Thursday, January 31, 2008

Derby Newbies

Our family's first experience with the Pinewood Derby was Wed. Jan. 23rd. Having moved into our ward 3 weeks before Christmas and Jake's birthday, it was a tight squeeze just getting his scouting stuff for his first den meeting. Only later to find out the Pack meeting for January was the Pinewood Derby! I don't know how much advance notice kids usually get for making their cars, but we had 6 days prior to weigh in. I panicked and called our friend and craftsman, Tony for tips. Jared hadn't been a cub scout when he was younger so he was a novice at this too. But even if he had, we didn't have the tools to make the car. Okay, yes, I guess Jake could have put wheels on the rectangular piece of wood that comes in the kit. But...we wanted him to have some fun designing the car. And he did. His blueprint even included an aerial view.

We went to Tony's that weekend and Jake and Jared worked together to get the car in shape, literally. I gave Jake some of my craft paint so he could paint it. And voila! Jake's first derby car came to life. Of course we needed a weight kit. to the scouting store we went the day before weigh in for that. Fortunately Jared's office has a postal scale. Jared got it right at 5.0 ounces. And lucky for us, at the official weigh in, it was still 5.0 ounces. We passed. Now would it make it across the finish line?

Sadly, Jared worked his first shift at the urgent care the night of the pack meeting, so it was just me and the kids and the video camera. I packed Karcyn in the stroller and took her and Cooper to find a seat near the finish line. I told Jake to go check in and do whatever he needed to do.

His first time down the track, he raced against his friend Adam from his school and Primary class. Jake's car did cross the finish line (a feat in and of itself according to Jared), but it wasn't first so he went straight to the "losers bracket". Right on cue, the red face and quivery chin commenced. The tears were forming, but managed not to spill over (thank goodness). I can't tell you HOW many times we prepped Jake for this. "Just have fun, Jake", "You may not win and that's okay", "You have to be a good loser and a good winner", "Be happy for the boy whose car beats yours", and on and on. Anyone who knows Jake knows he has a very tender heart. But clearly he still has the competitiveness of his dad!

While we were watching other races, and perhaps because they sensed Jake's apparent dejection, someone asked me if we had put graphite on the wheels. Do I look like someone who has graphite or knows how to use it? I think my response was "Graphite?" Apparently there was graphite at the check in station that you could put under the nails by the wheels to make them spin faster. Ahhhh..."I see" said the blind man. Jake's car was doomed from the beginning.

Well all was not lost. Bless his heart, some other guy in my ward took me up there and showed me how to do it and did it for me. (Thanks Andy). They must have felt really sorry for the big pregnant lady with two little kids and one emotional Wolf. And against all odds....Jake won the next three brackets! He got beat in the semi-finals by his friend Trevor also from school and Primary. I still cannot believe he took 4th place overall. Not too shabby for his first time. Beginner's luck? Maybe. The goodness of graphite? Quite possibly. Jake doesn't really care. But thank you to everyone who helped us get through this experience. At least we have another year before we have to do it again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Laundry Lunacy

Am I losing it?
On laundry day, the boys are supposed to fold their laundry and put it away in the appropriate place; on the shelf in the closet, in their drawer, or on the hangers. When they get their pjs on for bed, they sort their DIRTY clothes in the baskets in the bathroom. Lights in one basket. Darks in another. If the clothes are CLEAN, they are to fold them up and put them away. When they get dressed in the morning, same routine. That makes sense right?
So why then, when I go to sort laundry for the wash, I find CLEAN clothes in the baskets? And when I help put clothes away, I find DIRTY clothes folded and on their shelf or in their drawers?? C'MON! I seriously don't get that. Actually, I can understand throwing clean clothes in the's faster than having to fold them up and put them away (unless they're caught). But I'm still trying to figure out how the dirty clothes end up folded and put away. You'd think they'd be eager to toss those in too.

Looking back...

