Tuesday, December 24, 2013

15 Years and Counting!

 Once upon a time, in the summer of 1997 to be exact, there was a sweet, innocent soon-to-be senior in high school. One day her best friend, Rachel, asked if she wanted to go see her friend Rob at his work. Not knowing where this decision would eventually lead, this unsuspecting young woman agreed. Now, this young girl, we'll call her JJ, knew of Rob from band her freshman year of high school when Rob was a senior and section leader for the (evil) trombones. But since JJ was a trumpet player and underclassmen, Rob had no idea who she was. As they joked around at the gas station that Rob worked at Rachel pointed out that because JJ was so ugly, no one would ever want to marry her. JJ then put her arm around Rob and said, "Rob loves me. He'll marry me" to which Rob eagerly replied, "Sure...". Little did he realize the commitment he'd just made. As Rachel and JJ left the gas station (and after Rachel backed into a parked truck) JJ mentioned that she liked Rob. Rachel agreed to set them up on a date but with the understanding that JJ had to be nice to Rob because he was such a great guy and JJ had a somewhat..uhh..flirtatious reputation.

A few months passed with no further contact until September when Rachel followed through on her promise to set them up on a date. It started with Rob picking JJ up at her house, where he was able to avoid interrogation by her dad since he had fallen asleep before Rob got there. They went to play pool at the Student Union where Rob won all the games except one in which he scratched on the last shot and kindly let JJ win by default. After that Rachel joined them at the movies to watch "G.I. Jane". The date was a success by all accounts (well, at least Rob's and JJ's...Rachel probably would have liked to have not been there.) The next week JJ hinted that Rob should ask her out and make them official boyfriend and girlfriend...and so he did. And that is how a 20 year old college man corrupted a sweet and innocent 17 year old girl. ;-) Although Rob may see things a little differently, but he's not telling the story so we'll stick to my version.

Ten months after the first date, and on my 18th birthday, Rob proposed to me overlooking Tuttle Creek Lake at sunset. I , of course, said yes and then he told me that after learning about the LDS church and praying about it, he'd decided to join. A few months later in Oct 1998 he was baptized and on December 19, 1998 we were married. A year later on December 21, 1998 we were sealed for time and all Eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I always tease him that he had a year trial period before making it Eternal so he can't complain that he didn't know what he was getting into.

And now, here we are, 15 years later. This anniversary, traditionally is crystal and in honor of that...he got me a card...and flowers. I guess I can't complain since I didn't get him anything (I worked all day...does a paycheck count??).

We've been through a lot together...my prom and high school graduation, college and his graduation from KState, the births of our 7 kiddos and the loss of one of them, not to mention the normal everyday stresses of life. In so many ways we've kind of grown up together, but that's also made us closer. I'm sure many people thought our marriage wouldn't survive. I was only 18 years old (well, 18 1/2 actually). I'd only finished a semester of college and Rob still had a couple more years left. We were young, naive and truthfully, I thought it'd be pretty easy. I mean, how could spending your life with the man of your dreams be HARD??

Truth...it is hard. Ironically some of the things that you love most about a person, eventually become some of the things that annoy you to NO END! One of my friends once told a friend getting married, "Give me the 10 things you most love about him now and those will be the 10 things that you end up hating the most later." And there is some truth to that (although I don't hate anything...some things just drive me crazy).

But I wouldn't trade him or our life together for ANYTHING! He knows me like no one else in this world. There isn't anyone that I have given the power to either destroy me or bring me joy, like I have him. And I trust him completely to not use that power to hurt me. Every year we're together is so different; some years are sooo hard and others seem to just be a cake walk. Sometimes it seems that the longer we're married the harder it gets. On the flip side though, every year is more rewarding and better than the last. Perhaps that doesn't make sense to some people, especially someone who hasn't been married long. But I feel the like the harder we work at our marriage and making it work, the more rewarding it is and the closer we are to each other. The things that come to us easily are often the ones that mean the least in the long run.

