December 28, 2006

Charis's Educational Goals

Tonight around the dinner table we had an interesting conversation. I'm not sure what sparked it, but Tobin informed us that we (Ted and I) could take care of him until he turned 21. I told him it was a deal. Then Charis said she wanted to go to college and take classes to learn how to be a mommy. I laughed and said that unfortunately, none of my classes truly prepared me to be a mommy (that's definitely an on-the-job-training sort of a career!). Charis thought but a moment, then decided that she would take classes to be a "sewing lady." I told her that would be a great thing to help her prepare for being a mommy. That's more than her mom knows, anyway! :-)

December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006

Our Christmas was a very simple, special day. It was possibly the last Christmas we'll beat the kids awake in the morning...Charis and Tobin didn't get out of bed until around 8:15 or 8:30. Their innocent delight in the joy of it being Christmas Day warmed my heart. Believe it or not, they walked right past the presents under the tree and didn't even notice that their stockings had been stuffed until they had been awake and talking with me for awhile. The Christmas M&M's on a little dish on the coffee table was what captured their attention first, and we munched on them together, grinning in delight at being able to eat candy before breakfast.

After awhile they did look around, and Tobin was the first to discover that there were gifts in his stocking. It's a good thing they were wrapped, because he just couldn't help peeking! In our family, we have always had to wait until everyone was awake before opening anything. We told the kids they could open their stockings at the breakfast table, and to their credit, Charis and Tobin did manage to wait until then. After they finally noticed there were presents under the tree, they poked around and exclaimed excitedly when they found one with their names on it. It was such a joy just to watch them and listen to them! I was supposed to be having my quiet time (obviously I didn't get going as early as I should have that morning), but I quit after my Old Testament reading and figured I could double up on the New Testament the next day. :-)

After about a half hour, Tobin decided that Arden had slept in long enough and went to wake him. He stumbled out of his room in his pajamas with a sleepy smile on his face and headed straight for me with his arms up. I picked him up and told him "Merry Christmas," and he squeezed my neck and replied in his sweet little voice, "Mewwy Chwistmas!" It made my morning!

Ted and I worked on breakfast and keeping the kids out of their stockings simultaneously. While we cooked, the kids took their turns putting Baby Jesus in the manger on our Advent calendar. Charis and Tobin read the script out loud as they did this. For breakfast, we had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, bananas, and scrambled eggs with sausage and cheese mixed in. Of course the kids had a hard time eating with their stockings waiting for them, and we let them dig in but did try to keep the candy away until later!

Then we sat on the couch and read our Advent Book from cover to cover. I love this book! It's a fabulous way to lead up to Christmas Day as well as a great opening for the special celebration on Christmas itself. We prayed together afterwards (see the next post for Arden's prayer), and then the kids passed out gifts.

The next half hour or so was spent taking turns (not always so patiently) opening gifts and exclaiming over them. This year Arden was more than willing to keep moving on to the next gift...last year he got so absorbed in each individual thing that we had to keep skipping his turn because he didn't want to be diverted from whatever it was he had just opened! This year was so much fun watching the kids. We scaled way back on our own gifts to them, as we are making a trip to Disney World later and had told the kids that that is their main present from us this year. However, the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles did their fair share of spoiling this year. :-)

We spent a relaxing rest of the morning together, playing with the kids and taking pictures. We ate our big meal about mid-afternoon: ham, potatoes, green beans, Hawaiian sweet bread, and pistachio salad. Towards a normal dinner time we had Jesus's birthday cake, complete with lit candles and singing, and leftovers made a simple supper later on...after my two-hour nap!! Aaaahhh!

What a joy to be together as a family. We know of so many who are separated from loved ones as they serve our country, and we pray for their safety and comfort.

Arden's Christmas Prayer

After we finished reading our Advent Book on Christmas morning, we asked if any of the kids wanted to pray, and Arden volunteered. This was his prayer:

"Dear God,
Thank you for Jesus.
Thank you for our calendar.*
Thank you for my presents.
Thank you for this wonderful day.
Thank you for baby Jesus is in the manger.**
Thank you for this wonderful day.

*He was referring to our advent calendar, on which we've been placing a nativity figure each day since December 1.
**The kids knew that on Christmas morning they could all take a turn placing the final figure, Baby Jesus, in the manger on the advent calendar.

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve!

