Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some of My Favorite People Live in Vermont, Part One: The Graves Family

***This is how I am going to post about our awesome vacation to Vermont. And by the way my maiden name is Graves-this is my dad's brothers family.***

When we travel to Vermont we have some traditions and one of them is going to my Uncle Gary and Aunt Julie's house for dinner. Jake is the one who reminded us that this had to happen, and it did (our last night in Vermont), along with a lot of other fun and moving memories that will last a life time! We got to Camp on Saturday August 7th and as we have come to expect, some of our first guests are always the Graves, and the didn't disappoint us! They were there Sunday afternoon to greet us and we were so happy to see them. They came over several times to hang out at Camp and we even had a slumber party with Mallory (my cousin) and Aunt Julie. We got to go out to lunch and have Maple Creamies (that is soft serve ice cream for any Southerners that have never heard of it by that name. But it is way better than the soft serve down here!).
Uncle Gary is my dad's younger brother. Aaron loves to hear his Dodo Bison (yep Dodo. Dodo is a crazy guy that Dad and Uncle Gary grew up with. Seriously crazy.), because Uncle Gary is a story teller. I don't mean the kind of story teller that makes stuff up. He is the story teller that remembers just what happened and does the faces and voices perfectly. He cracks me up! He also makes me really proud to be a Graves. My Nana (Dad and Uncle Gary's mother) died about 3 1/2 years ago and I think of him as the glue in the family during the whole ordeal. He took care of all the things my Dad wished he could have been there to help with, but couldn't because he was an 18 hour drive away. He put up with being the middle man between family members not always seeing eye to eye. Another words he is an awesome person who I am glad to call my uncle. He has put up with stress that I know I couldn't have endured. Thanks Uncle Gary for always being there to try to keep the family on the same page. Thanks for taking me to see Nana's grave site. Thanks for always having a story that will make us laugh. And thanks for being there for all the big stuff in my life: our wedding, seeing our first house, visiting us in the mountains...I could go on and on. :)
Aunt Julie is a lady. I always thought of her that way when I was little and I still do. She is a lady that knows how to have a good time! We had a blast spending so much time with her this trip! Aunt Julie is the shadow puppet guru. We stayed up laughing our heads off trying to do shadow puppets on the ceiling and Aunt Julie was the hands down best! She took it very seriously and that was the best part! She also was given her Indian name: "Fire Killer", when we were roasting marsh mellows. Lets just say dropping a log directly on the fire from 3 feet up isn't always the best way to do it. :) She actually make fires all the time, but everything that night was hysterical for some reason! I will always remember the memories we made this summer. Next summer we are expecting another slumber party at Camp, shadow puppets, and next time you are even going to get in the lake (and I don't just mean your feet!) I am so glad to have you as an Aunt, a new texting buddy, and also a friend.
My cousin, Mallory, what more do I have to say? Jake loves Mallory and so do I! We were so lucky to be able to spend some time with her a couple of years ago when she was doing an internship in Tennessee and she has been forever added to Jake's list of favorite people. She is in her mid-twenties (and single if anyone has a cute guy we could hook her up with! Just kidding...kind of), but will always be destined for the kids table if Jake has anything to do with it! She is a kid at heart, but also a really mature person who knows what she wants from life. Another words some one I am happy Jake has to look up to. It was awesome to see you Mallory and I WILL be more tan than you next summer and I promise that you will look back and be glad you parents loved you enough to be strict when you were younger. :) I know I was. Just remember what I tell Jake-those other kids parents must not love them as much as we love you guys!
Drew is a soft spoken, talented guy and another one of my awesome cousins. I got to meet his sweet girlfriend Margo (spelling?) and I am happy to say they are so good for each other. He is one of those guys that really knows how treat women with respect. And she is one of those kind of ladies that appreciates it and doesn't take advantage of him. Why didn't I take my camera out of my purse to actually take pictures at the traditional Graves family summer dinner? You guys are so cute together! Wow, I am feeling pretty old. One my "little cousins" is growing up...
I didn't get to see my other Graves cousin, Nicole (She lives in NYC) but she will always be one of my favorite people. She gets me and I get her. Always have, always will. We are both slackers at keeping in touch and don't hold it against each other. I can call her even if I haven't talked to her in 2 years and she will still be there to listen. My Camp memories with Nicole are as teenagers having a flour fight, trying to follow the moon beams into the lake, and rowing the boat all the way to the beach...What were we thinking? You will always be one of my free spirit sisters....
See why going to Vermont is something we look forward to doing every summer? We get to spend time making memories with some of our favorite people. We love and miss you already Uncle Gary, Aunt Julie, Mallory, Drew, Margo, and Nicole! And of course Dakota (Mallory's yellow lab...so sweet...I wish I took pictures...)! Here are just a few (I could have posted a million more...and they aren't in order) of the pictures of some of the fun stuff we did together.
Jake and Aunt Julie on our hike up Owl's Head.