So, yeah, marriage is hard but it is SOOOO worth it! The couples who make it to 50, 60 or 75 years of marriage didn't get there because it was easy. They didn't stay together as long as it was convenient or it made them "happy". Every marriage has it's up and downs. The only difference between those that make it and those that don't (barring abuse or other horrible situations like that) is commitment. Rob and I aren't together until one of us decides that we're not happy. What kind of commitment ends when it gets hard? That's not really commitment. For us, divorce never has been and never will be an option. PERIOD. Besides...we have an agreement that whoever files first has to take the kids.... ;-) Seriously though, I love my husband with every fiber of my being. He is a part of me. He has my heart and my soul and he guards them with his life and all that he is. He has, at times, and maybe far too often, carried more than his "share" of weight in our life together. He has held me and gotten me through the worst battles I have ever faced. He has annoyed me to no end and loved me completely and wholly. He is my eternal companion and love of my life. I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with a righteous, loving and supportive husband to face not only all of life's challenges but to spend forever with. I love you babe! Thank you for the best 15 years of my life...and an eternity to look forward to.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Official!!! We Have a TEENAGER!!!

My journey in motherhood began 13 years ago today. It was snowing and Rob and I welcomed our first child into our arms, hearts an family. He came right on  his due date and in the middle of one of Rob's finals, weighing in at 9 lbs even. A not so tiny bundle of joy, our little man continued to grow into... 
a fearless 1 year old. This boy held his head up from birth, sat, crawled and walked early and seemed to have no fear of anything! On his first birthday he climbed up on his brand new rocking horse, stood up on the seat and rocked as hard as he could. And then I blinked and this precocious 1 year old was a...
terrific 2 year old. And with that he also became a big brother and an amazing one at that. But all too soon my 2 year old baby was...
a 3 year old toddler. A boy who loved to play with tools and basked in the being the center of attention whenever he had the chance. And before I knew it my 3 year old boy was turning into a...
a 4 year old BIG boy! Lifting weights was just part of his routine to get bigger. He liked to run, play and watch Caillou and Jay Jay the Jet Plane. And he loved to imitate his Mom and Dad. Sometimes it seemed like he couldn't wait to grow up into a...
5 year old. A boy who loved superheroes and watched all the Spiderman Movies he could and then pretended that he was the one who could save the world from the evil people... 
And then he was 6...wanting to be a missionary, trying to save people from another kind of evil. A wonderful big brother, a loving son and sooo very helpful. He did great in school but missed his mommy and brothers and sister. Thinking that they MUST be having more fun at home than he was at school. And then...
At 7 years old he decided to become and author and illustrator writing a book about Lancelot the Leopard and his secret powers. And even winning an award for best story.  And somehow, even though we wished he wouldn't grow up, he became..
an 8 year old, preparing for baptism. He still loved superheros but school...well, let's just say that homework wasn't always a priority. But he made it through another year and with thiose dark blue eyes and handsome smile he was soon...
 a 9 year old. And he LOOKED old....well at least when we shaved his head like that. ;-) He still had his off the wall sense of humor and enjoyed trying to make his siblings and parents laugh at his antics. But all too soon 9 years old was in the past and he was... 
10 years old. Growing not only in physical size, but in maturity and spiritual matters. He could often be found reading his scriptures after he was supposed to be in bed, but really...how can you discourage that? At this point he was the oldest brother to 6 other kids...5 here and 1 in heaven. And he tried so hard to be a good example to all of them. And that 10 year old boy would become... 
an 11 year old athlete. Having played soccer since he was little he continure to play really well and love it. As from the beginning, he was active and hard to keep up with. And then he had the most AMAZING birthday of all. One that he would NEVER forget because on this birthday on 12/12/12 he would turn...
12!! A phenomenon that only happens 12 times each 100 years. Sterling celebrated with his friends, and a few extra people...like the newspaper and TV news. He asked his friends to bring items to donate to Toys for Tots and Doorstep, instead of gifts. It was an awesome birthday and will be hard, if not impossible, to top. And now, today, he turns...
 13 years old. From tiny baby to toddler to big boy to TEENAGER! He is our first teen and will bear the brunt of our learning, just as he as for all his life. And yet, despite that, he is becoming a kind, responsible, loving, helpful and giving young man. I am amazed at the person he is and look forward to seeing the man that he will someday become. He makes us so proud in all he does. Whether it's church, school, sports or anything else, he is an amazing example what it means to be a young man and what every parent hopes for in a child. No, he's not perfect, but he is always trying to do and be better. We're proud of you buddy! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Very Belated Happy Birthday to Emmy

My only defense is that we were in UT on her birthday....

It all started 11 years ago with this tiny little newborn
who just couldn't wait to make her appearance. In fact, she almost didn't wait to be born in the hospital room...She doesn't like to wait...