Ahhh...what a fun and relaxing week it has been. My last business event was December 11, and we've been finished with other social outings for a week now. It's just been fun family time together this week. Now that we have children and I've been properly mellowed out (ha!), I've learned to keep my expectations realistic, simplify, and just enjoy the season. We're spending another Christmas with just our family, no visitors, and I've tried to keep things memorable but low-key. Being 6 1/2 months pregnant has slowed me down somewhat, so it's nice for a built-in excuse to not do too much. :-)

Ted came home from work early a couple of days this past week, and he's off Christmas Day and Tuesday as well, so we're enjoying the extra family time. We continue to enjoy our daily advent calendar that we got last year, and the kids are so excited to be able to put Baby Jesus in the manger tomorrow morning! We love this tool from Desiring God ministries, and it has already become a firm family tradition. In the evenings we continue to read and open the doors in our Advent Book, and now that both Charis and Tobin are fluent readers, we take turns (mostly) with the readings, and it helps them feel more involved. (Of course, I must admit that nightly scuffles over who gets to open which door are also a part of this family tradition...)

Our final batch of Christmas cards and letters went out yesterday. Our mailing list seems a bit out of control--158 addresses! Hope they're all current! I do my best to keep our database updated, but every year a few are returned. We'll see how many come back this year. I found I was 6 stamped cards short of my total, so my apologies to the 6 people who are receiving only a letter this year. :-) After living in 5 states in 9 1/2 years of marriage, our mailing list just keeps growing and growing. I refuse, however, to resort to e-Christmas cards/letters. I understand the temptation, and I've received some (thankfully with pictures attached!) from dear friends, but personally I feel that one time each year is not too much to send a first-class card/letter to people who have been so special in our lives. We keep in touch with so many people via email on a regular basis, so why not take the extra time (and yes, money) to mail an actual letter?! No other time of year do we enjoy going to the mailbox nearly so much! It makes me happy to think we can bring a smile to people's faces when they see a hand-stamped Christmas card with a family update included. I just wish I had the mental fortitude to keep on top of everyone's birthdays and other holidays as well! Ah, well. Perhaps someday that resolution will become a reality.

Our Christmas cookies, peanut butter balls, Chex mix, and chocolate-dipped pretzels have gone on to a better resting place, and the fudge is soon to be laid to rest as well. I purposely refrained from making any more desserts, partly because, well, we've obviously indulged quite a bit already this season, but partly because today we are making Jesus's birthday cake to have for our dessert tomorrow. (The kids decided that Jesus wanted a strawberry cake with pink frosting...again, in the simplification mode, we chose to get a box mix with canned frosting.) We made a birthday cake for Jesus 3 Christmases ago when we were in Ohio. We didn't the following year because we traveled to Montana to be with Ted's grandparents and family, and last year we didn't, either, though I'm not sure why. Probably because I was happily busy making our traditional Christmas treats and of course had to do pies to complete our meal, and since it was only the 5 of us, we were definitely in dessert overload. So, this year, we made our goodies early and munched our way through them, and I am not making any pies since we're not sharing our meal with anyone else. So, now we can do a birthday cake again! I think it's a fun tradition, and of course we'll have candles lit and sing. The kids are already excited about it.

Another great thing we've been doing is lots and lots of reading! We had some errands to run on base yesterday, so we decided to stop by the library and pick up some new books to enjoy over the next week or two. Our family was probably half of the number of patrons in the library that day, so we enjoyed having the children's room all to ourselves. I found a few Christmas books, and we began reading Christmas Sonata by Gary Paulsen last night over Candy Cane tea (from Celestial Seasonings--yum!). The kids are currently spread out, each absorbed in his/her own reading project while Ted snoozes in front of a football game. :-) I love that we are a reading family! We've been reading aloud books from The Littles series (by John Petersen), books I enjoyed tremendously when I was a kid. I re-discovered them on our bookshelves, having forgotten that my parents had saved them and given them to me along with a number of other boxes of childhood books. Ted and the kids have also come to enjoy these books as well. I finished Stephen Lawhead's Hood, and Ted is working on one of the Dune books. It reminds me of Christmas vacations when I was growing up and I got to read for fun as much as I wanted! My dad always made sure I got a new book or two for Christmas as well, so I was usually absorbed in reading projects all through the holidays.

