March 30, 2006

Our Day

We had a very good day today! I woke at 5:45 a.m. but didn't go running as I had originally planned, since I needed to be ready to leave the house by 8 a.m. I decided to go ahead and shower and enjoy my quiet time...the boys have been waking at 6:00 or 6:30 this week, so I never know when my "quiet" time will end! I can't wait for Daylight Savings to begin! It's so bright in the mornings, and I'm sure that is contributing to the early wake times.

Today, however, all 3 kids slept until I woke them at 7:45! We piled into the van and headed to base. The kids munched dry Honeycomb cereal and had fruit snacks for their vitamin C. I dropped them off at the youth center with my friend Dana, and they had a grand time running around in the gym while I had my doctor's appointment. All went well, considering it was a pelvic exam, and then we headed across town to the library.

We had enough time to leisurely browse for books and a couple of DVDs (including Potty Time--I've gotta get going on this with Arden!) Then we got to go to Story Time for the first time in probably a month. The kids love the family story time with the "Shake It Man," so named because of one of the songs he always does with the kids. The guy who runs this particular story hour is so hilarious, and obviously very popular. There have got to be at least 50-60 kids in there every time we go, not to mention all the parents.

When story time was over, we drove across the street to Sonic. I had thought we could eat outside, and the kids begged to do a picnic. They had all brought their blankets with them, probably because we left so soon after I woke them up this morning, so we spread out all the blankies on the grassy area in the middle of the drive-up slots and had ourselves a grand old picnic, complete with corn dogs, french fries, and lemonade for the kids and a burger and onion rings for me. They ran around in the grassy area, jumping off one of three big rocks in the middle, and generally being silly and having fun.

After lunch we made a quick trip to Sam's Club for diapers. I had been buying diapers at the commissary, but I recently realized that I can actually get them cheaper at Sam's Club. Woohoo! Hopefully we won't need them for TOO much longer. Arden is almost 2 1/2 years old now, and it's time to start training him in earnest now that warmer weather is upon us.

By the time we got home the children were begging for more food, saying they were SO hungry. Apparently the corn dogs and fries had not been enough. I told them if they were really that hungry they could eat carrot sticks and dip, and they all did! I guess they really WERE that hungry! I read our Sonlight stories to them while they munched, and that was our only "school time" for today. Arden pretty much went straight to sleep, but Tobin never did take a nap.

Still, it was a fairly quiet afternoon for me, as I caught up on some emails and phone calls and blogged a bit. Yesterday afternoon I got an hour and a half nap when all the kids slept, so I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed that Tobin didn't nap today.

After dinner Ted and I had some "couch time" while Arden and Charis played Uno and Tobin colored. Then I headed out for a run...I'm finally getting back into the exercise routine after taking a longer break than I wanted to while Ted was gone. I went 2 miles and came home in time to tuck the kids in bed after Ted was finished with their bath time. They're in bed earlier than usual tonight, but we had a big day, and Arden was the only one who napped. It's quiet now, so hopefully that means Ted and I can enjoy a relaxing evening together!

Funny Kids

Arden's speech is amazing. For having been in Tobin the Talker's shadow for the past 2 1/2 years, Arden is finally getting some time in the conversation spotlight. He talks constantly--guess he learned it from his brother, and he figured Tobin was bound to have to take a breath now and then!

I need to start writing down some of the things he's been saying, but there was one sentence that made me laugh a couple of days ago. I don't know exactly what happened that tickled Arden so, but after bursting into a fit of giggles, he gasped, "That was siwwy (silly) because it was so funny!" I've noticed he says "because" a lot, and not necessarily in the right context. He strings together a lot of observations, and everything is "because" of the previous topic of discussion. For example: "Today we went to the libwawy because then we went to Sonic because we saw Gracie this morning..." and so on.


Charis is still on her ice skating kick, although she now says she wants to be a ballerina, too. I took this picture of her probably a couple of weeks ago. Since we don't have anything "normal" that could pass as an ice skating outfit, she created her own. The t-shirt was from the hospital when she was born; it says, "I got my first hug at Mountain Home AFB Family Care Unit." I'm amazed she got it over her head. The ruffle is from a doll princess dress-up set, and the tights are probably 2 years old. I don't think the picture shows it, but she also has socks on over her tights. I thought the outfit was rather creative, and you can see from her smile that she obviously is rather proud of herself too!


I should be working on a writing project, the Bible study for a youth camp Ted and I have been involved with since the summer of 2000. However, I seem to be stuck, so I thought I'd pop over to my blog and update it a bit. It's so much easier to write in here! I've been having a lot of fun working on this study. It's the 6th one I've done for the camp. Our past themes have been:

* The Few, the Proud, the Faithful (a military analogy)
* Welcome to the Island (fruit of the Spirit)
* The Quest for Holiness (medieval theme)
* Carry the Torch (Olympic theme)
* The Hall of Faith (character studies based on Hebrews 11)

And, this year, I've Got the Power (superhero theme). I love writing these studies; they challenge me spiritually, and it's a way I can use my talents to honor the Lord and hopefully draw others closer to Him. Still, it's a struggle. I can tell when a spiritual attack is going to come...the moment I schedule my writing times into my planner and begin working seriously on the study! I got a good chunk done while Ted was TDY, and you might know we had some serious issues that week, mostly involving children and attitudes (theirs and mine!).

Due to family and business events, this writing project has taken a bit of a back seat the past week. Now I'm ready to pick back up again, but I'm stuck with writer's block. I guess it's a lesson learned to keep writing, a little at a time, so that the fires don't die down.

