November 26, 2005

Blessed Thanksgiving!

This post is two days after the fact, but we wanted to wish everyone a belated happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! We had an absolutely wonderful day. We started our week emphasizing thankfulness with the children...Charis helped Rhonda and me trace and cut out construction-paper leaves, and each night at dinner we would all write something on a leaf that we were thankful for. Then we taped the leaves to the pantry doors, near the verse Charis wrote for handwriting practice, Psalm 105:1, "Thank the Lord for all the glorious things He does." The kids looked forward to putting more leaves on the doors each day, and I think it will become an annual tradition at our house!

On Wednesday Ted got to come home around 10:30 in the morning to pick us all up and take us back to the squadron for their Thanksgiving lunch. They did the whole deal, with multiple turkeys and hams, etc.! People brought in dishes, and it was quite a spread. There are a lot of young, single airmen who can't afford to go home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so this WAS Thanksgiving for many of them. We enjoyed our food and a tour of the TTF (threat training facility) afterward, in which the kids went wild and crazy climbing on tanks, trucks, helicopters, etc.! So, if you ever come to visit Las Vegas, you can take a tour with Ted and see such things for yourself!

On Thanksgiving Day we hosted our friends Brad and Dana and their children Matthew and Gracie. It was fun to share the cooking, and we enjoyed turkey and gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin cheesecake courtesy of their family, and we contributed a ham, cheesy potatoes, butternut squash puree (a new recipe, and definitely a keeper!), and an apple pie. YUM! We spent time in prayer beforehand and then dug right in! The R's were planning to leave for California later in the day, so we ate around noon, and just after they left it was time for naps (for the kids) and a relaxing afternoon cheering on the Denver Broncos--woohoo!

After a very light dinner, Rhonda, Ted and I took the kids to the Magical Forest, sponsored by Opportunity Village, a Nevada charity. If you go to the web site you can view a video of some of the activities. But anyway, it was a beautiful night, not too cold at all, and the children really enjoyed the amazing displays of trees, lights, and decorations. Since Thanksgiving was opening night, it was actually not too crowded, so we got tickets for the carousel and re-used them (with permission!) for a total of 3 rides! I think that was definitely the kids' favorite part, though the walk through the "Forest" itself was also a lot of fun.
Having seen candles blown out on my birthday cake and at the Thanksgiving table, Arden apparently assumed that the Christmas lights were also meant to be blown out, and he spent quite a bit of time trying to do just that as soon as we stepped inside the forest! It was very cute to watch him huffing and puffing and then turning to us with a puzzled look to say, "Blow it out!" Once he realized his efforts were in vain, he turned his attention to every spherical ornament or decoration on the entire campus. He is obsessed with balls, and he found plenty to keep him happy!

On Friday the fun continued. Ted's Uncle Rande and Aunt Jo had driven from Montana to Las Vegas on Thanksgiving Day and crashed at a hotel that evening, so they came over to our place for breakfast on Friday. Then we loaded everyone up and drove down to the Strip. We saw the white tiger and "rain forest" at the Mirage and had lunch at Planet Hollywood (NOT our first choice, but unfortunately, there was a 90-minute wait for the Cheesecake Factory. We also watched the fountains at the Bellagio again, but this was the kids' first time to see them. It was neat, because the song this time was "O Holy Night." Interesting to hear THAT song in the middle of Sin City!!

After much walking around and seeing the sights, it was time to come home. We enjoyed dinner (yummy leftovers!), then put the kids to bed early and learned how to play 5-handed Pinochle! It was a great way to end the week.

Rhonda flew home this morning, and we are now winding down from all the festivities. I've done some Christmas shopping online and am getting excited for the holiday season!

November 23, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me...

I haven't posted much here lately, but there's good reason for that--we've been busy doing fun stuff! Ted's mom, Rhonda, flew in on Saturday, and we are all thrilled to have Grandma J here for Thanksgiving. The children kept her hopping as they did the ol' show-and-tell routine..."Grandma, come see my room!" "Grandma, look at this!" "Grandma, I want to show you my..."

