Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nine is Fine!

It's so cliche but true--time flies! How can my baby boy be nine? That sounds so old! I'm in denial.

We told Caleb he could choose a fun outing for his birthday and invite his two best friends, Mason and Landon. He really wanted to include his pseudo-little brother, Hunter, so we decided to make it a family affair; a bowling party for all ages!

The birthday boy with some of his favorite people!
Mason, Caleb, Hunter and Landon

Caleb's relies less and less on the bumpers!

Happy Birthday boy!

Lydia, Alyssa and Linsey

The sisters were thrilled to be included in the birthday fun. We had a boy's lane, a girl's lane and an adult lane. It was fun for everyone. Despite my bumbling form (there is a reason for those "don't cross the foul line" warnings, the other side of that line is slick!), I managed to come out the overall winner. Now that's my kind of birthday party!

Caleb chose pizza for dinner and Dominoes delivered the goods just minutes after we got home from the bowling alley. The DQ ice cream cake proved perfect for our ice cream-loving boy! We bought an undecorated cake and I did the decorating to create the bowling cake Caleb invisioned.

We've been using a ticket system as a means to limit both TV and Wii time this summer. Caleb's first gift of the day was a certificate stating that he could have unlimited use of the Wii and he also got nine "free" tickets which have been used today.

Opening presents. He was thrilled with all of his gifts!

At the end of the day, as he devoured his pizza, Caleb called for the attention of all his friends and thanked them sincerely for helping him celebrate his special day. He is such a fun boy with a big heart! If the next nine years go as quickly as the last, I'll be the mother of a college student before I know it!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Called To Serve

I'm an emotional person. My feelings run deep. Until last Tuesday, however, I had never experienced an instantaneous sob. But that is exactly what happened when I heard the word Bishop escape the Stake President's mouth.

We knew our current bishop was moving to Japan and the talk of who would replace him was a popular topic of conversation among all our ward members. I did my own share of speculating but other than a few fleeting moments of unease, I wasn't worried that that replacement would be my husband. About two weeks ago, Jon got a message from the Stake Executive Secretary. We were out of town for the Fourth of July holiday and while we wondered at the possible reasons for his call, we convinced ourselves it probably had something to do with his current High Council calling. Jon sent him an email telling him we would return on Saturday. On Sunday evening, the phone rang. Our appointment with the Stake President was set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. I could think of little else in those two days and while I wanted to end the suspense, I was afraid to find out what the Stake President wanted.

Jon and I had a few "what if" conversations and talked about the calling of bishop without saying the actual word, much like Voldemort is discussed in the Harry Potter books. It was the calling-that-must-not-be-named! I had convinced myself that the calling would be a counselor in the bishopric, though I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of you-know-what. As much as I wasn't ready to accept it, I suppose deep down inside we both already knew. Jon had even asked me if I would cry. "Oh no," I assured him. I told him I was sure I'd cry when we got home but I really thought I'd be able to keep my composure in front of the Stake President. Didn't happen. I did cry. Loudly. When I finally pulled my face out of my hands after hearing the call, I looked to Jon to see tears in his eyes and sweat on his face.

We spent an hour with our Stake President who gave us great deal of love, encouragement and counsel. We left his office, rounded the corner to a dark hallway, and embraced as we cried together. We knew this calling would change our lives. It is a massive responsibility and I felt unbelievably overwhelmed.

Jon left at 5:oo a.m. the next morning to accompany the youth of our stake on their Youth Conference Trek, where they reenacted the pioneer handcart journey. He had, as part of his High Council assignment, spent a great deal of time helping the committee prepare for this event. It was so hard to see him go, especially after getting our news just a few hours prior to his leaving. We didn't get any time to discuss this major event, which is really hard for someone like me who deals with emotions by talking.

I missed him terribly when he was gone and choked back the tears each time he called. I felt nauseous and nervous all week as I anticipated today's events. He arrived home about mid-day on Saturday. I ran to him and literally wet his shirt with my tears. This calling was turning me into an emotional wreck! The trek was an amazing experience for everyone involved. Jon loved it and while he wouldn't admit it himself, I had numerous people tell me that the help he provided was incredible!

Here he is after four days of not showering or shaving! What a handsome, rugged man!

Looking tough for the picture.

Yesterday and today were difficult for me. It's hard to describe the feelings. But the tears have stopped and the butterflies in my stomach are finally gone. Now that he has been sustained and set apart as the bishop of our ward, I am much more peaceful than I have been in days. I know he will be a good leader. He is such a great man and we are so blessed to have him as our husband and dad.

Our former bishop had planned to have a ward picture taken today. It was taken right after sacrament meeting while my cry-face was still fresh! Thankfully with this snapshot, you can't make out any faces!

Caleb took to Jon's office right away. He felt very comfortable in dad's new chair and with his two best friends standing over each shoulder like two counselors, I couldn't resist snapping this picture.