March 24, 2006

Two Things That Make Me Laugh

I thought I'd share a couple of funny things since I only have a few moments to post something. What better way to start the day than by laughing!

1. I have an "Anguished English" daily calendar that Ted and the kids gave me for my birthday. Here's what it said for Monday, a "lost in translation" kind of thing:

Go soothingly on the greasy road, for therein lurks the skid demon.

I giggle every time I read this!

2. Ted's mom always finds the greatest cards. (No, they aren't hand-stamped, but we always love the puns!) Ted's 30th birthday card arrived yesterday. It has a picture of a rather fat baby on the front, wearing only a diaper, hunched over and concentrating with his face all scrunched up. The inside of the card says, "Looks like someone is pushing turdy!" LOVE IT!!

Arden likes the card, too. He calls it his funny baby. :-)

March 22, 2006

Another One of Those Days...

Whew. What a day! And it happens to be Ted's birthday. Sigh. His 30th birthday, even. It's a good thing we went to The Melting Pot last Friday night for an early birthday date, because today isn't looking so great for a fabulous birthday celebration.

It began at 6:15 this morning when Charis threw up on the upstairs carpet. I guess I should have seen this coming. She had come downstairs about 10 minutes earlier saying her tummy hurt, and her face looked deathly pale. She decided after attempting to eat some Cheerios (thinking she was hungry, though I didn't figure she'd eat anything) that she wanted to go back to bed because she was tired. I was about to follow her upstairs with a dish but obviously was too late. So I cleaned the carpet instead. Yuck! Ted gave her a tiny bit of pepto to try to settle her stomach, since she was still crying that it hurt. I sure know that feeling!

She threw up again a little later (thankfully in the bowl this time), then had a diarrhea accident in her pants. Double yuck.

Arden was also up early, so I was trying to keep things quiet. I learned an important lesson at 7:00 this morning: Don't open the freezer door when the can of Super Structs is perched precariously on top of the fridge.

Meanwhile, Tobin was sleeping in until 9:00, which is VERY rare. I worried that he was going to be next, but aside from complaining about a tummy ache (which could just be for attention), nothing seems to be wrong with him. He's certainly had a normal appetite and a normal Tobin attitude!! He didn't nap, which isn't too surprising considering how late he slept in. (He's normally up by 7:00.)

Charis rested in her room instead of doing school time--I feel like we have done so little school lately! I went ahead and had the boys do their individual play time and took advantage of the time to clean the downstairs thoroughly. It seemed the house had completely fallen apart over the last few days, and the floors were driving me nuts. I totally dusted EVERYTHING, even the tops of the bookshelves! Cleaned the bathroom. De-cluttered each room. Swept. Mopped. Continued with the linen laundry. Yay! At least some good came of Charis' sick day! The downstairs is CLEAN!!!

Arden and Charis both napped, even though Tobin didn't. I should have thought to check in on Charis. I know what a sound sleeper she is, but it didn't even occur to me that she'd have an accident during a nap. I guess it just goes to show how out of it she was--she woke up with wet pants and a wet bed. Another load of laundry!

Sometime in the afternoon it occurred to me that TODAY was Ted's birthday. I knew this; I had wished him a happy birthday this morning. But I got totally caught up in kid and house stuff that I neglected to carry out any fun plans with the kids to get ready for Daddy's home coming. Fortunately, Tobin seemed agreeable to the idea of making Daddy a card, so he worked on that awhile during his non-nap.

After Charis' bed got stripped, she asked to lie down on my bed. I could tell she had a fever, so I gave her some children's ibuprofen. She was also complaining of a headache. Once the meds kicked in, though, she asked for crayons, scissors, glue, and paper so she could make a card for Daddy, too. She happily worked in my room and proudly brought down her creation for me to see--a princess card, surprise, surprise! Every birthday card she has made since her own princess party has had to have a princess on it! She has gotten quite good at drawing princesses now, and it's cute to see her rendition of the cartoon character that's on the stamp in my Pretty Princess stamp set. I'm sure Daddy will love his princess card from his little girl!

We whipped together a pineapple cake, which just came out of the oven. The recipe sounds delicious--I hope so, because this is the first time I've made it! There's a cream cheese frosting that goes on top, so we're going to do the frosting soon. Charis seems to be feeling much better, though I don't think she'll eat much this evening.

I had dinner set for 5:30 but discovered that the potatoes I was planning to use as part of our spread were growing green fuzzies. I called Ted to see if he could swing by the store and pick up some French bread or something to go with our honey-lemon chicken and artichokes. He hadn't even left the base yet! So...I turned off the steamer and decided that we're just going to have to enjoy dinner in whatever condition it is in when he arrives home. Thankfully the chicken is in the crock pot, and I'm hoping there's no real way to ruin it, though I'm a tad bit concerned because it was too big for the lid to fit on, so I had to cover it with foil. It's been dripping all day, and I keep mopping up juices and wondering if there's any left in the chicken itself. However, it does smell good, and I may just turn off the pot and see how it looks. That way if I need to salvage any more of our meal I can hopefully have time before Ted gets home!

So, with that, I'll close here and see what I can do to get a decent-looking dinner on the table by the time he arrives! It's a good thing I called the church to tell them I wouldn't make it to AWANA this evening!

March 21, 2006

Fun Day With New Deaf Friends!

Praise the Lord I am feeling SO much better today! I still couldn't eat much for breakfast this morning, but I had enough to recharge me and get me ready for a great day. Ted was so wonderful to watch the kids for me yesterday so I could get two naps, and then we went to bed at 9 p.m. I was able to finish packing my workshop basket and bag so I was all ready this morning except a few last-minute things.

