Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mom

My Mom is the best.  I want to be just like her-- I really do.  Every once in a while people tell me that I remind them of my mom and those are the best compliments I could ask for.

I have been mentally compiling a list of all the life lessons my mom has taught me over the years, and it became ridiculously long.  So I will narrow it down to just a few.

On Shopping:  My mom taught me all about retail therapy-- the timeless truth that shopping makes everything better.  She also taught me that half of the fun of shopping is the thrill of the chase-- finding what you are looking for at the lowest price possible.  Regardless of your station in life, the Goodwill and Ross are two places that must be included in every shopping trip.  (Together, we have found that the more "ghetto" a Ross is-- the better!)  I'll always remember the bumper sticker on the back of my mom's old van-- "A Woman's Place is in the Mall". 

On Happiness:  My mom is the ultimate optimist.  In the early 90's, our family moved a LOT.  Looking back on it, I can't imagine how stressful and difficult those years were for my mom.  But I didn't notice at the time because according to her, each move was "an amazing ADVENTURE!"  She never complained or acted upset.  She was too busy putting her positive spin on things and singing road trip songs. (Horsey, horsey...)

On Marriage:  My mom is married to her very best friend.  Together, they have been a great example of exactly what a good marriage looks like.  She and my dad make fun of each other, bicker, tease, and laugh... a lot.  They spend ridiculous amounts of time together, but still miss each other when they spend a few hours apart.  She taught (through example) that "You're an idiot" can mean the exact same thing as "I love you".

On Dreams:  My mom was always there for us.  But I also remember that she was always involved in her own stuff too.  She has had some really cool jobs-- like television producer of a local cable show and teacher of convicted felons in prison (she owns a pizzeria, for crying out loud!).  Because of her example, I always knew I'd be a devoted mom and I always knew I would have a cool job.  She showed that those two were completely compatible.  My last job in Florida was actually with my mom-- we were co-workers teaching homeless students (and eating cuban food)!

On Life:  My mom has taught me not to get stressed about the details of life.  She taught me not to take myself too seriously or get offended very easily.  She has instilled in me a love of animals and a passion for the scriptures.  I have inherited a ridiculously high self-esteem from my mom. She has taught me to love who I am and not be fake or put on fronts.  I have never seen my mom misrepresent herself-- ever.  She has taught me that its just fine to be goofy (she invented a seminary rap song called the Gadianton Shuffle). 

I realize this is getting long-- but there is so much more!  My husband and kids adore her.  She is a supportive and accepting mother-in-law and an AMAZING, loving "Girl Papas".  In short-- she is our hero.  We love you Mom!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This Lady...

I have had my mom and my mother-in-law on my mind a lot this week.  I count these women as two of my greatest blessings.  Here is a little bit about Lori Rasmussen.

Lori is amazing at all things domestic.  She cooks like a southern lady (which is, by far, the best way to cook!)  She sews and quilts and cans stuff.  She does things that I don't understand-- like "soaks beans" (?)  She makes perfect pies from scratch.

Lori is artistic.  She ran a successful, thriving framing company out of her home for over twenty years.  She was always encouraging her kids to be creative and artistic-- surprising them with new color pencils or a sketchpad.  Because of her encouragement, several of her children are EXTREMELY talented artists.

Lori has always selflessly devoted her time to her family and to humanitarian work.  She volunteers to work with mentally handicapped youth every single week

She may be petite, but Lori is far from a docile, quiet homemaker.  She is tough and strong and I'm pretty sure that she has perfected the "evil eye".  She raised 5 crazy rambunctious kids (well, 4 crazy rambunctious + Kristy). 

Lori is extremely unpretentious and non-judgmental.  This is my very favorite thing about her.  She has never, ever, ever made me feel bad about my lack of domestic skills (and I have NONE).  It seems that all of her strengths are my weaknesses and I don't know how that doesn't drive her crazy.  I could not have asked for a more amazing mother-in-law.

She is the consummate Grandma.  She loves to don her apron and bake cookies with my kids.  She reads to them and plays with them-- but is not afraid to put them in their place, when necessary.

Best of all, she raised one hell of a son!  We all love you Lori. (But I think that I am especially grateful for you!)