At the top of the horribly long (just kidding it is only .2 of a mile) hike! Gorgeous views for such a short hike. Me and Aunt Julie.

Mallory, Jake, and Aunt Julie in the little stone building at the top of Owl's head.
Mallory brought these to camp for our slumber party. Does anyone remember these things? I haven't seen them since I was a kid!
Working together to try to get it to work...
And this is what it looks like. Do you remember these anyone raised in the 80's? Aunt Julie said it looked like a turd-which we all were thinking but not saying! Another thing we all laughed at.

The grandfather I never got to meet, but will some day. (Jake picked the flowers and put them on both my grandparents grave stones.)

My Nana's grave site. Some of my best childhood memories were in her backyard pool. She would stand there for hours with her feet in the water and let us swim as long as we wanted. She was so sweet and patient. I can't wait to see her again.

The house my great grandparents (maybe great, great...I can't remember...) lived in.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Favorite Day: August 28th

Nine years ago at 10:12 pm, a 21 inch, 9 pound 8 ounce baby (yep 9 1/2 pounds...) named Jacob Aaron Harmon finally came into the world. We had waited for what seemed like an eternity for you-our sweet bundle of joy to come to Earth and start filling up our lives with all your goodness! And you have been filling our lives with wonderful memories every day since!

Only a loving Heavenly Father would send us one of his best creations! We loved you the minute we knew you were coming to our family! Truthfully we loved you a lot longer than that-but it was hard to imagine just how wonderful you would be. The best part is you are even more wonderful than we even imagined! You have changed our lives and we are so thankful for you every second of every day!!!!

Jake you are smart, funny, sweet, kind, loving, easy going, out going, imaginative, energetic, sensitive, caring, quick witted, amazing, understanding, forgiving, trustworthy, honest, friendly, wonderful, etc.!!!! I could go on, and on but I know you really want to get to the fun part of your birth day: presents, cookie cake, playing, being treated like a king...Aren't birthdays great? Your birthday was so great 9 years ago-the happiest day our lives! Every year just gets better as we watch you learn and grow. If you wouldn't mind slowing down the whole growing up thing I wouldn't mind one bit. :)

Happy Birthday Jake!!!! I love you with all my heart! You are my baby-and always will be. You are my sweet boy. You are my best friend! I am so proud of you. I hope Daddy and I can make your 9th birthday half as special as you make every other day of the year for us!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jake's Lifelong Dream Fulfilled

Our 21 day vacation was awesome! I am not going in order of events to say the least...In the process of trying to document our vacation memories I am also going to try to keep up with my usual, normal, every day, life ramblings! I was just going through the millions of pictures and decided to start with: Abraham Lincoln. That is right we fulfilled Jake's lifelong dream of seeing the Lincoln Memorial. It was so fun and well worth the long, almost 9 year wait! :) But the word of the day was: HOT. Yes, HOT. I think Wednesday August 4, 2010 will hear by be known as: The day I realized our next sight seeing trip in DC will be in the dead of winter, Day. I know the title of the new holiday is long but you will see exactly what I mean when you look at our pictures. In most of them we are dripping with sweat and trying to show enthusiasm. When what we actually wanted to do was go and jump in the big pond in between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War 2 Memorial (What is that called again? The reflection pool?) ! But other than the HOT temperatures we got to see a lot and it was amazing to explore our wonderful countries Capitol! Here are just a few (20 something....) pictures of our day.

