Thursday, January 30, 2014

Uncle Laverne

photo borrowed from Facebook

I got word from my brother last night that our Uncle Laverne, my mom's brother, was in the hospital.  He had undergone surgery and was not waking up from it.  This morning I found out that he had passed away late last night, 13 years to the day from when my dad lost his battle with brain cancer.  I like to think that the two of them are enjoying a happy reunion, with plenty of hugs and teasing and catching up with each other.

I am going to attempt to put into words what I have been feeling all day but I'm not sure I can capture it.  I have been surprised at how emotional this news has made me.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Uncle Laverne like crazy, but we didn't see each other much.  I would probably talk on the phone with him every couple of years or so and we stayed in touch on Facebook some, sent Christmas cards and such.  He is one of those men who is just as good as they come and he always had kind words to say about me, my husband, my family, my life.

Whenever we would see Laverne he was always so full of life and laughter and happiness and hugs.  And his sweetheart Evelyn was always by his side.  They celebrated 60 years of marriage just last summer.  What a wonderful legacy!

When Allen and I got married Uncle Laverne and Aunt Evelyn surprised us by coming to our wedding.  They drove 14+ hours to show their support and love and it's something I will never forget.

I can't count the number of times that Allen and I have talked about taking a trip to Washington so that our kids could get to know my side of the family better.  Outside of my siblings and their families my kids really don't know any of the extended family on my side.  They don't know any of my parents' siblings or their families.  We wanted to change that but we never did.  So maybe the greatest part of the sadness I feel in learning of Uncle Laverne's leaving this life is because of missed opportunities.  My kids will never know him and I think that is a real tragedy.

This was just another reminder to me of figuring out what my priorities are and really sticking to my guns to make them happen.  Family should always be a priority.  There is nothing that can replace family relationships, including extended family.  They are the glue that holds generations together.

Thanks for all you taught me, Uncle Laverne.  Thank you for your unconditional love.  Thank you for sharing your testimony with me in our phone conversations.  Thank you for your laugh, your smile, your example. Give my dad a big hug for me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Re-Creating Disney's Frozen

I had to be at meetings all morning last Saturday.  I left before my kids woke up and I returned home after lunch.  When I came into the house I immediately noticed that Thumbelina was dressed a lot like Anna from Disney's Frozen.  I asked if that was on purpose and everyone started talking at once.

We took pictures! We acted out some of the scenes! I was Olaf! I was Sven! Thumbelina made us costumes! And so on.

Here are the original characters:
Anna and Elsa

Kristoff and Sven the reindeer

Olaf the snowman

Here's what they put together over the course of a morning.  See if you can pick out the scenes from the movie.
Do you wanna build a snowman?

My name's Olaf and I like warm hugs.

I think some company is overdue...

  I've started talking to...

 The pictures on the walls. (Hang in there, Joan!)

Don't let them in, don't let them seeeeeee....

Give me my glove!  

Let it go! Let it go!

Don't let the frostbite biiiiite.

Will you take me to the north mountain?

I can't feel my legs!

Those are my legs.

Elsa and Olaf

Elsa makes Olaf a snow cloud

After a while Hubba wanted in on the action but they couldn't think of anyone for him to be (because who wants to be Hans? No one. That's who.) so Thumbelina made him Jack Frost...

then created parts for him in the movie.  He and Elsa would have gotten along splendidly, of course.
 And he helped keep Olaf cold whenever it was needed.

Even All-a-Boy decided to create a character for himself.  He became The Ninja That Nobody Sees In Frozen.  But here's a glimpse of him as Jack and Elsa are having a snowball fight in my dining room.

Little X didn't want to be left out either but at that point Thumbelina was done with putting together costumes and posing everyone in different scenes.  She still helped him figure out a key role in the movie, though, and X was super excited to tell me who he was.  "Look, Mom!" he said while crouching into a ball.  "I a rock!"  And then he jumped into a standing position and announced, "I a troll!"  Here he is hanging out with Kristoff.


