Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Staying fit and having fun!

In June every year our city does a Run/Walk event. We have been participants in it for quite a few years. It has become a family tradition and we all try to encourage each other each year to go further and faster than we think we can. S convinced me to run the 10K with him. It's the longest distance I had ever run in a race. (I ran 9 miles one time, but had to take a break in the middle - so I don't think it counts.) In college I spent one semester getting up early every morning to go running with one of my roommates. I made a goal for myself - that by the end of the semester I was going to run 5 miles without stopping. Well, I had worked my way up to about 3 miles and I decided it was time to go for it. I did it - I ran 5 miles without stopping, and I was never going to do it again. That's what I thought. I don't really enjoy running that much. Little did I know that I would marry someone that would end up being a runner, loving it so much, and want me to run with him. So I ran the 10K with my husband, and at the end of it I decided not to do that again! S may have a different plan! I was pretty impressed with my 4 oldest kids - they ran the 5K with their grandpa. Well, I guess we better start training for next year... actually, I won't be training until May. I'll give myself a month off after the baby's born, then I'll get to work.
Here are the 1-milers from our group - Grammy, my two littlest girls and a family friend. Apparently all three of the girls ran the whole way. They were very excited about it.
How were we all feeling by the end of the day? This pretty much sums it up!
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr. "Smith" Goes to Washington.

Here's another event from the month of May. Here we are in our nation's capitol. S had a conference to go to in Washington and wanted me to go with him. In fact that's how I get to see a lot of interesting places - he doesn't like to go anywhere without me, and I'm more than happy to tag along. It's nice to be loved, I must admit! He was there to work on his lobbying skills and to push for some changes recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It was his first taste of what it is like trying to talk to a congressman - and his assistant. They smile and tell you what they think you want to hear, and it isn't until you leave that you realize what just happened. Well, this was only his first time. He'll be better prepared next time - and there will be a next time. He really enjoys politics and feels strongly about trying to make a difference in the world. It was a fun trip, too. There was so much to see. I did most of the sight-seeing by myself while he was in meetings, then we went around together to some of the more popular spots. We definitely had to see the White House. It didn't look as big in person as it does on TV and in movies. Although you can't get very close to it, so it's hard to judge. The capitol building, of course, and the Lincoln Memorial were on the top of our list, and we made sure to see some of the war memorials. The World War II Memorial brought a couple tears to my eyes. There were a lot of quotes on the walls that we took time to read. It was pretty impressive. We also went to a couple of museums. The other thing that stood out to me was how everyone was dressed. While walking down certain streets I felt a little out of place in my blue jeans. Everyone was in suits. It was also interesting how the city sort of shuts down in the evening. After having been in Chicago a several times, where everthing comes alive in the evening, this was different. I can't wait to see where he might take me next.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Time Out For Women

I had the opportunity to go to Cincinnati for a Time Out For Women conference back in May. I knew about it but wasn't planning on going. Then a friend convinced me that it would be a good idea, so I asked my husband about it. Very rarely do I go anywhere on my own, and certainly not on a girls' weekend out of town. So I expected him to say it wasn't going to work, and that he didn't want me to go, etc. He surprised me when he said, "I don't care." So arrangements were made and I was on my way. I was so glad I went. It was one of the best spiritual experiences I've ever had, plus I got to hang out with some amazing women. Basically, it seemed like the speakers and singers were celebrating women and all that we are and can become. It was inspiring and made me want to go home and do better and be better in every area of my life. It made me see myself, my husband, and my kids differently. I had such a great time and was able to strengthen some friendships that have become very significant in my life since then.

