May 31, 2007

Kenna Update

Kenna's three-month birthday was Sunday. She now weighs 12 pounds, 2 ounces, almost two full pounds more than she did at her two-month check up. I know how much she weighs because I had to take her to the pediatrician today for thrush. We noticed the whiteness on her tongue a couple of days ago, and after it didn't go away, we looked it up and decided she must have thrush. The pharmacist at Walgreen's did not want to give us the over-the-counter remedy because she's still so small, so we called and were able to get her in today.

This morning I had also noticed a redness in Kenna's diaper area. It was much worse than last night, when it was looking a bit red and tender. I had put A&D ointment on it (my mom's old standby), but when I looked this morning, there were tiny red bumps in addition to the redness. Since I had read about thrush, I wondered if this was related, and sure enough, it is. So now we have quite the regimen to go through, but it's fairly easy: 4 doses of oral medication each day, one kind of cream at every diaper change, and another type of cream 4 times a day. Poor li'l pumpkin. She's been a real trooper. Hopefully we'll see things clear up very soon.

On the positive side, Kenna has been doing great at night, sleeping anywhere from 7-10 hours without waking up. I've put her on more of a 3 1/2 hour schedule now rather than feeding her every 3 hours, and she's doing great. I try to keep her awake for about 1 1/2 hours, and she's been doing well with a 2-hour nap after the feeding and wake time. We're flexible, of course; we have to be! But I'm thankful that I figured out she was ready to stretch out her feedings a bit. It's nice to not feel like I'm nursing ALL the time! And I'm definitely thankful for being able to sleep at night. I tease Ted that he managed to come home from his deployment right about the time she was getting consistent during the night!

Kenna's personality is starting to shine through. She is a very happy baby and loves to be smiled at and played with. She'll coo to anyone who will listen and has "conversations," returning coos for verbal responses from whoever is "talking" with her. This melts the hearts of her big brothers and sister, who are convinced that she is talking just to them! She also likes to stick out her tongue...she was doing this even before the thrush, so I don't think it's just because of the junk on her tongue!

Kenna is now at the batting stage. We got her a great little plush toy from Babies R Us (part of a large gift card purchase) that has different textures and colors, and she just loves it. She was batting at it non-stop while we were at the doctor's today. She stares so intently at the little toys we put in front of her. It won't be long now before she's starting to roll over and sit up. Sigh...where is the time going??

Daddy's Home!!

Ted's HOME!

For those who know us personally, you know that we are indeed rejoicing. On Friday, May 25, Ted finished 179 days of a stateside deployment to Central Command at MacDill AFB, Florida. It was a long haul, but the Lord was gracious in allowing him to be stateside and also allowing him a few visits home. We know many men and women serving overseas do not have that privilege, and we feel blessed to have been able to spend time together--especially when Kenna was born--during the last 6 months.

And now he's home!!! And he's not going back!!! Ted's new job, which he will begin after his 2 weeks of free leave time, is a position that does not allow for deployments. He will undoubtedly have some TDYs (temporary duty assignments) for conferences and the like, but two years with no deployments?! That's GREAT!!

The last 6 months have definitely been a growing experience for us all. Being a family again requires some adjustment, but I think it's much easier than it could be, considering the fact that Ted was able to step into his Daddy role on the few weekends he was able to visit us. It would be much more difficult if we hadn't seen each other for that whole time.

Having Ted home for Memorial Day was both exciting and humbling. We spent the day rejoicing at being together again, but many spent the day reflecting on loved ones who have been lost. An amazing YouTube video , for which I received an email link, had me in tears the morning of Ted's return. If you haven't seen it, I recommend taking five minutes and watching it. You'll be glad you did. Thank God for the freedoms we enjoy, and thank Him for the ultimate sacrifice He paid for our sins.

May 22, 2007

Aren't They Precious?!

I love this picture of the three "big kids," as we've been referring to them these days. Arden was being silly...this was the 4th or 5th picture I took, as he was making funny faces in the other ones. He's still being silly, but now all three of them have great smiles! I took this Sunday morning before we left for church. Tobin just looked so darn cute in his new (hand-me-down) shirt from Tyler, and I decided to try for a group photo. When I look at their sweet faces, I'm reminded of the millions of reasons I love being a mom! All the hard times are definitely worth it!

