Friday, July 26, 2013

"Show" Stopper

Our neighborhood sweetheart lifeguards, Hannah and Jory, began something new this summer. In between swimming sessions, they have offered a summer camp for kids where they would spend an hour teaching the children how to play fun outdoor group games in addition to other sports like soccer, basketball and football.

We allow one camp/activity a summer for our kids in addition to swimming lessons and when we saw a sports camp was being offered just down the street from us, we knew it would be perfect for Calvin.

He has had so much fun with this and I love that he's been able to do something all by himself!

Today was the last day of camp. When I went to pick him up a few minutes ago, Jory came over to the car and said that they had just been playing on the grass with Calvin (who was, embarrassingly, the last child to be picked up!) All of a sudden there was a fire truck coming up the road, complete with its lights and siren going full blast. (I had actually heard it at home!) She said that when Calvin heard the fire truck, he quickly spun around and smiled and waved to the fire fighters.

Jory and Hannah were stunned when they saw the fire truck actually slow down (with the lights and siren on, on their way to some place important) so Calvin would be sure to see them. Every single one of those big men all smiled and waved back at him.

Jory and Hannah said it was the cutest thing. They had never seen anything like it before.

Calvin's charm apparently doesn't just stop shows...he all but stops emergency vehicles as well!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Nature's Deadliest" rears its ugly head

I was at the office yesterday, like usual, while Jared spent his weekly day off doing the laundry and hanging out with the kiddos. He relayed the following to me last night.

Every once in a while, Karcyn and Calvin, decide they want to ramp up their culinary repertoire and they request Top Ramen for lunch. (Yes, we are aware that ramen is fried. Yes, we know that it has no nutritional value whatsoever and when fed to rats in a medical study over a given period of time, the rats didn't thrive and in fact started deteriorating. However, lunch is one of those battles that we choose not to fight. So ramen it was!!)

The whole time Karcyn was eating her ramen, she kept informing Jared that she was eating a bowl of snakes. "This is a jararaca. This is a red spitting cobra. Did you know that when the red spitting cobra spits in your face, it doesn't kill you. It just makes you blind. Mmmm, anacondas. Delicious."

While eating her snakes at the counter with Calvin, a debate ensued over the jararaca and where it lives.

Calvin insisted Australia.

Karcyn insisted Brazil.

They went back and forth, back and forth about it.

"It's Australia!"

"No it's not! It's Brazil!"



Jared felt that all that was missing in this shouting match was the posting of the Australian and Brazilian flags and the national anthems. As if on cue, Cooper wandered into the kitchen and to the little kids, it was divine intervention. "Let's ask Cooper. He'll know!" Cooper could settle this once and for all. But most importantly, his response would declare who was right

"Coop, where does the jararaca snake live?"

"That's easy. Africa." Aww, man. They didn't see that coming.

Now that they had three different continents represented, Calvin suggested an even better solution.

"Maybe we should just watch it so we'll know."

Nice try, Calvin. Jared piped in and said, "It's noon. When do we watch TV?"

Calvin, rather deflated, sighed and said, "3 o'clock." Yup. If you get all your stuff done.

Jared went back to our room to finish folding laundry. A few minutes later, Karcyn ran into the bedroom with an empty bowl and proudly announced to Jared she had finished eating her bowl of snakes.

Thank you, Sweet Girl. Jared's convinced she needs dance year round to help her be "girlified" :)

However, for the record, the jararaca is indigenous to southern Brazil, as well as Paraguay and northern Argentina. Karcyn knows her stuff.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

a 4th of July "miracle"

As first time home buyers 6 years ago, finding a house was a painful process. I had all but given up on it. Before our awesome realtor took us to see this house, I told Jared I was so tempted not to go. That's how ridiculous the market was at the time for our price range. But once we stepped inside the front door, we instantly knew "this was the place"! (no pun intended).

Besides having just three bedrooms and some wasted space in them, the only real negative I noticed was in the kitchen. The range was a super small, obscure looking drop-in model. I'd never seen anything like it before and we've lived in our share of tiny, run down apartments.