So, all in all, it has been a wonderfully relaxing week! I have even managed to get some workouts in--not necessarily relaxing, but something I wanted to be doing more regularly and wasn't able to do the first couple of weeks in December when things were so crazy. My next project is sketching out an outline for the Commission 2007 Bible study. Our theme this year is freedom in Christ, perfect since the Beth Moore study I just finished is called Breaking Free! It will be exciting to see where God leads me in this area of study for the teens. With no other obligations on my plate until January 11 (my first 2007 Stampin' Up! workshop), I'm hoping to get a great start on the writing, since our baby will be born about the time I typically begin writing the Commission Bible studies.

Whew, this post got long and rambly. I'll quit for now and get to work on my outline! The kids are still quiet, and now I hear Ted trying to coax Arden to lie down on the couch with him. :-) I am loving life right now! What a blessing it is to be home with family. Thank you, Lord, for such precious gifts.

December 19, 2006

Go See This Movie!

If you have some time this season, I highly recommend going to see The Nativity Story, a great film about the Reason for the season! I went with my friend Debi to see a Sunday matinee showing, and it was overwhelmingly good. I wouldn't suggest taking young children to see it, but otherwise it would be a great family movie for the holidays. I loved the glimpse into the Jewish culture during the time of Roman rule, and while obviously there was some conjecture involved--the Bible isn't terribly detailed, for example, about Joseph--the characterization and circumstances seemed credible in light of Scripture.

Two small complaints...spoiler warning, in case you don't know the story, ha! I was very disappointed that the shepherds weren't shown in awe of the splendid heavenly host, as the "heavenly host" consisted only of Gabriel announcing Christ's birth with no host shown in the skies. I think that would have been a powerful scene, and I'm not sure why the producers/directors didn't include it.

The other thing is more of a technicality: the Magi appear on the scene after the shepherds, worshipping Jesus at the stable. Matthew actually tells us that they came to the "house" and found the "child" (not baby), so most scholars believe that Joseph and Mary had had to stay in Bethlehem for a more extended period of time and that the Magi arrived awhile after Jesus's birth. Still, for cinematic reasons, I can see why they would appear together, particularly in light of Herod's paranoia that is shown so clearly, as the drama is heightened by the need to escape Herod's wrath.

All in all, though, this is a wonderful movie, and I would love to see it gain more acclaim--it's not touted much because of its content, I'm sure, so let's support it! Go see The Nativity Story! :-)

December 18, 2006

The Kids' View of Daddy

A conversation I overheard a few days ago:

Charis: Daddy's a grown-up.
Tobin: Daddy's a teenager.
Charis: No, Daddy's a grown-up, but he sometimes acts like a teenager.
Tobin: I thought he was a teenager.
Charis: Well, he was a long time ago when he was a kid.


After coming home from a stamping workshop last Monday night, I went to tuck the kids in bed. I like going in when they are sleeping and praying for them and just watching them sleep. This time, I discovered Charis had fallen asleep on the book she was reading, The Doll People by Ann Martin. I'm sure this won't be the last time this happens!

The Polar Express

As promised awhile ago, here is a chronicle of the journey the kids and I took to the Polar Express! We left on a Monday morning. Ted wasn't able to go with us because of work obligations, but we made it to Williams, AZ, despite extra delays that I hadn't planned on. We met Ted's cousin and her family, who are stationed in Arizona, at the hotel, and it was so good to see them. The kids were delighted to meet their cousins--it had been over 3 years since we had last gotten together, so they didn't remember Abigail and Samuel at all.

We checked into the hotel and then went to enjoy our dinner buffet. I was especially grateful that I wasn't alone with the kids in the restaurant, as among the 3 of us adults, we were able to fill and bring plates for the kids and then ourselves. A miniature train ran around the restaurant, producing shouts and squeals of delight every time it made its appearance. Good thing it was a family restaurant. :-)

Then it was back to our hotel room to change into pajamas and slippers for the big train ride! By this time it was quite cold outside, as the sun had gone down, and though we did have our coats, I somehow felt unprepared for it to be that cold in Arizona! We had left Las Vegas under beautifully warm weather conditions! We scurried over to the train and boarded. Our seats were all together, and we were able to flip the seat backs so that they faced each other. We had seats on both sides of the aisle, and the kids all ended up sitting on one side together.