AWANA Awards Night

Is this school year really almost over?! WHERE is the time going?? It seems that not so long ago we were attending last year's AWANA awards night and the EAGLES promotion/graduation ceremony. Now we're getting ready to do it all over again!

Tobin has "graduated" now after completing two years of Cubbies. He and friend T.J. did a great job of sitting with their leader and group. I was actually quite amazed that Sherri didn't come get me to take my child away! He probably was better behaved for her than he would have been if he had been sitting with me anyway. T.J. was so cute--all he wanted was to get his Cubbie Bear to put on his vest, and he was so proud of it! (The bear is the first-year Cubbie Award...Tobin got a ribbon to put behind the bear, which somehow didn't seem to excite him the way the bear excited T.J.)

Charis has now completed 2 out of 3 years of Sparks. In this picture she is sitting with her friend Hallie, who is also a home school friend. (In fact, Charis loves Hallie so much that she named one of her stuffed animals after her!) Charis has so many friends from church and home school activities! In fact, all my kids know so many people. Arden, who sat with me during the ceremony, was thrilled to be able to cheer on all the people he knows as they walked across the stage. What a blessing to be surrounded by godly friends! It's amazing how close we can grow to people in such a short amount of time. It's a gift God gives military families, I think! LOL

Bathing Beauty

Kenna loves her bathtime!

May 20, 2007

Happiness Is...

..."eating" a "birthday cake" made out of math blocks by your 3-year-old.

...watching your boys perform a puppet show with the Daniel and lion puppets made during Sunday School. (I never would have imagined Daniel kissing the lions...)

...hearing your daughter sing and your baby coo.

...reading on the couch together as a family.

OK, I started writing this on Sunday afternoon, after watching the puppet show and just before sitting down to "eat" my birthday cake that Arden made. Just as I was typing this out, Tobin stormed into the living room and kicked over the block cake that Arden had worked so hard to make. Sigh...

May 17, 2007

Sweet Smile

Isn't she the greatest?! Kenna's smiles rock my world! She is chortling and cooing at us quite often these days. We are so blessed.

May 16, 2007

All About Me

I've been writing a lot about the kids, so I figure it's OK to take a few moments and give an update on me, especially since Mother's Day was Sunday! So, here are some random thoughts...

I got more sleep last night than I have since getting pregnant! Kenna nursed at 9:15 p.m. and did not wake up until 4:45 a.m. As I was in bed by 10:00, that meant that I got nearly 7 straight hours of sleep! Woohoo! The night before I nursed Kenna at 10:15 p.m., gave her a pacifier at 4 a.m. when she began fussing, and then nursed her at 6 a.m. when she woke again. So, we are definitely on track for good nighttime sleep habits. Thank the LORD!!

I'm trying to work my way back to a good routine that includes exercising 4-5 times per week. I haven't managed anything more than an evening stroll and the I'm-going-to-get-you-game this week, but the couple of weeks before that I actually did get on the treadmill and worked my way back up to 2 miles of running. I'm looking forward to getting outside and running again, but with unpredictable nights, I'm not always very perky in the mornings! The kids have enjoyed going for walks in the evenings, and it's fun to put Kenna in the stroller and go out together. So, that has to count for something!

Our ladies' group is doing a wonderful study by Martha Lawley called Attending the Bride of Christ. We're learning so much about Jewish wedding/betrothal customs, and it's amazing how much the symbolism is helping me gain a bigger, brighter picture of what our relationship is supposed to be with Christ and His Church. I highly recommend the study! I will miss our weekly meetings when we end this session for the summer break, but it will be good to have a full home school week for consistency's sake.

It looks like Ted has been given the go-ahead for our trip to Idaho this summer, so we're looking forward to once again being involved in Commission. I finished writing the study about a month ago, and Ted is nearly finished with the graphics. I need to finalize the staffers' guide and write some questions for the counselors to use if they want, but other than that, we're in great shape. The kids are getting excited to go back--they remember Back Yard Bible Club from last year and getting to hang out with Daddy and the "big kids" that were in his group. I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with dear friends again and watching God work throughout the week.

I'm still plugging away, though I haven't been able to pursue much new business. The Bermuda cruise is somewhat in sight, but it would definitely take another small miracle to get me there. I would LOVE to earn it, as the incentive trip for the following year is a land-based trip to Hawaii instead of a cruise. Plus, after a stressful year, I would just love for Ted and me to get some alone time! BUT...I don't know if that's in God's plan! (If anyone out there would like to help me out, email me and let me know! I have until June 30!) I've enjoyed getting to know the ladies in my stamp and scrap clubs tremendously and have made some very good friends through it.