We were convinced it was the original range from 1975 when the home was built. It only had one large coil burner, as opposed to the two that I was used to and the oven was even smaller. I feared I wouldn't even be able to get a cookie sheet inside it. Not to mention it was grimy beyond the point of being cleaned.

We were shocked to find out this range was a model from the year 2000! (Apparently GE is the only company that still makes them). Later, after we moved in, I discovered other drawbacks. The dials are in the "perfect" location for little children and toddlers to turn them to the far left or far right or even off. I can't tell you how many times I've put something in the oven and when I went back through the kitchen noticed the temperature was completely wrong or off all together. And the door to the oven is so low and loose the little kids have no problem opening it. Fortunately, they didn't do that too often, but it was still a concern.

Our kitchen space is actually pretty decent for our neighborhood. LOTS of cabinets and counter tops. Which is why I didn't understand the "space-saving" GE range. If we were in a one-room studio, it would make sense. But this kitchen could definitely support a full size range. And when we bought the house, we figured one day we'd be the ones to swap it out.

Eighteen months ago Jake turned 12...and that's about the time I started to feel the food crunch. He eats everything. Except beans and rice. And having an oven that only BARELY allows for one single 9x13 casserole dish, doubling recipes hasn't been a viable option either. Never mind only having one large burner on the stove top. Honestly, when I look back on the last 5 1/2 years, I don't know how I managed to feed a family of 6 and 7 with just ONE big burner!!

It was around the beginning of the year that I realized we needed to get a full-size range for no other reason except to be able to feed the family (and others) more efficiently. If this was simply a matter of buying a new range, we would have done it years ago. But nope. This would involve some minor renovations. Our space-saving range was 27 inches wide. The standard width for full-size ranges is 30 inches. We would need a professional to come and cut into our cupboards and counter tops, 1.5 inches on each side of the range to make room. I measured it myself and it appeared we could eek out the extra space, while keeping the cabinets intact. However, if there's one thing I've learned by watching home renovation shows--it's that things can snowball improvement project often times rolls into another...and another. What begins as an easy fix usually exposes another issue that you hadn't considered because you couldn't see it, which then leads to another issue with a big decision attached to it and of course, more money. For example, there was a possibility that when the workers cut into the counter tops, they might shatter. So then we'd be faced with having to replace new counters. But the material for that depends on your cabinets and what if later down the road, we decide to replace those? Ugh...We only had enough cash to do stove replacement and I prayed it would stop at that.

After getting several bids, we decided to have a friend, James Harris, from our old Forest Grove ward do the job for us. He's the founder and president of Cedar Mountain Construction and I like his work.

After he gave us an estimate, we asked how long it would take to get it done. He said it would be within the week after our appliances are delivered (we were replacing the hood microwave at the same time). Jared and I went to Sears on June 30th to see if we could take advantage of some Fourth of July sales and we did. We purchased all Kenmore Elite brand appliances which included a new electric, smooth top stove and double oven with the option of true convection in the lower oven. We got a new microwave that matches the look of the range and while we were there we purchased a new dishwasher as well. We weren't able to ask James about installing the dishwasher but figured it would be okay since we were paying him by the hour anyway.

While trying to decide which dishwasher to get, we were looking at the different decibel options. Most of them were under 50 and we were told that anything under 47 or thereabouts is going to be quiet enough that you have to put your ear up to it to hear something. If that's the case, ANY dishwasher would be an improvement from the $200 el cheapo we have currently. We have no idea what the decibel rating is, but Jared suggested it was in the jet....because that's what it sounds like every time you start it. In fact, there have been many nights when I've been in our bedroom at the opposite end of the house, with the door closed and the TV on and I've heard some unexpected clanking or banging sounds. After freezing suddenly, trying to decipher if the noise I heard might be the cat knocking something over or a little one up and about, I have to remind myself, "Oh yeah, the dishwasher is on."

The dishwasher. It's been on it's last leg for a while. You know it's bad when you load well rinsed off dishes in to be clean and they come out dirtier than when you started. But since it isn't a necessity, I just couldn't bring ourselves to replace it. Not until it REALLY died.

I have similar issues with  the dishwasher that I do with the range. It too is just old and grimy. We've had to replace the toe-kick piece at the bottom numerous times because it's hanging by a stripped screw.