Soon after the train took off, we were served hot chocolate and cookies. Then they began a recording of the book, which DeLinda had smartly thought to check out from the library and bring along so the kids could see the pictures. It took approximately a half hour, and then we arrived at the "North Pole." The train slowed down, and I pushed open our window--it was WARM on the train, and the window was starting to fog up. The kids scrambled to the other side of the aisle so they could see all the lights and Santa sitting on his sleigh, waving to us. We drove by the "town," and then the train slowly began going in reverse. When we got back to Santa's sleigh, he was no longer in there! Then came the announcement: Santa had boarded the train! We began chugging back towards the hotel and waited not-so-patiently for him to come to our train car. To keep us entertained (or to keep the children from mutiny), a merry but incredibly tone deaf elf led us in a Christmas sing-along (books were provided). It was during this time, by the way, that Tobin apparently decided "Jingle Bells" is one of his favorite songs, and I have sung it over and over this holiday season! Finally Santa came to our car. This picture of him handing Tobin his gift is really the only good shot I got from this part of our experience, but at least it's a good picture. The gifts are large jingle bells. That goes along with the story of the Polar Express, in case you aren't familiar with it. There was much ringing and jingling during the rest of the train ride!

We spent a long night in the hotel...the kids finally settled down and went to sleep while I read my book in a chair, and after the last one began snoring, I tried sleeping myself. Tobin was battling a cold and snored loud enough to make his daddy proud. Not only did he snore, but I discovered that he is a sleep talker! He's just as loud in his sleep as he is during the day, too, so it was quite startling the first time he had an outburst, something about "I want my candy cane NOW!" (Amazing how he sounded just as whiny as he had when he had been awake! This kid made the Polar Express trip rather more stressful than it needed to be, but now we have fond memories of the experience, and I choose to overlook the fact that I felt like throttling him on numerous occasions during our short trip!)

So, after a very non-restful night for me, I woke early and showered, and by the time I was ready to go the boys were also. We woke Charis, who could sleep through a hurricane, and headed down for the breakfast buffet. We were happy to meet the cousins again, who had told us they needed to leave by 9 a.m. because of other obligations. So we enjoyed breakfast together after all and then said our farewells.

The trip home went much more smoothly than the trip out, and I took a little bit of time for the kids to get out and see the Hoover Dam since we had been pressed for time the first time we crossed. One major source of stress for me was discovering that Arizona was indeed one hour ahead of Nevada time, which meant I was over an hour later than I wanted to be! But on the way home we had no time table, and as it was a nice day, it was fun to get out and explore a little bit. Unfortunately, due to full parking lots, we didn't get out as much as we may have liked, but we hope to go back sometime when Ted is with us anyway.

So, all in all, it was a fun and memorable trip, despite the stress. :-) While our family doesn't really do Santa Claus, the kids enjoyed seeing "Santa" and somehow didn't have a problem with fantasy vs. reality! The decorations at the hotel were beautiful and festive, and it was a fun family activity to get us in the Christmas spirit!

December 13, 2006

A Lifetime of Learning

These days I feel that it is I who is learning the most from home schooling. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I decided to have Charis skip a new math lesson this week!) I constantly feel my character is being stretched and (hopefully) shaped as I pursue my calling as a stay-at-home, home-schooling wife and mother. I'm learning more and more about God's character and seeing how my own life falls so far short of His standards...yet I also understand a little bit more each day about His mercy and grace and His desire to see me pass those on to my children.

Once a month I receive an e-newsletter from Steve & Teri Maxwell, authors of Managers of Their Homes, a tool that has encouraged and challenged me over the last year. (I still struggle to implement our schedule as we should, but at least I'm more mindful of how we are spending our time.) The e-newsletters are lengthy but are well worth the read. I always save them until I have the time to devote to digesting the points within, and I read both the "Mom's Corner" as well as the "Dad's Corner" and am often just as challenged (if not more so) by the "Dad's Corner" as the article aimed towards mothers. The articles are archived if anyone is interested in checking them out...I've made up my mind to take some time now and then to read them myself, as they date back to 1999.

This month's topic in the Dad's Corner echoes some of the concepts that were presented in another recent reading project of mine by R.C. Sproul Jr., When You Rise Up: A Covenental Approach to Home Schooling. It's kind of hard to put all my thoughts into words at this point, as I feel I'm still absorbing the information from this book and now from the articles I read via email. I guess in a nutshell I feel that God is clarifying in my own heart and mind His purposes for the family unit, and specifically, that means letting go of my concerns about our own family.