Kenna is beginning to fuss, and I'm ready to give her the last feeding of the day. Hopefully she'll sleep through tonight, too!

May 11, 2007

The Tooth Fairy Has a Job Tonight

Charis lost her first tooth! It began wiggling about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and she had been fiddling with it ever since. Friend Hannah has lost, oh, maybe 7-8 teeth, I've lost track, and Charis has been asking and asking when she would lose a tooth. We were all delighted for her when she discovered the tooth was loose, and she showed it to everyone she met.

We were paying for groceries at Sam's Club this afternoon when she let out a shriek, "It's out! My tooth is out!" Thankfully I had a cup of iced lemonade with me, and I made her drink some slowly. I didn't want her to panic about the blood in her mouth, and as I had nothing to blot it with, I just shoved the drink in her hand and told her to start sipping! She sipped, I finished paying for groceries, and we walked out of the store, taking time to explain to the lady who marked our receipt that Charis lost her VERY FIRST TOOTH!!! Then we had to call Daddy and tell him that Charis lost her VERY FIRST TOOTH!!! Then we had to discuss what happens when the Tooth Fairy comes, and oh, by the way, did I mention Charis lost her VERY FIRST TOOTH!!!

Can you tell she's excited?!

Home School Update

This week has been a full one for us. On Monday we began the next Sonlight core, Core C for ages 5-7. I was slightly concerned that the extra time involved would discourage Charis and Tobin, who have admittedly been getting away with the bare minimum of effort ever since Kenna joined the family. When I looked at the instructors' guides for the core (which includes Bible, History/Geography, and Read-Alouds), language arts, and science, I began wondering if I'd be greeted with groans immediately after breakfast was over. Charis particularly had been giving me difficulty even on the days when all I was requiring was math and handwriting.

I needn't have worried.

The following are true and actual comments heard in our house this week:

"Yay! We get to do school today!"
"Do we get to do school tomorrow?"
"I love our new school!"
"Just one more chapter, PLEEEEEASE?!?!"
"Can we do all of the science experiments again?"

We are all LOVING Sonlight! I can hardly believe it when I look at the clock and find that it's after 11 a.m. and I haven't heard any complaining at all from the kids!

With that said, however, there are still some things I need to tweak. First of all, I feel as if I have been completely ignoring Arden during our Sonlight hours! I'd love it if he would listen in on the reading, but so far he has not been interested. I do read him his own Bible stories in the early morning, and I try to take time to read other books of his choice throughout the day, but when school is in session, for the most part, I am trying to keep him out of our hair! Thankfully he is great at entertaining himself, and sometimes he does enjoy playing with the Math-U-See blocks. (He also enjoys watching the "math movies," the DVD teachings that Charis and Tobin watch about once a week when they move on to the next lesson.) So, my goal is to figure out how to include him at least part of the time. For one reason, I know it's valuable to spend time with him. For another, I dread the day when I must require him to "do school" if he hasn't been disciplined to sit with us for anything other than the fun read-alouds! I'm already having that difficulty with Tobin!

Which leads to the next thing I'd like to tweak. First of all, Tobin is, well, Tobin. He has a mind of his own, and if he wants to do school, GREAT! If he thinks his time is better spent coloring or reading other books of his choosing, well, it's easier for me at this point to just let him do his thing so I can focus on Charis. However, now that he's technically kindergarten age, I do feel that he needs to be consistent in some areas--not necessarily sitting through ALL of the stuff we do each day, but at least getting in the habit of some daily work so that he can gradually work his way through some math, reading, handwriting, etc. The good news is that Tobin enjoys just about anything that we're doing through Sonlight. And he does enjoy math and handwriting...on his own terms. If it's his idea, he'll do it! Or if he's in the mood, or if he thinks the day's work page looks interesting, or if he gets to color on the get the picture. I've learned that a great way to keep him interested in any kind of reading is to allow him to color nearby. The boy loves to color!