Pretty adorable for a troll, isn't he?

I love how my 17 year old enjoys playing with all of her younger siblings (disclaimer: not all of the time, but I'll take what I can get!).  I love the way their imaginations work.  I love having a front row seat to their creativity.  Days like this one, when everyone seems to get along and there is a feeling of fun and happiness throughout the house, are the days I most love being a mom to this crazy assortment of adorable people.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1,2,3 All Eyes On Me

When Elle was getting all of her things packed up into boxes before she left on her mission she found all sorts of random things she had collected over the years and distributed a lot of them amongst her siblings.  At one point she asked me if I had some glue and, thinking she needed to fix something, gave her some.

Later that day, I found this:

Apparently she had a package of googly eyes that she did not want to go to waste.  Throughout the week I have continued to find miscellaneous objects in our house watching me with bulging, wild googly eyes.


This one actually scared me a little bit...

I love that, along with various knickknacks and bags and boxes, Elle left some of her sense of humor behind.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

And She's Off!

I really do not have many words here.

But here we are at 3:30 am on our way to the airport.

A couple of family shots before she headed for the gate:

And then a lot of hugs and tears - I think this one was the hardest.

One last smile from the security line...

and then we left our Elle Monroe at the airport (along with a large group of other missionaries, that made me feel a little better) to find her way to Mexico.  And then Louisiana.  For 18 months. A whole year and a half!

The crazy thing about missionaries leaving is the emotional roller coaster.  I want her to go!  But I don't want her to go!  But really, I want her to be doing this!  It's going to be such an awesome experience and she's going to do so much good and share what she knows and loves with lots of people who she'll get to know and love.  But I'll only get to talk to her twice a year! And what if, what if, what if?  And how can I be so happy and excited for her and be so sad and heart-achey at the same time?

It all comes down to this: This is what Elle wants to do.  It's what she's wanted to do for as long as I can remember.  It's what I want for her and where I want her to be.  And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that she will be awesome.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two More Days

I was feeling melancholy today about Elle leaving for her 18-month mission for our church this week. Somehow that brought me to our file cabinet where we keep various papers and artwork that each of the kids bring home or create over the years. I pulled out Elle's file and near the end I found the picture that is posted above.  She drew it at church, when she was 5 years old.  

On Wednesday we will take Elle to the airport and say goodbye.  She will fly to Mexico and stay at the Missionary Training Center there for 6 weeks before making her way to Louisiana to serve out the rest of her 18 months.

There are no words to describe how much we will miss her - but she is going to do some amazing work teaching others about Christ and I know it is where she needs to be for the next little while.  Being her mother I have often wondered who was teaching who - Elle has always been such an awesome example to me of a true follower of Christ and I can't wait to see what kind of an impact her sharing her light with others will make. 

We have two more days.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Best Buddy

This little guy and I get to spend a lot of time together.  As he's started to experiment with words it has been a lot of fun to communicate with him on another level.  He will often say something that I don't understand so I repeat the sounds back to him and he gets really excited and says, "Yeah, Mom!"

I was just organizing all of the pictures I took in the last two months on my computer and I realized that a lot of them are of our little X.  It's not because he's my favorite but because we are together pretty much all of the time.  And because he's so darn adorable.

Allen and I always take each of our kids out to lunch or dinner for their birthday - just the birthday child and us.  Little X will always respond to the question 'what do you want to eat?' with 'PIZZA!' so it was easy to figure out where to take him for his birthday lunch last month.  I love this picture of two of my favorite guys.

One day I told him we needed to go to the store so he told me, "I go downscares get ready!" and came back upstairs like this:
because everyone needs a large Star Wars hat and swim goggles for a trip to the store, obviously.  This kid loves hats.  And glasses.

When I was Christmas shopping X was my constant companion.  When I was checking out bikes at one store he grabbed himself a helmet with a mohawk, hopped on a bike that was just his size ("Look, Mom! Spiderman!") and was content to scoot himself around the aisle until I was done.

It's pretty exhausting having to keep up with me.