Monday, December 07, 2009

Here's Hoping for a Snow Day

So, my kids have this funny superstition thing that if they sleep with their pajamas on backwards and inside out, then it will be a snow day the next morning. No school!! I don't even know how it all began, but they're convinced it works.
Also, notice the duct tape securing Julia's diaper. Yeah, I was welcomed by one too many crib-fuls of you-know-what. Tim suggested the duct tape. It's worked so far. Bless her little heart.

Lindsay's sleeping with the phone, so she can be the one to answer it when the automated school district phone call comes telling us that school's been cancelled. I just watched the news, and I don't think that there'll be one tomorrow. Just in case, I got another canister of hot chocolate at Sam's Club this afternoon, so I'm prepared if the weather guy's wrong.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween 2009

Girls choosing pumpkins...

Boys choosing pumpkins...

The whole fam posing at the pumpkin patch...

Girls carving pumpkins...
Boys carving pumpkins...
Miss Julia, a butterfly...
Wesley, a skeleton...
Samuel, a vampire...(he had the perfect "fangs" this year)
Miles, a mad scientist (which wasn't really dressing up for him at all...)
Lindsay, a funky clown...
The whole gang by the carved and lit pumpkins...

The pumpkins all aglow...

The skeleton, the butterfly, and the mad scientist "trick or treating"...

I say it in quotes because this was actually the night after Halloween (yes, a Sunday) when we were requested to go over to our sweet neighbor's house. She had special little treat bags for each of the kids and was so disappointed that we didn't make it by on Halloween night. We had had a fairly hectic night with Lindsay trying to navigate two different 11 y.o. girls' parties and fifteen 11 y.o. girls' feelings, so we hadn't gotten to everything that night. Also, I never got pictures Halloweeen night, so I was happy to get everyone dressed up again, get their pictures taken, and head over to Jessi's house. We even sang her a pretty "stirring" rendition of "Stirring My Brew", if I do say so myself. :):) Also, I love that the butterfly in the last picture has a "blankie". So cute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wesley's First Day of School

Wesley is in Pre-K this year at the Harmony Preschool. It's fun school where he can go FOUR afternoons a week. I've never had my 4 y.o. go to 4 days of pre-school, but I thought he'd enjoy it. His teacher is super nice, and he seems to be enjoying it. I am also loving that I get a few hours a day in the house when it's quiet, because Julia naps while he's a school. It's been great all around.

Here he is on his first day of school. Again, we only had Daddy's fancy camera with the macro lens. Sheesh.
Mommy and Wesley outside Harmony Preschool
Wesley outside school
Wesley at the door to his classroom with Julia not standing still for a picture behind him

Wesley said, "Mom, if I do one nice one, then can I do a silly one?"

Yes, of course, son.

A Family Tradition Continues

It felt like every single Saturday night we'd take a bath, get in our jammies, and head downstairs to get our fingernails and toenails clipped while we watched "The Lawrence Welk Show". Seriously. If tradtions are something that families do to increase a sense of belonging and well-being then this one surely served its purpose. I think my brother Chris was the most fond of the show, but we all enjoyed it, I'm sure.

Well, the other Saturday night when Tim was still out of town, wouldn't you know it? "The Lawrence Welk Show" was on PBS. It was great. I was telling the kids how I used to always watch it growing up. Then, I was laughing with them about the guys' bright red suits. Lindsay realized that they matched almost exactly to the red suit coat she had "inherited" from Great-Grandma Shirley's closet this summer. She had to run upstairs and put it on. Thus began a great Dress Up Dance Off. I was so glad I had my camera.
Lindsay and Wesley (both sporting numbers from Great-Grandma's closet)
Samuel looking good in a dress from Great-Grandma and the wig and hat from our dressup box (the modeling pose and suave look are all his own)
Wesley busting a move
Yep, we let Wesley's hair "grow out". It would probably look similar to this without frequent cuts.
Miles doing a pretty good "Elvis". Thank you, thank you very much...
Julia had to be part of the action.

