30 July 2009

Dear Grandma,

I went to your funeral today. It was a lovely meeting that you would have enjoyed. As my dad said, you would have been embarrassed by all the nice things that were said about you. I was so happy to be able to participate by playing with my sisters. Many of your 72 great-grandchildren sang about families being together forever. Dad and Uncle Gordon sang, just as you had requested. As they sang, I remembered Grandpa’s beautiful tenor voice. I have few memories of him, but his voice is something I’ll never forget (along with his alarmingly loud sneezes).

Jack and Jane were happy to “celebrate” you. We particularly liked the slideshow of you they had going as we walked in. I thought of you as a young mother and all the fun visits we had when I was just starting out as a mother. I loved that you got to see Jack grow from week to week, and how you loved watching each new step. I’ll always remind Jack of how much fun he had rooting through your toy drawer, or how whenever you would get him a cracker, you always gave him “one for each hand”. When he was older, you were such a great audience when he’d play his violin for you.

When we came by to see you recently, I loved how Jane ran into your arms. We worried she was being too rough with you, but you smiled and welcomed her onto your lap with a kiss. She may not remember, but I’ll never forget when we visited you for the last time, to say our final goodbye. How she climbed right up on your bed to be close to you. I’ll remind her how happy you were to have her there and how she didn’t want to say goodbye.

For years you’ve wondered why you were still here. I’ve always known it was for us, not you. I’ve felt spoiled that you were here long enough to meet our little Alice. She won’t remember, but I will. I’ll tell her about your eyes lighting up when I asked if you wanted to hold her, and how she smiled the whole time. I’ll tell her about when I offered to take her back, and you wouldn’t let me. Seeing you with my baby reminded me of the first moment I connected with you as a mother, and how my love for you really blossomed. You weren’t only “Grandma” anymore. You’d become even more.

As a kid, I remember the fun New Year’s Eve “parties” we had with lots of treats and board games while we watched the ball drop on the television. I remember hours of playing air hockey in the basement, jumping rope with one end tied to the doorknob, bottles (bottles!) of soda, jumping on that indestructible orange couch, eating individually wrapped cheese slices, and the Almond Rocas you always had in your freezer. I very clearly remember that Grandpa loving to eat peanut butter on his toast for breakfast, yet it was only a few years ago that you told me it was only he who liked it, and you hadn’t bought peanut butter in the 22 years that he’s been gone. How did you not like peanut butter? As a teenager, I remember not remembering to spit out my gum before visiting your house. You have never liked gum, and finally, I get it.

I’ll remember a lot about you, but most of all, I’ll remember the years we had together relating as mothers. Thank you for sharing that time with me. Thank you for being excited for me as I started my family. And thank you for doing such a great job raising yours. Your influence as a loving mother has rippled through five generations already, and many more to come.

I love you,


P.S. Give Grandpa a hug for me.

20 July 2009

Summer fun

Summer is great, isn't it? No school (at least for Jack), a carefree schedule, sleeping in a bit, seeing family more often, and not having to worry about icy roads. Plus, Jeff takes a LOT more days off work than he normally would.

Before Thailand, I leaned more towards liking the colder months than the warm ones. Now, I'm much more accustomed to the heat, although this is a completely different kind of heat. I'd much prefer moist air, but we'll take what we're given.

Here are a few things that are taking up our summer time...

Jane's taken to picking up every potato bug she finds, and there are a lot!

We spent an afternoon walking/riding to our nearby park, which the kids loved. For me, it felt GREAT just being able to get somewhere without having to get in the car.

We've done a session of swimming that the kids have loved. Jack even cruised onto the next level... he's an animal! Jane's a great swimmer, but still learning to actually listen to the teacher. She just wants to SWIM! This is a common scene lately...

Jeff has been reading a lot with the kids. They are cruising through books so fast, I can hardly keep up! One of Jack's favorites was Mr. Pudgins and now they are into the Ramona series that Jeff and I both liked as kids. (Note: Jack is actually wearing pants, hah!)

Jack's been going through audio books during his "quiet time" faster and faster. This week he listened to Tale of Despereaux and Black Beauty and really liked them both. I almost hate that he's going through so many books without me!

I took this picture of Jane in an attempt to capture her sun-kissed cheeks. As much as I like to keep my kids OUT of the sun, I'll admit I love to see a little on her cheeks. I think it makes me feel like they're enjoying all the things that are wonderful about summer... the outdoors, sun, bugs, dirt, and all that good stuff.

I feel so blessed everyday when I look at my kids. And how lucky is Jane to have a SISTER? Few things are better.

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to spend some time in the temple while Jeff's brother, Jason, and his family were sealed to their son, Ethan. It was a special day, and long awaited for! Here's the group outside.