We left the house around 8:30 a.m. to take the boys to my friend Sarah's house. Her husband took the day off work (thank you, Ken!) to watch the boys for us, and we took the girls with us, figuring they would be able to play and entertain themselves nicely without interrupting us much. We also decided it would be best to take them with us rather than having Ken watch all SIX children, as he is deaf. I know he's a great dad, but still, that's a lot of responsibility, and we weren't sure how long we'd be gone.

We drove downtown Vegas to the rec center where the meeting was to be held. The Silver Belles are a group of older deaf ladies that meet regularly on Tuesdays. Usually the group is about 30-35 women, but (thankfully) today there were only 10 people there, which was the perfect number. They knew I was coming, so those who attended were the ones who were really interested in stamping, and most had been to a show before. Sarah and I discussed later that we don't think they had actually been to a show with an interpreter before, because they all commented that they learned so much today, which made me feel great!

I used a few signs that I've learned, but I was so grateful for Sarah's willingness to come with me and help me out. She knows all or most of the women who were there, and I think she had a really fun time, too. The ladies were all so wonderful, so warm and welcoming, and they kept telling me to come back when it was over! We tentatively planned another workshop for April, though we still need to work out child care details. I hate to have Ken take more time off work, though Sarah assures me that he has been working a lot lately and was due some time off!

Anyway, the show was lots of fun. They loved all the projects I demo'ed and did a great job making their own gift sacks and cards to take home. The order total was great, and they decided to use the hostess dollars to get stamps and ink pads for the whole group to use. The group leader also ordered supplies for the Silver Belles as well as her own personal order, and I think they are all so excited to get together and use their stuff. They also plan to make cards to sell for fundraisers, which is a great idea, and I told them I'd love to help if we can coordinate a time when Ted can watch the kids.

One of the ladies is even interested in possibly being a demonstrator, which really excites me! She is one of the ones I felt I really connected with, and she has had enough experience that I think she would really do a great job. I told her we would definitely get together, and she could help me practice my sign language skills while I helped her with new ideas!

So, what a blessing! I prayed specifically this morning that God would pour out His blessings on this whole event--that Sarah and I (and even our girls) would bless the deaf ladies who came to stamp and that God's will would be done concerning the "business stuff." He took care of those details, providing good sales and future events. Mostly I just had a ton of fun, though, and I'm thankful that I could brighten some ladies' day and encourage their creativity.

Now I am all the more eager to keep learning sign language! I love it! I can understand quite a bit, a lot more than I can actually sign. I guess it's kind of like being a toddler again, understanding what grown-ups say but not having enough skills to communicate my point very clearly yet. I missed most of the last lesson since I got sick, and so I hope Sarah and I can get together soon so she can help me with the practice conversation that I saw Ted and Lyn doing while I sat on the sidelines deciding whether or not I should tell them we needed to go home! Ted is learning really fast, especially considering that he has only attended 1 1/2 lessons! I think his background in Russian helps him grasp the new language skills easily.

Well, we are now all home, and I put the kids in room time because I needed to deal with a behavior issue with one of them, and it's so quiet I thought I'd sneak onto the computer for a bit. I'm wondering if Arden fell asleep?! It was way past nap time when we finally got home! Tobin is building with Lincoln Logs in the play area, and I'm sure Charis is reading in her room. I'm realizing that it is now 4:00 p.m. and I haven't had lunch, so my tummy is actually rumbling for some food! To snack or not to snack, when dinner is just around the corner, that is the question...

Anyway. I'll blog more later--there's so much to write about! A big hug and hello to my pregnant friends who are reading this! I've been keeping up with your blogs and can't wait to hear all about when your babies arrive! And hello to all our dear friends and family who read and never leave comments. ;-) I don't know why I felt the need to start passing out greetings, but hey! I love you guys!

March 20, 2006

Under the Weather...

Whew--yesterday is a day I do NOT want to repeat! It started out so nicely! I woke early and worked in my stamp room after having a very early quiet time. Church was good, and I stayed to help in the 11:45 service. I went straight from church to a baby shower, which was tons of fun as I got to visit with lots of ladies that I normally don't see without our kids running around us! After that I hurried home to join the rest of the family and our friend Lyn from down the street, who has started attending our sign language classes with us.

I ate a banana as we drove to class, because even though we had eaten lots of munchies at the shower, my stomach somehow felt strange. I thought maybe I was feeling a bit hungry from just eating munchies. By the time we got to our class (about a 20-minute drive), I wasn't so sure how I was feeling! I turned to Ted and Lyn and said, "My stomach feels weird! I don't know if it's something I ate at the shower or what!" But we went inside and started our class. About 15 minutes into the class I realized that I was not doing well at all. On the one hand, I didn't think I should stay at the class, but on the other hand, I didn't relish the thought of another 20 minutes in the van! We ended up leaving, taking a plastic bag inside a paper bag just in case.

Let's just say it's a good thing I had the bag!

The next few hours were pure misery, leaving me in a crumpled heap that could barely move! Ted put the kids to bed and went to the store to get me some pepto, and after I took some of that I was finally able to get to sleep. It was so frustrating to be so tired and yet not be allowed the luxury of going to sleep to escape the misery--every time I almost dropped off, my body woke me up to run to the potty!

I ran a fever during the night and part of this morning. My stomach issues are nearly resolved, thank the good Lord. I just feel like I've been hit by a truck. Whatever this was, it hit very hard and very fast, and thankfully it seems to be moving on. I hope to get my strength up soon, as I am doing a stamping event in the morning!

