Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nineteen Years

Nineteen years ago on 6/28 at 6:28 p.m., I became a mother for the first time.  It was something I had wanted to be my entire life and I was so excited to welcome our little rugrat, Allen Michael, into the world!

How did he change so quickly from a sweet little bundle of wide-eyed excitement to this handsome young man?

Allen the Younger cried a lot as a baby.  Some days I would just sit in the rocking chair and rock him as we both cried together.  Allen the Elder would tell me to just set Little Allen down in his crib and let him cry it out, but this was my first little one and I felt like somehow my holding him had to offer some comfort.  There is something about the bond between a mother and her first baby.  I don't know how to explain it.

From the time he was born he has always been curious.  The first apartment that we lived in after he joined the family was just a block north of train tracks.  We learned to tune out the trains until Little Allen started to notice them.  Before he could even walk he would climb up the couch, perch himself on the back of it and search intently out the window for a glimpse of the passing trains whenever he heard a horn sound.

His curiosity is something that has kept him busy throughout his 19 years.  When his dad was busy working in the garage or on a project around the house, Little Allen always loved to be right in the middle of things, seeing how and why they worked the way they did.

So despite the fact that he was my best friend when his dad was at work, being named after his dad was certainly fitting because he has become even more of a replica of his father as the years have passed.

Little Allen is one of those kids who is naturally talented at everything he decides to try.  He decided to join the cross country team his sophomore year as a walk-on, was put on the varsity team almost immediately and was awarded Rookie of the Year at the end of the season.  He and some friends decided to learn the Thriller dance and led a group number at every church dance they went to.  And don't get me started on his natural ability in math and science.  He doesn't even have to try, and he loves those subjects in school.  I will never forget the first time he went fishing!  Allen (the Elder) caught a pretty good sized fish and showed it to him.

(I think I have mentioned before that this is one of my all-time favorite pictures.  The look on Little Allen's face is priceless!)  Well, despite being a bit grossed out, he was determined.  He baited a hook, cast out his line, and before you know it - BAM!

He had snagged himself a bigger fish than his dad's.  There isn't anything he can't do.

Allen the Younger has always had a love for music.  When I was pregnant with him he would practically do flips whenever music was played.  He could sing every word to the song The Freshman when he was about 3.  He was obsessed with animals for a long time and could sing every song from the Lion King, including the ones sung in another language.  And now he can sing the words to about every song that ever comes on the radio.  He loves the music that his dad and I loved in the 80's and early 90's (great taste, that kid!) as well anything current and everything by his celebrity crush who he likes to call T-Swift.  I love listening to him play the piano, too.

Another great thing about Little Allen is his silly sense of humor.

This didn't sit so well with some of his teachers in elementary school (okay, even in high school), so parent-teacher conferences were always filled with interesting stories and he brought quite a few pink slips home.  He was also voted "Class Clown" more than once.  But eventually he learned to better manage this silliness and only use it when it was appropriate.   

Well, mostly.  He also prides himself on his photobombing skills, which is evident in about half of his pictures on Facebook.  The one above is one of my favorites.

Allen the Younger has the ability to make everyone around him laugh.  He figured out at an early age that if I was mad at him, all he had to do was laugh and I'd start laughing, too.  His laughter is contagious.  And honestly, how could I not just laugh along with such a cute little stinker who's loaded to the brim with precociousness?

As I've watched Allen throughout his life I have learned that little kids with the most outgoing, crazy personalities turn into the most interesting, fun teenagers and adults.

(Allen and his friend Tanner proudly wore these shirts at a high school event at the U of U, BYU's rival.)

Allen the Younger has been the most accident-prone child of all our kids.  We've been to the Emergency Room and used more butterfly bandaids with him than any of his siblings.

(Double injury in this picture - he ran into the corner of a trailer at a reunion and split his nose open 
then got plowed into on the stairs at home and broke his elbow in two places.)

(In true Allen fashion, he's cracking jokes to the paramedics as they carry him out to the ambulance.)

I think that Allen tends to get hurt because he doesn't live life small.  Life is all about adventure and reaching beyond what you think you can do.  Allen's life so far has definitely been one filled with excitement and adventure.   A big part of this comes from his love for spending time in the great outdoors.  I don't think there is anyone who loves running, hiking, camping, shooting, exploring and just being adventurous as much as Allen does. 