Originally I had followed a fellow Sonlighter's suggestion to keep the kids on the same language arts level, so I ordered extra activity sheets for Tobin to use. The problem is, the activity sheets are way over his head. He can read any of the readers just fine, but applying the knowledge necessary to evaluate sentence structure, well, that's a different story. So I think I'm going to go ahead and order the next level down. He'll have a whole different set of books, plus activity sheets that will be more on his level. The reading level will be WAY easy for him, but this isn't necessarily for reading practice--it's foundational activities for grammar, etc. So I think it's important to keep it at his level. So I'll need to schedule separate times to work with each child on their language arts, but you know what? It really doesn't take that long to do each day's activity! And I think it will actually go more quickly if I can work with them separately anyway rather than trying to keep Tobin's attention long enough to explain what's going on!

I've scheduled science for Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than doing a little bit each day. Tuesday was a very fun day as we got to watch the Discover & Do DVD to see the experiments performed before we actually tried them ourselves. The topic was air and how it expands when warm and contracts when cooled. The kids' favorite experiment was making a quarter dance on the top of a long-necked bottle after we poured hot water in a bowl that the bottle was sitting in. They're still begging to see it over and over!

I've scheduled our read-alouds for bedtime. This allows our whole family to enjoy the great books. We're currently 4 chapters into The Boxcar Children, and even Arden is hanging onto every word. I look forward to many more great stories and making memories as we all pile on the couch to find out "what happens next!"

May 04, 2007

AWANA Grand Prix

This was our first year to participate in the Grand Prix. Charis was so excited when she learned she'd get to make and race a car...unfortunately, she was sorely disappointed when she learned it wasn't a REAL car she could actually fit inside and drive herself. However, she and Ted had fun working with the wood block. Ted drew a few designs of typical racing cars, and Charis very firmly rejected all of them. She knew what she wanted, and she even drew the plans for Ted! So, a convertible it was.

My job was to help with the painting and decorating. Once again, Charis had very definite ideas about what she wanted to do, so my only contribution was actually getting out the paint and squirting it onto newspaper for her. She did all the rest!

Ted bought some weighted fishhooks, and we clipped off the hook part and screwed them upside down into the "seats" of the car so that they looked like people. With the pink finish and purple racing stripe, it looked like a Barbie car or something, but Charis was justifiably proud of her work.

The big day arrived. With the maximum weight limit at 5 ounces, we breezed in at 4.6. Tobin and Arden joined in the fun by purchasing Hot Wheels for their own race with other Cubbies. All the kids and adults were in one small room, which made for lots of chaos, but thankfully Kenna slept through all the commotion. I was bouncing back and forth between the big track and the Cubbies' track. Arden was convinced his car won after each heat, even though he only actually did once, but his excitement was contagious and fun to watch. Tobin didn't win any heats, but he did manage to pick out the one and only Hot Wheels with a skull and crossbones on the car doors, so he was happy with his "pirate car."

Charis's car came in dead last in the first heat. I was so proud of her when she put on a brave smile and said, "Kennedy's car came in first!" Her friend Kennedy had raced against her and won, and I was happy to see Charis's good attitude. Fortunately, unlike last year (from what I hear), it wasn't a single elimination, so Charis was elated when, quite awhile later, her car came in first. Unfortunately, it came in last in the next heat, which meant she was eliminated altogether.

We probably would have been all right, but a well-meaning friend told Charis that she bet her car would win an award for best design because it was "so darn cute," and, as she told me privately, the judges would be able to tell that Charis had done it herself. I didn't want Charis to get her hopes up, but she began to assume that she'd get an award. I watched from the sidelines later on as the names were called, and when I saw the third place winner for design, I was fairly certain that Charis was not going to get an award. Her little face got longer and longer with each name that was called, and by the time it was over her little lip was quivering. She could hardly keep from rubbing her eyes for the Sparkie group picture and came and cried on my shoulder immediately afterward.

I felt so bad I got teary myself, but it was a good life lesson. We can't always win, but we can be happy for others who do. Friend Kennedy won a trophy for the race, and friend Jillian won a design trophy. We had fun and learned a lot, and hey, there's always next year.

May 02, 2007

Big Kid Update

Kenna is getting lots of press these days, so here's a rundown of what the "big kids" are up to.

His current obsession is ages. He likes to figure out how old so-and-so (usually Kenna) will be when he's ___ (fill in any age you like here). He makes connections between numbers and people who are that many years old. Example:

I say: "Let's read the story about the three little pigs."
Arden shouts: "THREE! Like I'm three!"

So a typical conversation with Arden these days usually goes something like this. (Keep in mind his favorite conjunction is "but," whether or not he uses it appropriately, and he usually emphasizes any number words.)