I've always been bothered by the questions people ask (I'm sure unthinkingly) such as, "Well, are you done yet?" as if one could poke a toothpick into our family and determine whether we're finished baking or not. I've never been able to put my finger on why exactly it bothers me to be asked questions like this. It's not that I necessarily feel that they're rude or intrusive, though I suppose they can be. I confess I have that natural curiosity of other families as well, though from the experiences I've had, I've made the decision not to ask unless they bring up the conversation themselves. Now I'm starting to understand why That Question bothers me. It insinuates that WE should be controlling our family size, that WE make the decision as to whether we will add more children or not, and if not, then WE would need to do something drastic about it.

The Bible says that children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward, even. Steve Maxwell writes about this topic in his December Dad's Corner far more eloquently than I could, so I'll quote him here:

"Families will reject more children for a host of reasons. Why would man not want more children when God calls them a heritage and a reward? The answer is obvious since children represent hard work, time, money, and most likely, some degree of heartache. There are no guarantees with children. They could have health problems or be rebellious. Yet, the Lord says children are His heritage and reward.

There is a vast difference between children and other aspects of the created world as seen in Genesis 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image. . ." Nothing else has been made in God's image. The simple fact that a child is made in God's image makes him a treasure. Do we really value children as His heritage and reward?

Another reason we reject children is that they bring change into our lives. If we allow it, they cause us to grow in Christ and in dependency on Him. Teri and I often hear moms say they could never homeschool because they aren't patient enough. What parent has the character needed to raise a child? That is one reason why God gives us children. God will use them to constantly shape us into the image of Christ. "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3). Children can break our hearts. Brokenness is a good thing that the Lord uses in our lives. Once broken, we are prepared for the work of the Potter's hands. Certainly, who in their right mind would welcome a source of tribulation? Yet, the Lord says children are His heritage and reward.

Many will reject God giving the family more children because of all the work and money they will require. That would be like someone offering to give a friend a Mercedes and having him turn it down because of the costly insurance, gas, and maintenance. Perhaps another reason for saying no would be that he doesn't have room in his garage. I don't think so. It is all a matter of our point of view—heavenly or earthly."

Food for thought, eh? It is for me!

December 12, 2006

Dear Santa

Got this on email and thought I'd share...hope it makes a few other moms smile out there!

Dear Santa,

I've been a good Mom all year.

I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited their doctor's office more than my doctor, and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year, I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would also be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back.

Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

P.S. One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

December 11, 2006

A Restful Sabbath, A Good School Day

Saturday was super busy here at my house. I had a Christmas calendar class for my stamping customers, and as it was the first time I had done this as a class (I've given them as gifts for years now), I learned a LOT about what kind of time frame I should give people for stamping calendars...particularly when they choose to stamp 2 or 3! However, it was a lot of fun, and the ladies seemed to enjoy and appreciate their finished products. Saturday evening I spent some time prepping for the stamping workshop I'm doing tonight--the last business event of 2006 for me!

So, I decided early on that Sunday would be a day of REST! After church and dinner we watched a bit of football (sigh...the Broncos are NOT looking good this year) while working on a Las Vegas puzzle that Joel and Sarah had given to Ted. We finished the puzzle and decided to start a Christmas puzzle, which looks to be much too difficult for the kids, but they seem interested in working at it sporadically at least. So I have left it up on one of my stamp tables, now that I don't need them for any classes for quite awhile.

We also made fudge, a family Christmas tradition. It turned out very yummy, if Charis and I do say so ourselves! She was the one to help me make it, so we got to sample and lick the spoons. :-) We spent time reading more in our current read-aloud book (Little House on the Prairie) and just enjoyed being together as a family.

This morning we actually did do school, though I ended up not starting Charis on a new math lesson. We might tomorrow...I don't want her to forget all the subtraction she's been doing so well with! But with our Polar Express trip last week (I'll blog about that next time), we had a very short school week and didn't do math then, either. We started out with our daily advent calendar activity. Then Charis copied the words to "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" because she wanted to learn the song, so we counted that as handwriting for the day. Then she copied her new spelling words--I picked out some common Christmas words for this week--and both she and Tobin read aloud to me. Tobin completed lesson 98 in his 100 Easy Lessons book, so we are almost finished with that for the second time! Charis is reading aloud Pathway Readers to me for her reading time. I know she has already stolen them all away and read them to herself in her room, but I figure it's good practice, and she doesn't seem to mind reading them again to me. She and Tobin and I all cuddled on the couch while she and I took turns reading. We also read more in Little House on the Prairie and are nearly finished with the book now.