Seventeen months ago our family stood in the driveway of our new rental home, the inside still in boxes, and were saying goodbye to my parents. I tried to be brave and fought back tears. I think I lost the battle when Cooper, 3 1/2 at the time, gave my mom a hug and said he would miss her when she was gone. We didn't even think he understood what was happening. I held Karcyn in my arms, she was only 5 months old, and a deep sadness washed over me when I realized they would miss opportunities to see her early milestones. But all of this tightening of the heart and burning tears was purely selfish. Jared's graduation and helping us move into the rental was my parents' last stop before reporting to the MTC as CES Missionaries for the L'viv Ukraine mission.

Their first mission in 2004 was in Salt Lake City as Family History Missionaries. I, of course, teased them that this wasn't a real mission. For crying out loud, they were running into General Authorities over their lunch break! To make things more unofficial, they could see my brother and sister-in-law and my sister and her family any ol' time they wanted and take them out to eat and shopping and babysit the grandkids. (I'm not bitter). We also got to call and talk to them at home and on our cell phones any ol' time we wanted. Summer breaks and Christmas vacation were of course, spent in SLC. Yeah, we were spoiled. But we were all blessed, in so many tender ways, for their service to the Lord.

This second mission, which started only 5 months after completing their first, took them halfway across the world and ten hours ahead of us. It has been a much different scenario than the first. We had to use the internet to communicate through email (thank heavens for this amazing technology) only when they could get theirs working, however. A couple months later we were able to communicate through web cams (thank you Morgans for giving us yours!) That was really special. A fun new dimension. We still couldn't talk any ol' time we wanted. It took planning ahead of time. Either they were just walking up and we were going to bed or it was the other way around. Packages took 3 weeks to get to them. Not bad I guess, but oh, the lag time was torture! By the time they got it we had forgotten what we sent them. Of course there were the holidays they missed. And the birth of two more grandchildren. This was a much bigger sacrifice for everyone, but especially my parents. Leaving their children and grandchildren in the care of each other and the Lord. We could only pray that the Lord would hold our parents safe and dear in this far distant land.

Today, though, I am ready to have my parents back on American soil. I can't believe the countdown is over. As I type, they arrive in Salt Lake City in 2 hours. They won't be in Oregon for another 4 weeks, but I'm okay with that. Because I know they'll be with one of their children's families whom they missed terribly. (And because I'm thirty and I need to learn to share!)

Looking back on these past 17 months, in my little family's life, I cannot dispute that we have been blessed exponentially for their service. For their love of the Lord which transcends all. For what other reason would they have gone? I'm so grateful for their example and that I was fortunate to be a recipient of their goodness. They served honorably. And when I see them again, I won't be so brave. The tears will flow freely and joyfully when we are reunited once more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Laugh or Cry?

So I'm on the phone with Jared explaining that our home warranty people can't get someone out to fix our furnace that pooped out last night until Monday from noon-2 at the earliest. (That's right, 6 days from now). But the guy who "fixed" the furnace a month ago could come out today. However, our warranty won't cover any future charges made by the technician who originally worked on it because he doesn't work for them. Naturally. The tech I tracked down was miraculously in our area at the moment and could swing by, but after that he didn't know when he could come. We needed to make a decision and fast. What to do? Have the original guy come out and run the risk that it isn't the same issue and have to fork out an untold amount of money ourselves? OR... gut it out til Monday afternoon and only pay the $55 deductible?? We were frantically mulling this over when Cooper calmly walked up to me and informed, "Mooom, Karcyn's getting up on the fireplace." Karcyn has just learned how to climb up on things (chairs, tables, bar stools) and out of her high chair, in the past few days. Climbing up on the fireplace didn't surprise me, but I needed to deter her from this. What did surprise me (as Jared and I were still deciding what to do) was what I found...Karcyn IN the fireplace. With everything that had been happening this morning, I think I was just a few pieces of straw away from quite possibly starting to cry. I quickly hung up with Jared who was going to call the tech back and say thanks but no thanks and I surveyed the scene for the necessary Karcyn extraction. That's when I realized the "damage" was done.