Ted was kind enough to take a day of leave to help with the kids, which is good because this morning I still felt so weak, I probably wouldn't have been able to do much beyond letting them run wild! I napped from about 10:30 to noon and ate some chicken soup and orange slices for lunch. I've kind of been lounging around this afternoon, debating about taking another nap. I don't want to be awake all night, so I think at this point I will just wait and try to go to bed early. Hopefully when morning comes I will be feeling myself again!

The Melting Pot

Friday night was a date night for Ted and me. We went to the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant. It was our first time to go; several friends had highly recommended it. We enjoyed an amazing four-course dinner:

1. Swiss cheese & artichoke dip--complete with spinach and lots of garlic! We dipped apples, fresh veggies, and a variety of breads into this scrumptious concoction.

2. Salad--we both chose Caesar salads that were much bigger than I anticipated them being.

3. Main Course--I won't even try to type out what this fancy broth was, something like "coq au vin," and it had mushrooms and some type of wine in it. We cooked our own meat in the fondue pot, plopping bits of steak, chicken, and shrimp in the boiling broth. We also cooked potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms, and there were a variety of sauces to go with each morsel. Very interesting. It was quite good, but the best was...

4. A mixture of white and dark chocolate fondue for dessert--complete with strawberries, pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, and yummy morsels of brownies and a slice of cheesecake! Oh, my! This was fantastic!

The entire dinner took about two hours. I have never been so full in my entire life, even on the cruises I've been on! Ted and I literally hurt for nearly an hour afterwards from being so full! I decided that if/when we ever go back, I would be perfectly happy with the appetizer and dessert. The main course was good, but not something I'd crave again. Still, it was a special occasion (we were celebrating Ted's birthday a bit early, though he didn't get his presents yet!), and we enjoyed our time together.

March 17, 2006

Our Responsibility, Our Joy

I've been corresponding with a new friend I met through my blog. In one of her emails to me, she wrote, "Being a mom is such a blessing, but with my beaver personality I am constantly evaluating and analyzing the ways that I am training [my son]. I want so badly for him to love and know the Lord that I feel like if I don't do everything just 'right' then he will never know Jesus as his Savior. I must remind myself to stay focused on the Lord and look to Him for wisdom and guidance."

Being a Beaver personality myself, I can empathize with these feelings. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do everything as perfectly as we can and hope and pray we don't somehow "warp" our children! Below is what I wrote back to her. I thought it sounded like a good blog entry. :-)


I think Satan really guilt trips us into worrying about the whole good-mom-bad-mom thing. Ultimately, we have to trust that God will shepherd our children's hearts--we do what we can to teach them about Him and His Word, but we have to free ourselves of the responsibility that will ultimately be theirs...their own decision to accept and follow Christ. Being a parent is certainly a huge responsibility, to love and lead these little treasures that have been given to us. And it is scary to think they will develop their view of God based on what they learn in our homes. But it's also exciting!

That's one of the biggest reasons we have chosen to home school. I went to a Christian school my whole life, and I'm thankful for that opportunity. But I am so glad that I can personally direct my kids' education. I'm so glad that I'm the one there at the breakfast table, reading the Bible stories and reviewing their memory verses with them. We've had such great discussions at the breakfast table--everything from who Satan is to what temptation and sin are and how we can choose to follow Jesus instead. I love hearing my kids say random things like, "Mommy, I love God and always want to obey Him!" Comments like these come out of the blue later during our days, not necessarily when we are speaking of the topic!

This past year I have really laid claim to the words in Deuteronomy 6:4-7, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."


When we embrace the life God has called us to, loving Him with all our "passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence" (from The Messsage translation), we will incorporate that love and passion into all we do. Our children can't help but notice, and they in turn will (most likely) embrace a faith in God that becomes their very own.

What a joy! What a privilege to be the ones to lead our little ones in the paths of righteousness!

March 15, 2006

A Lazy Morning

I've been up since 5:30 this morning, but I don't feel tired like I sometimes do when I get up and whiz through the morning activities. Charis was the first kiddo up today. Poor girl; she still feels under the weather. She didn't want any breakfast and instead curled up on the couch while the boys and I ate our cereal. Then I got our Sonlight books to read--I picked out some extras since I knew we wouldn't be doing any other "school" activities (at least with Charis), and we sat on the couch and read for an hour. The boys listened while doing puzzles on the floor and table nearby.

Then Charis decided to go up to her room and lay on her bed for awhile. I had given her some Tylenol because she felt feverish again, plus was complaining that her head hurt. She may have dozed a bit off and on, though I couldn't tell since I was doing school activities with Tobin then later puzzles and reading with both boys. I peeked in on her around 10:30 and she said she felt hungry, so I took her some crackers and juice, plus some extra pillows since she wanted to sit up and read. She stayed in her room through lunch time (I did take her a cheese sandwich, since that sounded good to her), reading happily.

The boys played outside awhile after lunch, so I took advantage of the time to clean all 2 1/2 bathrooms! You know it's bad when you have to clean the master bathtub--not because of a ring around the tub, but because of dust!! I don't know how long it's been since anyone used that tub! It's now fuzz and dust-free and ready for me to soak in sometime. :-)

After I finished my cleaning spree, it was around 12:30, and I decided to let the kids watch a Sesame Street DVD we checked out from the library, since it's due tomorrow and we haven't yet seen it. We cuddled on the couch and watched together. The kids are all in bed now, and it's very quiet, though I don't think anyone is actually asleep yet. I started blogging this entry this morning and am just now sitting down to catch up on it! Maybe I'll lie down on the couch and take a short snooze myself!