The dials and lock lever are JJ's FAVORITE past time. This is even more frustrating to me than the oven because once the dishes are done and "dry" (which is actually an overstatement for half of them) and JJ comes along and starts it up again, the whole load is dripping in water in a matter of seconds. Or he'll turn the dial while it's mid-cycle which isn't cool either. And once he hones in on the dishwasher, he doesn't stop playing with it and JJ usually ends up in time out. And that's just the outside of the appliance.

The dishwasher is definitely on the smaller side. We have recently started running it twice a day. The "brown" tips at the end of the tines are actually rust. It's hit and miss when the soap dispenser will actually engage and dissolve all the soap. It's not unusual for us to find a clump of detergent still sitting in the dispenser at the end of the cycle. Yes, we Houghs all know how to hand wash dishes. And we're not above such work. But at the same time, if I have a dishwasher already taking up space in my kitchen, it would be nice if it actually did it's job.

Since we had the funds for a new dishwasher and the delivery fee was a flat rate regardless of the number of appliances you purchased, we bought a new one of those too! I knew I was getting a new range, which was a very much needed purchase, but I felt like the dishwasher was more of an indulgence so I was REALLY excited to get a new one!

As soon as we got home from Sears, I emailed James. The appliances were being delivered on Tues. 7/2. Close to the Fourth, but thought maybe, just maybe we could get this done on Friday or even Saturday. I didn't hear back from James until Tuesday when he said he couldn't promise anything because his crew has Thursday and Friday off and then they'd be going out of town for a week doing another job. So it probably wouldn't happen for a couple of weeks. *sigh* So close...yet so far still.

I understood, of course, but did express how bummed I was. Had a known that, I would have delayed delivery of the appliances as well.

The next day, James wondered if it would work to have 2 of his guys come over on Thursday, July 4th at 8am. On the 4th of July?? Really?? I told him Yes, Yes, Yes!! He told me that if it turned out to be too big of a job to do that morning, that we'd have to wait and do it when they got back. I told him that was cool and just appreciated that they were coming on a day off and a holiday no less.

In the meantime, Wes and Bev had asked us what our 4th of July plans were. We're lame and don't have any except lighting a few fireworks in the evening. So they invited Jake and Cooper to run the C.A.T 5K in downtown Hillsboro with them in the morning and Jared could bring the little kids to their stakeout for the parade while I stayed and supervised the workers and then we could all catch a movie later that afternoon. I swear, the McCulloughs were inspired to invite the family to hang out with them, because it could have been much less enjoyable (read: torture) for all of us.

Once Kenny and Donny showed up, I told them again what we were hoping for and they did their thing. Jake and Cooper had already left with Wes and Bev around 6am, so Jared and the 3 little kids headed out around 8:30am to join them for the parade.

[Coop before the race.]

[The McHoughs before the race--nice looking group!!]

[Jake finishing the 5K. His time: 24:31--a 3 minute impressive improvement.]

[Cooper wrapping up the 5K. His time 40:32. Way to finish!!]

I was nervous that whole morning. After the guys showed up, I went in to say my prayers and I asked Heavenly Father to please just let the new stove get put in today. That's what we really need. And that the renovation will go as smoothly as possible.

Once Kenny got the range out and they took some measurements, he came to find me. He said that, technically, they could cut into the cabinets and counters but they'd have to shave 1/4 inch of drawer and door on the right side to make enough room. And on the left, they'd have to shift the door over. In the end he said that, even though it would be temporary (we're hoping to replace cabinets in a couple of years) it wouldn't be very pretty and he just didn't feel comfortable doing it.

Then he said they discovered two exposed wires. They're supposed to have a cap on them. One didn't and though one did, the cap had somehow been melted, exposing that wire. He looked at me and said, "This was a fire waiting to happen. Even without it being in use."
Whoa. I stopped and thought of all those end-of-day family prayers in the past 5 1/2 years (roughly 2,000 of them) when we asked Heavenly Father to please watch over and protect us and our home as we slept--keeping us safe from harm and accident--and at that very moment I was so grateful for EVERY ONE of them. Even though we say that same thing every night, we mean it every time. I felt so blessed!!