Arden: Mama, I'm three and a half. But on my birthday I'll be FOUR. But Kenna will be ONE when I'm four.
Me: Mmm-hmm. You're right.
Arden: And when I'm five, Kenna will be TWO.
Me: Yes, she will.
Arden: But how old will Charis be when I'm five?
Me: Charis will be eight years old.
Arden: Eight? Hannah is seven, but on her birthday she'll be EIGHT! How old will Kenna be when I'm eight?
Me: Kenna will be five years old when you're eight.
Arden: FIVE?! Like Tobin's FIVE!!

This could go on forever...we usually cover every age up through 21.

For his birthday, Grandma J gave Arden a numbers game. Part of it is a puzzle number line. He has done this puzzle obsessively every day since I don't know, a month ago or so. I usually get suckered into playing the game with him, although I confess that lately I've been finding excuses not to play. I'm utterly sick of the numbers game!

Arden's other favorite activities currently include reading a toddler Bible story book on Mommy's lap first thing in the morning, playing "swimming" by taking off his shirt and jumping from a chair to a spread-out blanket on the floor, and being the "student" when his big sister wants to play school.

I must find something positive to say first, because the list of things that Tobin does to make me sigh is way too long! OK. I do have some things. First, Tobin chose to spend some free time helping me pick weeds in the front yard the other day. He literally cut my work time in half by happily yanking up anything green by the roots. (In our yard, aside from the Leaning Tree of Pisa, just about anything green is a weed.) Also, he enjoys vacuuming, and while he's not quite to the point of being able to do it without me following it up with my own effort, he's doing quite well and can at least be trusted to get his room looking nice.

Reading continues to be a joy for much so that he has already read ALL of the Sonlight readers that we haven't even begun yet! I've managed to keep his little paws off the read-alouds, but I just couldn't tell him no when he wanted to begin reading the Egermeier's Bible Story Book!

On the difficult side of things, another fun (for him) pastime is...cutting. As in cutting every piece of paper, every tag off every stuffed animal, cutting his shoe laces, cutting the corner off the ice pack, cutting fur off his lion hat...the vacuuming skills came in handy after this obsession was discovered.

Tobin has also discovered how fun cameras are, as you can see by his "self-portrait" shot above. Thank goodness nothing was ruined on our brand new digital camera. We do, however, have a nice collection of Tobin's photography that includes shots of his sink, laundry basket, bed, and toilet.

Guns and swords are also a favorite way to play, no matter how much I try to discourage it. I'm pretty much of the opinion that Dr. Dobson is right--no matter what you do or don't do, little boys are going to play "guns." Tobin bites his crackers into L shapes and uses them to "shoot."

Spiderman continues to be an obsession, and he is currently working his way through a Mega-Huge-Spidey-Book-Containing-Hundreds-Upon-Hundreds-of-Spiderman-Related-Stickers. So far the stickers on floor to stickers in book ratio remains in Tobin's favor...I guess a week without The Book was enough to convince Tobin to think carefully about where to place the stickers.

She is eager to begin a "new school year" with Sonlight. (We're going to start on Monday--I just got the Language Arts Instructor's Guide today!) She is nearly finished with the first grade math book, so she'll get a new math book before too long as well. She continues to do any kind of crafts or artwork she can think of, utilizing media ranging from construction paper to toilet paper. (I'm not kidding--I found cut-out dolls and accessories made of toilet paper yesterday when I was cleaning!)

Her favorite superhero is "Superlady." She loves dressing up and playing "mystery," but her favorite role to play is Bossy Older Sister as she directs everyone in the drama she wants to create. In fact, it is not unusual to find her in a heap on the floor, sobbing her heart out because someone isn't "playing right."

Though she seems to be completely tone deaf at this point in her young life, Charis loves to sing songs she has made up, and I for one love to hear them. This picture of her is from a "show" she and Arden put on for us recently. (The picture of Arden is also from the same show...Charis made the top hat for him to wear!)

At the moment Charis is the champ when it comes to eating. Usually Arden eats about as much as he weighs in any given day, but lately Charis has been the one polishing her plate and asking for more. This is a good thing, as she's still so tiny she could quite possibly blow away during one of Las Vegas's infamous windy days.

Well, I'll quit for now. Next up on my posting agenda: The AWANA Grand Prix!