Probably my favorite thing about Allen is what an awesome big brother he is.  As each of his brothers and sisters have joined the family, Allen has loved each new addition.  He has mentioned that he can't wait to have his own kids someday.  Sure, he likes to tease sometimes.  But when it comes down to it he's the most loyal and unconditionally loving family member you could ask for.  I love watching him with the other kids.


He recently told me that he thinks Moms have the best job in the world because they get to take care of and hang out with little people all day and watch them grow up.  I told him he should become a pediatrician.

He has lamented many times, especially when he was younger, that he wished he had an older brother.  He has even offered suggestions of those we could adopt to take on this role.  But the thing is, he has had 'brothers' close to his age around him throughout his whole life.  He's had uncles and cousins:


And lots of awesome friends who are really more like brothers.

Speaking of friends, another of Allen's best traits is that he is a fiercely loyal friend.  If you are lucky enough to be someone that Allen considers a friend you can know that he will stand up for you and be there for you whenever it is needed.

It has been crazy watching as each of his friends leave on their missions, knowing that his time to serve will be here before we know it.  Through all of his 19 years his dad and I have done our best to raise him to be all of the things that he'll need to be for the next two years as he serves his church mission in Fort Worth, Texas. 

We've tried to instill in him the desire to be happy, helpful, obedient, friendly, trustworthy, hard working and kind.  We want him to be independent but also a team player.  We want him to have unshakable faith, strong knowledge of the teachings of the gospel and a firm testimony of the things he will be teaching others for the next two years.

I think we've done a pretty awesome job.

Writing this post has been tough.  Looking at pictures of the little kid he was makes me miss those crazy days with that little person and wish I enjoyed them more instead of stressing out about what kind of adult he would become.  Then, thinking about the adult he has become and how much I love and enjoy him now, my heart is full to bursting.

Thanks for being the guinea pig for the last 19 years, Allen.  I'm going to miss you like crazy but I am so excited for you as you step forward into this new adventure.  You are going to be an amazing missionary.

I love you, my biggest boy.  Happy, happy birthday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Big 0-4

*I am attempting to play catch-up on writing a post for each of my kids on their birthdays.  This one for Little O is almost 2 months overdue.  He turned 4 years old back on May 1st.*

Our sweet Little O is already FOUR years old!

Of all my pregnancies, his dragged out the longest.  I was just over 2 weeks overdue and finally agreed to be induced.  I loved that he waited until May 1st to be born, allowing each of our kids to still have their own months for their birthdays.

Little O is one of those adorable little kids who could star in a commercial and sell the product like crazy simply because of his cuteness.  He says things like, "Mom? I like you and I even love you!" and "Stop ruining my yife!" and they are equally endearing.

Little O is getting big enough that he wants to be independent but he's still small enough that he wants to cuddle up to me while watching a movie.  Whenever I ask him to get dressed his typical response is, "Sorry, Mom.  I'm just too liddle."  But when he wants to play outside with the neighborhood kids he'll tell me, "It's okay.  I'm so big, I can watch myself."  Sometimes I wish he'd stay 'too little' because I sure love this big-and-little stage of his life.

This sweet kid is such a softie.  He's much better than he used to be, but he still occasionally wants his fuzzy blanket when he goes to sleep.  And he loves his two bears, Bear and JohnWayne. 

We love you, Little O!  You make everyone smile and we are so lucky to have you in our family.  Happy (late!) fourth birthday you big-little kid.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lucky Number Thirteen

*I am attempting to play catch-up on writing a post for each of my kids on their birthdays.  This one for All-a-Boy is long overdue.  He turned 13 years old back on April 20th.*

Thirteen!  I can't believe that many years have passed since little All-a-Boy joined the family.  Here are thirteen awesome things about our All-a-Boy:

1. The thing I remember most about the day he was born is that he would not stop smiling.  The doctor, the nurses, everyone noticed and commented on it.  And it wasn't your typical newborn gas-induced smiles.  This kid was just happy to be here!

2.  From an early age, All-a-Boy has loved music.  He would calm down almost immediately if I sang to him and his favorite song was Angel Lullaby.  Even as he got older and I would go downstairs to sing to the kids at bedtime he would still request this song.  He loves to have music playing in the house as he does homework or works on his chores.  He will sing along to familiar tunes being played in grocery stores and even throw in a couple of wicked dance moves on occasion.

3.  All-a-Boy is musically talented.  He can play the piano (he especially prefers pieces by John Williams) and sing beautifully.  He sang tenor in the Men's Choir at the high school last year and hopes to sing in a barbershop quartet someday.

