Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And just like that, he was gone....

Today was the day.

Before today though, there was last night.

At 8:30 pm, those that could make it, gathered at my parents stake center so Willie could be set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  As we were waiting for a few final people to arrive, the Stake President pulled Willie out of the room and we waited a few minutes for their return.  The Stake President shared a few words and then those men holding the priesthood who were present, gathered in a circle around my brother to set him apart as a missionary.

It's a pretty special thing to witness.

Quinn was asleep and my big boys were perfectly quiet and still with their arms folding, eyes closed and heads bowed for what was a pretty long prayer.  It was a beautiful blessing, with lots of promises of great things in return for obedience to the Gospel and the mission rules.  After, Willie bore his testimony to us, and he was a missionary.

And then Elliott figured it out.  That his best buddy was really leaving.  His quiet sobs in the corner of the room brought everyone to tears.  I could sense that his little 7 year old mind had been spinning all day, with all the reality of what we'd been talking about for weeks hitting him like a ton of bricks.  He was so sad.  Luckily, he's a pretty resilient kid and....grandma had doughnuts at her house.  That can pretty much make anyone stop crying, right?

As we sat at my parents house, our last gathering as a whole family for two years, there was some sadness in the air, and some puffy faces with stark red eyes.  But, there was also joy and a lot of happiness.  We all know that Willie has made the right decisions, and that he will be blessed and protected.  When it was time to go, the boys gave Willie a couple "anaconda squeezes" and ran out to the car to get buckled in.  Then it was my turn to say goodbye, and in typical Petersen fashion, Willie and I both bawled like babies.  But just for a minute.  Because it's all good.

He is going to be such an amazing missionary.  I am so excited for him.

And luckily, we seem to have gotten all our tears out last night.

Willie was to report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah at 1:00 pm today.  Haley went with my mom and dad to drop Willie off, but I stayed home with my boys, requesting a quick pit stop on the way down.  Our two flexes pulled into my driveway after picking Wyatt up from school at the same time and both cars unloaded.

There were no tears today.  Just happiness and excitement.  We took a few pictures.  Gave a few hugs.  Made a couple jokes about chap stick and tissues.  Then, just as quickly as they had pulled into the driveway, they were off.  Taking Willie to his grand adventure.

But not without a stop at Wendy's for some french fries first.

At 12:58 pm, I got a text from my mom.  All it said was, "Done!"  Man that drop-off is a quick one.

And now, we watch his adventure unfold from the sidelines, waiting weekly for his letters home, the occasional picture to prove he is still alive, and the power of the gospel to wash over all of us.  We will all miss him so much, and I have to admit that I've had a few moments of weakness today where I've shed a few tears, wondering, "What is he doing right now?", but they are happy tears.  Which really are the best kind.

Now, we just have to figure out what to do with him gone.  And, decide if we let Molly sit at the kid table during Sunday dinner.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mission Farewell #lithuanianexpress

Today was the first of three big days this week.

Big Day One:  Mission Farewell
Big Day Two: Setting apart
Big Day Three:  Report to the MTC

My little brother gave an excellent talk in sacrament meeting to a packed house.  The church was full from the front of the chapel until the very back wall of the very last overflow.  He talked about Faith, Hope, and Charity.  He compared his faith to basketball but I sort of lost the analogy along the way.  He was overcome by emotion several times by the outpouring of kindness and love and support show to him and to all of us, his family.  He thanked who he hoped was an anonymous person in the audience for the monthly anonymous cash donations to his mission fund.  He talked about how faith is so important because he wants to be with family in heaven again some day.

He is ready.

I'm not sure if we are ready to send him away for two years, but, he is ready to serve the Lord.

It is so exciting.

My mom and sister and I have been preparing for the farewell after party all week, and we all congregated last night to get some of the final preparations done.  It ended up being just the five of us, and it was so much fun.  I love my family the most!

We were prepared for a lot of people, but even still, we weren't prepared for the amount of people that came to my mom's house after the meeting.  Or the number of starving boys.  We realized quickly that we would be running out of food - we had literal hundreds of everything and it was all going lighting fast.

Eventually, as the line for food wound down, my mom had to break into the pantry to feed all the people - chips, fruit snacks, apples from her fridge....anything we could find to feed the guests.  It was sort of like the story of the loaves and fishes in the Bible - how Jesus was able to feed the multitudes with five loaves and 5 fishes.  We fed close to 200 hungry people with everything we had on hand.  We definitely fed a multitude of our own.  It was one of the fastest hours of my life.

My brother has so many great friends, member and non-member, who came to support him today and I of course, had to take pictures of as many of them as I could round up.  His group has dwindled significantly, Willie being one of the last of the LDS kids to leave on his mission, but they are such a handsome and supportive group of boys.  And girls!  There were more girls hanging on my brother than I care to see, but he is cute.