She was already dirty. Might as well take a picture.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Man Cub

Okay, so I thought Jake being old enough for baptism was enough. After spending 2 years in a Primary presidency, I can't BELIEVE I forgot that he also starts Cub Scouts. ACK!!!! It seems like a lot of stuff they have to do each year, but as long as I help Jake pace himself, I'm sure he'll do fine. And flipping through his Wolf book, it actually looks like fun. (Remember, I've never gone through the scouting program...I am a girl after all!) You can't dispute it though. Our lives have just been kicked up a notch with our new man cub.

Jake had his first den meeting 3 days after Jared (that's right, it didn't even dawn on me) remembered he was old enough for scouts and 1 day after I got his scouting stuff. My fingers were furiously at work trying to get those DARNED patches on. Had to redo 2 of them, one of which I haven't figured out yet. It goes on the stupid pocket and I'm still working on it. I might have been a little more on the ball if we hadn't just moved, but not necessarily. Jake had a great time at his den meeting, we've got super leaders. Cooper cried when we dropped Jake off at his meeting. Don't be fooled though. It was pure drama. Cooper was just mad HE wasn't the one going to scouts. Unfortunately his time will come a lot sooner than I would like.

Happy New Year to Me!

The best part about the New Year was doing the last bit of organizing in our garage and giving my van its new home! Okay, yes...we had an attached garage in our rental. However, being low on living space, the van took up residence in the driveway to allow the garage to be sort of a play room for the boys. They loved it too. But now that we have a little more space in our new house, a garage door opener that works, and a sloped driveway, it makes my heart go pitter patter to see my good little van dry and warm in our garage. And now I, too, can stay dry and warm, especially when loading up kids. Yea for me!

It's Great to be Eight!

Jake turned the big 8 years old on December 27th. Oh know you're getting old when your first child turns eight and is about to be baptized.

Jake hasn't had his birthday party with friends yet; that's always saved for one month after his birthday to allow everyone time (mom especially) to get back into normal activity after the holidays. But we always have our family party on his actual birthday. As stinky as 2 days after Christmas is for a birthday, I think it would be even worse to have been born on Christmas day. So far Jake hasn't complained.

We were at the grocery store earlier in the week getting our stock up for the holidays. When we passed the baking section with candles, Jake held up a big '8' and said we should get that for his cake. As usual, I said "No, we don't need it. We have candles at home." Once it came to topping his cake with his candles, I found that in fact we didn't have any. And Jake was given yet another opportunity to prove me wrong and say "I told you we needed that candle." So here is a picture of our safest birthday cake yet and Jake blowing out imaginary candles. He was a very good sport.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Home for the Holidays

I'm not picky. Home is what you make it, really. Which is why I was surprised to hear so many friends excited for us to be in our OWN house for Christmas this year. I didn't think it would feel any different. We were just glad not to be traveling by car or plane (or boat or train).

In past years, with Jared being in school, Christmas was the obvious vacation stretch where we could go and spend time with family, rotating between IL and AK and even UT more recently. We didn't mind celebrating Christmas elsewhere and actually looked forward to our reunions at the holidays. With that said however, and no offense to any family member anywhere....Now that we don't have two weeks vacation at Christmastime and family isn't exactly "close" (I'm sorry...but twelve to sixteen hours in a van through iffy mountain passes and weather does not constitute CLOSE in my book) was very, so very nice just to be in our own space for Christmas this year. Being in our new home was just an added bonus. (I still can't believe we pulled off a move 3 weeks before Christmas. I know others have moved a few days before Christmas, putting our three weeks prior to shame, but considering my "condition" and Jared was working full time during the entire transition...I think it's impressive for us. Even pictures were hung...our true mark of "moved in" & "settled").

My dad chastised me when he found out we sent the kids back to bed twice Christmas morning before getting up for good at 8am. But only because not all the kids were up at the same time and I'm not waking up a child in the morning unless it's absolutely necessary! We actually videotaped Christmas morning so we have no pictures to post for that. But here is a picture of the Portland area miracle that did happen...snow! We were totally stunned. Apparently the chances of getting snow on Christmas in our area is about 7% and if I recall, it's been more years than I've been alive (which is a lot) that they had it last on Christmas. Fun for our first Aloha Christmas memory.