Here's the lucky family: Heidi, Jason, Ellie, and Ethan... now a forever family. They were all laughing at Dad Hillman trying to balance his suitcase on his head. He knows how to get the smiles.

At the luncheon afterward, were were able to visit with family and eat delicious food. I didn't take many pictures, and this one isn't even that great (Alice was ready for her nap!), but I was happy to get a shot of Grandma Munk with Alice. Grandma makes a special blanket for each of her grandkids/great grandkids, so she had brought Alice's down. It's BRIGHT pink with hearts. I love it, and Jane's already tried to claim it as her own!

I feel unworthy to be related to Grandma who can easily whip one of these blankets out in a week. Is this a lost art?

Enjoy your summer!

17 July 2009

Jack's pockets

Laundry can be such an adventure. What will I find in Jack's pockets TODAY? (After washing, of course.) Here's the latest...

allen wrench
plastic stegosaurus
CTR charm
3 marbles
2 glow in the dark stars from his ceiling
popcorn kernal
some kind of "points" card from school
2 rocks
bean of some sort
and a paper clip

Is he a boy or what?

PS I finally decided the hidden "just-in-case-I-get-hungry" crackers in his pillowcase had to go.

08 July 2009

Independence Day

A few highlights of our Independence Day activities...

Cousin camp was held at the Freedom Festival this last week. The kids activities were fantastic, and best of all... FREE! If you didn't get a chance to go, I definitely recommend it for next year.

There were BIG blow up toys, dancers, jugglers, arts and crafts, and Jack's favorite... the reptile show.

This guy had about 15 different reptiles for the children to see, touch, and hold, while delivering an awesome dialogue that had us all laughing. Yes, even the adults! I think Grant (9 years old) enjoyed the guy more than anyone as he was BURSTING out with laughter at the kid and adult jokes. His laugh is classic!

Notice Jack standing behind the other children. He was so excited he couldn't sit, and for a lot of the show was pacing back and forth mirroring the guy who was presenting. He couldn't take his eyes off of him, and spent a good part of the next 1-2 hours asking questions, holding the snake, and telling him everything he could remember from his reptile and spider books.

I thought this was a pretty good way to end the show. Who wouldn't like holding a GIANT snake?

Last week was also Jack's final week as a Kindergartner. He has LOVED his class and teacher this year, and made the transition from Bangkok so smoothly. It's been nice to have him be thrilled to go to school each day, and even a little upset on the days I had to pull him out for one thing or another. I got this picture of him with Mrs. Peterson on the day she asked him to bring his violin in to play one last time for the kids. She really is as sweet as she looks.

Jane and the girls loved getting their hair done at the Paul Mitchell booth... very fun.

The festivities downtown were fantastic. I was even tempted to go back the next night with Jeff so he could at least see the reptile show. Jack wouldn't have minded seeing it again, that's for sure.

Saturday morning, we got up early and enjoyed watching the balloons take off in Provo. I LOVE this event, and haven't been for years. I can't get past these vibrant colors... so gorgeous. Mimi was a good sport to carry Jane much farther than she probably should have!

Jack took this one while we were watching the balloon competition. Those blue skies and morning air just couldn't be beat.

We took a few pictures of our Patriotic little Alice. We're no photographers, but how bad can you do with such a cute subject?

Barbecue #1 at Mimi and Papa's along with a little pool time with the Rich cousins...

and barbecue #2, crafts and fireworks at the Hillmans. The 4th of July, along with Christmas Eve, is my favorite holiday. What could be better than relaxing with family, eating good food, remembering how blessed we are to be Americans, and letting kids be kids?

Alice is so lucky to have so many cousins to look after her!

Jane loved the fireworks, but they do get a little loud. This was my view as we did the first part of our fireworks. (Jane's sporting Ellie's fireworks hat)

One of the highlights of my day was watching Jane and Ellie on the seesaw. They don't always get along, but when they do, they sure have a great time, and Heidi and I can't stop smiling either!

It was a beautiful evening for an early fireworks show with the kids.

(Napa and Dipu, notice Jane's little puppy purse you gave her on the ground. She LOVES that dog and takes her everywhere! She misses you!)

I LOVE our country, and love celebrating it. Of course, there will always be something to complain about with our government, policies, and such. It's not perfect. But when it all comes down to it, our country is amazing and I can honestly say I've never felt so blessed to be an American!

I found some lovely pictures on my camera as we left the Rich family gathering. I thought I'd share so everyone can see how beautiful my family really is... enjoy.

I just can't decide which is my favorite... can YOU pick?

06 July 2009

She smiles!

Alice has really started to share her smile this week. If we loved her before... my goodness.

Hope you had a fantastic Independence Day.

Happy Birthday, America!