My mom's house looked beautiful, even over run by people.  It was definitely a day to remember.  Now, we just need to make it through the Wednesday drop-off, and it could be the fastest (or slowest) two years of our lives.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sleepless in Arizona

While on our trip, we had a hotel room that called itself a "suite" but we had five people, two queen beds and a pull out sofa...not sweet.  Not so spacious when you add all our sweaty bodies.  Since there were only two beds, Quinn was assigned the fold out sofa and then one bed would be occupied by Ross and myself and the other by the big boys.

Mistake numero uno!

On our first night at the hotel, the boys fought and fought and fought at bed time.  Now, not your regular argument about covers, but actual fist fights because "he's touching me!"  "He is breathing on me!"  I'm going to pound you sorts of stuff.  After A LOT of muffled yelling from mom and dad (we were in a hotel after all) the big boys fell asleep and while Ross was getting Quinn to settle down, I started to crash out.  Just as I was drifting to never land, I heard a muffled scream.  A muffled blood curdling scream.  The kind of scream that comes from Wyatt at least three times a day.  I opened my eyes to find him on the floor, completely wrapped and suffocating in the comforter of the hotel bed.  I unwrapped him in the dark, told him to quit screaming and plopped him in bed with me because at the time, I sort of assumed Elliott may have kicked him or pushed him and didn't think that sending him back was a good idea.

By the time Ross got Quinn to sleep, Wyatt and I were out cold in our bed so rather than move Wyatt, he just got in the bed with Elliott.

Mistake numero dos!

Never sleep with your insane sleeper children.  At several points throughout the night, Elliott started talking and mumbling LOUDLY, or, laughing a  pretty noisy hyena-like laugh.  He did it most of the night while flipping and flapping in bed with his dad like a seal, kicking and flopping.  Ross didn't sleep much.

I didn't fare much better with Wyatt.  At least three times in the night he got up on his knees, like a meerkat or prairie dog to survey the land.  He was wiggly enough that it woke me up and I just watched him.  He'd get high on his knees, pull his hands up limply to his face, look around, and then just dead weight collapse back into the bed - on top of me in some sort of tangled and painful way.

When Ross and I woke up, exhausted, on Saturday morning, we vowed never to do that again.

Fast forward a couple nights to the night Ross' brother hosted us at his home.  We'd had a great day playing, a great meal prepared by my sister-in-law and a very cooperative bed time routine.  That was, until it was time to go to bed.  The air mattress that the boys were sleeping on had lost some air - when there are 6 little boys jumping on it, that tends to happen.   The deflation, plus the weight difference in the boys, and their general sour attitudes made a recipe for disaster.  After hours of lying in bed wide awake myself I got up around 1:30 and took a pill.  Okay, a xanex because I was freaking out a little.  When I came back to bed, Quinn was awake and Ross fed him a bottle.  Once Ross came back to bed and we settled in, we heard Wyatt.  It wasn't a good sound.  It actually sounded like he was throwing up.

I was the first into the room with the boys and as I got down onto my knees to see their faces I realized that no, there was no puke.  Instead, Elliott had a look of terror in his face as his younger brother was screaming at him, chocking him around the neck.  Yes, apparently Wyatt had rolled over onto Elliott and even though he was asleep, Elliott hit or pushed Wyatt away and that woke Wyatt up, sent him over the edge, and he tried to injure his brother.

I was angry.

We got them separated and calmed down.  We lectured and whisper yelled.  They finally went back to sleep.  Ross went back to sleep and I eventually drifted into a drug induced coma.  At 5:30, Quinn woke up again (I think he was waking up to clue us in to his brothers), Ross fed him a bottle and just as he finished, threw him on the bed with me to run to break up the second air mattress brawl of the night.  Same thing - boys on top of each other - but this time, no choking.

Ross got smart and brought Wyatt into the room with us.

Quinn and I were on the bed.

Wyatt was on the crib mattress on the floor.

Ross was sleeping on the floor.

Elliott was in the other room, sunk into the middle of the coffin air mattress.

Not our best night as a family.

By the time we checked into our hotel again for our final night's stay, I wised up and had one boy under the sheet and one boy on top so technically.....

they weren't touching. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Arizona Food

While on our trip to sunny Arizona, we ate some pretty good food.  Food is always Ross' souvenir from trips and he made sure to stock up while we were gone.

Of the places we ate, there were two that were really good.
Chino Bandido and Republica Empanada

Chino Bandido is a Mexican and Chinese fusion place that made it's way a couple of seasons ago onto Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives.  It qualified in the "Dives" category with plastic tables and plastic chairs and no decorations.  On the menu, you could mix and match any combination of Chinese and Mexican meats with rice or rice and beans or ham fried get the idea.  I kept it simple and got Jen Pork (sweet and sour with a kick) and rice.  Ross got a little wild and I don't even remember his combinations, but they grossed me out.  He loved it!  Even though I was afraid of the fusion, he embraced it.  We will always go back when we're in Chandler.