Jon and I were both so thankful for the outpouring of love and support we felt from our friends, family and other ward members. The hugs and sympathetic tears helped calm my heart. These next years will be busy and I'm sure we'll have some hard times. Were it not for our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we would never agree to this assignment. But we do know that this gospel is true so we will go forward with faith.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Family Fun

The Fourth of July holiday came just in time. Tuesday wasn't my best day and I had joked (with a fair amount of seriousness) that the men in white coats were on their way to my house. Through the madness, the kids and I managed to get the house cleaned, get all our gear packed and pick up Dad on our way to enjoy some good ol' family time.

We drove to Yakima to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma had called earlier, near the height of my breakdown, and became the ear to which I vented many frustrations. Knowing my mood, she offered to order the kids some pizzas and let Jon and me go out for a dinner together. Zesta Cucina became my quiet little santuary for an hour, and the food was amazing!

We left Yakima about mid-day on the Fourth to join the Childers celebration in Richland. Our Canadian cousins were visiting there and the kids were very excited about seeing everyone. When we arrived everyone was playing in the backyard, soaking up the sun. Let the fun with cousins begin!
Brendan approached Caleb and said, "Well, it's been a while." They awkwardly shook hands as Caleb replied, "Yeah, how's it going Brendan?" It's always so much fun to see these two boys get together. They're both long, lanky, quirky little guys that are only 5 weeks apart in age. Alyssa and Connor are only 3 weeks apart and they bonded very quickly. They spent most of their time together and Alyssa even got Connor to try a back handspring on the trampoline!

They're so cute! Such good buddies. I've always thought that Connor looks a lot like Jon. He's a very handsome little guy!

Natalie and Erin were good little friends when they weren't too busy asserting their two-year old territorial needs. While they all had their moments and there were occasional fires to put out, it was by and large a great time with cousins, eleven of them in all.

Jen and Christopher are great hosts and were very patient with the onslaught of visitors that bombarded their house. We had a great holiday BBQ with all the fixings. We even had a DQ ice cream cake for dessert. I think Caleb helped himself to three servings! It was the perfect treat to go with the scorching temperatures. Though temperatures topped out at 105, we did manage to stay cool most of the time. The huge trees in the yard provided lots of shade for gabbing adults and the perfect clubhouse for the kids. Caleb also really liked the swing attached to one tree's branches.

At one point Caleb decided to pour his can of lemonade over his head in effort to cool off. That was one sticky mess waiting to happen so Jon hosed him down, cleaning him off and cooling him down in one fell swoop.

The dads made a trip to the fireworks stand to load up on some fun explosives for our evening enjoyment. These fireworks are illegal in our area so it was extra exciting for us. Christopher thoughtfully offered a pair of ear plugs to Caleb and Aunt Jen helped him get them in. He looked a little funny but with the sound muffled, he was able to enjoy fireworks for the first time in his life! Why hadn't I thought of this before?

Here is the crew, gearing up for the "big" stuff.

Natalie's first sparkler!

The girls waiting for the show to start.

I'm not sure if it was more fun for the boys to watch or the dads to light them off. I guess it was just a good time for all!

The movie theater seemed the perfect place to keep cool and our kids had been dying to see Ratatouille, so we went to the matinee on Thursday. It was a cute show and the kids really liked it. Natalie fell asleep which means I got to enjoy it, too! Here are the cousins getting ready to go to the show.

After dinner, we went swimming at a pool belonging to some friends of the Childers family. The owners had offered for us to swim but weren't able to be home at the time so we got our own private pool party. We had a lot of fun and quickly found out which kids were scared of the water and which were not!

Jon worked from Christopher's office on Friday while I lounged around with the kids. Once they got home from work we were all ready for a break from the noise and mayhem that 11 kids under the age of 9 can create, so Jen hired a couple of babysitters. We had a very enjoyable (and yummy) adult-only dinner at Olive Garden. We talked and laughed (mostly at Jon) and basked in our child-free time together.

After dinner we picked up our kids and said our good-byes. The kids were sad to go. We made our way back to Yakima to spend one more day with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma, remembering my ill temper from Tuesday, surprised me by telling me that she had scheduled a one hour massage for me on Saturday morning. She said she hoped it would bring me out of my funk. I slept in late and awoke just in time to pull my hair back and drive myself to the appointment. The massage was wonderful; 90% relaxing, 10% pain. I could get used to that treatment!

We then decided to take the kids to ride the Yakima Trolley. They recently started running the trolley again after being out of service for years. The main line was temporarily closed so we only got a short ride but it was still fun and a little nostalgic for me.

After riding the Trolley we got to go swimming at the home of some friends of Grandma and Grandpa. They have an amazing pool and it was hard to drag the kids out of it. Caleb loved the slide and I have to admit, it's pretty fun!

After swimming, we went to out to dinner and then made our way home. It was a full and fun-filled week. It's always great to spend time with family and I appreciate the distraction from the day-to-day grind. We're looking forward to another busy week and I'll be doing my best to keep the men in white coats away!