Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 Highlights

January - K turned 6 and she was halfway through her kindergarten year and doing great.

February - we got some snow. Actually, we got quite a bit of snow. We went to the local sledding hill for the afternoon. B's first time sledding down the hill - he loved it, but was confused at why he kept slipping all over the place when he tried to get around.

March - H's birthday and a gift of a very exciting day (planned by S) of eating, shopping, more eating, seeing the theater production of Les Miserable. It was a great day.

March - was Spring Break for the kids and we always try to do fun things around town that we normally don't get the chance to do, like bowling...

... and swimming at the community center's indoor pool.

I also fit in building a day bed (with trundle) for the basement during the break. It was the perfect opportunity to do something like that - I had kids home that could play with B while I worked. The only thing I have left to do to it is stain it. Who knows when I'll get around to that. Basically, I had two twin mattresses left over after we furnished the girls rooms and they were still in such good shape that I couldn't get rid of them. So I woke up one morning with this brilliant idea. It serves mulitple purposes. 1. I got to finally get rid of a really old couch, 2. I got to make use of some good mattresses, 3. It provides some extra guest beds (or a place for napping), and 4. It makes for great tiered seating for our movie nights - three levels: the top bed, the trundle and the floor. It's been great.

April - B's birthday... he turned 1. He wasn't quite sure what to do with the fire burning on top of his cake. His sisters made him a miniature cake in their Easy Bake oven. S's birthday was also in April and we had a surprise "over-the-hill" party to celebrate 40 years.

Also in April - This trip to Disneyland ended up being right on his birthday. It was technically a conference trip that I got to tag along for. I made him wear the pin they gave him at the hotel that said "Happy Birthday" and his name all day. So many people wished him a happy birthday... while passing us, while waiting in line, all the Disneyland employees that passed us - it was fun. At first he was surprised that people were calling him by name, then he would remember that he had on the pin. He even got sung to by an a cappella group that was performing for an ever-increasing crowd in the street. Then my brother drove down to have dinner with us. It was nice to visit with him. This trip was definitely a highlight for both of us this year.
May - soccer season. Only two of the girls (Ni and E) played since Na and J were involved in track at school, K simply didn't want to play yet, and D felt like he was too old or something like that.
May - Our whole front yard was a giant sand pit due to having our septic system completely redone. It took a while for the workers to finish the job, and when they did (topsoil and grass) it looked terrible and we ended up having to do it ourselves in the end anyway. Meanwhile the kids loved having a "beach" in the front yard. It was the perfect opportunity to be buried in the sand, to dive for a football, and for B to practice going up a sand dune. The only thing we needed was some water!

May - Mother's day breakfast in bed - which I usually only get part of because the younger kids hang around and help me eat it. This time S actually stayed in bed, too, and let the kids do breakfast completely on their own.

May - J's birthday, lucky 13 in 2011. He was about halfway through his braces experience, and one year away from being able to go to the youth dances. He's a good kid, we sure enjoy having him around.

June - The Dow RunWalk that we try to do as a family every year. This was a particularly good year for me - I was at the top of my age group and still managed to get second place for the 5K. It was my fastest time ever for that distance. My goal was to get under 24 minutes and I did it with about 20 seconds to spare. I even got a medal - which I wore all day.
June - Ni's birthday. She turned 11 in 2011. Her age is the easiest one for me to remember! She's growing up to be a lovely young woman - mood swings and all!!

June - Summertime fun... and a little work, too. K learned how to ride a two-wheeler, we chopped down a bunch of trees around our house (nearly taking out the girls room and garage in the process). S loves his chainsaw. And, of course, we made time to get to the pool quite a bit.

July - Na's birthday. She turned 15 and was looking forward to getting her driver's permit in a month. One more driver to train! We ended up celebrating her birthday a day early this year because she would be at girl's camp on her actual birthday. It's good she loves camp so much or that would've been a real bummer.
July - A trip to a water park (Cedar Point) and on to Palmyra, New York to see some church history sites and the Hill Cumorah pageant. It was a lot of driving - we took two cars and D drove almost the whole way there and back. That was some good training for getting his license. We all had a great time.