Another new place we hit up, with the recommendation of some of Ross' AZ friends was Republica Empanada.  This was a tiny little place about two blocks from the Mesa Temple and in spite of the horrible behavior of our children while we were here, it was five star delicious.  Seriously, I make empanadas at least once a quarter and they are good but they don't hold a candle to what I ate at this little place.  I got a pork (Pernil) and chicken stuffed empanada and ross got a Cuban and something else with rice and beans.  We also got their house fries, fried yucca and plantains cooked up a couple of ways.  My husband says that the food was more Puerto Rican influenced than South American but I don't care.  It was awesome and I would eat there every single day.  They had dessert empanadas too, but we didn't get any.  I wanted to try the nutella and peanut butter one, but I'll have to save that for next time.

In addition to these two great places, we ate at Raising Canes, our favorite chicken place twice and got shaved ice at Bahama Buck's twice.  We also ventured to Ross' family favorite, Native New Yorker, for chicken wings and NY style pizza.  There just wasn't enough time to eat everything that we wanted, and we skipped out on a couple of Ross' wish list places because of time and location but that just gives us something to look forward to for the next trip.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

trek to arizona

We got home yesterday afternoon from six warm days in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott Valley and Camp Verde, Arizona.  It was a long six days, but we really had a great time and even though we traded 80 degrees for 40 and freezing, it was so nice to e home last night.  And to sleep in my California king sized bed.

The main reason for our trip was to celebrate Ross' Grandma Bea's 90th Birthday.  Ross and I helped to put together a party for Grandma Bea and it was so much fun and came off without a hitch.  The food, company, and entertainment were perfect, and in two weeks I'll have pictures to share, after the photographer we hired sends them too me.  Can I tell you, people of the Internet, how wonderful it was to be at a family event and not worry about taking a single picture because there were two people there with really nice cameras capturing everything for me?  It was awesome.

Anyway, in addition to the party, we also visited the Gilbert Temple open house, ate a ton of great food, went to an ASU baseball game, visited overnight with Ross' brother, and went to a place called Out of Africa where we fed giraffes, saw hyenas and watched a tiger jump and splash around in water.  It was awesome.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Quinner :: 17 months

Hey Kid -

17 months old.  You make us tired.  You say, "A duh!" for pretty much everything and it is up to me mostly, to figure out what "a duh!" means at any particular moment in time.

It's a struggle.  We've really hit that rough and fun age with you.  Rough, because we really have no idea what you want and fun because let's face it, you are freakin' hilarious.

You love to wear Elliott's shoes....on your hands.
You dance.
You run.
You are a major pain in the butt at church every week. We thought 9 am church would be better for you but alas, it is not.
You are a pretty good and dependable napper.
You love to go "bye bye" and wait by the door that leads to the garage.
You love to stop in the snow and bug Wyatt.  He loves to run away from you and you love to chase him.
You think it's really funny to scratch people - mostly faces, but you drew blood on Elliott's back last week.  Not sure why you think it's funny but you do.

You use baby sign language for "more" and "all done" which really helps a lot.  We're working on "thank you" but it's not making any sense to you.

You love fruit snacks and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.  You love diet coke, too, but you only get that sparingly.  You also love pasta and rice and french fries, but balance it out with as much fruit, lately craisins, as you can shove into your mouth.  Oh, and bacon!  You really like crispy bacon.

When I say, "okay Quinn, let's change your diaper" you drop down to the floor right where you are and wait for me to bring the diaper.  It blows my mind that you can understand what we are saying to you, but you do.

You can throw away garbage.  You say: mom, dad, Elliott, bye-bye, hi, dog, please (peesh), up (only sometimes) and Elmo.  You are very good at holding my hand in parking lots and will only sit in a shopping cart if I have a steady stream of hi chew candy to feed you.

You walk to the pantry and say "A duh" which mean "open please" in this instance and you pick out whatever you want.  If your choice is too high, you point and beg until I figure it out.  Funny how that works.

You are super chill.  Most of the time, you'd rather sit on someones lap and read a book than run around and be crazy.  Unless there are cars out - you love to play with cars.  And animals.  Oh, and Lego guys, too.

You are also at the fun age where we can teach you silly stuff and you mimic us.  All I have to say is, "Yo yo yo" and I've got you trained to fold your arms gangsta rap style and pull a funny face.  It makes make laugh every single time.  And, when you try to make a chewbacca sound, that's pretty funny too.

We love you buster brown.

Just stop scratching.

Monday, February 03, 2014

halftime conversation

My mother:  So, who is this guy anyway?
Willie:  Bruno Mars.
Mom: Who?
Haley:  Bruno Mars
Mom:  Oh, I don't know him.  Is he related to the singer Jason Mars.
Annie:  Who?
Mom:  Jason Mars.  The one that sings that song (sings something none of us know.)
Annie:  You mean Jason M-raz?
Willie:  (Laughing) No.  Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz are not related.


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