March 14, 2006

Catching Up

It's only been a few days since I posted, but it seems there is much to catch up on! The house is completely quiet; Ted and the boys went to our small group study for the evening. Charis fell asleep on the couch around 4:30 and woke up very warm and grumpy. Her tummy was bothering her. She ate a little bit of soup and then curled up on the couch again. Since Tobin had some tummy issues last week, and Ted wasn't feeling all that well himself yesterday, we decided it would be best for Charis and I to stay home tonight. Ted offered to stay home with her so I could go, but I felt that I could use some quiet time to catch up on some business activities.

So, Charis and I enjoyed a nice long cuddle session on the couch. I read a few stories to her and prayed with her several times. Poor li'l pumpkin. She's just not feeling so great. I gave her some Tylenol, because she definitely felt feverish. She ate a few crackers and downed some milk, so perhaps her stomach will be all right, but she did complain about her head hurting. She didn't protest at all when I carried her upstairs to bed around 7:15, and I'm quite sure she fell asleep soon after I came back downstairs.


Ted returned safely from Utah Friday afternoon. He had been at Hill AFB helping evaluate an exercise for about a week and a half. It was a voluntary TDY and great experience for him. I'm glad he got to go do something he really enjoys--it was a nice break for him, but the 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. shifts got a little old. :-) He also enjoyed a nice day of snowboarding on one of his days off. What a rough life!

The kids were extremely happy to have Daddy back home again, as was I. We did have our moments while he was gone, but overall, I think we did pretty well. God helped me have a better attitude than I could have had, and He helped the kids stay mostly manageable!


Ted wasn't the only one to arrive on Friday! My friend Kris traveled from New Mexico to Vegas, and we picked her up at the airport and arrived home about a half hour before Ted got here. She and I had planned this weekend long before Ted knew about his TDY, so even though it doesn't sound like the best timing, it couldn't be helped. She and I attended the Stampin' Up! Regional Seminar all day on Saturday, and we had a blast. I hadn't seen her since Convention last summer, and even then I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her, since we didn't room together and she had her cute little baby girl with her. This time we got to catch up on our girl talk and of course stamp, and it was great fun. I'm sure the kids enjoyed catching up on Daddy time, and they were all in one piece (Daddy included!) when we arrived home that evening, so I trust all went well! I took Kris back to the airport Sunday morning and got back home in time to eat a pancake breakfast with the kids and Ted. A very fast weekend, but a fun one.


Sunday afternoon we went to my friend Sarah's house. A few weeks ago we began taking an American Sign Language (ASL) class with her as our teacher and a few other friends as our fellow students. Sarah's husband Ken is deaf, and Ted and I have been wanting to learn ASL to better communicate with him instead of having to rely on Sarah or a computer all the time! Also, I have always been interested in learning ASL...we taught the kids some signs when they were babies, and I thought it would be neat to keep learning more. My sister-in-law knows a lot of signs and has taught her older daughter a lot as well, and I have always thought that was cool. How nice will it be when we're in public and I can sign a warning to my kids?! "Stop that, right now, or else we will go home!!!"

I attended the first session 3 weeks ago--Ted was home sick with the kids that day. Then the next Sunday we both missed because he was TDY and I had a stamping workshop. (My friend and neighbor down the street helped me out by watching the kiddos that afternoon.) So this past Sunday was Ted's first actual class. I had done my best to teach him our vocabulary, but it's so much better to actually be there. The book we ordered on e-Bay finally arrived yesterday, so now we have something to jog our memories.

I'm also excited to be learning ASL because next Tuesday I get to do a stamping workshop for a group of deaf ladies! Sarah has kindly offered to help me by interpreting as well as preparing me for what to expect and giving me tips on the best way to approach the whole teaching-rubber-stamping thing. I'm so excited for this opportunity to share with these women! I'll definitely blog about it afterwards. Who knows, maybe it will be a complete flop?! But then again, maybe it will be something that excites them as much as it does me!


Yesterday at MOPS we had an interesting session. A woman who owns her own "Little Pastry Chefs" business came in and provided 8" round cakes for us all to decorate! We made a beach scene, crumbling graham crackers for the sand and mixing in blue frosting to create the water. I was very proud of my frosting fish, starfish, jellyfish, turtle, and octopus! I am by no means a good cake decorator, but the kids were thrilled when I showed them the finished product. In fact, when saying his prayers several times a day, Tobin has been thanking God for the fish cake that Mommy made. Arden follows his lead and also thanks God for the fishy cake! Charis is just happy that she got to eat the piece with the pink starfish on it. :-)


Well, I'd better quit here before this gets too long. I'll write more later about how our schooling is going.

March 10, 2006

I Choose to Wear Princess Clothes

Over the past 6 days, I have dealt with the following:

* 3 public temper tantrums
* 3 nights of interrupted sleep
* 2 loads of laundry directly related to vomit and diarrhea
* 2 instances that resulted in the doling out of "whining medicine"
* 1 toothbrush stuffed down the sink pipes
* 1 bottle of fingernail polish on the carpet
* 1 child caught in a bold lie

In the midst of all this, I have found myself face to face with:

* my own self-centeredness
* my own whining
* my own form of temper tantrums
* my own SIN

The children's higher-than-usual rate of discipline-producing moments is somewhat tied to the fact that Ted has been gone for 11 days. (He's on his way home even as I write this--praise God!) However, whether one or both of us are here, the fact is, our children are sinners, just like we are. We have no excuse for our behavior, other than the fact that we are human and will always struggle with our sin nature until Jesus takes us home to heaven. How I thank God for His grace and mercy, His love and forgiveness! Even though I often feel like a failure as a mother (such as when I'm yelling back at my kids, trying to get them to stop yelling at one another--how effective is that?!), I can claim forgiveness through Christ and receive His mercies, new every morning.