And neither did this cute little 1 year old. Always on the move and following in the footsteps of her big brother... 
 Becoming a cute but sometimes messy 2 year old...
 But messy 2 year olds grow into 3 year olds who like to learn and before I knew it...
 she was 4 and heading off to preschool..piggy tails and all!
 It seems like the next day she was 5 and going to kindergarten all day long...but she thrived there and her love of learning became even more apparent...
 And as she grew in intelligence she also grew in beauty to a precious 6 year old...
 And then into a breathtaking 7 year old with bright blue eyes and golden hair. Sometimes I would just look at her and it'd take my breath away. 
 And then at 8 years old she was baptized and on her way to becoming
 my 9 year old princess who excelled in school, sports and art. A girl who does everything and does it well.
But time doesn't stand still and she became my 10 year old soccer player-artist-scholar with the same bright blue eyes and a splattering of freckles on her cute nose...
And now? Now she's a gorgeous 11 year old young woman. Where does the time go?
 Before I know it...that gorgeous 11 year old will be all grown up with a prince instead of a frog.
I'm just not ready for it!! In my mind she is still that tiny baby and rambunctious toddler. The girl who loves to color and write her name. :::SIGH:::: Sometimes I wish I could go back but I also can't wait to see this young woman blossom into a lady. My gorgeous girl and wonderful sister to her siblings. The girl who has so many talents and so much potential...and perhaps most wonderful...a mothering heart. A girl who loves to love those around her and help them out. I am so proud of who my girl is becoming! 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Pics from Halloween

Playing with the leftover dry ice after our Church's Trunk or Treat

 Carving the pumpkins was fun and quite messy! We did find sprouted seeds inside Emmy's pumpkin which was really odd...never seen that before! The best part was baking the seeds and eating them though cleaning them took a little time and effort!

      Sterling                        Emmy                     Joe

Cori                             Kailyn                                            Eddie

 Notice Kailyn's pumpkin has pigtails and a crown? 
 All lit up!

 Kailyn and her besties Abby and Ainsley...err...I mean, the princess and Wonder Woman!
 Dorothy watching the kids' Halloween Parade
 Eddie's first ever Halloween Parade!
 Our little Gansta'!

 Ninja Joe...yeah, that doesn't really sound very scary I guess. 

And our two nerds.....
Emmy and Sterling. 

On Halloween we went to our friend's house and had dinner then the moms took the kiddos trick or treating. We had a lot of fun and the kids got plenty of candy....which is almost all gone already. I'm sure Rob and I didn't help with that at all. ;-) 

Parent Teacher Conferences

For the first year ever, I had PTC for each of the 6 kiddos. Yeah, it took a while ;-) I've always enjoyed PTC...Really! I DO! It's not JUST that I love hearing about how well the kids are doing, how smart they are and how their teachers enjoy having them in class, thought that is a big part of it. I also love just getting to sit and talk to the kids' teachers. They are all AMAZING! We have yet to have a teacher that we haven't loved and I'm so glad that my kids go to such wonderful schools with some of the best teachers in town! Additionally, the staff at the kids' schools are great also! From the principal, who fights right along with us to get Emmy the challenging work that she needs to thrive, to the secretary, who calls me and reminds me that I forgot my child on the and should maybe think about coming back to get her. Although, this year, I didn't forget Emmy at conferences so I'm not sure WHAT the secretary did all day ;-) Anyway, wonderful kids + amazing staff and teachers = great PTC.

Eddie is in his first year of preschool and is loving it! He knows almost all his colors and shapes and can count to 12...well, he can count higher, just not in the right order. He recognizes the numbers 1, 2, and 4 as well as the letters "O", "U" and "X". At the beginning of the year the kids drew a picture of Mat Man and then again before conference. Eddie's somehow morphed from Mat Man to...Squid Man??
Yeah, I'm not sure either...But he does great in class and his teachers love him. 

Kailyn has the same teachers but goes to the afternoon class for f 4 years olds while Eddie goes in the morning with the 3 year olds. She is doing awesome! She can (mostly) write her name (as long as the letters don't HAVE to be in the right order). She knows all her colors and shapes and can count to 12. She recognizes all the numbers except 6 and 9. She also drew two Mat Mans...although hers morphed from Mat Man...to Mat Girl. 
She loves her preschool and has a best friend in class named Abigail. The teachers tell me they are inseparable. She also has an admirer named Graham who likes to sit by her, stroke her hair and try to get kisses from her. Good grief! It starts already! Her teacher tells me that Kailyn has incredible fine motor skills and is impressed with her drawing and writing. She is very helpful in class and pretty quiet too. 

