January 08, 2017

Thanksgiving 2016

A peek at our low-key Thanksgiving at home. We were blessed to have my parents spend the week with us. After traveling to San Antonio and back the week prior, we didn't have much time or energy for fancy stuff, but we enjoyed a wonderful meal and quiet time together as a family. (We will pass over the sad fact that Ted learned the hard way to wash past his wrists after preparing a raw turkey...thank the Lord for our Young Living DiGize oil which helped him recover in time for a birthday date over the weekend!)

Following our friend Shauna's instructions, we prepared our first-ever (but definitely not the last) turkey-in-a-paper-bag! Sooooo easy, and sooooooo incredibly yummy!

Oops...accidentally picked one of the blurry shots of us...perhaps someday I'll go back and upload a different one, ha!

My little turkey!!

Ted calls drumstick!

Grandma makes her famous turkey gravy!

Zaden rests while Grandpa naps!

This is us!

Ted normally isn't a huge turkey fan, but this...this was incredible!

The girls are chilling...waiting for food to settle so we can enjoy dessert!
My birthday date--the Omaha symphony playing the soundtrack of Raiders of the Lost Ark live while we watched the movie on the big screen! So incredibly fun!

I loved watching the musicians and picking out which instruments were playing during the various parts of the movie. We could see the visual cues for the conductor to keep all of the timing spot on.

National Bible Bee

This was the 3rd year in a row that Charis qualified to compete in the National Bible Bee Competition, held this year in San Antonio, Texas. There was some angst related to the decision of attending, as she felt rather overwhelmed with her other school activities (which include a competitive speech class with apologetics emphasis). But after much prayer and discussion, she decided it would be worth making the trip.

So, the week before Thanksgiving, we packed up our family of 10, stuffed the van to the gills, and made the day-and-a-half trip to San Antonio, stopping at my friend Karen's house in the Dallas area for the night. We spent 4 nights in the hotel, where the kids took complete advantage of the warm weather to enjoy the water park during our free time. Between that and the Family Fun Area set up, it truly was a vacation of sorts! Charis was much more relaxed this year, having resigned herself to not being as fully prepared as she would have wished, but we are of course still so proud of her for her time and efforts spent studying God's Word.

Like last year, we met up with a number of friends in the area throughout the week, including one family whom we had gotten to know as newlyweds during our first duty station in San Angelo, Texas, from 1997-1998! We've had all our kids since moving away from there, obviously, so it was fun to meet each other's kids in person for the first time. One of their sons qualified for Nationals as well, so that's how we all happened to meet up!

It was a good time of spiritual refreshment and fellowship, plus time to make family memories and set aside some of the current confusion and stress associated with Verity's diagnosis.

Seanin was delighted with the fountains!

Rhema, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with water!

Charis (3rd from right) and the girls in her oral round session.

Charis on stage (not that you can see her, lol, but you can see her
photo on the big screen--the middle one!)

The whole family!

The little boys learn about ancient writing materials

Our family plus the T family, whom we have known all our
married lives! Total of 12 children between us!

December 09, 2016

Lucan's Letter

Seven-year-old Lucan has a pen pal in South Dakota. He received his first letter from Ty last month, and finally we sat down to get a response ready. I decided to allow Lucan to dictate the letter to me in the interest of getting something IN the mail rather than waiting for him to write everything out. This is what he dictated...I love the random ramblings!

December 2, 2016

Dear Ty,
I hope you and your family have a great time. I am an artist, and I like playing with Legos. I really want to obey my parents very well. Zaden, my 5-year-old brother, sometimes wants me to not make my Lego guys back to normal. Zaden also has less schoolwork than me.
Tobin and Arden sometimes do Minecraft. Tobin is 14, Arden is 13. I am 7 years old.
Kenna, my 9-year-old sister, has Legos too. And also me, Kenna, and Zaden like playing with Legos together.
Charis, my 16-year-old sister, is a babysitter. And also sometimes she is here at home.
And Seanin is the chubby one. He is 3 years old. Me, Zaden, and Seanin share a room. Seanin just won’t let me have some of my Lego pieces.
And baby Rhema, my youngest sibling, she is very cute even though she cries sometimes. She is one and a half years old. Sometimes me and her play with each other.
I have 8 children in my family, soon to be 9.
My dad goes to work almost every day and comes back for dinner. My mom, with baby Verity in her tummy, it’s getting hard for her to bend over.
Ty, there is one thing I would like to tell you about me. I sometimes have dreams what are like in heaven.
Sometimes our movie time is watching “Octonauts.”

I hope you like my letter!

December 04, 2016

Slices of Life

Rhema finally started walking on her own around 15 months of age. Before she was steady on her feet, we brought this little toy in from the garage so she could push it around and gain confidence. For some unknown reason, she really took to giving potatoes rides on the seat.

For real...this is what I look like many of our homeschool days...t-shirt, comfy pants (that may or may not match), and glasses instead of contacts. 

I can't remember why Seanin was having a meltdown moment, but clearly Daddy is not terribly sympathetic!

Whose brilliant idea was it to give the baby rice?! But I love how these grains give her a fang-like appearance!

Seanin proudly came downstairs one Sunday morning and said, "Mom, it's a church day! I dressed myself!" And I happily let him wear this fashionable combo to church.

