November 30, 2007

Blog Roll Update!

I enjoy keeping up with friends and family via their blogs, but my list of blogging friends is growing way out of control. Either you people need to stop having such interesting lives or else you need to stop writing about them, because it is way too easy to let my children have run of the house while I "catch up" with you all!

OK, it's high time I paid some attention to my template. As you probably have not noticed, I moved my "Other Links" up above the ever-lengthening archive list so you can actually see it. I also added some "other links." Now, those of you who are on this list, I noticed, have linked to my blog--which is perfectly fine!--and so I figured you wouldn't mind if I did the same. If you are a fellow blogger and would like to be included as a link on my page, please leave me a comment and I will remedy your absence on my list! I know some people prefer to keep their blogs private. And, likewise, if you're on my list already and prefer NOT to be on my list, please leave me a (nice) comment saying please and I will remove you from the list. But don't expect me to read your blog anymore. (Ha, that's a joke! Don't take it personally!)

And for those of you who have asked if you can link to my blog, this is a generic, blanket permission slip for you to do so. I am careful not to use last names or get too specific with locations, etc., and this is a public blog, so link away!

Cruisin' With Kenna

It's time for another baby update! Kenna is officially mobile now and often finds herself in quite a predicament, as you can see here--she managed to scoot backwards all the way under the train table but couldn't get back out! While she isn't exactly crawling in the true sense of the word, she does manage to maneuver her way to wherever she wants to go, whether it be by rolling, doing the army-man crawl, or the butt-to-knee-flip-flop action, which I have not witnessed any of our other kids attempt in their early active stages. The latter move goes like this:

1. Kenna is sitting.
2. She lunges forward onto her hands and knees, pushing herself up and trying to crawl.
3. She wiggles around a little bit, then flops her rear to a different spot from where she was originally sitting.
4. She is now sitting again, facing a different direction and positioned about a foot away from her original spot.
5. The process repeats itself.

So, it has begun. We now have to be EXTREMELY careful to pick up any number of choking hazards before we allow Kenna to get on the floor for exploring time. (Whose idea was it to bring marbles into this house, anyway?!) Before too long I'll have to do an overhaul of the toy storage area to be sure that she can't open a drawer and get into something dangerous for little people. Other than that, the family room is pretty safe. We will, however, have to train her to leave the CDs and movies alone, as they are completely within her reach. If she trains as well as Charis and Arden, that should not be a problem. I leave it to your imagination to decide how things will progress should she prove to have a learning curve more like Tobin's.

At 9 months old, Kenna is quite verbal, chattering to herself and anyone who will listen most of her waking hours (and possibly some of her sleeping ones, too). No intelligible words yet, but lots of mamamamas, dadadadas, and babababas, with a few lalalas thrown in when she's especially excited. She absolutely loves to eat (when she's not sick, that is), as evidenced by this shot of her sporting the ever-fashionable Banana Mouth. She will eat anything we give her from a jar--I gave up making our own baby food when we had to move. I still mash up bananas and give her the no-sugar-added applesauce that the rest of the family eats, but I haven't steamed and processed food for her since we were in the old house. I can get jars for a quarter at the Commissary, and it just seems easier to keep the pantry stocked with so many other demands on my time. She also enjoys finger foods such as Rice Chex, Kix, Cheerios (though she's become rather bored with those lately), crackers, and little bits of cheese and bread. She is now at the point where anything we're eating looks MUCH better than what she has on her tray, so it's always easiest to feed her when we're not at a meal ourselves.

Kenna is, thankfully, an amazingly good little sleeper. She is so consistent I could nearly set my alarm clock by her. She wakes for her first feeding anywhere between 6 and 6:20 a.m. without fail. Her morning naps are quite long, stretching anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 hours, which is a huge blessing as we get a lot of schoolwork done during that time. Her lunch comes right before the kids and I eat, and then she naps while the older kids have "quiet room time," also known as "Mommy's office time." Most of the time she still has a short evening nap as well, since none of us particularly enjoys meltdowns during our family dinner. We wake her up for one last nursing before bedtime, and she goes right back down without a fuss...unless you count a few seconds of wailing from the time it takes us to walk from her crib outside her doorway. Then she's quiet! I guess she just has to have the last word.

I guess that's about it for this month's Kenna update. Next month I expect we'll be teaching her how to read. Ha! Just wanted to see if you read this far! ;-)

November 28, 2007

Bye-Bye, Grandma!

