Monday, January 31, 2011

January 2011

Wow!  I am on a roll with this blogging stuff this week.  I guess the fact that I know my mother-in-law looked at it this weekend with Tim and loved it is inspiring me to be more diligent.

It's snowing outside and a balmy 14 degrees when we just drove home from lunch with Daddy.  I'm still deciding if it's my extreme and sometimes illogical optimism that makes me enjoy the four seasons of Colorado, or if I'm just trying to fake myself into being happy somewhere with four seasons after having grown up in "Weather Nirvana" (read: the San Francisco Bay Area, South Bay to be exact) where it's basically between 50 and 80 degrees for 95% of the year.  I guess I'll never know.  I'll just keep enjoying the beautiful whiteness and quiet outside my window (which is a stark contrast to what's usually happening inside my window...).

We've had quite a month here at the Owens' Home.  The Holidays ended, and we headed into 2011.  On January 5, my Mom had a re-do of the foot surgery she had last Spring that wasn't totally successful.  She'll be non-weight baring again for 3 months.  On January 6, Tim's Dad, Grandpa Joe, had major back surgery.  My Mom recovered nicely from her surgery, mostly due to the fact that she already knew what to expect having just lived through the horrible procedure 8 months earlier.  Grandpa Joe's "recovery" was awful.  Any pain medication they put him on gave him a bad reaction: delirious, trying to rip out IVs, etc.  So they just had him on Tylenol.  Tylenol?  He had a 17" incision on his back, two vertebra fused together, and a rod put in his spine.  He's finally home now after a week in the hospital and two weeks in an extended care facility.

Then, on January 7, we got some horrible news.  A dear friend had died suddenly from a congenital heart condition he hadn't known about.  Matt Empey was one of my best friends' older brother and my older brother, Dan's, best friend.  It was such a shock.  The Empeys have been such an important, positive influence on so many families.  We all gathered to celebrate his life over the holiday weekend of the 17th.  Matt was an ER physician, the favorite uncle, the big brother, brilliant, a great friend.  I just can't really imagine how the world could possibly go on without him.

I had just gotten home from the weekend in CA and sort of started to get back into the routine of daily life when I got a call last Monday night.  My Mom told me that Keith, my brother-in-law, had called an ambulance for Catherine, my sister.  She had sudden onset of excruciating pain in the back of her head.  When they got her to the hospital, the preliminary scans seemed to show a ruptured brain aneurysm.  They sped her to the bigger hospital in Provo.  They had to shave her head and put in a drain to stop the swelling from damaging her brain.  Later that day, they discovered that it had not been a ruptured brain aneurysm but just rupturing of blood vessels (smaller than a main artery/vein) at the back of her head.  She stayed in the ICU for another 5 days to be monitored and to try to get the pain under control.  She's now in a normal wing of the hospital, but the pain is still unbearable.  Nothing really touches it.

So, here I sit blogging about this wild month.  I think I'm just sort of using this chance to write it down as a moment to process it all. It's helping me feel less worried that my house is a disaster area.  Well, okay, it's not too bad.  I mean, it's definitely been worse, but I just feel so behind on everything.  I feel like I've spent more time on the phone in the last three weeks than I have since middle school.  On the one hand, it's been a luxury to talk so frequently to people that I love so much: my sisters-in-law, "old" friends (meaning friends from 20+ years ago, we're not 40 yet :)), my parents, my sister, my brothers, my cousins.  On the other hand, it's always been about such heavy stuff.  It's made us all think, "Hey, why don't we take the time to talk to each other in the good times, too?".  Why did it have to take a brother's funeral for all of us to get together again after talking about it for 5+ years?  So, this month has been mixed with sadness and blessings.  I guess that's just how most months are, if you think about it.

A great thought from Ward Conference yesterday:  (Ward Conference is an annual meeting of our congregation (our Ward) with leaders from the Stake (the entity that is formed by all the Wards in the town of Fort Collins.  There are about 8 congregations here.)