Lori and Baby Zoie- 2005

Lori and Baby Tobin- 2007

Lori and Baby Chase- 2009

(Judging from these pictures, I think Lori really likes green button-up shirts!)

Happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Texas Camping

Our good friends from Florida, the Filettis, live on the other side of Houston.  We get together every few weeks and have taken a few family camping trips this past Winter.  Its the best way to camp-- the kids (all 7 of them) entertain each other, and we always have a blast around the campfire after the kids go to bed.  This year we camped at Lake Livingston and Somerville Lake.  Here are a few pictures:

At Somerville Lake, we camped right on the water

The kids reluctantly posing for a picture

Britt, Jared, and Lance trying to stay warm

Meals are always a bit crazy with 11 people
Chase learned about the cruelty of nature when a yellow jacket stung him in the eye
The boys throwing back a few cold ones
Tobin's "manly" pose

Looking pretty happy on Dad's lap

Filetti/Rasmussen Kids 

Monday, March 25, 2013

January: The Month of Zoie

Zoie turned 8 on January 29th.  Although her birthday is toward the end of the month, looking back, I feel as though the entire month was devoted to birthday party/ baptism planning.

The Party:
I do not always throw elaborate parties for my kids.  I try to encourage an outing (like the movies, or a "funland") with just a few friends.  But this is Zoie's first birthday here in Texas, she has a close group of friends, and the 8th birthday is a pretty big deal around here. 

So we had a party that was completely planned by Zoie (and executed by me).  Make-up, accessories, karaoke, dancing, and crafts with a Rock Star theme.  Zoie was in heaven.  She had 15 girls come and she cleaned up in the gift department.

The Baptism:
Zoie's baptism day was one of the greatest days of my life.  I knew it would be special, but I had no idea how amazing it would be.  My parents, Lance's parents, Aunt Kristy, and Aunt Heidi all came down to Texas for the weekend.  We have the best families in the world.  It was so much fun to spend time with everyone.

The baptism was a small affair (my favorite kind).  Everything was perfect.  Lance was amazing at baptizing and confirming.  Just thinking about it makes me happy.  Here are some pictures:

Zoie's month is over.  Now I have a few years to recover until Tobin's 8th birthday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Belated Annual Annoying Cliche Family Letter

Happy 2013 everyone!  Here’s a Rasmussen recap of our 2012:

The first half of 2012 was blissfully calm.  We were enjoying our new Riverview home and neighborhood, where we spent each afternoon at the pool.  We were taking advantage of our season tickets to Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) games.  Lance was doing well as a Project Manager for a concrete restoration company and Kira loved her part-time work as a literacy coach for local homeless students.  All was calm and right with the world…

And then everything changed.

Lance was offered a promotion within his company to their branch in Houston, Texas.  Within a matter of weeks, we traded in our flip-flops for cowboy boots and hightailed it out of Tampa.

Our adjustment to Texas has been an easy one.  We love our town, Kingwood—a master planned community about 20 miles north of Houston.  We spent the summer exploring the pools and parks in the area and going on bike rides through wooded trails.  We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the schools, church, and people here.  It’s not hard to see why Texans are so dang proud of their state.

Lance has handled the added pressures of his new position at work very well.  He still gets frantic phone calls at all hours, but has had to travel very little this year.  Lance has found a renewed love of hunting and guns here in Texas.  He has had to endure countless mocking remarks from his wife each and every time he dons his camouflage, but it’s worth it.  Lance serves in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency in the ward and played on their softball team last fall.  After 35 years, he has finally sprouted facial hair and is having way too much fun exploring the world of goatees and mustaches…

After the chaos of the move, Kira thoroughly enjoyed a lazy summer by the pool.  She recently started a part-time position as a reading coach at a local elementary school and will be completing her Master’s in Education this year.  It was no surprise when Kira was called back into the Primary (where she has served since 2008).  In her spare time, Kira enjoys a borderline addiction to reading/popcorn/diet coke and finding creative and clever new ways to avoid cooking and cleaning.

Zoie will be 8 in a few weeks.  She is so excited about her upcoming birthday and baptism.  Zoie is growing up quickly and spends more and more time in front of the bathroom mirror fixing her hair and trying on clothes.   She is anxiously looking forward to swim season so she can compete on the swim team.