We had a great week with Ted's mom here. I didn't take many pictures, unfortunately, so I had all the kids sit on the steps with Rhonda for a photo shoot. We took at least 5-6 shots, and this was probably the best one. Those who have known Ted for years will laugh at knowing that Tobin is DEFINITELY his father's son! (Think: The Geek Picture! The story behind that is Ted and Joel took turns, unbeknownst to their parents, making faces during a family photo session, and Jim and Rhonda ended up just picking the shot that THEY looked the best in, so there is a hilarious family picture that includes a young Ted looking like someone just pinched his butt!)

Anyway. I know we all enjoyed having Mom/Rhonda/Grandma J here for a whole made Thanksgiving extra special, and having a whole week together instead of a rushed few days made it seem like it wasn't over in the blink of an eye!

November 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

This year my birthday happened to be on Thanksgiving Day. I turned 33, in case you're wondering! It's always fun to have both special days coincide. I just finished writing about our holiday, so I'll quickly mention here the sweet things my family did to make me feel special.

Wednesday evening Ted, Rhonda, and the kids came home with a beautiful flower bouquet that included sunflowers, my favorite! Thursday morning at breakfast I got to open cards and presents. The kids got me a new tea kettle, which I had been wanting because our old one was looking so junky. Seeing as how Ted and I drink hot tea every morning, it was definitely a practical selection--and I am all for practical! Joel and Sarah sent me the first season of the Little House on the Prairie series on DVD, which was a fabulous surprise. Ted must have told them that we had talked about getting that for Charis for her birthday but were unable to find Season 1. Those books and shows were some of my absolute favorites growing up, so I look forward to sharing them with our children as well.

Rhonda and Ted's gift for me was actually at my request, tickets to see Lance Burton's show tonight! When Ted and I moved to Las Vegas, we decided that birthday and anniversary gifts should be experiences rather than things. (That's actually not a bad idea no matter where we live!) We've seen the Excalibur dinner show (kind of a Medieval Knights thing), watched the Blue Man group, and eaten dinner at the Melting Pot and the Stratosphere restaurant. Now we can add a magic show to the list!

Edited to add: The show was quite good, though from our balcony seats there were a couple of tricks that we couldn't actually see. Bummer. But it was spectacular overall, and we enjoyed Coldstone ice cream and browsing through Borders afterward. All in all, a memorable evening!

Thanksgiving Day

This year I began the holiday by "sleeping in," which means I didn't get up until Kenna was ready to nurse at about 6:24 a.m. She's pretty consistent, and I am THANKFUL that she is consistently nursing again! We still have to be careful with distractions, but we have not had to do any bottles this week, praise the Lord.

I am also THANKFUL that Rhonda could be here to spend the week with us. The kids have tremendously enjoyed having her here, as have Ted and I. We were THANKFUL to have special family time together. We all enjoyed a leisurely morning, reading Bible stories, watching a bit of the parades on TV, playing games, etc. Ted and I headed out mid-morning for a 3 1/2 mile run together--probably the first time we've run together since we were stationed in Texas 9 years ago!! We got into roller blading in Idaho, and then once the kids started coming, it was obviously impossible for us to go out at the same time. I am THANKFUL for my wonderful husband! I enjoyed our time to run and talk together. I was able to share some of the things God has laid on my heart during my recent reading of Elizabeth George's fabulous book, A Woman After God's Own Heart.

After showers and a light snack (oh, the ham in the crock pot was smelling wonderful by this time!), we decided the squirrely kids needed to get out, so we walked to a nearby park that is approximately 3/4 of a mile away from home. Arden rode his scooter the whole way, Charis rode a too-small motorcycle, and Tobin pretty much ran the whole way wearing flip-flops. Rhonda pushed Kenna in the stroller, and Ted came later with the van so we wouldn't have to walk UPHILL to get back home.

We had a blast at the park! We were THANKFUL for the beautiful weather--a tad on the cool side, but the wind from the previous day was gone, and the exercise warmed us up anyway. The picture at the beginning of this post is quite possibly the best shot we've gotten of our whole family--thanks, Rhonda! For awhile the kids played freeze tag with both Ted and Rhonda while Kenna and I watched. But before too long, even little Kenna got in on the action by smiling in glee when she got to go down a slide. I know this picture of her in Arden's lap looks a bit alarming, but really, he wasn't choking her! I am so THANKFUL for each of my precious children--they truly are a blessing.