Sunday afternoon I did a stamping party, and when I returned the kids, Ted, and Rhonda surprised me with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday." They had gone birthday shopping for me while I was out, and, figuring the kids would not be able to keep a secret until my actual birthday (the 22nd), decided to begin the birthday festivities early. I received a Baby Blues treasury, which is fitting since Ted and I have grown to love this comic strip now that we are parents, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal does not carry it. Also in my bag was an "Anguished English" daily calendar for 2006, which should provide much amusement if the blurbs on the back of the box are any indication. Among the bloopers and blunders are:

"Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person."
"The manager has personally passed all the water served here."
"This is Leningrad Airport, and You Are Welcome to It."

And then we all enjoyed ice cream cake from TCBY. Chocolate and peanut butter...mmmm! They know what I like!

So yesterday, my actual birthday, Rhonda had a card waiting for me at breakfast that said new stamping shelves would be arriving that day. Yay! The shelves I had previously been using to hold my stamp sets toppled over one day, and my stamp sets have been in disarray since. The shelving unit was not actually designed to be used for holding stamp sets, as it was made by my dad during my college days to fit on my college desk, with space right above the desk for my bulletin board. We then used foam tape to secure it to the cinder block walls, which made it quite useful and sturdy at the time. But a free-standing shelf holding thousands of stamps...not so much.

In the evening Rhonda babysat for us while we went to the Strip for dinner at the Excalibur's show, "Tournament of Kings." It's in an arena where we watch and participate in a highly imaginative display of medieval antics. We feasted on tomato soup (drunk from tureens, as there is no silverware here!), a cornish hen (yes, a whole one, and no, I couldn't eat all of mine), broccoli spears, and potato logs, with apple danishes for dessert. We were assigned a section and cheered for the appropriate king--or, in our case, the evil dragon knight. It was strange cheering for the bad guy!

Anyway, the show was lots of fun, and we were impressed with the choreography, as each sword clank coincided perfectly with the sound effects. Definitely one of the more family-friendly shows in Las Vegas, I am sure!

During this time Ted gave me an envelope with a cute card (no, not stamped, but cute nonetheless!) saying he had had a difficult time shopping for me since I had said I didn't really need anything. He decided that time would mean the most to me, and he was right! He plans to reserve time for me at a spa for a massage and whatnot, followed by a date night, with him making arrangements for the sitter and everything! That is definitely a wonderful, thoughtful gift, and I am very thankful for such a dear husband!! He knows my love language is quality time and conversation!!

After the show, we walked down the Strip and watched the fountains at the Bellagio, then went through the maze of Caesar's Palace, heading for the Cheesecake Factory. We stopped to look around in FAO Schwartz and spent quite a bit of time looking at toys! But this was our downfall, as we realized when we went to the Cheesecake Factory and discovered it was a half-hour wait to get in. And this on a cold November Tuesday night!! Since it was 9:00 already, and we had a long walk back to the car, we decided to skip it and just come home for more ice cream cake. :-) We caught another fountain show on the way back and managed to avoid eye contact with the men trying to pass out girlie flyers. Sigh... There are fun things on the Strip that don't involve sin, BUT it is impossible to escape the evidence from the things that do.

So, that was my birthday. Oh, and I also received a VERY lovely collection of stamped cards (thank you, everyone who took time to stamp for me!), plus some birthday money that I will likely use to either purchase a table for my stamp classes or else new shoes. :-)

November 18, 2005

Bonnie Springs Field Trip

On Tuesday we went with our play group to Bonnie Springs, a beautiful place about 30 minutes outside of the city in the Red Rocks Canyon area. There is a petting zoo, an old mining town replica, horse rides, a miniature train, and more. Unfortunately, most of the attractions are now weekend only, so all we did was go through the extensive petting zoo area. The children were delighted, however, and we spent a delightful hour wandering around, petting, feeding, and chortling at the animals. Among the critters we saw were burros, llamas, rabbits, roosters, chickens, pigs, goats, deer, miniature ponies, cows, wolves, hedgehogs, guinea pigs...and a few who were distinctive enough that I don't remember them, never having heard of their species before!

The animals are well fed, as you can see. The deer here were so fat that there would be no running away if danger were imminent, so it was a good thing the wolves were NOT free to wander as so many of the other animals were. Although we didn't bring any coins to buy food from the dispensers, other moms were generous enough to share with Charis and Tobin, who felt no shame in begging quarters so they could feed the greedy animals nuzzling at their hands. Arden just toddled along, squealing and patting wherever he found a soft patch of fur. I personally enjoyed the drive to and from Bonnie Springs, and we decided that we definitely must go back on a Saturday when Ted can go with us and when the train is running and other things are happening.

