Monday, March 16, 2009

13 Year Old

Alex, my first-born, turned 13 yesterday. I know, it is out of control and scary. I don't know if I can cope--seriously, when did this happen? It seems like he has always been a kid and will always be a kid. I need to realize he's growing up!

Alex has always been a sweet boy. His disposition is to be happy and easy-going but under the surface hides a bit of a control freak and a sarcastic self-perfectionist. He reminds me A LOT of myself. He is more like me than Martin that way. When he was a baby he started talking at 10 or 11 months and I remember he could tell me his colors at 12 months. I think that is first-child syndrome, but he was an early talker. Walking, on the other hand, didn't come until shortly before 16 months, as with all my kids. He was so much fun when he was little. He was my little best friend and went everywhere with me. He had, and still has, a very infectious smile and laugh. When we moved to the Seattle area he got me through the tough times and I depended on him a lot. He is still a rock that I look to for support and he only gets stronger with age. I can't wait to see him get more mature and watch him become a man. He knows when to be serious and when to goof off and he respects people. He has the funniest sense of humor and can make me laugh at the oddest of times when I'm least expecting it. I hope you all can get to know Alex. I feel like he has a lot to give as a person. Happy Birthday Alex!
An interview with a 13 year old:

What is your favorite:

1. Food? Mexican
2. Music group? Linkin Park
3. Thing to do? Play sports, especially baseball.
4. Subject at school? Math
5. Animal? Dogs, especially huskies.
6. Actor? Steve Carell
7. Place? Utah
8. Color? Blue
9. Song? "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers
10. TV show? The Office
11. Movie? Harry Potter (any one)
12. Team? Yankees (Seriously? Who knew?)
Where would you like to serve your mission? Japan

Some of Alex's favorite things: Guitar Hero, good chocolate (milk chocolate), movies, alternative music, playing outside with friends, family, food, sleeping (he sleeps all the time), playing the piano.
Alex catching some sweet air.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jenny, I Miss You

Sometimes in life I feel like I would really like to hold back time. Just pinch it and make it stay where it is. I've felt that way when I am really enjoying my children being little or when I'm having a good day. That's also how I've felt for a few months now, knowing this day was coming. I don't know why I feel so much more lonesome for Jen today. Maybe it's because a whole year seems really long, or maybe it just reminds me she's gone, or maybe I feel like I'm forgetting her. Whatever the reason, I'm sad, and I miss her a lot today. I don't want to make this day about me, because it isn't. But I don't know how else to honor and remember her today. Maybe that's okay and you'll humor me...just for today. And maybe Jen will too. These are some of me and my family's favorite memories of Jen.

Martin: Jenny and Ernie were visiting us from Utah. This was before they had their girls so they were fairly free back then. They had lots of fun driving to Canada and visiting Kurt Cobain's grave. One day they drove to Leavenworth with Martin and the kids. They loved it because they both went to Germany on their missions and that little Bavarian town was like going home for them. On the way there, Martin and Jen talked and talked about politics. Jen was a major liberal and Martin was....well, not. Out of everyone, Martin and Jen got along best even though they had obvious flat=out differences. They respected each others opinions and both realized that the other, generally speaking, knew what they were talking about! Martin misses Jen for that and for the great threat she posed at Trivial Pursuit. She was the only one that could beat him (and I loved her for that!!).

Alex: One winter day when we were visiting for Christmas in Utah, Jen decided she was going to take my kids (just Alex and Olivia at the time) and go sledding. I may have been pregnant with Isaac, but I don't remember. Anyway, I warned Jen that my kids are not the daring type and I didn't know how anxious they would be about this little trip. She assured me all would be fine and they would love it. She got them all bundled up and took off one morning with video in hand to the mountains. When they got back she was laughing so hard she really couldn't tell me how it went. She turned on the video and showed me the proceedings of the day. On the screen was Alex sliding down the hill over and over with Jenny's encouraging voice trying to persuade Olivia to go down. Olivia was having none of it. So, Jen picked her up, put her on the sled and pushed her down the hill, screaming and crying the whole way. For the rest of the video Olivia sat at the bottom of the hill sobbing while Jenny video taped Alex going down again and again. She cried non-stop and Jenny consoled her, as she laughed to the side. I still have this video.