Tim took my dinky camera with him to Guatemala, so I had his fancy one from the office. Unfortunately, it had on the really fancy "macro" lens, I think. So I could only get close-ups of everyone. Oh well...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

He's Back

And we're all so happy he's home safe and sound. He had a great time: driving up riverbeds in the back of Toyota pick-ups, pulling teeth by head-lamp light, and just all around experiencing another culture. It's always such a good reminder of the blessings we enjoy here in our country and of the fact that we are all God's children and do share somewhat of a responsibility for each other.

Here are some pictures:

the lush country side of Guatemala

the crew after a trip in the Toyota. Love the wind-blown hair, babe

such a beautiful little girl and she doesn't even look that traumatized

Aren't these children beautiful? The moms would always make sure that their kids got treated first, and then, if there was still time at the end, they'd let themselves get treated.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

6 Down and 3 To Go!!

At the last minute, Tim decided to join some dentists in our area and head down to Guatemala on a humanitarian trip for 10 days. 10 bed-time routines on my own. I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by my ability to remain mainly in control (of myself, that is. I'd never pretend to have "control" over my children...). I guess I should admit that I am sort of a "rise-to-the-occasion" kind of gal. Seriously, I do better when I know there is no possibility of a "bail-out" than when I know Tim will be home any minute but he's somehow taken 4 minutes longer than he said he would. Do you know what I mean? Sigh.

On top of the 10 nights alone, I even survived a holiday on my own. It ended up being very fun. We went to the pool at my gym and enjoyed swimming and hamburgers. We survived Sunday with the help of some friends being brave enough to invite us over for dinner. The weekdays aren't so bad at all. We just have our normal daily routine. It just gets lonely at night, and I miss my Tim. A two minute phone call every night or so just doesn't cut it. Now we just have Saturday and Sunday, then he's home.

Does this sound negative? Are you all wondering "why can't she handle her life/kids better"? I wonder that sometimes, too. What is my problem? Part of it boils down to the temperament of my children. As our Bishop likes to say, "You were not denied the blessing of active children." Also, I struggle with modeling calm, temperate behavior in stressful situations. This has led to my children also having a hard time remaining calm in stressful situations. Stressful situations come up a lot in a house with 5 active children. I'm working on this. I also have the honesty gene deeply embedded in my genetic code. So much so, that, if anything, I ere on the side of being too honest, and in that effort to be honest, I think I say or admit to things that come across negative. Who knows. Either way, I'm proud of myself for my good behavior in my husband's absence, and I'm so excited for him and the adventure he's having.

I also must record here that I do deeply love my five little people. They have been so instrumental in the development of who I am and who I want to become. Parenting, while relentless, is also the best way to learn and grow and change and improve that I know of. It's funny to look back 11 years and 2 months ago at the mother I was and see how I've changed. It's been such a journey. So worth it in every way. I'm so grateful to my children and the way each of their individual personalities and spirits have contributed to the mother I'm striving to become.

Thank you to the friends and my sister that I've called and talked to almost every night during my lonely times. Keep me in your positive thoughts until Sunday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us!!!

We celebrated our 12th anniversary this past Wednesday. 12 years!! We got a cake and sang, "Happy Birthday to our family" with the kids, then we went out to a nice dinner by ourselves. It was a great day. We've really had a great 12 years. We look back and can't believe how we've been blessed time and time again.
August 19, 2009

August 19, 1997

It almost never rains in August in California! It made for some good pictures.

When we got home from dinner, the kids had some sweet notes and cards on our bed. So cute!

