I'm definitely a few days late posting on Ethan's Birthday....but then a again his presents (thanks to the lovely Post Office) were late to the party as well!
Ethan turned Ten years old on Monday. Another child to join the double digits club. I don't like that club. Soon after follows the "Teenage club" the "I can drive club" the "I'm a legal adult club" and the dreaded "I'm outta here club"....ok, that may be a little dramatic, but it feels like it comes that quickly.
Ethan asked for a Turkey cake for his Birthday. I guess he wanted to share his Birthday this year with the other great holiday in November. And quite fitting for his first decade birthday since he was actually due on Thanksgiving day!
Now that Ethan is 10, I'm no longer allowed to hug or kiss him before he runs on the bus--you know---that's like wayyyyy too embarrassing! BUT, he does still says he loves me and often asks for hugs on a regular basis. I really hope he keeps doing this. (I have to blackmail his older brother for any kind of affection!) Ethan is smart as a whip. I love his independence and self motivation to get things done. (except housework that is) He still loves to read like mad....and gets really mad if you make him stop reading. He is kind and considerate most of the time and would really like everyone to know that he no longer wears a size 8 in clothing. (But he really does---shhhhhh don't tell anyone I told you. We once had to spend 15 mins at Costco convincing him that the size 10 jacket was way too big. I told him he could tell everyone it was a size 10 if he wanted to!)
Opening his presents. He always the jokester at our house!
My only really bad picture of his spanking line!
Happy Birthday Ethan. We love you so much...and Mom especially loves your hugs!
Took my beautiful Mama to the Atlantic Ocean before she left for home today. It was only her second trip to the Atlantic--first trip courtesy of me as well. She said I'm her wild child who left home too young and never came back...I say I'm her vacation ticket to every corner of the country....or that's what I tell myself to feel better when she guilt trips me!
I know I failed to ever post about our summer road trip this year (I'll try and get to that), but I thought I'd post about our camping trip to Shenandoah National Park.
Last week, we took the kids to Virginia to do some fall camping and see some mountain leaves while they were on break from school. It was our first trip to Shenandoah and we loved it. It's very similar to Great Smoky Mountain National Park which we have always loved.
It was a tad bit chilly for camping, but we survived. Colonel Mustard however, didn't fare so well. He had the unfortunate experience of being stung by bees--a couple of times. I am apparently allergic to bees. I've only been stung one time, but it was not a fun experience--and Colonel Mustard has enjoyed making fun of me because of it. Well---Karma bites back apparently. It appears he is allergic as well. As much as I wanted to make fun of him, I felt really bad he had to experience such an awful thing.
On the way home, we made a quick stop in at the temple. Always beautiful!
Oh, and we are privileged to have a 4th grader in our midst who got us into the park for free!
Looking forward to next summer when we can hopefully put that card to more use!
Read an article just after Andrew got home from school, and told him that the University of Delaware just started offering an undergraduate program in meteorology and climatology. (he thinks he wants to be an engineer, but he is intensly interested in weather--so I'm happy to encourage either) He looked at me and said, "Mom....I'm twelve."
And my deep thought for the day I gave him.
It is never to early to plan for your future. Don't let it happen, Make it happen.
Andrew nods his head in agreement.
"Okay Mom...I have to poop."
Yeah, for a minute there I thought he recognized I said something profound....better luck next time.
Another big milestone birthday for Andrew...and I must say, he has been really excited for this birthday to come. It's funny how we don't want our kids to leave a certain stage, but somehow, they act out just enough to make us happy that the milestone has finally arrived! Andrew is so happy to be done with Primary and on to Young Men's. And I am really excited that he will be the peon again. It somehow makes me feel better! (what kind of mother am I?!)
The last year for Andrew has been another hard one in many ways. And it's been a hard one for his Momma too. I feel reminded on a daily basis how quickly my time with him is slipping away. Yesterday, on his last day as an 11 year old, I taught him how to make pancakes from scratch--- and as he would say, "My pancakes are beast!" (So we got him a waffle iron for his birthday....and I'm retiring from waffle and pancake making!)
Andrew asked for a "baby harp seal cake" for his birthday. He has a fetish with cute little harp seals (they are really adorable)--and generally a fetish with all things that have to do with snow--and snowy places...obscene amounts of snow. (Don't tell him if you get more snow than us--he will become angry with you!) Byron said he was too old for my cute seal cake (which Andrew loved) and wanted a bloody shark attack on the seal----the only compromise we could come to was a shark lurking around the corner.
Andrew has the coolest "Big Momma" ever and I took the gang to the beach for the day--like a Boss!
Opening his new gifts---and my Saturday morning breakfast!
Happy Birthday Andrew. We love you and are so excited #12 has finally arrived for you. We look forward to a new priesthood holder in our home....and some pretty sick waffles too!
(Please note: I do not use the words "beast" "sick" or "boss" in my regular vocabulary---However, I have been informed that these, and other lame words, are "cool." And since I will soon no longer be "Big Momma" I guess I'll learn to be "Cool Momma." NOT!)