I was part of this group of four that rode down together and shared a hotel room. The one night we "slept" there was interesting. We were supposed to have a roll-away bed brought in so that we could each have our own bed. Well, they didn't have one for us (that's a whole other story) so we ended up sharing beds - two per bed. There was a lot of laughing going on and a couple of us ended up needing to leave the room to walk around the hotel at 3:00 in the morning so that the others could sleep. We had a nice talk and finally calmed down enough to go back to bed for a few hours of sleep before getting up for another day of conference and a 6 hour drive back home. I want to go every year, it was so good! (Well, next year might be out now, since I will have a new baby! We'll see...)
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

My tribute to J - what a sweet boy!

(Like I said before, I am so behind in my posts that I will attempt to go in chronological order starting in May and catch up to current events by Christmas time. We'll see.)
In keeping with my tradition I started last year (I already wrote about D and Na), I wanted to write a little about J and what I love about him. The month of May was J's. He had his first orchestra concert, and he loved that he got to wear the sunglasses for one of the songs. He has really enjoyed playing the cello and I think he'll probably stick with it.
Next came his birthday. 11 years old. I really like having him around. He has a great sense of humor. In fact, he often laughs at things that no one else gets - or maybe he's telling jokes to himself in his own head. Anyway, he is quick to laughter and can get us all to laugh pretty easily. He is our child that we say has a very tender heart. I find myself using the words "such a sweet boy" when I'm talking about him. He's a natural at sticking up for others and befriending those who need a friend. He has a confidence about him that I can't explain. He loves being in the spotlight and he's not afraid to talk to people or try new things. Even as a baby, I couldn't stop him. If he wanted to do something, he would find a way. It's an "I can do that" attitude. He even learned to walk at 8 1/2 months old. (Way too early for a baby to walk, in my opinion. It's very stressful for the mother!) This could be why he had so many injuries as a baby. Everything from bumps on the head from tumbling down the stairs as a toddler, to flipping over his scooter bike and knocking out his front tooth at 2 years old, to sticking his hand in a moving treadmill. We wondered sometimes if he would make it to adulthood. Another thing he has in him is a sense of competition - wanting to win, or be the best at everything... I wonder where he gets that from! His parents aren't like that at all! :) Sometimes it can be painful for him, especially in a good game of Candyland with his sisters, or in a game of basketball with his dad. It will be a happy day for him when he can beat his dad (or mom) at a sport. We are hoping that this drive in him will serve him well as he grows up and get him where he wants to be. Just one story about him that might illustrate his personality a little. A couple of years ago, we would all get up early in the morning for family scripture study. J freguently would be found rolling back and forth across the floor during our discussions. We didn't think much about it, we were just happy he was up with us. We didn't think he was listening, that's for sure. But one morning, S asked a question about something we had just read, and J, in the middle of one of his rolls, called out the answer. We all just sat there staring at him. He was listening and understanding. I guess the rolling helped him concentrate, who knows, but it was very funny and we saw a little bit of how his brain works. He's a pretty smart kid. He also enjoys drawing and inventing things. Give him a good pile of garbage and some tape and he can come up with something interesting. Sometimes the things he comes up with are pretty cool, I must admit. After all that, the thing that I think I love the most about him is that he wants to do what is right and that he is so excited to go on a mission, get married in the temple, and have a family. He'll make a great husband and father someday. I sure love him!!
Speaking of competition, later in May he won the essay contest for the D.A.R.E. program in his class at school. That meant he got to read his essay to the fifth graders and parents at the "graduation" ceremony.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thrown for a loop!

It has been a LONG time since I updated my blog... and boy has A LOT happened. J's birthday was back in May, I went to a Time Out For Women, S and I went to Washington DC, we did the Dow Run as a family (I did the 10K for the first time ever), Ni had a birthday in June, the boys went to scout camp for a week, Na had a birthday in July, and went to girls' camp for the first time, the boys went on their annual fishing trip on Lake Michigan, we bought a new car (and got rid of the old van), we found out we're having another baby, we went to Florida to visit S's sister and brother-in-law, school started, in September E had a birthday, K had her first day of preschool, we went boating/tubing.