Amazingly, Charis and Tobin still had energy to spare when it was time to head home, so they walked with Rhonda back to the house while the rest of us drove. Kenna was way ready for her nap, and I needed to finish dinner preparations. I had baked the sweet potatoes and made the cheesy hashbrown casserole the day before, so all I had to do was put together the sweet potato casserole and the green bean casserole (which Rhonda and Ted actually did). Charis had helped me make the "pink fluff" jello salad that morning, so all that was left was making the out-of-this-world pineapple ham sauce.

Rhonda and Charis went outside to cut some roses for the table settings. Charis had made cute little place settings from her most recent Spider magazine and wrote little thank you notes to each person on the back. I knew she would enjoy helping to set the table, and she just exclaimed with delight over every little thing--the fall napkins, the candles, and the Pilgrim figures that I moved from the china hutch to the table for the special meal. After we prayed, we filled up the kids' plates, and then Ted read Psalm 95. Then we adults filled our plates, and we were THANKFUL for such an abundance of yummy food!

When our bellies were full, we finished plastering leaves and apples on the Blessing Tree. I know we could have filled many more--God's blessings truly overflow when you stop to think about it. No matter how bad things are, there is always something to be grateful for if we choose to look up. As you can see from the picture, we ended up having some "falling leaves" because there were too many to fit on the tree! That in itself must surely be a blessing!

We finished the day by watching the first two episodes of Season 1 of Little House on the Prairie, which Joel and Sarah, my brother-in-law and his wife, gave me for my birthday. It was so fun to watch them with the kids, who have read (or listened to) at least half of the books. I have fond memories of watching them with my family (another thing I am THANKFUL for!). And of course we had scrumptious dessert as well, pumpkin pie crunch cake!

To all my family and friends who are reading, please know that I am also THANKFUL for YOU! And to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I am forever THANKFUL for Your sacrifice to demonstrate Your love for me.

Thanksgiving Week

What a fun week this has been! So much fun that I have obviously not been taking time to blog about it! Ted's mom, "Grandma J," flew into town Saturday evening, and we've been having loads of family fun. Ted, Rhonda, and the older kids just left for some time at Pump It Up, and I stayed behind with Kenna, who just went down for her morning nap. I'm taking advantage of the quiet to catch up a bit on blogging, fold some laundry, make some bread, and...just on some Christmas cards. I don't know, though--Pump It Up is only available until 11:30 a.m.!!

Anyway, I can't seem to remember anything specific we did Sunday, other than go to church and play LOTS of games. The kids are game freaks these days, and we've (or rather, they've) begun pulling out "new" games like Chinese checkers, chess, and cribbage, begging to be taught. Rhonda has patiently played many a game with Charis, Tobin, and/or Arden. She's also read lots to them, built things with them, and listened to all their excited chatter!

Monday afternoon I taught a "Mind Your Manners" class for the homeschool co-op. There were about 50 kids there, and I had fabulous table guides that made things run very smoothly. Rhonda took care of Kenna, who did a GREAT job, having had a 3-hour nap that morning. My kids were less than thrilled about interrupting game time with Grandma to go to a manners class, but on the way home, Charis gave me a compliment when she said, "Mommy, that was so fun! When can we do that again?!" Rhonda treated us to yogurt parfaits at McDonald's, and the older kids got to play for awhile at the play place before we headed home.

On Tuesday we (minus Ted, who was at work) went to Bonnie Springs--it seems we always end up visiting there in the fall, and we always enjoy our time there. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera, so I don't have any pictures of our outing. We first went through the petting zoo, and Arden was nearly traumatized when a white burro snarfed his arm looking for some food. Arden was convinced the donkey was trying to eat him! Kenna, on the other hand, didn't even blink when the donkey nosed around the stroller. She sat up, wide-eyed, listening to all the animal noises and taking everything in.

Then we walked over to the replica of an old western town, where we watched a cheesy but fun melodrama in the "saloon," followed by a "hanging" in the town square. By the time that was finished, it was 2:30 and the sun was already dropping behind the mountains, making us feel more than ready for a late lunch in the warm Bonnie Springs restaurant. We headed home after eating, feeling we had gotten our $10 worth and then some.

Wednesday morning Charis and Tobin had PE, so I dropped them off and did some last-minute grocery shopping while Kenna napped and Arden played games with Grandma. We were planning a picnic lunch after PE, but a cold front had swept into town along with some strong winds, so we ended up coming home for the afternoon. I did, however, get out for my first run in 8 days--between a head cold and general busy-ness, I hadn't felt like running much at all. But with the half-marathon date fast approaching (it's Dec. 2), I decided I'd better get out and see if my body will be able to handle running 13.1 miles in a week and a half! I went 3 1/2 miles and decided to reserve judgement for after a few more runs.