Our Bishop (the lay leader (or unpaid volunteer) of our congregation) was giving us some spiritual advice.  His theme for the year is: Building Our Faith in Four Ways - 1.Pray 2.Study 3.Obey 4.Serve.  Under "obey" he discussed how we need to be careful what we consider our "burdens" and how we share those with others.  For instance, he has a good friend who is a billionaire.  This friend complains about how much of a burden it is to have to find appropriate tax shelters for his millions of dollars.  Also, the Bishop has another friend who always complains about how hard it is to pack for her annual trip to Hawaii.  The congregation sort of chuckled.  Obviously, he said, most of us wouldn't consider those two things a burden.  But it made me think.  What do I do that is similar in my life?  Then, the thought came to me.  My six children are worth more than millions of dollars and are more valuable to me than a week's vacation, and yet I complain about them as if they were a burden sometimes.  I know there are some people out there who could only dream of the joy, blessings, happiness, and love that come from these six monkeys who drive me so crazy most days.  It was a great way to re-think.  What a blessing they are to me.  Sure, it's loud.  It's messy.  But I really wouldn't trade it for anything.  Not even for millions of dollars or a trip to Hawaii.

So, in some ways, good riddance to January 2011.  But also, thank you to January 2011.  You've helped me re-align or re-think some things.

Now, why is that baby crying?  I put him down for his nap only a half hour ago.  He usually takes a 2 to 2.5 hour nap.  I'm off...

Here's what Saturday morning looked like, watching cartoons.  Lindsay was still in bed.  She is, after all, almost a teen-ager.

Tomorrow there will be a high of -2 degrees, but on Saturday it was 58.  That's shorts and t-shirt weather around here.  The kids were outside most of the day, enjoying the trampoline in the sunshine.  Calvin even got a taste of it when Miles put his bouncy seat outside.

The kids always bring out their radio.  Here's Julia dancing to Michael Jackson, the kids' favorite even before June of 2009, as the kids always make sure to point out.

The Group Shot.  I love the girls' hair.

I guess Lindsay must have been experimenting with the different settings on her camera.  I love that Calvin has already been conditioned like a Pavlov dog: when you see one strange light, another, very bright one will surely follow.  Close your eyes in anticipation of the second very bright light.  Even with his eyes closed, still so cute.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When the Cats Are Away...

I was at a Relief Society Meeting.  Tim was at Bishopric Visits.  And, well, the kids were...see for yourself.  For the record, Julia and Calvin were tucked in bed before we left.

Really?  Costumes and everything?

Would you believe Miles actually came home sick from school that day?

For the record:  it's 11:30pm, I've added 4 new blog posts, and there are still 3 loads of laundry on my bed.  I could never get away with this if Tim were in town.  I'm justifying doing this because I know he'll  look at it with his Mom tomorrow before he heads to the airport to come home and rescue us all from ourselves.  Love you two out there in snowy Arcade, NY.  Hurry home, hon.  We need you!!!

The Beginning of The End...

He's thinking about it:

Some  pictures, too.  My personal favorite is when he is "up on all fives".  Two knees, two hands, and his forehead.  So adorable.  I love when he gets that look on his face like, "I know I'm so smart..."

More Holiday Fun

We had a lot of fun when Uncle Dan was here.  The highlight was probably when it snowed, and we pulled the kids behind the car on sleds (only on back, backroads).  They all loved it.

Everyone having fun on the trampoline.

Ready to go!

How cute are goggles on little faces?

Samuel all ready.

The girls


How do you get more pictures of your 6th child than you have of your 1st child?  Give your 1st child a camera for Christmas.  She's really good, too.  Of course, being able to sort through and use only the best because it's all digital helps, too.  This is my first try at a photo collage.  I know it turned out funky.  I'll try to re-do it later, but for now, you get the idea...
She also likes action shots.  Nothing is funnier to her than capturing someone in the middle of a "move".

You can almost see Julia's tonsils.