Cori had a great report from his teacher this year also. He has the same teacher that Joe did last year, Mrs. Shepherd. Can I say that I just LOVE this lady! She is so funny and genuinely loves her kids..well, at least MY kids and that's all that really matters! He does very well in Math and Spelling but the kid loves writing apparently. He loves to write stories whenever he can and gets super excited for any assignment that involves writing. He also loves Ms. Hallee, a classroom volunteer. I met her a few weeks ago at a school event and she told me how much she loves getting hugs from him every day. Apparently, Mrs. Shepherd tells me that all the kids treat Ms. Hallee like a rock star. When she walks into the room  Cori exclaims "Ms. Hallee!!" and she calls back "Cori!" I guess they can distract each other a bit cause Mrs. S had to warn them both to calm it down or they're going to get the other into trouble. ;-)

Joe is doing great at school and although he doesn't always...or usually...get his homework done before school, he does rush and finish it in time to play the Math games. No homework...No math games. Weenie! It's such a struggle to get him to do his homework ::sigh:: I'd be more concerned except that he just does it in the morning at school and he always aces his tests. That includes spelling. I haven't gone over a spelling list with ANY of my children for YEARS...since Sterling was in first grade probably. But they rarely, if ever, miss any words. One thing the teacher told me had me cracking up. Each of the students had to fill out a sheet before PTC about the things they struggle with, what they're good at and they're goals. In the area he struggles most Joe put Math. I was a little surprised and when I asked Mrs. Stimatze about it she said, "Yeah, Joe came and asked me what he should put there if he didn't struggle with anything. So I told him to pick the one that he had the hardest time with." Apparently, Joe doesn't struggle with any are at school, which I believe although I suppose he could have put "doing my homework" there and it would have been accurate. His goals this next quarter?? Clipping up a lot, making new friends and getting better at soccer. Hmm...not one mention of doing his homework anywhere. Oh well! I suppose he'll learn eventually!

Emmy's PTC was a long one. She came along and we met with her teacher as well as the principal. At the beginning of the year we had talked to the counselor, her teacher and the principal and decided to accelerate Emmy in math and let her work on the 6th grade curriculum. If students meet certain requirements they can do this and Emmy does. BUT (and there's always a BUT) it took FOREVER to get the materials. No one at the district level knew what to do, where to get it, etc. And now that they finally have the student manual... there's no teacher's material available! SERIOUSLY!! On top of that, there are another 54,980,532,986 questions about how to implement this, how to test and track her scores and performance, what would happen next year if she completes the 6th grade math curriculum this year, how to make sure she is mastering the material....and no one knows the answers to those question either. This program was thrown into place with very little thought or planning on the part of the district apparently. Super Fun Stuff! So she hasn't been able to start on that. She also hasn't been able to get on their computer math program (Success Maker) where she can actually do math at her level (the program tracks your progress and moves you up as you master each concept) because there were IT problems so she hasn't even had that enrichment. At the end of last year she finished at a 6th grade math level on there. She is in the highest math group at the school with some other students so she gets some harder math in that group, but the daily work is just too easy for her. At least she still loves school and is getting straight A's. It can be a struggle to get her what she wants and needs so she can be challenged but we are blessed with a supportive and encouraging teacher and principal. They really are willing to do anything they can to help her and get her what she needs. 

Sterling is doing well in middle school. He's getting pretty good grades in school, but could do better at getting some of his work done. In art (which he loves) he's got a "C" because he hasn't been doing all the "Bell Work". All he has to do is pick a picture out of an art book the teacher has, write who it's by, what medium is used and a few other things...but he hasn't been doing most of them. Additionally he seems to have some trouble with time management and talking in class. :::sigh:::  And it's not just art class that he talks in. A few of his teachers mentioned his talking though they did say he just needs a reminder to not talk and he stops but I still had to remind him to not talk so much in class. It was so much fun to talk to his English teacher. She just loves him and couldn't say enough good things about him. They did some testing at the beginning of the year and Sterling is reading at about a 12th grade level. She told me that Sterling took two benchmark assessments and scored 100% on both. Something only he and one other student managed.

Basically, all my kiddos are smart kids, I guess. And basically good kids...even they don't always behave that way at home.  They're not perfect by  ANY stretch of the imagination, but I'm proud of them anyway! Way to go Kiddos!!! Dad and I are proud!!

Robert Allen