August 29, 2007

Happy 1/2 Birthday to Kenna!

On Monday the 27th Kenna turned 6 months old! I have no stats for her, as we have yet to be able to get a well-baby appointment--I guess the back-to-school rush isn't over yet. But she's happy and healthy, nearly sitting up on her own (her legs like to kick too much to let her stay up for long), rolling all over the place, eating cereal like a champ, cooing, giggling, and working on getting a tooth in.

August 28, 2007

Mountain Outing

After Kenna's dedication service, our family decided to beat the heat by heading to the mountains! We ate lunch at home so we wouldn't have to pack a picnic lunch--normally it would be a great idea to take a picnic to the mountains, but by the time I finish serving in the pre-school classes at the 11:45 service, it's WAY too late to think about delaying lunch any longer. As it was, we heard the phrase, "Are we there yet?" at least 100 times on the 40-minute drive.

One of our goals was to collect science stuff. One simply cannot evaluate SOIL down here in the desert! Or at least, we couldn't in our yard. Since our science activities and reading have revolved around plants and trees, we:

* Looked at the rings on tree stumps
* Collected a scoop of soil in a jar (At home we added water and shook it up so we could watch it settle into layers--humus floating on the top, with clay, sand, and rocks at the bottom.)
* Collected a variety of leaves for leaf rubbings
* Examined "leaf litter"
* And generally enjoyed ourselves tramping around the forest.

It was considerably cooler at 8,000 feet than down here in the hot valley! The kids got thoroughly dirty climbing all over the place and begged us to come back at least "one time every month!"

Kenna's Dedication

Sunday, August 19, was a baby dedication Sunday at our church. They do them twice a year, and the last time was January. The timing was interesting...the baby I miscarried would have been born around mid-August 2006. My emotions are weird enough without having to juxtapose conflicting life events. But I am pleased to report that Kenna's dedication was a joyful experience. How could I not be grateful for such a beautiful blessing? I will also treasure the growth I experienced and the insight into God's heart that I received throughout the trial of a miscarriage.

So without dwelling on the sad part, Kenna was one of about a dozen babies dedicated at the 10 a.m. service at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. She was remarkably happy, blowing raspberries and chattering loudly enough that we felt sure the people in the back row could hear her. But as it was an appropriate time for babies to be seen AND heard, we didn't mind. Pastor Kevin led us in the following commitment to God:

"I promise to allow God to direct my life by being committed to His Word, by spending time with Him in prayer, becoming a faithful follower of Christ, so that I may teach my child by example."

And our commitment to Kenna:
"To the best of my ability, I will keep these promises I have just made, but most of all, I promise that I will point you to God, so that one day you will understand how much you matter to Him."

August 27, 2007

Saturday Morning Shopping Spree

Last week I didn't hit my 20-mile mark for running, but I did run 5 miles, 3 miles, and 5 miles, for a total of 13. Saturday morning was my second 5-mile run. I was plodding along, enjoying the sunrise as I approached the 4-mile mark, when a couple hailed me as I passed their house. They were setting up for a yard sale, and the husband asked if I wanted to buy anything. I'm sure he was kidding, as it was pretty obvious that I didn't have any means of transporting items other than the little water bottles on my Fuel Belt. However, the first thing I saw when I looked over was a sectional sofa with a sign for $175!!

Now, you have to understand that Ted and I are not furniture shoppers. I tried to be, back before we had kids and I was embarrassed about an incredibly ugly, hairy couch that we had acquired for free soon after we were married. I was thrilled when one of my paychecks about 8 1/2 years ago was able to help purchase our nice green and white couch that we still enjoy today. But I have to admit I didn't really enjoy the shopping process. Picking out furniture and decorating a house just isn't part of the gifting that I received. The rest of our furniture--I mean, the stuff that you sit on, not counting the dining set--consists of an old but rather comfortable rocking chair that we bought for twenty bucks at a church rummage sale either right before or right after getting married, an old but pretty oak rocking chair that belonged to my mom's parents, and a futon that we purchased in 2001 so we could have a place to sleep while waiting for TMO to deliver our household goods to our new home in Dayton.

