Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Old House

I have lived in fourteen different houses in my life. I have lived in six different states and two different countries. Along with those moves came a lot of change. Somethings, however, always stayed the same: such as, my family, old friendships worth keeping, the church, and going to Richmond, Indiana.

Around the time that my mom was leaving high school and going to college, her parents and brothers built a house. They purchased the plans and materials and rented machinery and did it themselves. They learned a lot, made some mistakes, but in the end made a home.

The house is now in its fourth decade, and I have innumerable memories of visiting there. We would always go for a long visit during the summers, and depending on how close we lived, we would go for shorter visits throughout the year.

I remember the bedroom in the basement that for some reason (probably a whim of one of my uncle's) had a light switch that turned on red and blue lights instead of normal lights and had a feature of having them turn off and on, back and forth.

I remember the pond and the pasture and rows and rows of garden that always needed work.

I remember the room full of jars of food that my grandparents had spent hours planting, harvesting, preparing, and canning. I specifically remember the home canned green beans. For some reason, I have memories of those tasting unbelievably good.

I remember still thinking as a high schooler that I was not allowed to touch the television or the VCR.

I remember the seemingly endless supply of VHS tapes, including all of the great musicals.

I remember the neighbor around the corner who took care of sick or injured exotic animals and who always had something interesting to show us.

I remember the Amish store nearby that had really delicious food.

I remember the park by the cemetery and feeling almost like I could fly when my older brothers and cousins spun me on the merry-go-round.

I remember taking my new husband there and him thinking that squash was going to be the only thing served for dinner.

I remember making myself sick sneaking orange flavored Vitamin C tablets, because they tasted as good as candy.

I remember spending Easter there with my brother Danny when my parents were down in Brazil looking for houses.

I remember performing skits in the yard with my cousins and ganging up with the lone female cousins to try to "torture" our male cousins. I remember the willow tree, the trolley, the swing set, the treehouse, and the trampoline.

I remember fire flies, Fourth of July fireworks, and sparklers.

I remember picking fruit from the fruit trees and berries from the bushes.

I remember the basket full of old toys down in the laundry room.

I remember eating melted cheese on tortilla chips right out of the oven and popcorn and chocolate covered nuts my grandmother made.

I remember sitting down to breakfast and having six different types of homemade jam to choose from.

I remember two spice racks full of vitamins and pills instead of spices, spice racks my great-grandparents gave my grandparents as a wedding gift.

I remember being really happy, and I remember the love of my grandparents. I remember how proud and accepting they always were of me.

My grandmother passed away in 2009 pretty soon after Jill was born. In fact, we were in the hospital at the same time. Since then, my grandfather has moved in with one of my uncles who lives near by. After many hours of work put in by my aunts, uncles, grandfather, and parents, the house is going up for auction tomorrow night. It is what the family decided, and I know it is for the best, but I can't help but feel a little sad knowing that I'll most likely never step foot in that house again and soon all I will have is my cherished memories of childhood pleasures.

My siblings and I with our grandpa in the garden

My sister and my grandma and a rutabaga

Me with my grandma

Me with my grandpa

I love you, Grandma and Grandpa Homer. Thanks for helping make my childhood so special.

Good-bye, big blue house.

My sister wrote a beautiful post a year ago about my grandparents' house. Here is the link if you're curious.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Here Comes Summer

Summer officially began last week, and I have already gone on all of my "summer" trips! Let's see . . .

My grandpa Homer came and visited us for a week. He lives just under two hours away in Indiana, and we always love it when he comes. He lets the kids climb all over him (which I hope he doesn't mind—they love it!), and he's always eager to help. Sometimes when the kids give us a break, he is able to talk about his and my grandma's lives. I cherish the time I have with him.
My friend and I drove to Nebraska (me to visit my sister and her to visit her family) with our five kiddos. That was a fun car ride. On the way back, we discovered a rest stop that had a playground. I wish I remembered where it was, so I could stop at it again in the future. It was perfect. We were gone for ten days, and Jill celebrated her third birthday! (She celebrated it a second time when we came back, so Daddy could be there for it.) I finally got to attend Music Makers, something Amy and her friends do for their kids that I just knew Jill would love, and she did. I also got to go to Hallie's preschool and play group. We went to the Lincoln Children's Zoo, which was completely catered to the young crowd. There were so many fun, interactive things for them to do. I got to meet my newest niece, Heather, and I got to visit the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters. I can't imagine surviving what they went through.