The Metro! We were already dripping sweat by this point. We walked something like a mile and a half to get there. The metro is pretty interesting place to people watch...One of the Metro employees came out of his air conditioned station to volunteer to take a picture of all of us. He deserves an award for being nice enough to leave AC.
Skip ahead several minutes and miles later and we were on our way to see President Lincoln. We saw the Washington Monument on the way.

Then we stopped by the World War 2 Memorial which was very impressive.
I loved this view...

I considered swimming here but thought better of it...

Guess what that is in the back ground??? The Lincoln Memorial! Almost there!!!

We stopped and ate our lunch at on the mall and made some friends.

Yes, this little ducky really did eat it right out of my hand.

And here is Jake for some reason imitating a chicken...You would think he would being acting like a duck...But no he went with chicken...I wonder what goes on in that head of his...

We made it...

Sitting down to take it all in...

Me and Jake

Tina and all her kiddos.

I love that he took his hat off. He was probably doing it because he was hot, but I am pretending it was to show respect. :)

The boys found and interesting way down.

I love this picture. Cousins rock...

Nee requested a picture of the grand kids from oldest to youngest. This works right?

The long list of men and women who died in the Vietnam War.

We thought we would take crayons and paper and do a rubbing at the Vietnam War Memorial and have a really inspirational moment as we thought of those brave men and women who died serving their country...

It didn't work...This happened...And the moment was gone...But it was still awesome. Not sure why I thought 250 degree weather and black granite would be a great life changing experience...But it is an amazing place to remember who we have to thank for our freedoms.

Ben was a trooper! He just hung out in the stroller all day and never complained!
Jake was the map man all day.

That is the White House way in the background...It required too much energy and was too hot to get any closer. At this point Tina was on the way back to the Metro with her boys, while Anika, Jake, and I were headed to the Air and Space Museum. Can you believe they were still posing for me at this point?
The Capitol Building....

Sadly I don't remember what this building was...But it's pretty don't you think? And no it didn't rain. Anika was using it as shade...smart girl.

Jake touching a moon rock at the Air and Space Museum.

Anika touching the moon rock too... It was very smooth. Not at all what I thought it would be.

Okay this one is obviously out of order...Interesting sculpture on the way to the Museum...It seemed sort of out of place.

The Wright Brothers Plane and a bench! I don't know which one I was happier to see!
As you can see, we saw tons of amazing things and had a great day. I have a bout a million more pictures from that day but I decided to spare you. Here is one more picture for Nee and Papa! This was when we got there...maybe...or when we were leaving...Don't know really. But aren't they cute?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How the first day of school changes when you get to the 4th grade....

And it changes people! As I hit the 1st of 3 alarms on my cell phone to go off this morning (yes I said 3...I know myself and I am paranoid. I have had bad dreams about missing tests, not finding my locker, and forgetting what classes I had for a week now...I am not a huge fan of going back to school) ,I thought...WHY?!! I love school supply shopping. I love the you need new shoes and WHAT?!! Your feet grew a WHOLE size and a half? (seriously from size 1 to 2 1/2-yes Jake has oddly small feet)-HOW have you been wearing those sneakers??? I love the meet the teacher-Jake's regular teacher and AIG teacher seem AWESOME!!!! Thank you Heavenly Father for that prayer I needed answered BIG TIME! But the going to school part? I am not a fan. I don't tell Jake that of course. I do the cheer leading for school, but he does know I would keep him home with me if I could. What can I say I really like him?! Why does some random stranger get to spend so much time with my child while I wait anxiously at home to see how his day was? But anyway...Yippeee! First day of school!!! :)

So, here is how it goes when you are starting the 4th grade:

4th grade:"AHHHH! Why do they send the same sheets home every year to sign? I will finish them today dude and you can bring them tomorrow."
Years past: Neatly filled out and in the backpack the night before. Now don't worry too much they aren't due until Friday. I am not that much of a slacker...At this rate though, next year I will probably be running in the school with my PJ's on Friday after forgetting to put them in Jake's bag!