Wesley mid-bite

This is her beneath that mess of hair.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Samuel's Birthday and Baptism

Yes, I have a child who was born the day after Christmas.  It's all my fault, too, because I had an induction.  See, Tim only had two weeks off between semesters in Dental School.  His Mom worked.  My Mom felt like she needed to be home that Christmas because of some family stuff that had happened that year.  Tim was the only back-up plan that I had.  If I stayed pregnant any longer, I'd have him to help me for fewer days.  The kid was 9 lb 13 oz, so it wasn't like he wasn't ready.  I always joke that he was so big because he must have been pre-diabetic or something, and still, left to his own devices, he would consume only sugar (plus some fats).  Anyway, he entered our world 8 blessed year ago the day after Christmas.  What an important part of our family he is.  That propensity for sweets almost seems to affect his personality.  He has always been so sweet-natured and even-tempered.  I'm getting choked up just thinking about that precious little guy.  And he never was very little.  He's close to passing up Miles in height, and they're two and half years apart.  He was washing his hands the other day, and my heart skipped a beat.  They are almost as big as mine.  The other day he stood up next to our growth chart where we measure the kids every New Year's Eve, and he had already grown a half inch!  No wonder he wakes up with leg aches.

So, his birthday celebrations this year were pretty low key.  The 26th was on a Sunday this year.  We had lots of fun with Grandma and Grandpa being here.  Also, the photographer was still in recovery mode, so we don't have that many pictures.  Oh well.

Here are some pictures:

This is his bed decorated for the big birthday morning.  Do you love Wesley in the bottom corner?  I guess his Christmas PJs were too hot?  And don't judge me that their beds are all a mess.  I have my reasons...
With his birthday present: Nano Hex Bugs or something
"Happy Birthday to you..."  We had soooo many treats in the house that I didn't feel right about making or buying more cake.  He loves pumpkin pie, so it worked.

Eight candles on one piece of pie!

Digging in!!

Love that face!!

He was baptized at our Stake Baptism which is held the first Saturday of each month.  The first Stake Baptism after his birthday happened to be on New Year's Day: 1-1-11.  Grandma and Grandpa Call were still here, and Uncle Dan also got to be here.  It was a special day.

My favorite memory from the day was when I first saw Samuel all dressed in white.  We had arrived early, so that he and Tim could change.  I was holding the baby in the chapel, sitting by my parents.  I turned around to see Tim and Samuel walking in all in white.  He looked like an angel.  It took my breath away.  He was so excited.  I'll never forget that moment.

The Whole Group:  Lindsay, Grandpa Call, Grandma Call, Wesley, Tim, Samuel, Mom, Calvin, Julia, Uncle Dan, Miles

My family growing up had the tradition that we would go out to eat at a restaurant of your choosing the day you got baptized.  With my parents visiting and all, I thought it would be fun to keep up that tradition.  Sameul chose The Olive Garden.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas was great this year.  Some things weren't ideal, but that's how it goes sometimes.  I was just looking through our pictures and realized that we don't have that many.  Tim had a minor surgery on the 23rd and was in bed for a few days afterwards.  He's usually our photographer.  With him out of commission, we didn't get some of our classic pictures.  No picture of all the kids in their Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve.  No pictures of the tree with all the presents underneath it after Santa's visit.  Oh well.  One thing that made it extra special was that Grandma and Grandpa Call got to spend the whole week with us.  But sadly, there are no pictures of them, either.  Sigh.

My favorite moments from Christmastime this year:

When I went to get out my special Nativity, I was unwrapping each piece extra carefully.  Julia was, of course, entranced.  Each new animal or person was inspected and set down on the table.  When I unwrapped the baby Jesus, she just took in a deep breath and with all the awe and wonder in a three year old's voice whispered, "Oh, it's the baby Jesus."  She took him in her little hands and looked at him reverently.  It was such a sweet moment. I think I frequently underestimate the ability of my children, even the small ones, to feel and understand the things of the Spirit.

Christmas morning is brutal at our house.  We make the kids eat breakfast, and Tim insists on "interviewing" each one of them on video before they can open any presents.  So, by the time we were ready for opening presents, the baby was really ready to go down for his morning nap.  It was so funny, though, because as soon as he saw what we were doing, he totally got his second wind.  He was all about opening presents and even sat and played happily for about another hour.  So adorable.  Again, I think they know so much more than we give them credit for.

Miles got a motorized scooter for Christmas this year.  We, er, Santa didn't notice that the battery needed to be charged for 15 hours.  That put the first time that he could ride at about 4pm on Christmas Day.  He waited somewhat patiently.  When it finally came time for his first ride, he was so excited.  The look of pure joy on his face as he flew down the rode.  He had his back arched, and his face was plastered with a smile.  He was in heaven.  It was so great.