November 16, 2005


I finished my early morning jog with my new running partner and was walking the half-mile or so back to our house, breathing in the crisp, cool November air. As I turned onto the street that would take me to our neighborhood, I noticed the bright moon, a full moon, or "cookie moon," as we call it at our house (not to be confused with a "watermelon moon" or a "banana moon"). The moon was beautiful, and so bright that it almost hurt my eyes to look at it.

The heavens declare the glory of God...

When does the moon shine the brightest? When it is a full moon--this is the only time it can fully reflect the glory and brilliance of the sun. Of course we can still see reflection from a half moon or crescent moon, and we can faintly trace the outline of a new moon. But to really see on a dark have any glimpse of how bright the sun must be on the other side of the world...we look to the full moon.

When can I shine the most for my Heavenly Father? When I am full of the Holy Spirit--this is the time I can best reflect the glory and brilliance of the Son. Oh, I may reflect a little glory, a little light, here and there, but only when I empty myself and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me up can I shine completely for God's glory.

Dear Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit today and let me reflect You to everyone I meet.

November 15, 2005

The Invisible Woman

Yesterday at MOPS we watched a video clip of...a really funny lady whose name I can't remember...who was speaking at a Women of Faith conference. She did a sketch called the Invisible Woman. I won't even try to reproduce her humorous take on being invisible in the family, such as when she tells kids to turn the TV down and nothing happens, or when no one says anything about a wonderful spread at the dinner table other than "There's no butter."

What really spoke to me was when she shared about the time a friend of hers who had traveled to Europe gave her a gorgeous book about cathedrals. As she was going through and looking at the pictures of these beautiful, amazing structures, she noticed that nearly all of them said "Builder: Unknown." It struck her what she was really doing with her life was not simply cooking and cleaning...she was building a cathedral, a work of art that would continue to be worked on long after she is gone.

This really convicted often do I clean the house hoping to receive earthly praise for it? Or "sacrifice" my time for my family so that I will be thanked for it? Shouldn't I really be working for my Heavenly Father, serving my family because I want to serve Him? The speaker noted that invisibility is not the disease--it is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. When I am honest with myself, I realize that much of my "service" is really self-driven. May God remind me everyday that I am building a cathedral for HIS glory.

November 13, 2005

Veterans Day Air Show

Being in Las Vegas for Veterans Day definitely has its advantages. For one thing, the weather here was absolutely beautiful! But more importantly, we had the opportunity to celebrate and remember our veterans by attending the last air show of the season, Aviation Nation. November 11 was a special Military Appreciation Day, so we were able to attend without the overwhelming numbers of people who came in on Saturday and Sunday, which was very nice with our three little ones. Tobin was thrilled by absolutely everything, from the 37 mm anti-aircraft cannon to the SA-8 Surface-to-Air missile system (which all 3 kids and Daddy crawled inside) to the MH-60 rescue helicopter. You can see his cheesy grin here as he sits in the front of the rescue helicopter, showing his delight at being able to push all the buttons and not get in trouble. :-)

We spent a total of about 5 1/2 hours wandering around on the flightline, way longer than I thought we would last, but the kids loved every bit of the show--with the exception of the extremely LOUD Harrier demonstration! Well, to be fair, they liked watching the plane but didn't like the noise. We found ear plugs after that, though Charis was the only one who would wear hers. As Tobin was able to cover his ears by himself, I was mostly concerned about Arden...he let me cover his ears SOME of the time. Anyway, the Harrier, for those who don't know, is a jet that can take off vertically, hover, and fly sideways and backwards. It is very cool to watch, but quite hard on the ears.

We sat in the stands to watch some of the demonstrations after munching cheeseburgers and corn dogs (mmmmm, a little slice of America right there, albeit a greasy one). A lady had given us all little flags to wave as we were looking at some of the static displays, and in the bleachers the kids finally got into holding theirs and waving them about. It's actually a small miracle that no eyes were poked out, since Arden was by far the most enchanted with his flag and waved it vigorously for all to see. I don't even think he was watching the planes at this point, which is probably a good thing, because then surely someone would have been blinded before it was all over.

One of the coolest demonstrations involved representative planes from different war eras: a red-tailed P-51 from WWII, an F-4 from Vietnam, and an F-22, the newest fighter being used today.