4th grade: "What are you going to wear? I don't think you have to wear khaki pants buddy it is still hot out and that is pretty dressy...Your cargo shorts will look awesome with your polo shirt! I just ironed them and they are laying on my bed-now run and get dressed while I try to fill out at least some of these forms! We only have 5 minutes until we have to leave!!!"
Years past: "Please Jake will you wear this outfit? It matches perfectly! I washed and ironed it last week so it would be perfect."

4th grade: "Ahhhh!!! It is 8:15 dude! You should have been in bed 45 minutes ago! Why did we decide at 6:48 it would be an awesome idea to make collage covers for your 2 (last minute run to the store to get) binders (after meet the teacher when I realized we forgot to get those 2 things off the supply list)!!!! By the way where is your clipboard from last year? We forgot to put that in your backpack too!!!!"
Years Past: Two weeks before school starts we start the going to bed early routine to prepare. Not too mention I have already called the school to find out what time his lunch and snack would be in order to get you on that schedule...

Wow...Times have changed. In a good way? Not so much...Or maybe it is a good thing. I am definitely less stressed now! (Believe it or not!)

One more thing that has changed: Picture taking! We really had no time for posing this morning. This is as good as it gets folks:

Breakfast: No pancakes or any other special breakfast? Nope we are down to the last little bit of milk-there isn't enough to make pancakes...(Notice the cut up magazine pictures from the collages we made last night...)

Hurry turn around and smile quick-but not a fake smile! Well that was only sort of fake-Perfect!
I can't forget the traditional picture of the backpack shot-but don't stop walking we don't have time! Blurry but it works!

The "hold the picture up while driving and shoot" shot. Jake asked if he looked dead in it because that was the look he was going for.
See "the blues" (dark cirlces) he has...I feel horrible but I just had to eek out a few more minutes of Jake time before I could let him go to bed...He will go to bed extra early today....
Oh yeah! We always take a picture together...We will have to take a picture of you and Daddy when he gets home. That will still count, right?
He wanted me too just drop him off but at the last minute changed his mind and wanted me to walk him to the door (good thing I put on a bra!). He also wanted me to give him a hug in the kiss just in the car....Sniff, sniff: picture a little piece of my heart breaking off, never to grow back...I did talk him into a quick picture at school...AND he wanted me to hold his hand as we walked up to the school. He also gave me another hug and kiss in front of the school and I didn't even ask for it. :) My heart is healed-but I did leave most of it there at school as I watched him walk into school....

I just hope his first few minutes with out me were better than mine. THIS IS 100% TRUE (unfortunately)-I PROMISE! While driving home in complete silence (No Jake in the background explaining what super powers he would have if he could choose) and feeling a little melancholy setting in I saw a black and white blur out of the corner of my eye. A CAT A FULL SPEED RUNNING INTO THE ROAD! I slam on my breaks while screaming at the top of my lungs. Luckily I didn't get rear ended and the cat made it! Phew! While trying to calm my heart beating in my throat, 5 seconds later I see a tiny red blur out of the corner of my eye...A small thud and a check in the rear view mirror let me know I just hit and killed a sweet little Cardinal. REALLY????!!! PLEASE let Jake be having a better morning than me!!!! AND I got home only to realize in our rush I forgot to lock the door. I hate that!! Now I am going to have to check every inch of the house to make sure no one is here! Oh, never mind. One look and a thief would turn around thinking someone had already bet him to it based on the wreck before him! It is probably a good thing it is a mess otherwise I would crawl back into bed and dream of homeschooling Jake! And yes I do dream of homeschooling him!!!! Some day....