Here are some pictures.  (Helen, I'm one post closer to getting to Samuel's Baptism...)

Unfocused, but you still get the idea of what Christmas morning looked like.
Here he is enjoying his presents even though he's super tired.

Julia is opening her new doll house.  Do you love the look of excitement on Samuel's face?  Isn't it great to be a big brother?

Wesley getting in on the action.

Who looks more excited, Samuel or Miles?

Mr. Enthusiasm even before he opened his scooter.

We felt like we had to prep the older kids that because their presents now cost more than the little kids' presents that "Santa" would most likely get them fewer.  She was still ecstatic over her camera.
Here's Miles on his scooter.  This isn't the exact moment when he first road it, but you can still see how much he loves it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Merry Christmas, Tim!

Tim went to San Antonio in December for some Continuing Ed.  Apparently, there was a Santa just waiting for someone to take a picture with him.  Tim said that he thought to himself, "Why not?  I've got nothing better to do with the next 15 minutes while I wait for my flight."  He showed this to me, and I seriously cracked up.  The Santa looks pretty legitimate in this.  I was just looking at the picture the other day and saw that there was a $20 coupon for a Southwest flight included.  Nice.  We used it last night for the flight he's taking home next weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Service and Santa

Samuel's class decided to do some service for their Christmas Party this year.  They made some ornaments and cards for the Alzheimer's patients at a nearby nursing home.  It was sweet to go with the kids to drop off the stuff.  The kids did really well trying to talk to the residents.  I've always felt like this could be a way for them to develop their talents, because each of them has been blessed with a kind heart and empathy for others (not necessarily for each other, but for others.  You get what I mean...).  Anyway, I'm glad we got this opportunity and hope to go back soon.

On a completely different note, the nursing home happened to have one of the creepiest Santas I've ever encountered.  He insisted on taking pictures with the kids.  Like really insisted.  It's making me cringe even thinking about it again.  He even "forced" me into a picture.  As we were leaving, Miles was so funny.  He said, trying not to be mean, "Mom, was that Santa, like, normal?"  Trust your instincts, buddy.  No, he wasn't.

Here's the group with Santa:
Samuel, Julia, Wesley, Noah, Miles, Tyler, Reagan

Maybe I shouldn't have judged him too quickly.  Really, who wouldn't want to hold my sweet little baby...On second thought, get your hands off my baby!

Then, he seriously grabbed me for this picture.  I just gave in and told Miles to take a picture fast, so we could get outta there.  Poor guy, maybe he's lonely.

Even though I look horrid here, I just had to add this adorable picture with Calvin in this festive hat.  Last year my Mom sent up this package of some of the old snow stuff we used to use on our ski trips to Utah when I was a kid.  They are seriously classic 70's stuff.  When my Mom was out here at Christmas, she said that her Aunt Dorothy had made this one.

Gingerbread Houses

I know I'm late, but I'm trying to get to Samuel's Baptism pictures for Grandma Helen.  Sorry, Helen.  I've got to sort of do this in order, or it'll never get done.

Some years I delude myself into thinking that making Gingerbread Houses from scratch could be a fun activity to do with the kids.  This year, I didn't even let myself go there.  While out at Target on another errand, I noticed they had four different types of Gingerbread Creations, and I bought one of each in anticipation of a neighborhood gingerbread party that the gal two doors down was planning.  It was stressful enough putting those things together.  The kids also made some at school.  Here they are...

Here's the one Miles made at school.

Samuel's from school.  I found out later that one of the Dad's who was "helping" for the day dumped the remaining candy into Samuel's gingerbread house.  As if this boy needs any encouragement to eat more candy...

A cute picture of the drooler...

Wesley's creation from the neighborhood gingerbread house-making party.  I think he had fun.  What do you think?

Miles in the process of creating.  His got very ornate by the end and very beautiful, if I do say so myself...

Lindsay and Julia's creation

Samuel's tipsy train.  He started pouring the candy into the train at the end here, too.  Thanks, Mr. Campbell.

The whole gang that gathered at the Spagnuola's house:
Winter, Robbie, Julia, Charlie, Noah, Calvin, Lindsay, Luke, Miles, Reagan, Samuel, Tyler.
I don't know where Wesley was for this picture.