In light of these two things, Kenny said that he didn't think they could do anything for us that day but while they could put the oven back, the wiring was a real problem. With it being a holiday, there wasn't really much they could do to fix it, even if they knew how. I just stood there, quietly, feeling disappointment wash over me, contemplating what the next step should be. Kenny suggested that the only other option they could come up with would be to move the left cabinet over 3 inches to free up the needed space for the new range. Interestingly enough, this was the exact thing another contractor had said they'd do. I didn't even know that was an option but thought it was kind of cool actually. I think Kenny was a little surprised when I half shouted, "Let's do it!"

Because Kenny and Donny aren't licensed electricians and because the wiring for the drop-in range we had is different from the free standing range we purchased, they would have to have James call an electrician to come and hook it up for us the next day. This was so minor at this point, I didn't care. That's what food storage is for.

And they were off, making some VERY loud noises. I was sitting at the dining room table trying to be available for them if they needed me, but not hover. But I was interested too. I snuck in and took a couple of pictures. It was really hard to focus on my Sunday School lesson.

This is Kenny separating the counter from the wall. And Donny is down below working on making room in the floor for the cabinet's extension. During this process they discovered that there are no cabinet backings. The back of the cabinet is the wall itself.

The space without the cabinet.

Another discovery...we have four floors! That's right, not just one or two or even three, but FOUR of them! Apparently, instead of ripping up the existing floor(s), the previous homeowners just put the new floor(s) on top of the old one(s). And the floors have been built up a good inch or more. The next worry...would this affect the range being put in? I didn't dare ask and I cautiously braced myself for the answer.

That was the other thing that made me nervous...hearing the discussion between the two workers. Everything they said sounded bad to me (laywoman in the world of renovation), but for them, it was just normal construction conversation.

I gave up on my lesson. I just couldn't focus. It was SUCH a blessing that I was the only one in the house at the time. The kids would have had no place to go and would have wanted to be right in the thick of the project. A nightmare for all of us. The McCulloughs saved the day, again!

I went into the living room (which shares the same wall they were working on) to read for a distraction. I had to tell myself to stop jumping every time I thought they were going to bust through the wall from the other side.

I took a peek and they had taken out the microwave.

The old NASTY microwave. Gross.

The range was carefully put in place. And then the microwave. While Kenny did the finishing touches on that side of the kitchen, Donny went to work on the dishwasher installation.
At this point, the parade was over and Jared had come home briefly. All the kids were actually sleeping in the car. They were plum tuckered out after enjoying their very first parade experience and running a 5K. Jared wanted to know what they should do next. I suggested he go get lunch with the kids. He said Wes and Bev had told him they could hang out at their place since the workers were still at our house, so that's what he did.

Shortly after Jared left, Donny appeared in the dining room and said that the dishwasher wouldn't fit. WHAT?? We specifically asked the guy at Sears if these were a standard size because I hadn't measured ours. He said they were. Yeah, that wasn't the problem. It was the floor. Or, shall I say, floors? Because of the lift of the four different floorings, there was a deficit of about 1/2 an inch, at best. But Donny just couldn't get it to fit. Either the floor had to go--not an option--or the counters had to be lifted...which was far more than they could do that day. Talk about ironic. I almost had to laugh at the situation. Who knew the dishwasher would be the biggest issue and disappointment? Donny felt soooo bad too. I think he was more bummed than I was. The dishwasher was just icing on the cake, but I was soooo close to having a new one I could taste it! And now, it's not even an option, until our kitchen cabinets and counter tops are replaced. We thought that was all we'd need, but now it looks like flooring has found its way on the list too. Brother! What a drag. But then I remembered my prayer that morning and it was answered completely. I just wanted to the stove to work out and it did.

There was, however, a big dent in the right side of the range, near the top. There's no WAY these guys did that. I watched them the whole time they put it in. I remembered our sales guy telling us that if there are damages, to install the appliance anyway and they'd come to replace it.

After Kenny and Donny cleaned up their mess and came to say goodbye, I thanked them profusely for working that morning for me and for a job well done. I tried to write them the check but they said they don't take the money. Only James does. So I paid them in homemade raspberry freezer jam. They looked like little kids when I gave it to them.