Why we chose a white futon mattress is beyond me. At the time we did have Charis, a 9-month-old, and I was expecting Tobin, so obviously we were getting into our child-raising years. We did pay a bit extra for the Scotchguarding, I believe, but still...white?! What were we thinking?! The mattress is now a dull gray everywhere except for the nice red kool-aid stain that some kid planted on it when there were about 80 children crawling all over our house one afternoon, so I can't pinpoint the culprit. The backside has some attractive pen scribbles across the middle in plain sight, so there is no hope of flipping the mattress over to hide the dirt.

So, as you can imagine, this eyesore hasn't exactly held a place of high esteem in my heart, although its place in the family room ensured that it was at least away from the "nice" sitting area. Additionally, it gets quite crowded when we pile on it for bedtime stories or for movie night.

Therefore, a sectional sofa was something I had been eyeing for awhile, but the four-digit price tags held me back, not to mention the dreaded thought of actually going to a store and trying to decide which color we liked, which was most comfortable, which was the best value for the money, etc.

So when I saw that I could get a sectional sofa for about 1/6th of its original cost (the owners paid $1200 for it brand new), I was sold! I realize now that my mother's shopping gene isn't entirely formulated in my system, because not only did I neglect to even SIT on the sofa, I didn't even give it the sniff test. (Thank God the owners weren't smokers, though!!) Due to my negligence, it wasn't until the sections were unloaded and sitting in our driveway (thanks to the helping hand of a neighbor with a truck) that I learned I would need to put in some time vacuuming the dog hair off.

Two and a half hours of vacuuming later, the couch looks great, and I am pleased to say it is in good condition and is quite comfortable for sitting and lounging(though not for sleeping, as I found out last night). What a blessing to have more seats for our growing family!

Kenna at Night

As promised, here is the scoop on Kenna's nighttime activity.

I had resolved to try to let her cry it out at night when Ted was gone to Virginia, thinking that I could put the earplugs in and just deal with it. I had been wearing earplugs to drown out Ted's snoring, and he would eventually hear Kenna fussing and get up to pop her pacifier back in just as I was realizing she was making noise. However, I realized after the first night that I was too paranoid that I wouldn't hear her with the earplugs in and ended up not sleeping very much at all.

Night 1: Kenna got her pacifier popped in after about 5 minutes of fussing.

Night 2: Kenna got her pacifier popped in after 10 minutes of fussing.

Night 3: I gave up and nursed her so we could both go back to sleep.

So much for letting her cry it out.

However, I am pleased to report that Night 4 was a miracle!! I took Kenna with me to my ladies' evening Bible study (Beth Moore's excellent and updated/revised version of A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place--I HIGHLY recommend it). The ladies prayed specifically that I would start getting some sleep and that Kenna would begin to sleep better at night. Would you believe she slept 9 hours that night?! Ahhh!!!

When Ted returned home, one of his first tasks (right after picking out his Fantasy Football players) was to purchase the mattresses needed to complete the boys' bunk bed set. We moved the boys into Tobin's room and Ted set up Kenna's crib in Arden's old room. While we do set the monitor up at night so I can hear her if she begins screaming, this has made a tremendous difference. Most times she has slept until 6 or even 7 a.m. Several times she has slept without waking at all, though a few times we have had to trek across the house to discover that her pacifier is wedged under her head. I'm not sure whether to hope she can begin putting the paci in herself or hope that she loses interest in it soon like the other kids did around 6-8 months.

Now, if we can just figure out how to prevent Ted from snoring, I think we can all begin getting some real rest...

August 20, 2007

Charis's Answers

It is Monday morning, and Charis and I are finishing up her language arts. I brought her to the office to let her read the comments from Uncle Joel and Aunt Ski about her story, and she is going to answer their questions now.

From Uncle Joel:
1. What color was the boy's cape?
"The boy's cape was green."