It has been a very good year for Ava. She has been through a lot of changes, and through it all, she just kept smiling and making new friends! I was always amazed that in every new school and classroom, she was never nervous, she just went with the flow and adjusted herself to all the new happenings. Her outgoing and friendly personality is such a blessing in our home. We have lots of reservations around here, so her carefree personality is desperately needed! She is also the epitome of the perfect middle child. She knows how to squawk just enough to stand out in the crowd, but she has this amazing ability to adapt to being one of the guys or being the little Mommy of the twins!
For her Birthday this year, Ava picked a Butterfly cake.
And she decided to get her ears pierced. She's talked a lot about it lately and we decided that if she felt ready, we didn't mind. I must admit, I had $50 on her chickening out at the last minute, but once again, she surprised me. I'll call it "the epipen effect." When they pierced it all she said was, "Owe?"...just like she was asking if that was supposed to hurt. I will attribute that to being a much nicer stab than an epipen and therefore, not worthy of her hard earned tears or screams!
Happy Birthday to our sweet Ava Bug. We are so grateful we have the most wonderful middle child a family could ask for!! (and she is at the back door screaming and crying cause her brothers are being.....big fat big brothers again...Til next year....)
Obviously, I'm a few days late for the celebration. That's because I was thinking. I was thinking, and trying to get myself out of a funk.
The Fourth of July used to be one of my favorite holidays. Dog days of summer, watermelon, flip flops, swimming pools, popsicles, barbecues, flags flying, family, fireworks, and most of all the celebration of a country that my parents taught me to love. But now it's my turn to create the magic--to host the barbecue, fix the picnic, get the fireworks and instill a love for America in my kids.
But every year, I am fighting harder and harder to celebrate the Fourth of July. How can I celebrate the birth of a Nation, a Nation I dearly love, while I sit on the sidelines and witness it's death? How can I teach my children to love an America that almost doesn't exist anymore? And so, the Fourth of July has become more somber for me. Get the work done, watch the fireworks, and go to bed--hoping the celebration was not too mediocre for my kids.
This Fourth of July, we got home late from watching fireworks and went to bed. We got up a little late the next morning and rushed off to church. And then at the end of sacrament services, something magical happened for me. We were asked to stand and sing the Star Spangled Banner. I always love to sing the Star Spangled Banner, but in public, we almost never hear anything but the first verse of the song. I would dare say that a great portion of the population doesn't even know other verses of the song exist. But this Sunday, as we sang this beautiful hymn, the third verse made a deep impression in my heart.
Before I share that verse, let me share with you a little background. I used to work for a Senator from the state of Wyoming. Being a small state, our offices were small and often, we filled multiple roles. One of the projects I was asked to take on was U.S. Capitol Tours. Usually, the interns gave tours to the constituents, but my chief of staff told me I could either learn and train the interns--or I could give the tours myself. I chose the latter and it was by far, the highlight of my job. One of my favorite places to take constituents, was into one of the Capitol's hallways where a huge painting hung at the bottom of the stairs. It was the painting of Francis Scott Key called "By Dawn's Early Light."
I loved the history, the story, of how our national anthem came to be. I often imagined how it would feel to be on a ship, waiting for the morning light to reveal if our beloved young country would fall to the adversary or if the flag would still be flying over the Fort as a sign that indeed, it had survived the battle.
Sunday, as we sang, I realized that the third verse of Francis Scott Key's song was not about that battle--not the battle that was happening in 1814.
Oh, thus be it ever,
When free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes,
and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace,
May the heav'n recued land,
Praise the Power that hath made,
And preserved us a nation!
Then conquer me must,
When our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust!"
And the star spangled banner,
in triumph shall wave,
O'er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave!
The battle for this Country is real. It has already begun. Not only do other nations seek to destroy this "heav'n rescued land," but many inside our own borders seek to destroy it as well. The blessing of the gospel---we know how the story ends. We know it will be a long hard battle. We know the adversary will think he is winning. We will feel at times, that we are sitting in a dark boat out on the water, unsure of what we could possibly do to influence the outcome.The night will be long and lonely. But we know the morning will come. It may not be in my lifetime or yours, but the morning will come. And when it comes, that Flag, no matter how tattered and worn, will rise, once again, as an ensign to the nations.
So I will not despair. I will go forward with faith. I will recommit myself to celebrate the birth of this beautiful Nation. I will teach my children to celebrate it. To love it. To fight for what that Flag stands for. For they are blessed with a rich history of freedom that they MUST protect--for if they do, God WILL bless America.
Tot and Ruby (aka Katlyn and Allison) still do not sleep through the night. They are three. I am VERY tired. Most of the time they either fall asleep in our bed and are put in theirs, or the just sleep in our bed.
Why is this still happening at three you ask??
Becuase I'm VERY tired.
And because these girls have very different sleeping needs from my other children. I have learned that these two just must have contact with another body to sleep well. Not just in the same bed... but touching someone. They have no sense of personal space. Actually, I've learned to fall asleep with little legs all over me and often, little hands all over my face. It's a bit claustrophobic at times.
In our bed, they sleep on either side of me. In their bed, they sleep on either end of a twin mattress. So....they are never put to sleep very close to one another. However, they always find a way to be touching each other in their sleep.The following are just a few of the "good morning" pictures we have taken of them.