By then it was close to lunch time, but not close enough to start eating, so we began wrapping presents. Hooray! I wanted to get our packages prepared to mail to family members when I go out running errands on Wednesday, and I thought I'd have to do all the prep tomorrow. But as it turned out, I have wrapped ALL of the presents. I THINK we're done shopping, just about, but we do need to check on one other thing. I just have to finish stuffing and addressing the boxes, and they'll be ready to go out! Woohoo! Charis was a great helper with the tape this year, and the boys helped by staying out of the way and playing pirate. :-)

After lunch time we started another, slightly easier Christmas puzzle, though the boys lost interest and quickly began driving Charis and me nuts. I suggested they go bounce on the trampoline, and pretty soon I was the only one left in the house! Oh, well...I got more presents wrapped!

So, all in all, it's been a good couple of days. I'm just about on track with Christmas activities; I wrote a draft of our Christmas letter today and will make copies of that when I'm out on Wednesday. I'm not finished stamping Christmas cards yet, but hopefully I'll do that this weekend and get the cards ready to mail out the week before Christmas Day. Tomorrow is Peanut Butter Balls day--yum! And maybe I'll get a few cards stamped...who knows?! I'm enjoying a more relaxed pace with our schooling, and the kids are eating up the joy of the holidays (both literally and figuratively!)

December 09, 2006

A Major Change

Ted pinned on Major! The promotion ceremony was the day after we returned from Colorado. Rhonda drove back with us so she could be there for the ceremony, then flew back that evening. She and I pinned Ted's new rank on the shoulders of his jacket, then he took that off and let the kids help slide the new shoulder thingies (whatever they're called) onto his shirt. Here's a cute picture of Charis helping.

Here's our whole family...

And here are our friends Ken & Sarah, the famous Sarah who is my running partner when I'm not pregnantly huge. :-) As you can see, half of our children (the B family have 3 kids close to our 3 kids' ages) are not in the picture, having decided that exploring the hangar was much more exciting than posing for pictures.

And one last picture, Ted with his mom at the airport. It was a very quick trip to Las Vegas for her, but she had to get back to her students! We were so glad she was able to be here for this special occasion.

December 05, 2006

A Few More Thanksgiving Trip Pictures

Ted and I getting ready to go out for my birthday date the night before Thanksgiving.

Ted and Arden cuddle on the couch while watching football.

Tobin acting silly with Uncle Joel (Ted's brother, in case you couldn't tell!).

The kids with Auntie Sarah, preparing to put up Christmas decorations.

Arden is fascinated by the spinning angels.

Bill & Ted...preparing for another adventure?!

Our Thanksgiving

Our family traveled 750 miles to Denver, Colorado, to spend the Thanksgiving holiday. The kids did great with our long day of traveling. An audio recording of Farmer Boy, along with two copies for Tobin and Charis to follow along in and see pictures, definitely helped pass the time.

We stayed with Ted's mom in her new condo. The kids found a great "hidey-hole," a triangular-shaped area along the corner of the living room that is blocked off by her couch. They had more fun playing with Grandma's toys back there and took turns sleeping in the hidey-hole each night, too!

Joel and Sarah came over for Thanksgiving Day, and we enjoyed a leisurely day celebrating with family. Rhonda prepared the turkey and homemade dressing, Sarah brought corn pudding, broccoli casserole, and pistachio salad, and I made dessert, an apple pie and pumpkin pie crunch. I also made make-ahead potatoes, but we didn't have them on Thanksgiving Day; we baked them the day after since Rhonda always makes her gravy a day after Thanksgiving so as to scrape off all the turkey fat. Good idea! Charis and I set the table and placed little candy corn favors out for everyone, and Rhonda found a turkey centerpiece that had obviously seen many Thanksgiving Days over the years but was still in good shape. Charis had fun helping put it together for our table.