At this point, it was about 1:30pm. The dishes and my cookbooks were all over the counters. I was going to put it all away but Jared told me to ditch it all and come over to the McCulloughs before the movie started.

The kids had their lunch and were playing outside and on the trampoline. A few of the them had also had a dart gun war.

Wes was playing ball with JJ when I got there.

Then we sat down and talked while we waited for the movie to start. JJ practiced his dart gun skills. He's got the shooting down. Just needs to work on his aim :)

We went to see "Despicable Me 2." I sat on the end with JJ because that's just what you do with an almost 2 year old. He actually watched "Rise of the Guardians" at Christmas for more than an hour before I had to take him out, so I was hopeful. I had also just bought some popcorn for him when I changed his diaper right before it started to help keep him distracted. With the previews, we probably made it about 25 minutes, but it wasn't very far into the movie at all.

Wes came out and relieved me but I felt SO bad about that. I gave in for about 15 minutes, then sent Wes back in so he could sit with Calvin and his sweetheart. Karcyn was soooo funny. She watched the movie and laughed at it and responded gleefully like she was the only person in that theater. I eventually got her attention across 5 other people and told her to be a little more quiet. She eventually made it on Bev's lap. Karcyn's laughter is super contagious so it's hard to know if Bev really enjoyed the movie or enjoyed the experience because of Karcyn's reactions to it :) Either way, hopefully Bev didn't mind the extra 40 lbs. on her lap.

After the movie, we said goodbye to our friends and headed home for the big unveiling :) I called Sears immediately and arranged for a new range to be delivered and for them to take back the dishwasher *sniff, sniff*

I didn't want to take off any of the wrapping either. But it was SO nice to see that big full size range sitting in our kitchen. Finally.

Here's the microwave. These are my first stainless steel appliances. And I love them! (Our fridge is just a "brushed" stainless steel look. And less than a year after we bought it, we discovered the "brushed" paint that covers the front doors, can be scratched off fairly easily.)

When Kenny and Donny installed the microwave they were shocked to see a metal rack in it. But it's true. There is a rack in there that you can use to maximize your microwaving space. It's suggested that you take the rack out until you actually need it. I don't know if I can ever bring myself to use it, but maybe...We had seen a microwave that could do convection just like the oven, but that was just too over-the-top, complicated for me. And my kids. We just need one that can heat things up, reheat and of course, can pop popcorn!

So the round glass platter rotates and sits in that plastic piece that slowly moves left to right to ensure even heating. The COOLEST feature about this microwave (and I recognize this is probably something many people have been enjoying for many years already) is that it "senses" things.

For example, when you put a bag of popcorn in and push the popcorn button it just senses how long it will need to heat by detecting how much humidity is left and when it gets to that point, you get a 30 second countdown and it's done. Beautiful, fluffy popcorn every time. We've been eating half burned bags for quite a bit and thought we got a bad box. It never dawned on us the microwave was the problem.

When we used it for the first time, my heart sank. It made a low noise between a hum and a buzz--like it wasn't connected properly. Something surely was wrong with it to be making this noise. And then it dawned on me. Just because it's quiet, doesn't mean there's a problem. I was so used to the louder buzzing of the old microwave.

I also love the 'melt and soften' feature!! The microwave has been a lot of fun to play with. I know there are still features we aren't even aware it has but I think we've got the gist of it down.

The range. On Friday morning, James called to let me know an electrician he contracts with was coming to install the range with the correct outlet and wiring. In the initial appliance delivery, we were also given the wrong "pigtail" or cord for the range. I think the electrician got that message because he had stopped by the store and brought everything he needed. I totally should have been an electrician. After getting the stove out from the wall, it took him all of 10 minutes to do his job!

Now I had a functioning range...but not an undamaged one. Even though it was working, I didn't feel right using it that day when it was being replaced the next. I didn't take any of the plastic off or anything.

I forget what we did for dinner that night...microwave popcorn, maybe? :) But we survived. Jared did make some hard boiled eggs to prep for his fishing trip to Lost Lake that next morning.

Saturday morning, Sears delivered my new, dent-free range and plugged it back in for me. And they hauled away my beautiful new dishwasher.

Other than taking our old appliances to the dump, it's done!