2. What did the princess look like? (I hope she didn't have a frog face!!!!)
"She had long brown hair, a pretty pink dress with gold on the neck and the sleeves and the bottom. She had pretty pink shoes and a pink necklace. That's what the princess looks like. She had a beautiful face!"

From Aunt Ski:
I was wondering what the boy had in his bag?
"He had a blanket and a pillow and a picture of the princess."

Charis also says, "Thank you for reading my story!"

August 19, 2007

Running Update

I'm not sure when the last time was that I posted my weekly mileage, but probably just before we left for our Colorado trip. Though I had good intentions, I did NO running that week we were gone. I ran 4 miles the week after we returned, and that was it. The following week I was sick the latter part, so I only went 4 miles one day and 3 1/2 miles two days later.

However...(drum roll, please)...I did manage to run 4 days in a row last week, and that's despite Ted's being in Virginia! I absolutely hate running on the treadmill, but I did it anyway. Mileage: 3 1/4, 3 1/4, 3 1/2, and 3 miles, for a total of 13 miles. Slowly but surely I'll work my way back up!

August 15, 2007

A Story by Charis

Charis had a writing assignment this week that involved her looking at a picture and writing a story about it. The picture showed a man wearing a cape and a crown, crawling out of the window of a castle as if he were running away. Charis, however, insisted that he was sneaking INTO the castle, and below is the story she came up with. I briefly mentioned the verb tense change mid-way through the story but told her she didn't need to worry about changing anything--that's a more advanced concept, and I'm not entirely sure she understood what I was talking about anyway!

FYI, the only words I corrected spelling for were climbing ("climnig"), traveled ("traved"), and babies ("babys"). Also, she typed this up herself, so all the punctuation and capitalization was done on her own, and I noticed as I read through it that it is all correct. I thought that was pretty good! So, without further ado, here is the story:

"A prince was climbing up a castle. He had on a cape and was holding a stick with a bundle tied to it. He had traveled to look at the castle. He did not want the guards to know he was there. The window is closed. The prince breaks the window. No one hears him. He hides. He explores the castle when everyone is asleep. He finds a princess. They get married and have twin babies, a boy and a girl. They live happily ever after. The End."

August 12, 2007

Some Pictures

Whew. Last week was not so great. Last weekend I had a horrible migraine that finally disappeared around Monday afternoon, just in time for Kenna to wake up from her nap with a cold or some type of respiratory virus. The next day Ted got it, the day after that I got it, sometime in there the boys had it, and finally Charis succumbed. No one got much sleep, and despite my best intentions to have a normal school week, that pipe dream flew out the window by mid-week as we struggled to maintain a modicum of sanity.

Thankfully, the older kids seem to be fine, and Kenna seems much more like her normal self, which is generally happy and drooly these days, unless it's 3 a.m., and then the norm is screaming for no apparent reason. Sigh. I think it's time to try the Ferber method. I'll let you know next weekend how things go this week!

Without further ado, here are some pictures! This first one of Kenna and Charis was taken July 9, so it's already a month old! But I thought it was cute.

Here's Grandma J holding Kenna, who is wearing one of the adorable outfits from Grandma! I love the colors--the main color, FYI, happens to be Stampin' Up!'s new "In Color" Groovy Guava! (Gotta love those SU! color names!) It's so cute, and on the chest it says "Little Sun-kissed Sweetie." I'm glad we got to spend some time in CO but regret that Rhonda didn't get as much time with Kenna, since she went with me to the Convention for most of the week.

Here are all the kiddos on Grandma J's couch the morning we left to come home, so two weeks ago today. Arden is the little guy in the middle, Tobin on the right. People say they look like twins, though I don't really think so. (But then, people also say Ted and Joel look so much alike, and I have never really thought that either! You can tell they are brothers, but I don't think the resemblance is THAT strong.) As you can see, Arden is almost bigger than his older brother! He is one solid little guy! Tobin remains taller at this point. It will be fun watching them grow up. Charis is still the lightweight of the three older ones. I'm curious as to whether Kenna's build will be similar to Charis's or different. How fun it is to see the unique characteristics God has given each child!