Olivia: Olivia remembers swimming in the pool with Aunt Jenny. Jen loved to go swimming. When we were little kids Jenny was always the first (and often only) one to get in the freezing waters at Willard Bay, Lake Powell or Bear Lake. She knew no seasonal boundaries. She liked to frolic in the waters as she got older and had her little girls. I remember the summer before she died going to Jackson and staying at a campground that had a somewhat disgusting and questionable swimming pool. Everyone else went hiking but Jen and I because we had to stay back with the littlest kids. She was jumping in and bouncing around and screaming like she was 15 again! Erin and Phoenix were loving watching their mom have so much fun.

Isaac: When I ask Isaac about Jenny he says she's in the ground. I think that memory for him will always stand out. Poor guy. He will never know Jenny like my other two did. But I remember something that she loved to tell me about a day she spent with Isaac while Martin and I were in Hawaii. She took Alex, Olivia and Isaac and some of the other nieces and nephews to see a movie. I don't remember the movie but she remembered Isaac sat on her lap, and he was a big baby, as she fed him popcorn the ENTIRE time. He was only 1 or 2 and she had to place each piece in his mouth because he didn't want to get his hands buttery.

Heather: There are so many memories to choose from. We had such a fun relationship, especially before we got into our mean teens. We played in my dad's barn and climbed up to the off-limits loft, spent hours flying kites in Dad's fields, and played house in the trailer when mom didn't know we had found the key. We had a lot of fights as we got older, but we always loved each other. Once, when she was 16 or so and having a hard time, she came home one night and came to me and I held her while she cried for 2 or 3 hours until my parents got home. It scared me then, but I think about it now and I'm so glad she knew she could come to me. When she had her second daughter, Phoenix, she called me and begged me to come home to Utah for the baby blessing. I was so glad she wanted me there for that moment and I'm so glad I went. We got to spend a few days together without my kids, and we talked a lot. That is a sweet memory.

I know even though Jen isn't here in the flesh with me now, she is all around me. I feel her in the warm sunshine, hear her in the laugh of a new friend, and see her in the eyes of her daughters. I think of her often, and just thinking of her makes her seem closer.

I love you, Jen. I miss you. Stay as close as you can...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sick and Bored

I was sick for about a week with a nasty cold. Anyway, I was fairly incapacitated and BORED out of my mind. So I played stupid games on the computer, and watched some really good (and really bad) movies. I was able to catch up on some movies I'd wanted to see for a while (like years) but haven't had a chance. Also, I watched some movies that I've never heard of. Here is a list of the movies I watched and my thumbs-up or thumbs-down and reasons for my like or dislike.

1. The Secret Life of Bees - thumbs up - I've read the book, but it was years ago and I have to admit I remembered little about the book. It was fun to see the movie to remind me why I loved the book so much. I thought the movie stayed true to the overall feeling of the book and I thought the casting was spot on for the most part.

2. Nights in Rodanthe - thumbs up and then down -Pretty good and then the guy dies in the end! I don't like death in movies where I'm not expecting it. I didn't know anything about the story and so I got attached to the characters and what happens??? He DIES!!! I know things are not always "happy ending" in this life but I was not expecting this. Until that part the movie was okay. The acting was a bit forced too and the story a bit hokey.

3. Henry Poole is Here - thumbs WAY up - I loved this movie. I had not even seen any trailers on this movie, so I was pleasantly surprised. It was a bit hard to watch given the fact that the main character, Henry Poole, knows he's dying. That hit a bit close to home because of Jenny, but hope being the central idea was very don't see that very often. Plus, I thought it was a bit edgy and had an almost dream-like quality but that added to its charm.

4. Reality Bites - thumbs whatever- I have been hearing this movie was good for over 10 years and all I have to say is, "hmmmm...really?" This was a bit lame on top of the fact that it was somewhat depressing, and just, well, boring. Winona Ryder was okay. I don't particularly love or hate her, but this movie didn't move me at all. Is it a 90's icon? No idea. It was definitely not the 90's I lived, but whatever.

5. Batman Begins - thumbs still wondering what to do - I hate it when I hear tons and tons of good things about movies and get my hopes all up and then have them dashed. This movie was like that for me. I just watched this movie for the first time (seriously) and I'm a few years behind, but anyway...I think the effects were great and I liked the story but it was full of annoying cliches and that drives me nuts. I guess that's how a lot of the comic movies are, I also hated "Iron Man" when I saw it...and that has nothing to do with the fact that Gwyneth was in it (although she is my biggest competition for Chris Martin--I think that ship's already sailed). FYI: I loved the older Batman movies with Val Kilmer, Michael Keaton and that other dude.