Tobin is 5 and started kindergarten this year.  He was moved into a dual language class where he is taught in both English and Spanish.  Tobin joined the soccer team this year and was surprisingly good.  He has developed a love of video games—which we will have to keep an eye on.

Chase (Slappy) is 3, and is the epitome of a pesty little brother.  He is loud, energetic, and has a constant need to play.  His whole world is superheroes right now.  While he is resistant to learning his numbers and letters, he can tell you the difference between Bruce Wayne and Bruce Banner.  That kid makes us laugh every day.

Over the past year, our family was able to visit Utah (3 times!), where we went hiking, shooting, hunting, snowboarding and sledding.  We took up camping on the weekends and made a few day trips to Austin.  Our goal in 2013 is to explore the great state of Texas! 

Yes, Lance chose to "try out" a pervy mustache the same week we took family pictures.
May 2013 be just every bit as fun (and maybe a bit less eventful) than 2012!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Utah 2012

We spent over 10 days in Utah.  It was such a great time. 

We were able to spend time with both the Rasmussens and the Slovaceks for Christmas. 
We ate at my Mom's AMAZING pizzeria (Nicolitalia's in Provo) no less than three times.
We took the kids sledding for the first time.
We all went to see the lights at Temple Square.
Lance was able to snowboard for the first time in 8 years (and only ran into one tree!)

It was amazing to have so much uninterrupted family time.  The kids were in heaven with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. We relaxed and did whatever we wanted.

The only drawback: it was freezing cold and snowy.  Everyday.  As much fun as we had, it was a relief to get back to the South where single digits temps are unheard of.

Some of my favorite pictures from the trip:

Braving the cold at Temple Square in Salt Lake

The whole Slovacek family

One of my favorite pictures of all time

Zoie- all bundles up to go sledding

The boys-- sledding

Lamest little snowman ever

Lunch with my old roomies

The kids loved helping at Papa's restaurant

Future busboy

The Drive

To celebrate Christmas with our families and attend Matthew's wedding, we drove to Utah.  From Texas.  We DROVE from Texas to Utah.  And back.  23 hours each way.  Once a family gets so big, airplane trips become a limited experience.

The Car: 

Thank goodness for Barbara-- our recently acquired minivan.  (I always swore I would never drive a minivan.  There's a whole story behind this purchase).  She was a trooper-- great gas mileage and comfortable.  The dvd player and XM radio proved crucial to the success of the trip. 
Poor Barbara is a southern automobile, though.  After a few days in the driveway in freezing Utah temperatures, she refused to run until we made room for her in my parents' garage.  I can totally relate.

The Kids:
I was terrified of this drive.  My fears were unwarranted.  The kids were fantastic.  They quietly watched movies the WHOLE time and never asked for unscheduled bathroom breaks (although the boys did make a few "side of the road" stops).  One surprising fact:  the kids did not sleep.  We had to finally force them to close their eyes and nap.

The Route:
Funny story.  I was so careful about avoiding winter storms and snowy weather that I had mapped out the trip using the southern route.  Somewhere around Trinidad, Colorado I realized that we were, in fact, not following the route I had intended.  Lance blames me for this, although all blame is clearly to be heaped upon my gps.

Hard to tell, but the road was completely iced over
The second day of the trip was driven almost entirely on ice-laden cliffs.  This may be a slight exaggeration-- but not much.  Since I wasn't driving, it was kind of amazing.  We got a very early start and saw the sunrise over the canyons.  We saw elk, deer, and wild horses.  We wound our way around a (practically) uninhabited highway through the Rocky Mountains, passing weird little towns.  Looking back, it was not the ideal route-- but it was a pretty cool day.
Wild elk in Colorado
We drove through Arches National Park on the way home

On the way home, we carefully avoided icy cliffs.  We drove through New Mexico (which is a very creepy place.  Yes, I realize that I have made a generalization about an entire state.  I stand by it).  The snow that frequented Utah chased us all the way to Dallas-- where it turned into torrential rain.  Needless to say, Lance did almost all of the driving on the way home.

In Summary:
The drive was surprisingly great.  I would definitely do it again.