-n-slide), football at the park (not fun w/ 110 degree weather), laser tag (too expensive).
A few months ago he and Mason both invited a bunch of friends over for a party, and I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that experience. The bigger boys ganged up on the smaller ones, a few boys got mad, and one went home crying. Complete disaster. So since then, I haven't wanted to do it again.
We decided to lay low this time around. And I sensed that Taylor was a little disappointed. Last night as John was walking out the door to the store, I asked him to pick up a few presents for Taylor. (We had already gotten him a few gifts, but I knew Taylor was in the room and I wanted him to know we were still excited for his birthday). John's response surprised me. He's such a tease. With the straightest face, (and with Taylor right there listening), he said "Gifts? What do you mean? Taylor doesn't need presents; he'll be 10 years old tomorrow. Presents are for little kids. He's getting a little old for presents. Maybe I can pick him up a small pack of gum, if you think he needs it." With that, he walked out the door. Taylor turned back to his book, and his eyes slowly turned red and he blinked really hard to get rid of the tears. Then he whispered under his breath, "I'd really like just a few presents, even if it's just clothes." That comment made me crack up so hard, and I told him Dad was just teasing. A huge smile of relief came across his face. I remember those same feelings at that age.
So this morning, we gave Taylor some presents. He got a few of his favorite treats, some needed clothes, a reading lamp, a new bike, and a BB gun. What more could a 10 year old want? I think he was pretty excited about them all, even for the needed package of underwear.
I took ice cream sandwiches to his classroom during their lunch. He was a little embarrassed when I asked his whole class so sing to him. All the kids sang at the top of their lungs, and by the end of the song, all the kids in the whole cafeteria were singing to him (probably around 150 students). His face was pretty red, but I think he liked it.
Tonight he invited over three friends. They made their own pizzas for dinner, played football, and ate ice cream cake. It was short and sweet, and everyone seemed to have a good time. After friends left and we cleaned up a bit, Taylor found me in the kitchen and gave me a hug and said thanks for making his day a good one. It does my heart good to know he had a great birthday.
And for the record, our new 10 year old is 4 feet, 9 1/2 inches tall. He weighs 87 lbs. Big boy! I remember weighing that much--weird!

Abby's First Tooth

She has been wiggling and wiggling her bottom tooth for over a month now. Frequently after walking in the door from playing, she'd ask me if I thought it was more loose than the day before. And until about two days ago, I really didn't feel anything different. Her cousin, Leah, who has already lost a tooth, was the one who could really tell though, being the experienced tooth-looser that she is. If I thought it didn't feel loose, Abby would tell me that Leah does think it is loose; therefore, it must really be loose. So today, as soon as it came out, Abby called Leah to spread the good news! Such an exciting thing for a six year old.

I was surprised that Abby was brave enough to let John pluck it out with floss. When it came out, he told her that if she didn't put her toungue in the hole, she would grow a golden tooth. After about 5 minutes of trying NOT to touch the hole with her toungue, she gave up and said to me, "It's OK. I already have a silver tooth anyway." (from a cavity).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crazy for Balls

"Which ball do I play with? Which do I drop?" Such has been the dilemma of this one-year old. I have never known a little boy who is as crazy for balls as Andersen is. Notice his shirt--it has a picture of a soccer ball on it. If he can't find it in his drawer, he heads to the laundry room and pulls out all the dirty clothes from the hamper until he finds it. It's a little tricky to get it washed.
Yesterday I took the kids swimming at our neighbors house. They have a b-ball hoop connected to their pool. Andersen quickly found the hoop and realized that he could get within a few inches of the rim on his tip toes without falling into the pool. For the next hour, he stood there and shot balls into the rim. I was his official ball-boy. I was amazed at his focus; he never got board, never lost interest, and never got frustrated. He probably made over 100 baskets. For the record, I should have counted.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kind of Emotional

I don't like farewells. We've gone through two this past week. My heart is full, and my tear ducts are empty.

1-Uncle Ben passed away. John and I and our three oldest attended a beautiful funeral where his life was recognized and honored. Lots of tears, lots of resolve to be better, do better, and "become" better--definitely a life long process. Lots of quiet, inner reflection.
I held my newest nephew, Sweet Baby James, during Uncle Ben's viewing. Looking at a new baby who has just come to this world, I thought about The Plan and how short this life really is compared to our eternal existence. The knowledge and understanding that the family is a "forever" unit provides such peace at times like this. What a blessing!

2-My parents and two youngest brothers got on the plane for their new home in the Caribbean. We are excited for their adventures there and for all the people who will be influenced and guided under their direction, care, and example. But we'll still miss them terribly.
We spent the evening with them before the plane departed. A few moments were extra hard for me to watch.

When Grandpa is around, Andersen most always prefers him over anyone else. Grandpa had held him for a while, and it was getting time to go. So John pulled Andersen away from Grandpa and Andersen started crying, reaching back to Grandpa. He cried for "Bompa" all the way to the car, and then some more. Most nights, that's not a big deal. But knowing that this would be the last time in who knows how long made it extra tough to watch. Andersen is so little now, and chances are, he won't recognize his Grandpa next time we see him.

After giving multiple hugs and kisses, then some more, we finally walked out to get into the car. My youngest brother was alone on the front porch, shaking with tears. Both brothers that are going have been so brave, so positive, and such great examples to the rest of us. I haven't heard a negative word from either of them about moving. And for a teenager, changing countries, schools, languages, culture, and moving away from all things familiar would be tough. Watching those tears come down pulled at my heart strings. I'm so proud of both of them! They are living by the motto, "We can do hard things!"
Grandma with all her granddaughters.

Grandma with Abby and Emma Claire.

We love Grandpa!

We are proud of them and what they will accomplish, but they'll be missed-BIG TIME!!!! Thank goodness for Skype, email, blogs, and the phone. With all that, being on the other side of the world doesn't seem soooo far away anymore.

Of All the Nerve. . .

Bathing the younger kids is not one of my passions. I don't like bending over the tub and breaking my back, and I don't like getting wet and having to clean up the wet floor; but I do LOVE having clean children.

Emma Claire missed her Saturday bath because she fell asleep in the car on our way home from an activity that evening and went straight to bed. Sunday morning was a little crazy and we missed her bath. After sitting with her during church and smelling something a little stinky, I realized that it had almost been a whole week since she bathed (unless you count swimming, of course!)

So this morning after getting the older kids off to school and Andersen dressed, I filled the bath water for Emma Claire. I knew it would be a temptation for Andersen to jump in, so I shut the door and brought him into the kitchen while I cleaned up. I'm still not sure how he got in so quietly and quickly. But this is what I found a minute later. Shoes and all. And they were both having the time of their lives.

Gotta love that boy!