Spent a little time resting in a hotel before going on to see, and feel, Niagra Falls.

Here we are on the Maid of the Mist ferry boat. We got quite wet, we thought, until we went to the Cave of the Winds. The rain ponchos they provided for us were no match against the hurricane type winds. Those of us that were brave enough to get really close came away with shredded ponchos and were wet from head to toe. It was quite the experience.

August - Scout camp for the boys. S went as one of the leaders, as usual. D was off at a different location for the older boys. And J ended up with quite a few merit badges when the week was over.
August - A family reunion. The activity: horseback riding. This came about because the girls kept telling Grammy how much they wanted to ride horses. So she made it happen. I stayed behind with B because of pregnancy and B was too young to ride. It was fine with me - we took naps in the car.

One more family vacation in August. We went back to Cedar Point - this time to the amusement park instead of the water park. The goal was to finally ride the "Top Thrill Dragster". We tried to go on it in 2010 but the ride shut down in the middle of the day and stayed down. This time we went to that ride first just to make sure. And, according to those that rode it, it was worth it.

Before summer ended, D finished up his eagle project. It was very successful and D showed a lot of maturity during the process. He took charge and pulled it off. His project was ulitmately to assemble first aid/hygiene kits to send to Haiti. After this experience, we have decided that J's eagle project will be much simpler! It felt good to have it done, finally.
September - E's birthday. She turned 9. I just can't believe how old they are all getting. She is doing great.
A few days later was the first day of school. It was a big year for Ni. She started middle school as a 6th grader. This year I have 2 in high school, 2 in middle school, 2 in elementary school, and by the end of the year I will have 2 at home, too. Life is so much fun... and busy!!

September and October - This was a big year for D. He played football for the high school team for the first time. He ended up being their starting kicker. He did a great job and got a lot of extra points for his team. he even managed to get a few kick-offs into the end zone. We always knew he had a strong leg. Na had a great season in cross country, too. She moved up to a new training group because her running times were faster than last year. And she continued to improve throughout the entire season.

October - J ran for president of the student council at his middle school. Basically he put up posters then gave a speech at lunch time one day. He did a really good job on his speech. He didn't end up getting elected (there were like 10 kids running for president) but he still gets to be on the student council which he is enjoying. This sort of thing seems to fit his personality.
October - Carving pumpkins this year was pretty easy. Most of the kids are old enough to do their pumpkin without any help and those that do need help get it from the older ones. All I had to do was watch, take pictures, and clean up afterwards.
October - Time for playing dress-up. The month started with some "spirit days" at the high school as they prepared for a big football game. The hairdo on D was a compromise. A bunch of the football players were shaving their head into a mohawk style and he originally wanted that, too, but I convinced him that he would end up regretting it. So we spiked it and sprayed it green instead. In the end he was happy he didn't shave it all off. It can be good to listen to your mother! Then Halloween - D did Phantom for school and he looked really awesome. He also dressed up like that for a church dance and the girls couldn't stop staring at him. Even I had a hard time not looking at him. He looked just like the Phantom. I love Halloween! Na didn't dress up this year - she volunteered to stay home and hand out candy, which meant I got to go around the neighborhood with the kids. J was a phantom like his brother, Ni wore my 50's outfit, E was a gypsy/fortune-teller, K was Hermoine from Harry Potter, and for B I got to pull out the clown costume I made for D many years ago. B was especially funny to take trick-or-treating. At some of the houses he went all the way in the house. Especially at the houses where there was a dog - he loves dogs. Fortunately we have really nice neighbors. It was a lot of fun.

In the beginning of November our city has a Santa parade. Local businesses, schools, bands, politicians, etc. make floats, ride down the main streets of town and throw candy to all the kids. That's just what we need - loads of sugar at 10 in the morning. And of course, the very last float of the parade is Santa and the reindeer. The kids have fun. And J was in the parade this time as part of the student council.
November - Thanksgiving at our house in 2011. We had 19 people in the kitchen for dinner. We also got our first big snow of the season - which meant a no school snow-day for the kids and the snow blower had to be put to work (a.k.a. Darin) with Justin handling the shovel. This is one good reason to have boys if you live in Michigan.

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