4. If All-a-Boy could live in a tent in our backyard, I have no doubt that he would.  I think he is more at home in the outdoors than he is in the house.  Give him a fire, a stick, a gun and permission to get filthy dirty and he's in heaven.

5.  When All-a-Boy decides he likes something, he likes it All The Way.  There is no halfway in this kid's brain.  As a little kid, he was fascinated with dinosaurs.  He could tell you their popular names, their scientific names, their eating and migration habits and when they became extinct.  He could not get enough dinosaurs in his life and even made up stories about he and his cousin Brandon as dinosaurs.

And then he discovered superheroes.  Superman and Batman were his main obsessions, but mostly Superman because he had some really cool Superman pajamas and even a cape.

Most recently it's been Star Wars and Legos, and those don't seem like they're going anywhere anytime soon.

6.  All-a-Boy is an amazing reader and super smart kid.  Before my kids enter kindergarten I always make sure they know their colors, the alphabet and how to write their name.  Well, with All-a-Boy I was lucky to get to the colors and his name.  One day I got a call from his teacher who wanted to ask me about his reading.  I thought, Oh boy, here it comes.  I knew I should have taught him his alphabet.  Then she asked what method I had used to teach him to read because he was the best reader in class.  The kid taught himself to read in kindergarten!  And he hasn't stopped devouring books since.

7. This boy's creativity knows no boundaries.  In the first grade they had Pet Day at school.  He came home and showed me the little flyer that talked all about it and I told him we could maybe ask a neighbor if we could borrow a pet.  "No," he told me, "I want to bring Hubba in a dog costume.  He can be my pet!"  I have never seen a kid so excited for Pet Day!  He was so proud to show everyone his cute little puppy brother.

One day (during his superhero phase) he made himself this mask to wear as he ate his lunch.  He's always full of crazy surprises like that.

8. All-a-Boy is a great friend.  His friends mean the world to him and he can't get enough of them.

His cousin Brandon was born just a couple of weeks after him and they grew up together.  As they got older and Brandon's family moved out of state, the two stayed in touch and they always pick up right where they left off when they have the chance to be together again.  In fact, All-a-Boy is at scout camp this week with his neighborhood friends and Brandon.  I'm sure they are having the time of their lives.


9.  And speaking of scouts, I have never known a kid more excited to become a scout than All-a-Boy.  Ever since he turned 8 years old and became a Cub Scout he has loved every part of the scouting program and is always pushing Allen and I to help him work on merit badges and advancements.


10. All-a-Boy has a kind, caring heart.  He loves to do nice things for others.  I will never forget the year that he saved his own money and wanted to use it to buy flowers and a box of chocolates for one of his past teachers who meant a lot to him.  He found her address in the phone book and had me drive him to her house so he could make the delivery in person, wearing his Sunday best.

He is also the first to remind us of the traditional breakfast in bed that is served to each family member on their birthday.  One year no one woke up to make me breakfast so he did it himself, cooking up the only hot breakfast he knew how to make: boiled eggs and toast.  What a thoughtful boy.

11.  I think that if All-a-Boy had to choose someone that he looks up to the first person to come to mind would be his big brother, Coolister.  They have a lot in common and I think it's because they have a mutual love and respect for each other.  Of course, boys will be boys - they do get on each others' nerves more than I like to admit, but for the most part they have a great relationship.  And I think that All-a-Boy has been as good for Coolister as Coolister has been for him.

12.  Probably the word I have heard the most in describing All-a-Boy is precocious.  It's a word that I love, as it describes most of my boys well.  He has always had that... I don't know, that look.  You know the one.

The one that says, I'm hatching a plan.  The one that says... whatever this look says:

 (He's the one down in the front.  You may need to click on the picture to get a better look.)

Whatever it is, I love it.

13. All-a-Boy has a deeper understanding of the important things in life than most kids his age.  In fact, probably more so than a lot of adults.  It's like he has this old, wise soul trapped in his kid-sized body.  I love it when he walks to the pulpit to share his testimony on Fast Sundays at church.  He has no problem talking to others about what he knows is right.  He has always been a great missionary who loves to tell others about our church.  I know I have mentioned this story before, but I am still in awe to think of the influence my little boy had in simply sharing what he knows is true.

 (If you haven't read the story of All-a-Boy and Walt, you can find it by clicking on the link above.)

I know it's over two months late, but it doesn't mean I love you any less, kid!  Happy thirteenth year, All-a-Boy.  You constantly amaze me with your awesomeness.