1st love-feature:
Smooth more uneven, tilting more covering drip-pans with aluminum foil!

2nd love-feature:
The glass touch more knobs!

3rd love feature:
TWO more waiting to cook bread or dessert before I can bake something else.
4th love feature:
The ovens are clean to begin with! And now they're self-cleaning!!

5th love feature:
Room for two 9x13 pans...The first meal I made in the lower oven was a week later and it was two pans of German pancakes. In the past, I have to make one and while we're eating the first, I make another. Doable, but not very efficient. I am in oven heaven. My friend says "Just wait until you can crank out 100 cookies in less than 25 minutes with the convection oven." I can't even imagine!

6th love feature:
Heavy more toddlers opening the oven door while it's on.

Now I know why no other previous homeowners have switched out the was a big job and was drawn out over a few days. But the stove was in two weeks earlier so I can't complain! All in all, we came out of it virtually unscathed.

**That weekend, we wrote the McCulloughs a thank you card for inviting us to do stuff with them on July 4th. Cooper's response, straight from his head, was brilliant as he summed it all up in 10 words:
"Thanks for adopting us so we could get our appliances."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sibling sweetness

What parent doesn't love to hear or hear of moments when their children demonstrated sweet, selfless love to their siblings without any parental involvement--and two moments in two consecutive days, no less??

Sibling sweetness #1
Cooper has been working hard for the last month or so to be a more improved member of the Hough Family. His efforts have ebbed and flowed for about 3 weeks. But last Sunday became a turning point for him. By Tuesday, his efforts to turn over a new leaf were still going strong. I was cautiously optimistic, however because it was a pretty dramatic switch from his previous attitude and as most parents know, those quick changes tend to want the efforts to be in smaller increments so that the new attitude and behavior is long lasting.

But to Cooper's credit, this last week, he has made big strides in "checking himself" and thinking before his knee-jerk reactions to things he doesn't like, such as answers or requests from his parents or the annoyances of siblings, for example.

Thursday was July 11th. Or 7/11, slurpies at 7 Eleven. Which, up until last year after Uncle Kevin introduced Jake to the Slurpie, is ironic since we don't ever get those types of things for the kids. But hey, they're free, so why not?

We had just picked Jake up from day four of basketball camp Thursday afternoon before heading to 7 Eleven. Jake expressed his hope that he might get a small Slurpie which cost $1.19. I didn't think I had enough for him to get one, since we were going because they were free. But after scrounging around, the Slurpie stars aligned, because I managed to find 2 dollar bills and 2 quarters in my wallet (I never have cash). I gave Jake the money for him and Cooper to each get a small. After getting the flavor orders for the rest of us in the car, Jake and Coop went back inside to get in line. About 5 minutes later, the boys came walking out with slurpies in their hands and arms. We distributed the drinks to the little kids and Jake said he had to go back to get his. Cooper went to the passenger side of the burb to give Karcyn hers and then stayed in the car. That's when I noticed he was drinking a free slurpie himself. I asked him why he didn't get a bigger one and he said, "Oh, they were out of the smalls so I told Jake he could have the medium one."


I was surprised when I heard Cooper's response because this was a reaction I wasn't accustomed to. Later that evening when he and I were driving to Tae Kwon Do, I asked him to tell me more about what happened at 7 Eleven. He said, "Oh, well, they were all out of small cups so I thought to myself, you know, Jake just spent many hours working hard at basketball camp, he's got to be hot and tired and thirsty. I think he deserves to have the medium slurpie so I told him he could use the money for my slurpie to get it."

WOW. I explained to Cooper that THIS is what life was all about. Taking your eyes off of you and putting them on someone else and what he demonstrated was Christ-like love. My mommy heart wanted to burst with joy when he walked me through his thought process. I couldn't stop gushing to him about it.

Sibling sweetness #2
Friday, 7/12, with our suburban and car topper packed almost-to-the-gills, we had just finished having family prayer and were about to drive away for our campout when I asked Jared if he packed the firewood. He smiled, put the car back in park and jumped out to get it. Because we had no cargo room left for wood, Jared shoved the bundles between Karcyn and Cooper in the 3rd row seat. The bundles were pretty high and not very stable. Jared asked Cooper to do what he could to keep them from tumbling around. Even Karcyn put her hand up on top to help the cause.