Here are Kenna and I all dressed up for the awards night at the Stampin' Up! Convention. Isn't Kenna a doll?! We had Charis's 6-month pictures taken in this same outfit. We call it the princess outfit. It was slightly big on Kenna's 5-month-old body, but I think she still looked adorable. Hopefully she'll be able to get her own 6-month pictures wearing the outfit as well!

Here's Kenna having her first cereal. She started that about a week and a half ago. She's having about 1-2 tablespoons of rice cereal 3 meals a day now, with 5-6 nursing periods daily. (Well, to be honest, about 4-5 nursing periods a day, and more often than not one at night because I get tired of hearing her scream and figure it's easier to nurse her so we can all go back to sleep! Yes, I'm probably contributing to her nighttime problems!!!) She seems to like the cereal and is showing marked improvement in swallowing it rather than letting it roll down her chin. Charis is a big help these days by feeding her breakfast and lunch while I prepare food for the other kids. She enjoys this task for now...I hope that continues, because it is definitely a big help when I have other kids acting cranky because they're hungry, too!

Arden likes to watch while Kenna has her bath. She is not going to fit in the sink much longer, which is too bad, because the boys' bathtub needs frequent scrubbing! But, she will be sitting up on her own before too long, and I know she'll enjoy playing for real in a tub. Guess that will motivate me to REALLY clean that bathroom instead of giving it a cursory going-over now and then!

OK, last picture! Tobin's new passion is puzzles. BIG puzzles. All of our kids have gone through puzzle phases...Arden was doing 100-piece puzzles at 2 1/2 years old. And we have done larger puzzles before as a family. However, just over the course of the last week Tobin has decided that he really LOVES doing big puzzles, and he often prefers working on them alone, though he does sometimes ask Ted or I to work with him. This picture I took is of him working on a 500-piece Charles Wysocki puzzle, which he started AND COMPLETED all by himself, all in the course of one day!! He proceeded to do ANOTHER 500-piece puzzle by himself that evening, completing it as well! I love it. When he's working on a puzzle, the house is quieter and peace is more prevalent! (Yes, in a sense I am indicating that Tobin is my loud troublemaker, ha! Sad, but true!!)

Well, I'll sign off for now. As I TRULY hope to have a "normal" scheduled week, I don't anticipate getting the chance to blog until perhaps next weekend. Maybe that's for the best, anyway! I hope to blog some good news about Kenna's sleeping habits. In the meantime, have a great week, everyone!

August 04, 2007

Time for Another Update!

Whew, keeping up with this blog is getting to be difficult! Of course, it doesn't help that we've traveled lately. Everything gets put on hold when we're gone, then we have a bunch of stuff to catch up on when we return. So here's a quick rundown of what we've been up to lately. Sorry, no pictures, but maybe next time!

On July 21 we drove to Denver, Colorado, a 750-mile trip, and yes, we did make it in one day. It took 12 hours, which was not bad considering Arden said he had to go potty about every half hour. He seemed to figure out quickly that if he announced he had to poop, we'd be more likely to stop! No poops the whole way, but no accidents, either. Kenna was not a happy traveler, possibly due to the altitude changes along the way. Charis and Tobin are at great ages for traveling, as they enjoy reading on their own or coloring. I did purchase a magnetic Mighty Mind, which Arden enjoyed playing with during much of the ride.