While the kids had dinner, I reminisced and told them some memorable moments from our wedding day. I told them about the Father's Blessing Grandpa Call gave to me that morning before we left to the temple. I told them that Great Grandpa Call had performed the sealing ordinance for us. They all listened attentively. But, of course, the story that they all got stuck on was how Uncle Kevin messed up our car. Wesley could not get over it. When we looked through the wedding album before they went to bed, he could not figure out why we didn't have a picture of the car with peanut butter smeared on the door handles and dry potato flakes sprinkled all over the dashboard. Mind you, it was like 11pm and raining when we finally left which meant there were then mashed potatoes all over the dashboard. Thanks again, Kev.

Back to School Blues

The kids are back in school!!! It's always such a bitter-sweet time for me. I mean, literally, we barely survive some days of summer (boredom + siblings = fights, in our house unfortunately.). So there's this definite sense of relief when we get to the end of another summer, and we are still all basically in tact. But there's also the side of me that misses the little monsters so much. This year with Lindsay going to middle school, I had a lot of mixed feelings. Anyway, we survived the summer. We survived the first days of school for the olders (Wesley doesn't start his pre-school until after Labor Day), and we're ready for our first full week of school to start tomorrow.

"Okay, Mom, take the picture. The bell just rang."

Lindsay at Webber Middle School

Miles and Samuel

At the bus stop: Noah, our neighbor, Samuel, Miles

Samuel and Miles at McGraw Elementary

How I Survived the Last Three Weeks of Summer: my niece, Lynette

We started out last summer with having Lynette come home with us after our week in New York. She stayed with us for an extra 10 days or so. This year we got her for a whole three weeks and two days. It was heaven, at least, for me. She is such a smart, strong, awesome young woman. It was so fun to have someone to talk to and visit with. We got her hair cut in a really cute, sassy cut. She went with us out to BYU. We were there for the conference of the LDS Academy of Dentists. But while we were there, she got to take a tour of BYU (with a super cute 24 year old who served in the Arcade Branch, but it wasn't a date...). She almost gave Tim a heart attack when he let her drive his car home from his office. She had her permit. How was I supposed to know that she had only ever driven one time before? They made it home alive, thankfully. And even if she had run into that fire hydrant when she pushed the gas instead of the brake, what harm could it have really done to Tim's $900 old jalopy. (Did you know that you could still buy a car for that cheap?)

Here she is with her cute new do:
Are my kids the only ones who totally obsess on Chuck E. Cheese? What is the fascination? Anyway, Lynette's in this second picture, too. The first picture is from a time that Wesley, Julia, and I went while the other kids were at school. The second is from a annual trip during the summer. We always make a list of things we want to do during the summer, and somehow going to C.E.C. is always near the top. Weird.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Angst that is Middle School

Our school district is just switching from Junior High (7-9) to Middle School (6-8) this year. That puts my 11 year old in the first crop of 6th graders to have to brave the halls of Webber Middle School. It's been a very intimidating idea for her (and her mother). She's been adamantly against it. We drive by the middle school on our way to church most weeks, and she yells and shouts and won't look at the school whenever we pass it. Sure, most of it is just typical Lindsay antics, but there is also a lot of real live anxiety in there, too. And who wouldn't be anxious? Almost every adult I talk to remembers those middle school years with loathing. It's just such an awkward time. Everything is in flux: your sense of self, your physical body, your place in the crowd, etc. The "crowd" is almost overnight outrageously important. The whole "mob mentality" idea really begins. I still remember the Esprit shirt that every cool 8th grader had: white with thin, colored stripes, snap up front. Also, there was a certain shade of L'Oreal lipstick/gloss that we all HAD to have. It's just such a crazy time. Anyway, so now I'm faced with the daunting task of convincing my 11 year old that it won't be that bad, that there's really nothing to be afraid of, that it will actually be FUN!! (And, in some ways, it will be fun: a whole class devoted to science!!)