So, on the positive side, I have had some marvelous teaching moments with the children! For example, last night as I was putting the children to bed, I found myself butting heads with Charis, who refused to don her nightclothes because her favorite nightshirt was in the laundry. She expected me to dig it out of the laundry chute and let her wear it! After we sorted all this out and she was in bed, I began talking to her about her attitude and speech.

I asked her, "Charis, do you know what the Bible says makes us beautiful?"

She shook her head.

"Our good deeds [1 Peter 3:3-4]. Do you know what good deeds are?"

She shook her head again.

"Good deeds are the good things we do and say, the things that please and honor Jesus. Did you know that when we choose to do the right thing and say nice, kind words, it makes us beautiful?"

She gave me a slight smile.

I continued. "It's kind of like this: every time we do or say something that makes Jesus happy, we get to put on a beautiful princess gown, pretty jewelry, a crown, and sparkly shoes."

Her eyes lit up. "Mackenzie has sparkly shoes!"

"Yes! Kind of like that! And when we do or say something that is wrong, when we sin, it's like we have to put on yucky, old, dirty clothes. We get to choose what we 'wear.' Of course, we don't really put on princess clothes every time we do nice things, but when Jesus looks at us, He sees us looking like a princess when we choose to honor Him."

By the end of our conversation, Charis' "mad face" was gone, and she was smiling again. I think I was speaking her language! I look forward to gently reminding her in the days to come (and probably years to come) that we need to live pure and reverent lives, with our beauty that doesn't come from "outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Today, I choose to wear princess clothes!

March 09, 2006

Tooting Tobin's Horn

As the middle child, Tobin sometimes gets overlooked, except when it comes to discipline issues! He had a screaming, raging meltdown at the park on Saturday, which didn't end until well after I had dragged him to the van, struggled for 5 minutes to buckle him up, and made the 3-mile drive home. He proceeded to rage uncontrollably another 10 minutes after I parked the van in the garage and let the other kids go inside so I could collect myself and help him gain some self-control. All of this commotion over the tiniest little thing that just completely set him off!

Anyway, that is typically the type of attention that Tobin gets, simply because of his lion personality (referenced in a recent post). So, I decided that it would be good to focus on some pretty cool things that Tobin has been learning of late.

First of all, he is becoming quite the letter-sounds master. He randomly informs me what the first letters of various words are. He says it backwards, though, as in, "Mommy! [He yells this, because it is an enormously important revelation that he is about to tell me.] B starts with Book!" This type of announcement has become very commonplace, but it is always neat to reinforce his learning. The other day he was looking at one of our Sonlight books, an Usborne book called First 1000 Words. Each two-page spread has common items drawn around the borders with the name of the object. When we read this book for school time, we let the kids take turns finding the objects in the big picture. Anyway, when Tobin was sprawled out on the floor, playing find-the-object on his own, he looked up with a concerned expression and said, "Mommy, knives doesn't start with K!" Pretty perceptive kid! I congratulated him for noticing that the word was a tricky one, and then we had a 10-second lesson on how sometimes K can work together with N to make the N sound.

Another area I have noticed Tobin improving in is his willingness to help with chores and to do tasks even before I ask. Almost without fail, he is the one who does his "table job" after finishing a meal without being told. (His "table job" is to collect our cloth napkins, keeping them in order so we know whose is whose, and putting them on the counter.) He also enjoys keeping the "shoe wall" organized. The shoe wall is the wall area between the bookshelves in the school room and the end of the stair rail. This used to be Charis' job, but after Tobin did it perfectly one day, we decided he was ready to take over so we could give Charis some bigger responsibilities. Tobin does a great job of lining up all the shoes and occasionally does them in the middle of play time!

Tobin's spiritual sensitivity is growing in leaps and bounds as well. He loves memorizing Scripture and quotes his verse of the week (as well as previous weeks) at random times, which is great because it helps us put what he is learning into action!Also, he has told me on several different occasions that he asked God to come into his heart one night when he was praying by himself in bed. He first mentioned this maybe 3 or 4 months ago--I'm not sure when. We were reading an Easter story book one Sunday morning when I was helping in his class. At the end the text asks the question, "Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your heart?" When I read this, Tobin looked at me and said, "I already did, Mommy." I asked him about it, and he told me he had prayed one night in bed. I didn't pursue the issue, thinking he still seemed a bit young, and just thanked God that Tobin at least has a tender heart and seems responsive to the truth.

However, several times since then Tobin has referred to this event, which I think he truly believes happened, and I'm not going to say it didn't. Last Sunday he again brought that same story book to me and asked me to read it. It was deja vu, because when we reached the end with the question, he told me the exact same thing! So, I'm not sure what to think, but at this point I can't really doubt that he trusts that Jesus did die for his sins and rose again from the dead, and I rejoice that he seems to have claimed that for his own life. Of course, as he grows and matures, we will continue to reinfoce Scripture and make sure he truly understands the significance of this, but in the meantime, I thank God for the faith of my child!

March 07, 2006

Arden Funny

The past 2 days I have had to deal with Arden's lack of desire to take a nap. He has been SOOO good about this since our initial problems once he learned to climb out of the crib, but all of a sudden he apparently decided to test the waters again. He never did go to sleep yesterday, and today I don't think he did, either. I ended up shutting him inside his room (there is a safety cover on the inside doorknob so that he can't let himself out), and he raged for a few minutes and then got quiet. I was so exhausted myself that I just assumed he went to sleep (and even if he hadn't, at least he was quiet!), so I lay down on the couch and got a 40-minute nap.