But probably the highlight of the day was seeing the Thunderbirds in all their glory. Their show was at the end, and of course well worth the wait. I think the last time I saw their show was when we were stationed in San Angelo. Even waiting for them to take off was exciting--a movie-like soundtrack played, with the announcer waxing eloquent about our freedom fighters. Watching the six F-16s zip into the air and perform their amazing stunts kinda makes ya proud to be an American! When the show was over, we headed home, and during the half-hour drive, Arden conked out and didn't even wake up when I unbuckled him and carried him up to his bed. He was one tired little guy. In fact, we all were! But it was a wonderful way to spend the holiday.

Thank you, Veterans! Thank you, active duty soldiers! God bless you and your families, and God bless America!

November 11, 2005

A Good Home School Day

Recently I've been singing the praises of a home schooling mom's resource titled Managers of Their Homes. I finally finished a draft of our family's schedule on Tuesday night, and Wednesday we officially implemented it. Of course, we had been roughly following a basic routine, but having everything written out brought things together more tightly and actually allowed us to do more than we would "normally" do. Plus, having activity changes about every half hour meant the children were not getting restless and bored, which usually leads to LOTS of sibling rivalry!

So I thought I'd outline how our day went, for those who are interested in what our daily schedule looks like. It will be interesting to save our schedule worksheets over time and see how our routines change as the children grow older, but for now, this seems to be a reasonable schedule for us, one that allows us to participate in a variety of activities on a regular basis, rather than whenever Mom feels like it!

First, a caveat: This schedule is a "typical" day for us. Unfortunately, we often do not have typical days! Every other Monday morning I attend MOPS at our church, and on the off Mondays our group likes to get together, which I will do if it involves meeting for lunch or close to the lunch hour so that it doesn't cut into our school time. Tuesday mornings I sometimes meet with another group of friends for a play group. Sometimes it is just letting kids play together at someone's home, and sometimes (like this coming Tuesday) it is more of a field trip, and I do like to participate in those--very educational! Next week we are going to Bonnie Springs, and that will surely warrant a post on here with pictures! Thursdays we like to go to the library for story time at 11 a.m. and to get new books, but I try to keep it to every other week simply because of the distance to the library here. Gas has come down to $2.45 a gallon, but still... And then there are trips to the commissary for groceries, a two-hour ordeal with drive time and shopping time. Still, it does seem that we are home more often than we are not, and that is a good thing.

So here is how our day went on Wednesday, and how typical days will likely go unless I discover that I need to change something about the schedule...

5:30 a.m. I wake up and shower. (This has to change...I'm supposed to get up at 5 a.m. to exercise!)

6:00 Quiet time while sipping hot green tea, made by my dear husband

6:45 Computer time--check email

7:00 Browse the newspaper, begin setting the table for breakfast

7:15 Boys wake up; change and dress Arden; guide Tobin in picking out clothes that match; set out puzzles for Arden to work on while I finish getting breakfast ready

7:30 Wake Charis up; remind her to make her bed and straighten her room before she comes down for breakfast

7:45 Eat breakfast together; read and discuss Bible stories (they are so eager and have so many questions!); review memory verses; clean up. I start a load of wash--today it's just towels and kitchen linens.

8:30 Charis begins her handwriting practice page plus a page from Developing the Early Learner; I take the boys upstairs and get them settled into "playpen time and room time." Tobin picks two drawers of toys to play with and we carry them from the play area to his room. I remember to have him use the bathroom before he starts play time. Arden has (as usual) a stack of books and asks for more puzzles. I set everything plus some blocks in his playpen and put him in. He settles down and happily begins working his puzzles. Playpen time and room time actually starts around 8:45, and I start a Veggie Tale CD for the boys to listen to and head downstairs to check Charis' work.

8:50 Math time! Today we do two review pages. The lesson is on tally marks, so the first review page is simply converting tally marks to numbers, then drawing tally marks for the numbers given. The second page is a systematic review and includes skip counting by 5, using the manipulatives to solve for the unknown (___ + 3 = 5 and my daughter is doing algebra!!), and adding tens and hundreds.

9:10 Reading time! Today Charis chooses some A Beka readers that used to be mine when I was her age and reads them to me.

9:25 I give a shout out to the boys (I love the cathedral ceiling in the living room) to start cleaning up.

9:30 Charis and I finish reading, and she goes to help Arden put away his playpen toys. I check Tobin's work--today he did a great job of cleaning up, probably because I had told him we were doing a surprise for his school time.