Ted was able to come home a couple of hours early, so we enjoyed a yummy dinner of parmesan Ranch chicken (recipe to follow in case you're interested) and watched our traditional Thanksgiving kids' show, the Veggie Tales' Madame Blueberry. Oh, yes, and Charis, Rhonda and I worked to put together our construction paper "Blessing Tree." Last year on Thanksgiving Day we wrote things we were thankful for on apples and put them on a poster-board tree. The year before that we wrote on leaves and simply taped them to our pantry door. This year there was nearly a fight over whether we would write on apples or leaves, so we decided to do both. Hey, apple trees have leaves, don't they?! The kids really got into the activity; we broke out the markers after dinner, and they kept writing and writing and writing! (Arden dictated his to us!) You can see Tobin writing on his apple. (He and Charis are wearing their PE shirts, by the way.) We had to stop the kids after awhile so we could save some leaves and apples to write on for Thanksgiving Day!

I'll wrap this post up for now and do a separate one for Thanksgiving Day, but it wouldn't be complete without one more picture--since the other kids are featured above, here's one of Kenna and Ted taken Wednesday evening. And yes, I will put the chicken recipe below--it's simply too fantastic not to try!

1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (the kind in a can)
1 packet Ranch salad dressing or dip mix
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Mix cornflakes, parmesan cheese, and salad dressing mix together in a bowl. Melt butter and dip chicken strips into butter, then coat with cornflake mixture. Place in a 9x13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Oh, so yummy!!

Our New House

Finally, some pictures of our new house! (This is especially for you, Sarah and Megan!) You can play a game of "Where's Waldo," er, I mean "Where's Charis?" in these pictures, as she followed me around the day I took these photos. She is looking especially lovely in her pink Broncos jersey that Grandma J gave her for her birthday. :-) As always, you can click on the pictures to see larger images.

This is the view from the entryway/living room. You can see the school room in the middle--it would typically be the formal dining room, I guess. Our little dining nook and kitchen are behind where Charis is standing.

Standing in the corner of the living room--you can see the stair case here. The archway goes back to a full bathroom and the 5th bedroom, which we are using as my stamp room and the guest room. (We call it the "Stamp Suite!") The skinny door you see is a closet that goes back under the stairs, so there is quite a bit of storage area there. The laundry room is behind the wall all the way to the right, and that leads out to the garage.

In the kitchen looking toward the family room. Usually our table has the leaf in it, but it looks smaller because we had been playing games on it.

In the family room looking toward the "dining nook" and the kitchen.

Upstairs--the built-in computer desk is right by the stair case. The door behind Charis is the door to our bedroom, while Kenna and the boys' rooms would be behind where I was standing. Charis's room is behind the wall she is beside.

November 21, 2007

The Sideways Game

Kenna is at the stage where she loves to tilt her head sideways when she's in her booster chair. (Do other kids go through that, or just mine?!) She'll be munching on a snack and just flop her head over, waiting for us to smile and tilt our heads to match hers. It's very cute!

On a slightly related note, I am pleased to report that she is nursing much better now. I do have to be careful to make sure we're in an undisturbed environment (which means staying in my bedroom for daytime feedings!), and we have had to resort to bottles a few times due to her stuffy nose and complete dislike of lying down to feed when she couldn't breathe...but overall, I'm very encouraged!

November 18, 2007

Kenna Pictures

It's time for some more baby pictures! Just a couple of comments...Kenna LOVES to see herself in the mirror. The mirror picture was taken in our room, as both Ted and I have sliding mirrored doors on our closets. Charis took the picture of Kenna and me. I was humoring her desire to use the camera, and was pleasantly surprised that the shot turned out so well, as I have so few pictures of me with my baby!

November 17, 2007

No Race

Well, after getting a head cold or something of the sort a couple of days ago, I ended up not doing my 10K this morning. I woke at 5 a.m. to go to the bathroom and thought, "I could throw on my clothes and walk out the door right now and still make it!" Then I thought, "Who am I kidding?!" and went back to bed.

It's kind of a bummer, as I had already paid the $25 to be in the race. But between the congestion, sniffles, sneezes, and some knee pain that has been going on for about a week, it's probably best that I didn't run. I'm still trying to decide about the half-marathon; it's in two weeks, and between this cold and some stomach issues last week, my mileage has just not been where I thought it would be this close to the marathon date. THAT race is $85, and the deadline to register before the price goes up even more is in just a couple of days. So I'd better decide soon!