I heard him yelling and woke up. He was poopy. I also noticed a couple of toys/books that were on a lower shelf in his room, so he must have been entertaining himself during my nap. I decided to give up on the nap, since it was by now 4:00, and brought him downstairs. I hoped he would go out in the backyard and play, but after feeling the chilly breeze outside, he decided he didn't want to go out of the house. I asked him what he was going to do instead, and he scrunched up his brow, thinking about this question. Then he said, very seriously, "Um, probably not going to sleep." No kidding!!

March 06, 2006

What Animal Are You?

At MOPS a week ago we had a speaker who is a certified personality trainer. (I never knew there was such a thing!) She spoke about understanding our children's personalities, and it was very fascinating. For me, anyway--I can't speak for the others in the audience--but I have always been intrigued by personality analyses. In college I took the Meiers-Briggs assessment, probably the first personality "test" that I ever took. It was fascinating for me to look somewhat objectively at my personality, and then to apply the blurbs to my family and close friends to understand them a bit better.

Over the years I have since been exposed to other assessments like this--you're likewise probably familiar with the terms choleric, melancholy, sanguine, etc. I even vaguely remember reading something about animals, possibly in a book I read in college. So the information our MOPS speaker presented wasn't totally new, but it was definitely interesting to view in light of the fact that I am now a mother of three children! During the presentation, she mentioned that likely we will find at least 2 of the 4 animals that represent to some degree our children's personalities. In other words, we are unique individuals, and we can't be defined by X number of parameters. Still, it's interesting to see the overall trends and think, yup, that's my child! I know some people shudder at the thought of "categorizing" or "labeling" ourselves and other people, but I have no problem doing so. It's part of my Beaver personality. ;-)

The four animals are Lion, Otter, Beaver, and Golden Retriever. Their basic desires are control, fun, peace, and perfection, respectively. For the more visual learners, it looks like this--

Lion--Powerful--Desires control
Otter--Popular--Desires fun
Beaver--Perfect--Desires Perfection
Golden Retriever--Peaceful--Desires Peace

Now for a partial list of attributes for each one (when I hear you laughing, I'll know you've identified either yourself or a person very close to you!):

organizes and delegates well
problem solver
likes to be in control

In children, this personality expresses itself by being demanding, loud, manipulative, not sleeping much, and throwing tantrums. These children need choices so they can feel they have control over something. For example: "Which of these two outfits would you like to wear today?"

love people
love attention
life of the party
fun loving
hate isolation
love to entertain
love to talk

There weren't as many adjectives for this personality type, but she did talk about how a child who is an Otter is best disciplined by being in time out or isolation. It kills them to miss out on something!

like to research
good student
high standards
hard on themselves
can get depressed easily
avoid noise and confusion

A point I thought was interesting (especially given that I have the majority of these characteristics!) is that Beavers can tend to avoid being cheered up. They get depressed easily (probably because of our high standards that we can never seem to maintain!) but don't seek out ways to lift themselves out of their funk. I never thought of that as being true of me--I'm generally a glass half-full kind of person--but I can definitely see how this is sometimes true. Wallowing in misery is never fun, but sometimes it is mildly satisfying to throw oneself a pity party. :-)

laid back
avoid conflict
avoid responsibility
crushed by getting yelled at
can be selfish and lazy
go along with the crowd
hard time saying no

An interesting point about the Golden Retriever is that last characteristic. Golden Retrievers will be whatever they need to be. If no one is taking charge, they'll be a Lion. If everyone just wants to have fun, they'll be an Otter. If work needs to be done in an orderly fashion, they'll be a Beaver. This bit of information made it a little easier to figure out what my children are.

So...what are we? If you've read this far, you probably don't mind reading to find out what animals I think our family of 5 is made of! I picked two animals for each of us quite easily. I listed the more dominant side first.

Ted: Golden Retriever/Beaver
Me: Beaver/Lion
Charis: Beaver/Golden Retriever
Tobin: Lion/Otter
Arden: Golden Retriever/Otter

Just this brief exercise of "classifying" my family helped me understand them so much better. Tobin really does need control. At the same time, he loves people and attention! Charis is definitely a serious, creative student with high standards (except when it comes to keeping her room clean...this is where the Golden Retriever kicks in about being selfish and lazy!). Arden is my little people pleaser, happy and undemanding MOST of the time, and when he's not, it is usually due to A) he is the youngest child and getting picked on or B) he is a toddler!

I found it interesting that Arden shares characteristics of both Charis and Tobin. Perhaps this is one reason Charis and Tobin fight so much--they truly are opposites!

So, which animal are you? I'd love it if you left a comment! (And by the way, quite awhile ago I changed my settings so that anyone can comment, not just those who have a blog, so it's much easier. You just have to do a word verification so that Blogger knows it's not spam comments!)

Edited to add this comment: I just got a link with the lion-otter-beaver-golden retriever assessment that some of you may want to check out! It has a lot more characteristics than I had written down in my notes--and trust me, I wrote down everything she said, 'cuz I'm a beaver. :-) Especially check out the personality skit--very hilarious! Especially if you imagine people you know as those personalities!

March 02, 2006


On Tuesday and Wednesday my children learned a wonderful lesson about God's power to heal. Tuesday evening was our monthly home school meeting. I took the kids and dropped them off at the child care room and enjoyed the meeting, which was a special time to honor dads, complete with a panel discussion with 4 home schooling dads.

When I went to pick up the kids, the workers told me Charis had been complaining that her ear itched and was pulling on it all night. Uh, oh. I asked her about it, and she insisted that it was itching, not hurting. But a few minutes later, she said it did hurt, and she was in tears. I herded everyone back to the meeting room, where I discussed the situation with some other moms to get some ideas of what we should do. After hearing various home remedies and suggestions, I decided to head to Walgreens to consult with the pharmacist there.