So, we found out two weeks ago that we will be out of town for the 6th grade open house night when they will get their schedules and locker assignments. Great. We're going to start out behind, AGAIN. One call to the office was a dead-end, "Just come in early on the first day of school." Then, I thought about it again. I have an 11 year old here with almost clinically diagnosable levels of anxiety. Surely, somebody could help me out and print out her schedule a day early. Well, I dropped by yesterday and found someone just that helpful. Phew! She said to come back tomorrow, and she'd have the schedule, etc. printed out for me. Thank you. Thank you, Mrs. Lemmon.

So, we get all of our school supplies ready (to the tune of about $150) and head up to the school. It all felt so weird. Trying to be up-beat and positive for my little girl but knowing inside that it might, in reality, be sort of a yucky time. As we walk in, I get the weirdest wave or flash back of feelings. Two girls (and you could tell they were most likely popular 8th graders-to-be) walked out of the school. They were all blonded and tanned and big in all the right places and skinny in all the right places. I got a total middle schooler feeling of inadequacy/jealousy/dread/inferiority. It was so wild!! Here I am, a thirty-six year old woman and mother of 5 children. Totally confident (well, most days...) in who I am, and I totally got all those feelings rushing back. It was so crazy.

Well, we went into the school. The gal with our schedule couldn't have been more nice. We ironed out a few obvious schedule conflicts (she can't do band, because her braces make it next to impossible to play the french horn), and we were off to explore the school. We went first to her locker. Have I ever mentioned that Lindsay, though she is one of the brightest 11 year olds I know (I'm, of course, not biased at all...), can't tell her left from her right? Seriously. It's a brain thing. Her mind just works in a different way. Also, most days her shirt is on backwards. It's hilarious. Well, just try opening up a locker when you can't tell your left from your right. She finally got the hang of it after like 7 tries. I was so grateful that we had an empty hallway of lockers to be experimenting in rather than a sea of swarming 6th and 7th graders. Phew! Then, we went to map out her classes. Her home-room teacher happened to be in there. Geography. Mr. Poduska. Seemed really nice. Phew, again. And we went from there through the rest of her 9 classes. At one point, we even asked some intimidating looking 8th graders-to-be where the gym was, and they very politely and kindly showed us. We had a little learning moment together about the whole "don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover" idea after that encounter.

Anyway, all in all we survived. And I think that's how most of us got through middle school or junior high or adolescence. I'm so excited for Lindz. She's going to have so much fun (and growth, and angst, and learning) over the next three years. Hopefully, she'll always know that there is someone waiting at home for her who will listen to all the details of her adventures there. And, hey, if it'll help, I'll even go searching for a specific white with colored stripes Esprit shirt. Webber Middle School, here we come!!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Summer in NY

Our week in New York. What a fun time we had. There were too many good pictures to choose from. Here are way too many. We ended up renting a cottage that was about 15 minutes from Tim's parents. It was on Rushford Lake. If you've never seen a Western New York lake, you will be amazed at how beautiful it is: so green and lush, all surrounded by trees. It was so fun to have a place where we could host everyone for big family dinners and cousin sleep-overs. Uncle Kevin was nice enough to get his jet-ski fixed so we got to do that and tubing, etc. It was fun. The pictures will show the highlights of the trip better than I can say them...

The Cottage on Rushford Lake

the view of the lake from the cottage. We had our own private dock and beach area. So fun!

The first night we were there we just sat on the front porch and enjoyed the summer evening together. Somebody on the other end of the lake shot off some fireworks, so we enjoyed the free show.

Another reason for our visit was for Tim's Grandma Shirley's Memorial Service. She died in February of this year, but Tim's family waited for all of us to get out there to do her memorial service. I'll hopefully someday do an entire post on Grandma Shirley. She was quite a lady. Let's just say that after knowing her, I'm glad to not have to take all the blame for Lindsay's spunk!! Anyway, here's Lindsay wearing some gems that she chose from Great-Grandma Shirley's closet.