9:35 Charis and Arden play together in the boys' room while Tobin and I do pre-school downstairs. Today he does a new letter in his pre-handwriting book, capital A. He practices the slanted lines in big, broad strokes on one page, then practices making the A's on the other page. He keeps tracing the middle line from right to left instead of left to right, but though I gently try to get him to switch, I decide it is really not worth worrying about. Then we do two math pages. He loves his math book, which is actually a kindergarten/1st grade workbook. I wasn't sure if he'd be ready, but he can certainly count, and it has been very basic. Today's pages include practicing writing numbers 1-12, which he does surprisingly well. I don't think Charis was writing numbers at this age, though I do remember we had started teaching her to write letters. The other page introduces pennies, and we count pennies and write how many cents. Then we put away the books and come to the computer (the aforementioned surprise), and Tobin sits on my lap while we go to and click on letters to see silly little animation while hearing the letter sounds. Tobin LOVES this activity, and we do letters A-G before it is time to finish.

10:05 We get Charis and Arden out of the boys' room by removing the gate--they seem to have mostly been doing puzzles while Tobin and I were working downstairs. We go down and pile on the couch, where I read our stories from Sonlight (the curriculum we purchased this year for Charis). Today we read "Selfish Sand Frog" from The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book and "The Twins" from the Treasury of Little Golden Books. We talk about how Grandma Keist and Auntie Iola are twins, and cousins Maelin and Joyella are twins, just like the twin girls in the story.

10:30 We are finished with our "official" school activities, and now it is outside play time. I open the garage door that goes to our back yard and allow the children to play inside the garage or go out to the backyard. They like to ride their bikes and trikes in the garage. Now it's my time to make phone calls, and I have the chance to chat with my dear friend Monica, whom I miss after moving. We chat beyond my allotted phone time, but that's OK, because next on our schedule is lunch prep, and I can do that while talking! The children play amazingly well together while I'm on the phone. I guess we can call this "recess!"

11:30 We sit down for lunch, and I remind the children of what we will be doing the rest of the day. We discussed the new schedule at breakfast, and I want them to understand that there are specific things we will do at specific times. Up until lunch time, our activities have been more or less what we normally do anyway, but there are a few differences in the way this afternoon will go than the free-for-all that afternoon time has become of late.

12:00 After cleaning up lunch, Charis and I prepare to do some chores. Tobin's job is to play outside with Arden. Charis helps me take the laundry out of the dryer, and I show her how to carefully fold the napkins and dishtowels. She takes great pride in lining up the corners. This job is much more pleasant with my daughter to talk to me! When we finish, she begs, "May I please do more chores?" How can I refuse such a request?! So I tell her she can help me clean our bathroom, and we head upstairs after a quick peek on the boys to make sure they are all right. During our bathroom cleaning spree, Tobin comes in no less than 3 times asking if he can help! I tell him that today he is helping me by playing with Arden, and tomorrow will be his turn to do chores with Mommy after lunch!

12:30 Now it's time for Charis and Tobin to play together. They choose to play in the garage. This is good, because now I get to spend one-on-one time with Arden. All he wants to do is read, so we read a pile of books and then get ready for his nap.

1:00 Arden is in bed for nap time; I set the timer and tell Charis and Tobin they have 30 more minutes to play. They are playing so well together and enjoying riding around in the garage. I'm glad I thought to move the van out to the driveway so they would have lots of space! I take advantage of the play time to work on the computer a little, answering email, particularly for business-related issues. I have two stampers' clubs meeting next week, followed by a home workshop, and I am excited to get things rolling again.

1:30 The timer goes off, and I bring the big kids back inside, where they get drinks, go potty, and choose stories. We snuggle together and read some more, and then it is off to bed. Tobin naps in my room, and I am hoping that today he will go to sleep without a struggle. I am expecting a phone call from our financial advisor at 2:30 so we can review our portfolio, and I NEED Tobin to be asleep during this time!

2:00 Tobin is now in bed, so that gives him half an hour to fall asleep. I tuck Charis in, telling her I will set the timer for 30 minutes so she can rest her body and her brain. She is agreeable. I listen at Arden's door--sound asleep. Good boy!

2:30 I check on Tobin--asleep! Woohoo! I go to Charis' room and tell her she may play quietly in her room. I remind her that I will be on the phone, and when her quiet room time is over, we get to have Creative Activity time. Her eyes light up at this thought!