Oh yeah, why this picture... This is the day after we found out we are going to have another baby. Surprise! Number 7! Look, I was still smiling. Don't be fooled though. I did a fair amount of crying and praying for a lot of the night and ended up getting only a couple of hours of sleep. I finally woke S up at 6 am and asked for a priesthood blessing. It made all the difference in the world. That is why I was able to smile. It is now November and I'm 18 weeks along. We found out we are having a boy and we are all very excited. The thing that worries me the most, I must admit, is that I'm not as young as I once was. I am trusting that my body will hold together. I was in pretty good shape before all of this - so that's good. Maybe it will help. And here I thought that K was going to be the baby of the family. So much for my plans.

Speaking of my plans, I looked at my last post on spontaneity and realized that I needed to fill in some gaps before moving on to the next things. Funny how I talked all about doing things that aren't planned and that things still turn out all right. That's what I'm counting on for this new adventure.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Being spontaneous does not come naturally to me. If it’s not in the plan or written down somewhere, I don’t do it. And, if forced to do something that’s not in the plan, I have a hard time enjoying it. This made for some stressful times when we started having kids – kids don’t always stick to the plan. Well, this has been the summer of spontaneous activities. It occurred to me how much I had improved over the years, and particularly since summer started, when I ran into a friend at the entrance to the grocery store the other day. She was just coming out and I was about to go in. I had some things to tell her so I walked her to her car. I wasn’t in a big hurry – the kids were at home (I must say, I love having built-in babysitters!). Then she said that we should go to lunch since we had more to talk about and she didn’t have time to stand in the parking lot and talk. She was in a hurry to get one of her kids somewhere. To my own surprise, I jumped in her car, forgetting temporarily about the milk I needed to buy at the store and everything else I probably needed to do that afternoon. We had a great time and the food was delicious. As it turns out… the kids didn’t even miss me, the milk was still at the store when I went back later, and the world did not end because I didn’t follow the plan!
I was tested again the very next day. Na’s friend called letting her know that they were going to the beach and wondering if we could go, too. At first I said it wouldn’t work. After all, it was already lunch time. You can’t leave for the beach that late in the day! Plus, all of my boys were out on Lake Michigan for the day catching salmon, and we had big plans for a fish cook-out that evening. I had to prepare, and how could I do that from the beach. This was my “it’s not in the plan” thinking coming out. It only took me about 20 minutes to change my mind and realize that even just a few hours at the beach could still be fun. So we packed up and were out of the house within about 15 minutes (maybe a new record!). The girls and I had a great time and they didn’t complain when we had to go home after our a few hours were up. They were actually ready to leave. I think I can toss out my belief that you need an entire day to enjoy the beach. Looking back at the summer so far, I’m realizing that some of our best times have not been planned out or “on the calendar”… dropping everything to go to the pool (a lot!); the midnight showing of Harry Potter; spur of the moment badminton games with one of the kids; movie nights complete with popcorn and treats; and the list goes on. After all, my only goal this summer was to have fun with my kids. I think it’s going well so far!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getting older together!

We had birthdays. Actually our birthdays are a month apart and a few months ago. But I'm really behind again, so I'm putting them together! S planned a smallish surprise party with a few friends for me. For him, we stuck with just our family - which is what he always prefers. I got a lot of chocolate (Reeses, mostly) and some other miscellaneous items - a frying pan, cheese slicer, serving bowl, beverage mug, and watch - all picked out by the kids (with a little help from their dad). He got a watch, a shovel, and a new shirt - this is so he will have another one to choose from. He tends to wear the same shirt to everything! K got him gum and cookies. Her ideas, completely. The three younger girls even got dressed up for the party. They said they wanted to look pretty for their dad. It was very sweet.
I am now only a few short years away from 40! How did this happen? Oh well, in my head I'm still in my twenties! It can only get better from here, right? Kids grow up, leave home, and S and I go on a lot of trips and buy things we never had money for before... Sounds good to me!
By the way, the first picture there is from a dance we went to for Valentine's Day. We actually went to dance lessons a few times before the dance. I always wanted S to learn to dance with me. He's a natural! It was one of the best things we've been able to do together. It was so fun.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Spring butterflies

