Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Days

We had 22 inches of snow one night last week. Personally, I’m not a fan of the white stuff but I remember the days when I used to put on my yellow Smurfette snow hat and play for hours.

Johnny had never seen snow until we were in college. He used to stomp along the piles of snow that they had shoveled off of the sidewalk and play like a little kid. He’s still a kid at heart, I guess. Even in his slippers he can’t resist a good snowball fight.

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The other kids enjoyed it too…

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Hope your winter is full of snowball fights and fun!!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

“Not Willing to Settle for Second Best”

I enjoyed High School. I loved so many things about it, but I especially enjoyed football games. Standing in the freezing cold with some of my best friends huddled next to me while we screamed and cheered for our team. Since Johnny and I have been married I have often thought about what it would have been like to be on the sidelines when Johnny played…


A few days ago one of Johnny's facebook friends sent him this article. I already knew he didn’t “settle for second best” because he married me… but I still got a kick out of this article. Wish I could have been there cheering him on!!

From the Orlando Sentinel by Sara ShecKler, June 15, 1997

LEESBURG — This year's salutatorian at Leesburg High School was
honored as a 1997 Scholar/Athlete Award finalist at a recent banquet
held in Orlando.

Johnny Russ, 18, received a plaque during the banquet where he and 19
other Central Florida high school seniors were lauded for their
scholastic and athletic accomplishments.

Johnny graduated from Leesburg High School with a 4.66 weighted
grade-point average. During his four years there, Johnny played
offensive tackle and defensive line on the Yellow Jackets football
team. Three of those years were for the varsity team.
During his senior year, Johnny was captain of the Yellow Jackets and was
voted its most valuable player.

He also spent four years on the high school's weight lifting team and
may have set a new school record for a weight lifting maneuver called
''clean and jerk,'' lifting 295 pounds.

''Johnny is not a person who is willing to settle for second best,
whether it's in football and weight lifting or academics,'' said Tracy
Sherrod, the weight lifting coach at Leesburg High. ''He gives it his
all when he's committed to something. He pushed himself in the
classroom and the weight room.''

Johnny said he was able to balance his participation in athletics while
maintaining good grades.

''I had to set priorities. During football season, I was able to keep
up my grades,'' he said.

Johnny said he finds weight lifting enjoyable because it's a sport that
can be done on his own, yet is a team effort.
He said lifting weights also made him stronger and quicker on the
football field.

During his senior year, Johnny was named to the all-county weight lifting team.

''The good thing about being on the football team is that you learn to
work with your teammates and you make friendships,'' he said.
Johnny plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah in the fall on
an academic scholarship, possibly majoring in computer engineering.
''I like the fact that it's a church school and is set in the
mountains,'' he said.

He said he plans to continue lifting weights while at college to stay
in good shape.
''Mainly I'm swimming now. I got a shoulder injury while playing
football this year that makes it difficult to do a lot of weight
lifting,'' he said.

Johnny, the son of Lizabeth and George Russ, is working this summer as
head lifeguard at Venetian Gardens, where he also teaches swim

The 1997 Scholar/Athlete Awards were sponsored by The Orlando Sentinel
and presented by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.

Monday, January 17, 2011

“Throw Upping”

Today is Monday. It also marks the first day since last Tuesday that someone in our house hasn’t thrown up (though Johnny still feels kind of nasty). That is SIX days of “throw upping” folks. Not a pretty sight.
Except, that… in a way, it has been. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad it is mostly over (please don’t let that statement jinx us) but I was able to have some really sweet moments in the middle of everything. And seriously, isn’t that what motherhood is, really? Little tiny bits of sweetness sprinkled in between the stuff of real life.

The strange thing about this “throw upping” (Zack’s word) is that it was mostly reserved for the middle of the night. Go figure. Maybe I do my best work in the middle of the night. Anyway, back to the vomit story…
It all started with Zack. He has the unfortunate luck of being stuck on the top bunk which in a pukey situation is just bad. After we got him cleaned up and settled with a bowl we went back to bed hoping it was a one time occurrence. Not to be. So for easier access to the poor kid, we made a bed for him on the floor in our room. That just didn’t work out because, as Zack quickly pointed out, Johnny snores.

So Zack and I settled downstairs in the family room. I used my awesome skills and built us a little fire (we got 22 inches of snow that night) and we snuggled down to talk and sing and sleep. Aside from the vomit, it was actually a pleasant night. Zack has stopped being a snuggly cuddly little man. He is, after all, FOUR. But when he’s sick he must forget that he is four. As I lay there next to him, stroking his little cheeks and singing to him I couldn’t help but enjoy it. I know that during the day he totally likes daddy best, but I love that when he needs someone at night he calls for me. Guess I just like to be needed. Anyway, I was completely uncomfortable sleeping on the freezing floor, but it was so sweet to just be there with my Zack and hear his whispered thoughts on life.

The next morning Zack seemed fine (though he was sick again the next night… weird night sickness?) But on the third day at dinner Lila started asking for a bowl. I couldn’t really blame Johnny for not believing her at first. She does have a slight history of hypochondrial exaggeration (which she no doubt inherited from me)… but she was serious this time.

That night there was more singing and face stroking. More sweetness. In the morning it was mostly gone.
Abby was the next night. She’s always been more sensitive to “throw upping” (puking almost EVERY time we fly, or when she cries really hard…) so she had a harder time of it. But each time as I held her hair and then put her back to bed I had those sweet moments.

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I kept praying and praying that Alex would be spared, but it was not to be. Shortly after we put him to bed, on the fifth night, he threw up. Johnny and I lost track of how many times he threw up after about twenty. It was a lot though. Especially for a little guy.

Each time he threw up I would put my cheek on his soft little cheek and hold him as Johnny held the bowl. It was heartbreaking. I finally understood how my mom felt when she always told me she would take my sicknesses from me if she could. It is hard watching your babies suffer and struggle.

I was starting to get really worried when he finally fell asleep for good. And that is when I started to feel queasy. Johnny followed shortly after…

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Johnny and I have been talking about how weird this has been. Each night a different kid has been sick. It could have been all of them, all at once… or even during the day. Instead, every night someone new. I told him I think it is a blessing. Every night someone had my complete attention. I was able to snuggle and sing and comfort each of them when they needed me. And during the whole thing I kept praying that I would be ok enough to keep taking care of everyone. I was lucky enough to only really be sick for a few hours.
That’s what I call a blessing!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dear Santa

As a little girl, I remember the anticipation of Christmas was almost more than I could bear sometimes. As an adult, you just can’t recapture that excitement. I’ve decided, however, that watching these kids get excited is almost as much fun as being a kid myself.

“Dear Santa,

I want a hop ball (pictured)

Love Zack”

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“Dear Santa,

I want a American Girl Doll and a Zhu Zhu Pet”

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“Dear Santa,

I want American Doll"


(note: Abby had decided to change the spelling of her name to

A-B-B-E… but that’s fodder for another post)

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"Ho Ho HOOOOOOOOOO!!!” –Alex

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

With New Eyes…

If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes—perhaps even with the eyes of a child.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes," 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, (December 5, 2010)

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