Jeff and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary! We didn't do a lot to celebrate, because Jill's second birthday party ended up being on our anniversary, and there was another party to go to that day, but after having been gone for ten days, just being with each other was pretty fun. It is hard to believe we have been married six years already, but then sometimes it also feels like we've been married forever already, because it is so predictable and comfortable in many ways. When I compare what I sacrificed for marriage and what I have gained by marriage, I am so grateful for my marriage and this wonderful man.

One of my best friends from high school was married. She was possibly the first best friend I made when I moved back to Brazil. I was still a little weird (who am I kidding? I still am!), but by weird, I specifically mean that I just didn't know some of the ways a Midwestern kid would never act. (I would raise my hand and snap at my teachers! I honestly thought that was normal. If any of my Graded friends read this, do any of you remember snapping at teachers? Or was I just really weird at both schools. Ha.) Anyway, back to my amazing friend. One of the first I made and one I hope to keep my whole life. I got to throw her bridal shower, which ended up being really stressful for me, but ended up being really fun, and I was pretty much worrying pointlessly. (Who's surprised?) And her wedding was wonderful. I was there the night she met (really met) her now husband. It was at a football game against our rival high school, and he was a buddy of one of my other best friends who went to a different high school. I don't think I introduced them though. I think I got there late, but either way, I was there, and now they're married! And it was wonderful, so wonderful, to see such a good friend (two friends) be so happy.

On the day that my friends were married, my parents celebrated their thirty-fourth anniversary. I bet they wondered how time had flown so quickly!

Jeff's brothers and their wives flew in from Utah, and we all packed up (along with two family friends who happened to be professional photographers!) and drove down to Tennessee. My mother-in-law rented a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom cabin in the mountains near Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. We got to go to Terry Evanswood's magic show at WonderWorks. My mother-in-law and I were both (separately) called up on stage to be part of acts! That's something to cross off my bucket list that I never even thought to ever wish to do! It was really cool. Jill loved the magic show. Half of us went horseback riding, and the other half went ATVing. My youngest brother-in-law's cast met an unfortunate end. Sigh. Boys. (My husband actually helped him saw it off, so he could participate!) Some went to the Titanic museum. We all went to a carnival type place that had lots of little rides for the kids, and the big kids did go-carts, bumper boats (equipped with squirt guns!), and the sky dive. I did the sky dive with two of my brothers-in-law. After you got past the initial drop and next three or four dives where your stomach plummeted to your toes, it was actually pretty enjoyable to glide back and forth in the air. It was a really fun vacation, and our friend took some great family pictures. And when we returned to Cincinnati, before the Utah Colletts flew home, we got to go to Newport Aquarium and pet the penguins! They were so cute!!

I had a bit of a break, and then Jeff and I ventured out on our first camping trip with children. We had gone a few times early in our marriage when we lived in Utah, just short over nighters with friends in the mountains, but we hadn't dared with kids. Well, it was fun, and I am sure we will do it again. (Jill keeps begging to!) However, I definitely think that camping is more fun for the kids than it is the adults. Although, maybe it becomes more fun when your children are older and are less accident prone. They got so banged up and were always filthy and were wet half the time. But they were very happy. Except for when I won "worst mother of the year" award. We went on a hike. Jill was in the hiking backpack on Jeff, and Danny was in a front pack on me. Uh, well, and then, yeah, I slipped on a rock, fell forward, and put my hands out, but Danny was faster than my arms (or just out farther than them) and he smacked his head on a rock. Admittedly, he handled it very well, but I still felt awful. And at the beach, Jill fell while running on a bridge. I picked her up, and her back was arched massively, so her head was really far away from me (even though I was holding her), there was blood everywhere, and her eyes were rolled into the back of her head. I was terrified. She also ended up okay, but it was a really scary moment, and I totally froze. I am glad Jeff took over. You always imagine scary situations and imagine yourself handling them and being amazing. But I was totally frozen and not amazing at all. Thank goodness my husband had a calm head on his shoulders. The camping trip was really fun all in all though. (Although it's really hard to get tired kids to fall asleep when it's really hot in the tent, still light outside, and older kids are still awake making noise.) We went with a large group of friends and had joint meals and activities. It was fantastic.