In my efforts to try to keep up with my journaling, and have it be in order for the most part, I'm going back to March. We spent some time in the butterfly house. K was a little hesitant about having it sit on her finger, but she managed a smile long enough for a picture. I actually don't like to have them on me - they might be pretty to look at, but they are still bugs! We all had a great time, I got out of there without one butterfly landing on me, and I got a lot of really cute pictures of my kids.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Soccer and more!

Okay, okay... I've finally returned. Sorry about the LONG PAUSE in my updates to my blog. I have been very busy. To start with I was just called as the primary president. Well, it happened back in March - the week of my birthday. What a birthday present, right!? And as icing on the cake my husband was called the very same week to be on the high council. Funny how it all works out sometimes. Maybe funny isn't the right word! Anyway, we are doing well and we really are enjoying all of our new responsibilities. It is allowing us (forcing us, at times) to be stretched and molded in ways we couldn't have imagined.

Along with new church opportunities, we have been involved with soccer during the spring season. I volunteered to coach E's team. She's 6. This team has been very interesting to coach. 10 minutes into practice every week and they want to know when they can play at the park. Gosh, that makes me sound like a great coach, huh! This age is perfect for me, though, since I never really played soccer until I was an adult. The rules, etc. are still fuzzy to me, and the 6-year-olds seem to be at my skill level. (Well, maybe I am slightly better then they are!) We "play" together at practice and they don't realize that they are learning things at the same time. Aren't they cute? We have had 4 games so far - 3 wins, and 1 tie. We aren't supposed to keep score, or pay attention to winning and losing, but try telling a child not to keep score! Yeah, right!

Well, a lot has been happening over the past few months and I am determined to catch up on my "journaling". So this was my first attempt to get back to some of the things I used to have time for. As I continue to find the balance in my life, more and more things I love to do will start fitting back in... I hope!
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Syrup, syrup, and more syrup!

We spent a fair amount of time collecting sap from our maple trees during February and March. We got so much sap that we starting sharing it with anyone that would take it. A friend of mine wrote on her blog (after taking some of our sap from us) that 12 hours=2 cups... She was referring to the number of hours it takes to boil maple tree sap in order to get a little pure maple syrup. My husband is obsessed with this process. So I ask you... if 12 hours gets you 2 cups...
How long do you suppose this took!!! I don't think I need to say anything else about this. The picture says enough. I will say this though - we got a lot more sap after this batch, but at least he finally took it outside to boil it over an open fire. That saved me a lot of cleaning up in the house.
Here's my computer savvy daughter working on her favorite website - She loves being able to get on the computer and navigate through all the activities without help... and I think she might even be learning something at the same time.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

The "sixth" challenge

1. Go to the photo folder in your computer
2. Go to the 6th folder of photos.
3. Go to the sixth picture.
4. Put the picture on your blog and description of it.
5. Invite six friends to join the challenge.

This is from fall 2007. E was on a preschool fieldtrip to the apple farm. She got to throw an apple into the apple press to be turned into juice. Look at that curly hair!! The clothes she's wearing have been passed down to K and they are already too small for her - and K hasn't started preschool yet. What does this mean? They grow so fast!

6 friends I want to hear from... I can't pick and I don't know who wants their name on my blog. So if you want to do it, feel free! I can't wait to see the pics.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Part 2...

This represents what my brother-in-law did ALL day Wednesday. They tapped maple trees the night before and he boiled down sap while S was at work. This was the "golden goodness" left after a full day of boiling.
Thursday we visited the Center for the Arts with the little ones while the big ones were at school. Of course the giant mammoth bones were first on our list of things to see...
...then the snakes and lizards. This one was named "Joanna" by K. She also called it the "daddy lizard". I guess Joanna can be a boy name in her world. It looks like a character in one of the cartoon movies she likes lately, "The Rescuers Down Under". In fact there were a few that resembled creatures from that movie. K got a big kick out of it.
Here they are pretending to be snakes and lizards slithering across the floor.