After dinner was over, we spent some time writing things we were thankful for on apple cut-outs that I had brought. Last year we wrote on leaves, but I didn't have time to cut leaves. :-) Charis and I made a "Blessing Tree" out of posterboard and put it on one of Grandma's doors, and she happily taped up all of our apples after we took turns reading what we wrote on them. Charis filled up all 6 of her apples, and Tobin even wrote 4 of his own apples, then asked us to help him with the other 2. Arden called out a few things from the other room that we put on apples for him, as he was much more thankful for Grandma's toys than for the opportunity to sit still at the table a moment longer than necessary! It was a fun activity, and as this was the second year for us to do something of this nature, I'm guessing we have a new family tradition. Apples or leaves, we'll make a Blessing Tree each year!

Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without football, a tradition in both my family and Ted's. Unfortunately, we watched our Broncos suffer a terrible defeat that evening...sigh.

On Friday Ted, Joel, and Rhonda hit the slopes for some quality snowboarding and skiing while the kids and I spent time at Sarah's house. They had a blast "helping" Sarah decorate and oohing and aahing over her Christmas collection, which I also admired. I worked on stamping some of our Christmas cards, which may not actually be mailed off until New Year's at the rate I'm going with holiday preparations, but at least half of the cards are ready now!

On Saturday Ted and I took the kids to meet his high school friend Bill and his wife Mellisa and their three kiddos, all about the same ages as ours. We spent a few hours visiting at their home and also at a nearby park, as the weather was gorgeous. Then we finished up with a trip to CiCi's Pizza before heading back to the condo for some mandatory rest time (for me, anyway!) so we could be ready for services that evening at Joel and Sarah's church. After a hearty dinner at Red Robin following church, we said our goodbyes and headed back for a good night of sleep before hitting the road Sunday morning.

December 02, 2006

Birthday Celebrations

My 32nd birthday was November 22, the day before Thanksgiving. I actually had 3 different celebrations this year, and they were all tons of fun! I feel so spoiled!

First, the Saturday evening before my actual birthday, Sarah treated me and two other friends, Lyn and Debi, to a performance of Mama Mia! (Sarah has great connections through her work as an ASL interpreter!) The show was great fun, and afterwards we went to Chile's for some appetizers and fellowship. It was a girls' night out to remember!

The next day, Sunday afternoon, my friend Debi hosted a birthday party for me at her house! I haven't had a birthday party in I don't know how long, and it was also tons of fun. Once again, I felt so spoiled! The ladies all wrote things they were thankful for about me, and Debi took a picture of me with each friend who was there and is going to put a little memory booklet together for me. I thought it was a very sweet idea. There were some games and lots of laughter and of course yummy chocolate cake. :-) Oh, and presents galore! Lots of treats for pampering, and Debi found two beautiful maternity shirts for me that are a welcome addition to a wardrobe that is quickly becoming tiresome!

Two days later our family drove to Colorado for Thanksgiving (I'll have to post a separate entry about that), and we had our family celebration of my birthday on Wednesday, beginning with a birthday brunch at Joel and Sarah's house. It was so fun to see how they've decorated/updated the house. (They purchased the house Ted and Joel grew up in from their mom, who moved into a smaller condo this summer.) They've worked hard, and it looks so nice! It was somewhat surreal to walk into the home I've always known as Jim and Rhonda's house and see it look so different, but Ted and I are both thrilled that the house is staying in the family. The kids remembered the house, too, so that was pretty cool.

Anyway, more presents! (See? Told you I've been spoiled!) The kids got me new cookie sheets, which I had blatantly asked for, seeing as how the ones I got for our wedding shower 9 1/2 years ago are in very sad shape! Ted got me a Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None the Richer) CD that is very beautiful, a Dave Barry daily calendar, and Stephen Lawhead's new book Hood, which we had both been wanting (it's a retelling of the Robin Hood legend in Lawhead's amazing, unique style that is so well-researched), so it's pretty obvious what the motives were for that one! ;-) Now I'm under pressure to finish reading it so that he can have it! Tee hee! And the whole family went in on a breadmaker, which I've been wanting but am now a bit intimidated by! I really need to pull out the box and actually read the directions now that our trip is over and the holidays are getting closer. I can't wait to try it out!

Later that evening Rhonda babysat the kids so Ted and I could go out. We went to a nice Italian restaurant called Pastas at Joel and Sarah's recommendation. Then we got tickets to see the Santa Clause 3 movie and walked to Starbucks for a latte while we were waiting for the movie to start. The movie was cute, and we came home tired but refreshed for having gotten some alone time for the first time in quite awhile.