To make myself feel better about the other photo, here's MY church morning selfie taken a few days after a much-needed haircut.

After reading in history about ancient Egypt, Lucan spent a morning making a pyramid and "an ancient Egyptian house." The coins figured into his historical scenario, too, but I can't remember exactly how...

After one of our consultations at the university medical center, I stopped by this crisis pregnancy center to deliver some donations and chat with one of the volunteers.

We took the younger kids to the Halloween party on base, meeting Ted at the club for a free dinner, games, and of course way too much candy.

This girl loves her mashed potatoes! See them on her nose?!

"Mom, take a picture of me and my towers!"

What?! Arden is taller than I am?!

And Tobin is, too! It's a race for the two of them to see who can catch up to Dad now!

Kenna is quite the capable big sis these days!

Fall Fun

There is a pumpkin patch in our area that has reached great heights of popularity--along with the Omaha Zoo, it is one of the most often-mentioned "must experience" places within driving distance. We had hoped to take the kids on AWANA night, which allows free entrance to kids who wear their vests, in an effort to make this an affordable family outing. (Ticket prices are more in the realm of an amusement park than a hayride.) Unfortunately, we were unable to actually go the night of the event.

I wasn't sure our family budget could handle it, so we kind of let it slide; however, I saw notice that prices were greatly reduced on Halloween, the last day Valas would be open this season. The kids and I decided that school wasn't really a priority that day, lol, and we took off to enjoy some fall family fun. I'm so glad we did! Even the older kids raved about how glad they were that we went, and of course the littles had a ball. The weather even cooperated for us!

We watched pig races, did mazes and an obstacle course, scaled massive slides, watched a pumpkin cannon launch a pumpkin 1/4 mile away, played carnival-type games, and ate good food. We stayed much longer than I had thought we would manage and headed home feeling we definitely got our money's worth. Since we will likely not be living here next time autumn rolls around, we are thankful for the day of memories we made.

Kenna, Lucan, Zaden, and Arden

Seanin and Charis

Tobin and Zaden

Lucan and Seanin

Kenna found a pretty pink tractor!

Farm boys!

I don't even know how many times the kids did this slide! They had a ball! We took a break for lunch and came back and rode it some more! Seanin tried it twice but was too scared, so he hung out with Rhema and me watching from the bottom.

Rhema loved our day out, too!

Seanin was terrified of the slide but delighted to meet Jack!

One of the obstacles in the course

Take these trouble-makers away!!

November 26, 2016

October Birthdays

We had two really big birthdays in October: Charis turned 16, and Arden turned 13! Since Arden got a big party last year (an Amazing Race run by 4 teams of 2 each throughout our small town and ending at the house), it was Charis's turn for a big birthday bash. (Not to worry, though...Arden got a party the following weekend doing what he requested: swimming and football with friends at the Y before chowing down on pizza and chocolate cake!)

For Charis's sweet sixteen party, we borrowed an idea from friends who did a murder mystery party for their daughter, Charis's best friend, when we were in Italy together. The party was such a hit that the moms later had a moms' night out to do our own grown-up version! I tucked away the idea for later, thinking it would be fun to do with teenagers at our house sometime. Charis agreed, and together we picked the theme "A Knight of Murder" from an online mystery party service. Invitations were issued, costumes were found (hooray for a dress-up party close to Halloween, lol), and arrangements were made for our younger 5 children to enjoy an evening with friends so we could focus on serving Charis and her guests, who included Tobin and Arden along with a number of friends from youth group and our homeschool circle.

It was such a fun evening! I honored Charis's request for a pasta dinner, even though we agreed it wasn't terribly medieval, but the homemade ragu and Bolognese sauces were a hit along with French bread, grapes, and apple cider punch. Only one person guessed the murderer correctly...Arden was our victim, and the murderer was none other than Charis herself! It was so funny...she and I had discussed who should play which character, with neither of us knowing any details until after I began looking through and printing the hostess materials. (I dressed up in my Renaissance festival dress, which has gotten much use since purchasing it in 2008, but I did not play a character so that I could focus on the details of the party.)

After the characters had cast their votes for who they thought the murderer was as well as best costume and best actor/actress, we awarded prizes and enjoyed ice cream cake, and then Ted went to pick up our littles and hustle them to bed while the teens hung out for awhile. I think it was a very memorable experience for all involved, and Charis seemed to have a wonderful time. Hard to believe our "baby" is Sweet Sixteen now! We are so very proud of her!

And as an aside...she finished her online driver's ed course and we jumped through all the hoops so that she can finally take her driver's test this coming Tuesday. She is very excited and has been a bit impatient as you can imagine to hurry up and get through all this red tape!

Here are some party pics...

Tobin found this hilarious banana costume at Goodwill...we thought it was perfect for his jester character, "Joking Jerry!"

Wyatt as a baron and Charis as Lady Diana

Ted's character was Willie the Watchman, which he played up as a Secret Service kind of a guy!

Two characters have a private conversation! (These girls are twins in real life!)

Charis with two of her BFFs

Poor Sir Rufus! He met an early demise...

Lord Taylor speaks with Queen Genevieve

Examining the evidence and casting votes

Lovely ladies!

The whole "cast" of the evening!

We printed a number of signs like this for decorations...that's about as decorative as we got, but it worked!