On our way to the store, we prayed that Jesus would heal Charis' ear. When we were finished, Tobin asked, "What is heal?" We then had a discussion about what that means and remembered some of our Bible stories about Jesus healing people.

The Walgreens pharmacist heard Charis' cough and thought that she must have an ear infection. However, she did recommend going ahead and getting an ear wax removal treatment, which I did, thinking that if nothing else at least Charis would feel like I was doing something to help her. After we got home and got the boys in bed, we did her treatment, and she seemed somewhat comforted and slept well that night.

The next morning I was up early for my quiet time. I prayed again for healing for Charis, thinking that if she was at all complaining about itching or pain I would definitely make an appointment to take her in. I paused to reflect that usually when I pray for healing for our family (meaning typical sickness-type stuff), I have to admit that one of my prime motivations for asking God to heal us is simply that it is convenient. It's not fun being sick and trying to go to work or take care of kids. And it's definitely not fun taking care of sick kids. When I ask God for healing in these instances and find that we continue to battle the cold or whatever for a number of days, quite frankly, we probably deserve the misery, because it is primarily selfishness that motivates me to ask for God's healing!

So, going back to my prayer, I took a look at my heart attitude. Was I willing to give up a good chunk of my day to pack up all the kids and make the half-hour drive to base, sit in a crowded waiting room, and see a doctor--and all this after being on hold forever on the phone to make the appointment in the first place? I honestly believed that yes, I was willing, and I would prepare myself to have a good attitude throughout a day of potential challenges, believing that God would teach us (especially me) something valuable. At the same time, I began to think about Charis and her experience with prayer. Since we had discussed healing the night before and prayed for God to heal her several times, might it not be more important on this occasion that Charis personally experience the healing hand of our Almighty God? It wasn't a question that I believed I needed to answer, merely a thought that I had during my prayer time. And so I continued praying, asking that if it was God's will, He would choose to heal Charis so that we could rejoice in His answer to our prayer, creating an indelible memory in her mind that would help shape her understanding of who God is.

You probably don't need me to tell you what happened. Charis was indeed healed--not so much as an itch or twinge of pain. I kept asking her throughout the day to be sure (I don't want to be negligent if she really does need to be taken to a doctor!), and each time she answered that her ear felt well, we would stop and praise God for answering our prayer for healing.

What a mighty God we serve! And how tender and merciful He is towards His children!

Logic & a Two-Year-Old

Forget it. Why do I even bother trying to reason with a toddler?! Arden, my generally easy-going, laid-back, people-pleasing little guy, has been extremely difficult the last few days. Well, actually, the last couple of weeks, now that I think about it, but I guess it was easy to accept when I knew he was sick with a fever, cough, etc. He's almost 100% healthy again, so now I know it's just the stubborn streak of a 2 1/2 year old coming out!

A sample of our conversation at breakfast this morning:

Me: It's breakfast time! Come get in your seat!
Arden: I don't.
Me: OK, then you don't need to eat.
Arden: I DO!!
Me: All right, then get up in your seat.
Arden: No!
Me: [ignorning Arden] OK, are we ready to pray and thank God for our food? Let's hold hands.
Arden: Aaaaaahhhhh [whining and upset because we are about to pray without him]
Me: OK, we'll wait for Arden...
(Arden scrambles up into his booster chair, and we pray.)

Ten minutes later Arden begins asking for more cereal.
Arden: I want cereal. I do!
Me: You need to ask Mommy nicely, plus you still need to eat your vitamin. When you eat your vitamin and ask nicely, you may have more cereal.
Arden: I don't!
Me: That's fine. You don't have to eat your vitamin, but you won't get anymore cereal until it's gone.
Arden: I do!
Me: Well, you know what you need to do, then.
Arden: No!
Arden: I don't!
Me: [Big sigh.]

March 01, 2006

Charis' Reading

On Sunday morning, while Ted and I were enjoying his yummy whole wheat pancakes (a Sunday-morning tradition at our house), the kids asked for their daily Bible story. I usually read this to them while THEY munch, but because of the way we do pancakes, they were finished eating before Ted and I were. So, Charis eagerly asked if she could read us the story.

I've begun to take her reading skills for granted, but as I listened to her read the following story out loud, I was just amazed! And of course, very proud! Ted doesn't always get to hear her read, obviously because he is at work most of the day. So it was neat for him to get to hear her as well. I will note in brackets the words she had trouble with, and as you'll see, there weren't many!

Jerusalem Is Rebuilt
[Throughout the story she pronounced Jerusalem as "Jerus-la-hem," kind of like Bethlehem.]

"The Jews [she thought it was jewels at first] were captives in the enemy land for many years before they were allowed to return to the city of Jerusalem. The city had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzer [she actually knew this word, likely from other Bible stories and the Veggie Tales "Rack, Shack, and Benny"], so the people began to rebuild it. But even after many more years, the wall around the city still had not been rebuilt. Without a wall around it, the city was not safe. So a man named Nehemiah [we had to help her with this one] took charge and told all the other Jews to help him rebuild the wall. Some enemies decided to attack the workers and stop them from building the wall. So Nehemiah [helped her again here] told the people to carry swords and spears while they worked. And so the walls around Jerusalem were rebuilt, and God's people had their special city once again."

Wow! I was impressed! Even better than hearing her read the story is knowing she actually comprehends what she is reading, as she can easily answer questions about the story afterwards.

I am loving home schooling!