Miles on the front porch swing

Mom snuggling with Samuel on the front porch

Nathan and Wesley starting what became the perpetual fire. There was just enough wind most days to keep the fire going. It was the perfect way to warm up after a dip in the lake. Also, it made the whole trip seem more like camping. You could hang out by the fire, roast marshmellows, and then go inside and sleep in a comfortable bed. Nice. Just as close to camping as I need in my life right now.

Ryan, Wesley, and Miles at the fire

Ryan, Grandma Helen, Miles, Lynette, Samuel, Caroline, Tristen, Mariah, Nathan, Grandpa Joe, Julia, and Raymond
Jubee on the dock

Julia and Wesley in the kayak

Nathan, Samuel, and Ryan on the jet ski

Julia with Grandma and Grandpa in the cottage

a calm morning on the lake

an evening jet ski ride with Miles, Wesley, and Mom. We got out about 200 feet, and Wesley was ready to go back in. I think his face in this picture is showing that he wasn't so sure about the jet ski from the get go.

Even easy-going and nice cousins like Nathan and Ryan can get sick of their little 9 year old cousin pestering them and hyping out 24 hours a day. Here, Ryan finally decided to throw Miles in the lake. Wesley and Tristen were cheering him on. (Ryan is too nice to actually throw Miles in, but he almost did.)

another fabulous hair-do by Lindsay

Julia loving her cousin, Ryan

Monday, we made "The Buoy Pact". We promised each other that every day, rain or shine, we'd swim out to the buoy. It was a couple hundred feet from the dock. It was the perfect thing to make sure that we didn't let a day go by without enjoying a swim.
Mariah, Lynette, and Caroline jumping off the dock, heading for the buoy
We made it. Mariah, Lindsay, Caroline, Lynette, Sandi

Wesley even jumped off the dock. At Grandpa Call's house, it took him almost two weeks to get the courage up to jump off the diving board, but here, he jumped off the dock on the first day. Tim and I were amazed.

Samuel in the tube
Lindsay, preparing for launch

The front room became the cousin's sleep-over area. Every morning it was wall-to-wall sleeping cousins in there. Samuel somehow always ended up with this comfy couch. Lucky guy.

The kids loved this hammock that was in the side yard. Here, Shaylyn and Julia enjoy a ride.

This was the hammock on the other side of the house (that we found out was only for adults...oops). Samuel, Lindsay (in some more vintage clothing from Grandma Shirley) and Tristen (also in some dress-up from Grandma)

An Owens' Family Reunion Tradition: Jelly Bellies!!

a night-time swim to the buoy. Here are the survivors: (clock-wise from middle top) Caroline, Miles, Nathan, Sandi, Kevin (who had a slight panic attack out at the buoy - I guess he started thinking about the scene in "Jaws" that he was taunting us with before he decided to take the swim), Natosha Miess, Danny Miess, Isaac Miess, Lynette, Mariah, Ryan

We also got to go out to Palmyra for the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Here the kids are in The Sacred Grove. Julia, Wesley, Samuel, Miles, Lindsay

the boys outside The Sacred Grove
How adorable is this picture of Wesley? Couldn't you just eat him up?

the whole gang just outside The Sacred Grove

Another real highlight of our trip was getting to be there for Ryan's Eagle Court of Honor. This was a real achievement for Ryan. He amazes us with his tenacity and hard work. What a great kid. It's so nice for my kids to have older cousins that they can look up to. I'm so grateful to Ryan and his good example of hard work and kindness.
Lynette, Kevin, Tristen, Mariah, Ryan, Sandi, Shaylyn, Nathan

a ride on the jet ski with Dad: Tim, Miles, and Lindsay
Julia watching all the action from the dock

a friend of Grandpa Joe who is a native of Rushford took us on a fun boat tour. It was a beautiful night.
a sunset on the lake

Anyway, if you've made it this far, you've survived too many pictures. It was just such a fun, idyllic week. We are so grateful for our extended family and feel so blessed that we've been able to maintain strong relationships with them even though we live far away from them. We love you guys and can't wait 'til next summer!!!