Friday was spent hunting with a friend of S's. They managed to shoot a rabbit, a squirrel, and a dove. Fortunately they ate them for lunch and we didn't have to do anything with them at home. They were thoughtful enough to bring the rabbit's feet, and the squirrel's tail home for us! The kids liked it, at least.
Saturday was full of relaxing and eating. The boys went and played basketball then came home to a "man" breakfast. French toast (with the homemade syrup, of course), bacon, sausage, eggs, orange juice, and whole milk. Afterwards we sat around to let the food digest to be ready for homemade pizza that evening. This is the before picture. Could she look any more innocent and sweet?
Then the attack. I think she thought he was talking too much so she took matters into her own hands.
Sisters! What a great week.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Californians come to see the snow!

My sister and her family came out to visit us for a whole week at the end of February. They have 3 kids - 2 girls (3 and 5 years old) and a boy (almost 2). They had a chance to go to Hawaii or to see us. We are definitely feeling loved! They wanted to come out during the winter to see the snow and then we almost didn't have any. On the day they arrived we had a winter storm. I had actually been praying for snow so we could do all the "snow" things we had planned. So to all of you that wanted spring to come in February... sorry. We had a blast and we almost got to do everything we planned. The only things we missed doing were building a snowman (it was the wrong kind of snow), and playing snow football (not enough snow). We also discovered during the week that our husbands are A LOT alike. All the kids got along great, too. And of course it was great fun for me to spend time with my "baby" sister. We are more alike than I realized.

They brought their wii (however you spell it) from California and you can guess what my kids did everyday after school! I don't think we'll be getting one any time soon. They forgot about homework, chores,... showering!

They arrived on a Saturday evening late enought that there wasn't time to go out in the snow, so we made an exception and let them go out and play after church on Sunday. They couldn't wait to see what it was like. This is their littlest - he was never quite sure what to think of all of this!

They had fun making snow angels and sledding on the little hill in our backyard. E managed to run into a tree on one of their runs.

Monday we took the kids out of school for the day to go skiing at Caberfae. I was surprised at how easy it was to excuse my kids from school. Some of us had a lot of fun skiing. K loved going down the bunny hill as long as I was right behind her. She flipped out whenever I tried to let go. E was only slightly less scared.

My sister's two girls were very brave for their ages. They were eager to try everything, but not for very long - thank goodness. Our backs were aching after an hour or so of "helping" them ski. My sister and I realized very quickly that it was easier to get from place to place with all the little ones when we didn't have our skiis on also. I had only been skiing one other time when I was a teenager, and this was her first time. It was very funny trying to get around on skiis while also trying to help the little ones get around! I'm sure we looked like a comedy show. I don't have any pictures of my boys - they took off for the big hills right away and we didn't see them all day, except when they were hungry, of course. S, my brother-in-law (it was his first time, too), and I actually went up on some of the big hills. It was a lot of fun. More fun than I expected. I definitely want to try that again - only next time we'll leave the little ones at home!

On Tuesday we debated whether or not to go sledding the day after such a long day of skiing. But if there's one thing we've learned about sledding in Michigan - when the snow is right you better go, because tomorrow it might not be right. It's a good thing we went because it was all turned to slush by Wednesday. My sister wasn't crazy about skiing, but she loved sledding.

J with his uncle, who enjoyed sledding as well - but not the hike to the top of the hill. All the skiing made for some sore muscles. Plus we had done "slim's gym" that day, too. My brother-in-law started referring to this vacation as "fat camp". We were "making" him exercise and eat healthy. Guess what he did the day after he got back home??? Bought a treadmill!

Part 2 will be coming later! Yes, there's more...