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!!!