We were about 3 miles from the Cape Lookout campground at the coast when we took a pretty sharp turn. From the backseat we heard a loud "Owwwwwwww!!" Cooper got smacked hard by the top bundle of wood.

Karcyn immediately responded by saying, "Ohhhh--I'm soooooo sorry!" Cooper actually piped in and said it wasn't her fault even before Jared and I could assure her of the same thing.

Karcyn was obviously very concerned and quickly asked, "Did you get a wood cut??"

Cooper started moaning a bit from his new injury and then we heard Karcyn in the sweetest, most remorseful voice say, "I wish I had stronger hands."

My mommy heart instantly melted and my eyes became teary. Even after we told Karcyn that the wood bundle smacking Cooper wasn't her fault, she was still thinking that if only her hands would have been stronger, then maybe she could have kept the wood from hurting Cooper.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Greetings from the Caribbean!

February 29, 2012
Hello, hello sweet Mom and cute kids!
How ARE you?? It's 7:56 pm central time...3 hours AHEAD of you. So it's almost dinner time in Oregon.
Dad is getting ready for his much needed massage up in the "Shipshape Spa". I get mine tomorrow night :)
We are having an incredible time. It seems like a dream. I have to keep shaking my head and telling myself this really is real. We were in Jamaica yesterday (yah mon!) and Grand Cayman today. We're getting gifts for all of you in every port. However, depending on Grandma's report to us when we get back will determine if you get your gifts. They can be easily given to your other cousins!! So if you need to make a course correction...please do so now!
I can't get over how VAST the Caribbean is. Water, water, EVERYWHERE. What really boggles my mind is how a vessel of this magnitude can stay afloat. I need to read up on it. I'm sure Jake can tell me all about it. It's the same concept with aircraft carriers.
I'm happy to report that I have gotten only a little pink...and it looks like I may even be tanning. Jared however, burned his forehead and bald spot. Even WITH 50 spf. However, it's not like his bald spot was able to be exposed during our tanning sessions. We got him a hat yesterday at one of the stores here.
All of Deck 5 is called the Royal Promenade and it has stores galore, like a small town. They have a movie theater which we might try out, and a real theater for the performing arts, and an ice skating rink in addition to a dining room over 3 decks that seats up to 2000 people! It's crazy.
We had a little scare with our camera today at the beach. We went kayaking and snorkeling. Dad took our waterproof camera to take pictures of the fish and got some good pictures and even videos. When we got back to shore though, the camera wouldn't work. That's right, 6 days of pictures on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that can't be duplicated. Interestingly enough, even though Dad was really upset, I was very calm. I didn't worry about it. We took the card out. Dad said he didn't think it got wet. (So much for waterproof, eh?) So we took the card to the photography place here and tried to salvage our pictures before another moment went by. We actually downloaded them onto a DVD for a big price, but it was worth it. I said many prayers in my heart that the Lord would spare our memories through pictures (we can always get a new camera) and so we could share them with you when we got back and my prayers were answered. I'm so grateful. So please thank Heavenly Father in your prayers tonight for that wonderful blessing. It would be devastating not to have anything to show you.
Well, I need to wrap this up. I'm paying by the minute :) I wish I could call and talk to you in person. Please work hard for Grandma. She is taking care of you out of the kindness of her wonderful heart and day you will be married with kids and if you want me watching your kids while you go on a cruise, you better think twice about how you act and react! I have complete faith in you all. Jake and Coop, you're the oldest so do everything you can to help out so that Grandma can tend to more important things like JJ and Calvin and Karcyn. Have fun at YM and scouts tonight. Please thank the moms who are taking you to and from church.
Karcyn--be a big girl for Grandma okay?
Calvin--are you staying dry like a big boy?
You guys give JJ some hugs and kisses from us.
You're the best Mom! We can't thank you enough. You get your gifts from each port no matter what! We hope you like them.
Last stop is tomorrow....Mexico and dolphins!! I can't wait.
Hugs and kisses to you all,
Mom (& Jenn)
P.S. I didn't have time to edit. I hope this makes sense.