2:40 The phone rings, and for the next 45 minutes I discuss our financial situation with our advisor, who seems to think we are in very good shape, though we do decide to switch funds for various reasons. We have worked with Shane for over 5 years now, and we trust him completely.

3:30 Time for Creative Activities! I check in on Tobin...still sound asleep. So is Arden. Charis and I go to the kitchen table to work on making some beaded bracelets with a kit she got for her birthday. First we must repair one she made for her friend. Arden stretched it out yesterday. Then I get Charis started on making a necklace. I have to help her towards the end, since the rope is getting frayed and we can't keep snipping the end off. The elastic bracelet string is much easier to work with, and she makes a coordinating bracelet. She gives me permission to make a bracelet, too, so I enjoy pulling out letter beads and make one for myself with the kids' names on it. I am pleased with the results, and Charis oohs and aahs as well. Her necklace and bracelet look nice, too, and we delight in our shared time together.

4:00 I get the boys up...sure is hard to wake Tobin up! Arden is always ready to begin working on puzzles whenever he wakes, so I get him up first, change him, and then turn him loose on his choice of puzzles.

4:30 Finally Tobin is awake. It takes lots of prodding and pushing and holding, but eventually he is coherent. The kids play while I begin dinner preparations.

And that's pretty much it! This is a Wednesday, so after dinner we pack up and go to church for AWANA and the adult celebration service. We are going through the book of Acts on Wednesday nights--the series title is "Power to Change Me, Power to Change the World." I especially like this because the next Bible study I'm to write for the Commission youth camp is power-themed, as in superheroes. I'm getting ideas everywhere!

Charis earns another jewel for her Sparks crown, plus AWANA shares for bringing food for Good Samaritan night. Tobin and Arden apparently do well in their rooms, and then we all head home and hit the sack!

November 10, 2005

A Day of Service

Two days ago the children and I took part in a home school group service project. It was a project that is close to my heart, as I have been involved in doing this (off and on, admittedly) since college days. Operation Christmas Child involves shoe boxes, odds and ends that make a child's heart sing, and the love of Jesus. Our family went shopping together for items to put in our boxes: Charis shopped for a girl 5-9 years old, Tobin gave lots of interesting ideas for a boy 2-4 years old, and Arden just went along for the ride while Ted and I chose items for "his" 2-4 year-old-boy. It was such a delight to talk with the children about what we were doing and to hear them say things like, "Mommy! I think The Girl would really like this!" or "Daddy, can we please get The Boy this?"

Tuesday morning after our official school time was finished for the day, we packed up our treasures and met with several other families at one house for a box-assembly process. It was a beautiful day, and the children enjoyed playing on the wonderful swing in the backyard while I sorted out items to put in the boxes. Charis joined me and helped pick out the wrapping paper for each box. She then helped me with the wrapping (she loves tape) and put the tag labels on. When we were finished with our boxes, the whole group stopped to pray for the children who will be receiving our love gifts.

Later in the day we took a meal to a friend from play group who had surgery last week. The children and I discussed that we now had the opportunity to help someone else with a home-cooked meal, just like the ladies from church helped Mommy with meals when Daddy was away. I'm thankful for opportunities like this that help me show Charis, Tobin, and Arden just what it means to love other people and to demonstrate our love for them in practical ways.

November 03, 2005

You Know You Have Toddlers When...

1. You find a spaghetti-sauce handprint on the carpet stairs.

2. You sweep daily underneath the table but haven't dusted in two months.

3. You are moved to action by 7 words: "Mommy, will you please wipe my bottom?"

4. Your idea of exercise is running up the stairs whenever you hear a crash...or whenever you hear absolutely nothing.

5. You live for nap time, praying desperately that there will BE a nap time because you need one yourself.

6. Six days later, the spaghetti-sauce handprint is STILL on the carpet stairs.

7. When driving, you view the passing world through a child's eyes. "Oh, look! A horsey! What does a horse say?"

8. You plan meals based on what your children are wearing and whether they will be seen in public after eating.

9. You can quote Bob & Larry's ABCs, Goodnight Moon, and even Scuffy the Tugboat.

10. You forget about all the struggles and battles of the day as you watch your little ones sleep, their little chests rising and falling, mouths slightly open, feet curled up under their tummies, looking for all the world like chubby little cherubs, blessings sent straight from God into your home and heart.