Pretty close after that, we packed up and drove to Michigan to visit my parents. Jeff got to stay with us from Thursday to Sunday, and then he had to come back to Cincinnati to work. (He had taken off too much time recently with all of the other vacations, and he was training his new night manager and it was during contractor payday.) The day after he left, we drove up to Boyne Mountain and spent the week through Saturday there with all of my siblings, my parents, my grandpa Homer and my grandma Boling, all of my siblings' spouses, and all my nieces. (There are two nephews on the way!) It was a blast. We went swimming in the pool and swimming in the lake. Jill and I went out on a kayak. We toured this absolutely amazing place called Castle Farms. It used to be a dairy farm. I can't get over the fact that cows and horses used to live in a place that is so unbelievably gorgeous. It is completely restored and renovated now and can host five weddings all at the same time and has so much space that the different parties wouldn't even have to see each other. We also went to Raven Hill Discovery Center, which had a lot of activities for the children. One highlight was Jill wearing a snake "like a necklace." It was around her neck, and its tongue tickled her a bit. We also went to Boyne City to enjoy its cuteness. I tried chocolate covered potato chips. They were amazing! It is tricky to plan a vacation for a group of nineteen, where the youngest is four months old and the oldest is ninety-two years old. The resort itself had a lot of fun activities, and there was a playground really close to our villas. After the vacation, most of us were able to go back to my parents' house. The kids and I spent a few more days there, and I was able to see my cousin and her family, as well as one of my friends from Muncie and her family. I love seeing people I love! Although now that I am home and looking through my pictures, I wish I had taken more of the adults. They're almost all of the kids.

A day or two after I returned home, my sister and her family followed. They stopped here for a few days before they continued on their way back to Nebraska. We did our usual favorite activities: ride tricycles, feed the ducks at the pond, swim at the YMCA, visit Aldi. Seriously. Unfortunately, their visit ended with a less-than-awesome visit to ER, because I thought Danny wasn't getting enough oxygen. Three hours, three doctors, and one X-ray later, it turns out Danny just had the croup again (remember in October?). He got the steroid shot, and that helped him breathe.

Then two days later, Jill came down with the croup. This time I ignored how terrified I was by hearing how difficult it was for her to breathe, and we went to her pediatrician the next morning. That visit took only half an hour, and they had the steroid available to take orally, so she was a happy girl.

It has been over a week now, and other than Jeff and I catching their cough, not much has changed. They are still coughing and have nonstop runny noses, but they are sleeping and breathing fine.

In fact, Danny is sleeping more than fine! He will be eighteen months next week, and he is finally sleeping! He still wakes up on average once a night, but his go-to-bed routine is SO much better. He is no longer nursing (and while I do enjoy nursing my children, I get a little tired of it by the time they are seventeen months), and it no longer takes over an hour to calm him down. In fact, he has joined Jill's routine: snacks/drinks, brush teeth, (potty for Jill,) pajamas and diapers, (binkie for Jill—wish us luck on breaking that habit,) read a few stories, read/tell a scripture story, list what we are grateful for that day, say prayers, hug and kiss and put in bed. They both moan, sing, and complain a bit but then are asleep within ten minutes. This has lasted a full week now, and it is amazing. We have so much extra time in the evening, because they're asleep by 8:15 instead of fighting with Danny until 9:30 and both of us going in and out of the room trying to get him to relax. Oh, it is wonderful.

I think I remembered all of the big things that have happened recently.

There is one more coming up: my birthday is on Tuesday! I celebrated it with Jeff's family this weekend, so my brother-in-law could be there, so my actual birthday may not be too exciting. In the past two months, I have had three people think that I was a teenager, which I think isn't too bad for a mother of two, wife of six years, and college graduate who is turning 27 this week. :)

I hope you are all doing well!