We arrived at Grandma J's house for a late dinner of KFC, which Joel and Sarah brought. Yum! We headed to bed not long after this, as we were all beat. The next morning we went to church together after our traditional Sunday morning pancake breakfast. I napped in the afternoon and Charis went to Joel and Sarah's house. Later the boys went over, and finally the rest of us grown-ups plus Kenna made it over. Shortly before we arrived the boys both got stung by a rogue wasp that managed to make it into the house. Arden was sitting passively on the couch watching a movie when we arrived, but Tobin was attempting to let everyone in the city know about his pain. Granted, the poor guy did get two stings compared to Arden's one, but this is also the boy we've dubbed the Drama King. After making sure that there was nothing else we could do--Sarah had treated the stings well, having gotten one herself recently, and no signs of allergic reactions were appearing--I sat with Tobin on the couch for a bit and he actually fell asleep. The rest of us were then free to eat dinner...though I did have to get up to be with Tobin or Kenna at various points of the evening. Still, it was a gorgeous evening to enjoy a taco salad on Joel and Sarah's newly finished deck, and Tobin did get some sleep, which was a relief for all of us! He is NOT a good patient!!

The next day we went to the Children's Museum, which was lots of fun. About four years ago we had taken Charis and Tobin, so it was fun to be back there now that they were all old enough to enjoy some of the other exhibits besides the toddler area! The kids had a blast, and we stayed for several hours.

The next day Ted took Kenna and me downtown to meet Mimi, my dear friend and upline with Stampin' Up! We stayed at a hotel a few blocks from the convention center and enjoyed our annual SU! convention. Two other friends joined us in our hotel, and I think there were a total of about 15 ladies from our group all together. As usual, I came away with my brain spinning and ready to hit the ground running with my business!

Meanwhile, Ted and the kids had a packed schedule with Grandma and Uncle Joel and Auntie Sarah. Their activities included Chuck E. Cheese, bowling, a picnic in the mountains, the museum of natural history, and an attempt to see the Rockies play baseball. Unfortunately, it ended up being the only game in the last 3 years to get rained out, so the boys returned disappointed but with new Rockies' baseball hats.

The drive home was also about 12 hours long, and we listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and part of Pinocchio on CD. Having never read a translation of the full Pinocchio story, I was a bit surprised at how moralistic and, frankly, inane the full story truly is. That, plus the CD being scratched tremendously, led Ted and I to decide to chuck the whole experience. However, we enjoyed the Chocolate Factory so much that we rented the movie to see for movie night last night. The kids hadn't seen it before and were highly amused by the Oompa-Loompas.

This past week the kids pretty much ran wild. By that, I mean we did no home school, and I worked frantically to organize things for my new catalog open house and retired merchandise sale, which I had this morning. Next year I will definitely make those things two separate events. Lesson learned! It was semi-successful in that I did unload quite a bit of old stuff, but I didn't get any new shows booked, which was my main goal for the event. Oh, well. I'll just have to start asking people to help me out!

Anyway, we are for SURE doing school next week. The kids have now had two weeks of break time, and we are all craving the routine. As if I needed any more proof that behavior issues are at a maximum when there is no structure!!!

Let's see. In other news, we started Kenna on rice cereal a couple of evenings ago. Probably partly due to traveling and all the excitement of Convention, she was beginning to wake during the night again. Honestly, this child has been the most inconsistent of our four when it comes to night time sleeping. We were so proud of the fact that Charis slept through the night at 5 1/2 weeks old, and both boys around 9-10 weeks. They did great, but started waking just before we ended up giving them cereal, and once they were on cereal, they went back to sleeping 10-12 hours at night. While Kenna has been known to go 9-10 hours on occasion, it has certainly not been an every-night occurrance, and more often it's more like 6-7 hours. When that stretch BEGINS at 8 or 8:30 p.m, that means Mom and Dad are getting up much sooner than they'd like to be! I think that now we're back in our own home and she is getting some cereal in her tummy, we should start seeing some better progress. Another lesson learned...don't be too proud of one child's accomplishments, expecting the same thing to work with the next!! Kenna is now 5 months old, though, so I know she is fully capable of sleeping longer stretches. She may well do a long stretch tonight--we took the kids to the new Y about 3 miles from our house for an afternoon of swimming, and Kenna got her fair share of water and sunshine. She's sacked out now, but we'll be sure to wake her for one last feeding and some cereal before bedtime.

Well, I think those are the highlights. I'll try to download our pictures so I can post some next time. I'm pooped from a long day and a short night!