6. Fireproof - thumbs up - I really enjoyed this movie and was impressed by the amount of attention it got. It's a christian film and usually they don't really grab me too much but this one did as I thought it was incredibly relevant for lots of different reasons. Was it cheesy?? I guess a little bit but my cheesedar didn't go off much and I was glad for that. I think if people took the advice given from this movie to heart a lot of marriages could be saved, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I feel like movies are trying to do just the opposite and that gets to me, which is why I'm rather snobbish about what I will and won't see. I don't like to be encouraging and supporting that.

I watched some more movies that I truly could not get through the first 10 minutes. I feel like I'm losing my attention span as I get older, and that's probably not a good thing. These are the ones that jumped out at me, though and I wanted to post about that. So you're very welcome (bow).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Isaac's Parent Teacher Conference

Well, I decided to write down how my PT conf. with Isaac's teacher Mrs. Duke went, because I don't want to forget what he was like and all the funny things he does. Mrs. Duke has a few (a-hem) issues with Isaac. I knew most of them before because I spend a lot of time in the classroom with him. I don't mean to be hard on him. These are, after all, the reasons I love him.

1. He is very, very, very, very ssssllllooooowwww. Anyone who knows Isaac at all knows this and is probably laughing right now. For me this has always been a minor annoyance. After all, my dad is the slowest man on the face of the planet. He eats slow, drives slow, walks name it. It's funny that Isaac's middle name is Harvey, after my dad. Mrs. Duke said Isaac often needs to be reminded of time restraints and time passage to get his work done. This is true, as I have seen in class, he often cannot go out to recess because he needs to finish his classwork.

2. He lacks focus. Really? Isaac? Again, this is not a big surprise. The kid cannot focus on a project for more than a few seconds. He is usually occupied with something going on his little imagination. School work is the last thing on his mind, and it shows while he's in class. Seriously, I have to remind him a hundred times to keep going on his work, or he will literally stare off into space for hours.

3. He still doesn't know his letters. Well, this WAS true, but he has since learned most of them by sight. However, for the longest time he thought L, M, N, O, and P were the same letter. You know, LMNOP. You gotta give it to him, it does sound like an entire letter in the alphabet song. So we had to work with him on that! He still has trouble with M and W, but let's face it, they do look similar.

4. His numbers are always missing 13, 15, and 17. Mrs. Duke said this is normal as they call them the "terrible, tough teens." I worked on those with him and he knows them now, but has to slow down to say them and not miss any. Funny thing, he could count backwards from 30 and not miss any. Maybe he's dyslexic....!

So these are the major concerns. But I have to give it to him. Since I figured out these problems, he has done much better and has learned them and done better within a few days. I don't know how that happened. Mrs. Duke says his biggest problem is his maturity level and that he may need to be held back but wouldn't say for sure. She thinks most likely not, but we are prepared for anything. I don't want him to be so far behind that he is always struggling. His fine motor functions are a bit slow too, but most boys are. He has been behind since the outset so I'm not worried. I just want his happiness and it is clear to me that he is indeed happy.

Some funny stories Mrs. Duke had about Isaac:

They always know when Isaac has gone to the bathroom because they can hear him singing at the top of his lungs when he's in there.

When he shows up for class (he still does this) he will usually go sit at his desk with his backpack and coat on while all the other children are hanging up theirs. He forgets everyday to hang them up. He often is just watching the other kids and not doing anything. He has to be reminded, "Isaac--coat hung up and in the locker." Not sure why. Other times his coat and backpack will be on the floor in between his desk and the door. He does this at home too. I have to tell him everyday to pick up his things and put them away. Like I said, no focus.

One day the class was doing art projects using Sharpies. He told Mrs. Duke he wasn't allowed to use Sharpies and so he couldn't do the project. She assured him it was okay. When I came in that day to help, he was practically in tears when I looked at him. I went over to him and he told me in a really scared voice that he had to use Sharpies and he accidentally drew on his pants. There was barely a mark on his pants but he was sure he was in trouble. It broke my heart. I had to tell him Mrs. Duke was the boss while he was at school and everything was fine.

I love my Isaac and I am so excited to see him growing up. He is a truly kind person and hasn't got a mean or nasty bone in his body. He has no disposition to do anything bad or naughty. It's not in his nature. I am so blessed to have him in my life and Martin and I adore him. I'm proud to be his mom.