November 14, 2007

When I'm a Google

I'll preface this funny by noting that our kids pretty much think a google is the biggest number there is. I think it's rivaled only by a "tinka," which is a number they have apparently made up. I've heard them all refer to "a hundred plus a tinka," or whatever.

Anyway. Arden firmly believes there is a correlation between how old a person is and how big that person is. Apparently he thinks we never stop growing...nor do we stop aging. This is evidenced by his comment to me yesterday:

"Mom, when I'm a google, I'll be very, very fat."


November 12, 2007

What Is That?!

The other morning I was feeding Kenna an early breakfast. (She had awakened before the rest of the family.) I was puzzled to find that she was not very interested in her cereal. Instead, she kept looking down at her tray and moving her hands in a strange manner. Finally it dawned on me what she was doing...I had turned on the light above the dining room table, and as that was the only light in the otherwise dark room, it was casting a shadow from the spoon onto her tray. Kenna was trying to grab the shadow!

I couldn't help it--I kept moving the spoon and watching her utterly confused expression, and I just laughed out loud. Of course I grabbed the camera to take a video of the adventure. I had to then move the spoon with my left hand while holding the camera with my right, but you can still get a good chuckle out of watching this...

Ever see a cat trying to catch the red dot of a laser pointer?! That's what Kenna reminded me of!

...Or Not?

Ironically, after I posted about Kenna's refusal to nurse, she woke at 1 a.m. that night and nursed for a LONG time, longer than she has for quite awhile. She nursed again the next morning around 6:00, and though she didn't take any more breastmilk during the day, she did nurse again for a bit before going down for the night. During these couple of months that we've had difficulties, I have noticed that she does pretty well with nursing right after she wakes up (or if we wake her up). She's been having little cat naps in the evening, so that may be helping her nurse well before bedtime.

Her appetite for solids also drastically improved yesterday, and we saw a voracious eater today. I am pleased to report that she has already nursed three times today (although, truth be told, the afternoon feeding was not without some major struggles), and I'm expecting that we'll have a good feeding again before bedtime. She's asleep now, but I'll wake her to nurse and then change her into jammies.

I'm glad I've continued to offer breastmilk regardless of whether I think she'll take it or not, because as today has shown, she is predictably unpredictable! I have high hopes that perhaps we can at least maintain early morning and nighttime nursing periods...and who knows?! Maybe if she will decide to nurse during the day she can help build up my milk supply again.

November 10, 2007

Looks Like We May Have a Weaner!

Well, the nursing issues are just not getting any better. It's not a matter of Kenna being distracted--she just plain does not want me. She doesn't mind my milk; on the few occasions I've been able to pump enough to put in a sippy cup, she drank that just fine. But nearly every feeding has been a complete battle, with her little fists pushing against me, her head turned in the opposite direction, and her voice wailing at the top of her little (but powerful) lungs. I've continued trying, as I never know when she'll decide to just go ahead and nurse (like first thing this morning--she did great). But it looks like we are just going to have to go to Plan B.

I was a little nervous, because the only other time I've given Kenna formula she most definitely did NOT want it. I think I tried that about a week ago. Kenna has had an off week, with runny poops, a runny nose, and a greatly diminished appetite. I'm quite sure we're going to see her first tooth appear very soon. So I'm trying to take that into consideration, but the fact is, the girl needs more to drink. She hasn't even been interested much in juice. If I could pump enough milk for her to take, I'm sure we'd be fine, but frankly, my right side is all but dried up, and even the left side doesn't pump well these days.

Last night, after another battle of trying to get her to take some "Mama Juice," I made a 4-ounce bottle of formula in desperation. Amazingly, she quieted down and took it. She only drank about an ounce and a half, but it was enough to let me know that she would indeed drink formula. She's had about 4-5 ounces throughout the day today as well. She hasn't eaten very much at all the last few days, and I've been giving her infant Tylenol because she has been a major CRAB, and that seems to be the only thing that helps her settle down to rest.

Soooo, looks like we'll keep going with a mix of nursing attempts and supplementing with formula. I used to wonder why moms had a hard time nursing--I could never understand why, if your milk was in and nursing was established, you could give up on nursing. I guess I'm learning from experience that it's not always the mother's choice!! I have a lot more compassion now for moms who have to give up nursing, and maybe that's the point of me having to go through all this. One thing I've learned about myself is that I'm a black-and-white kind of girl, and unfortunately I can be on the judgmental and critical side far too often. Being a mother of four children has certainly taught me that there is very little in life that is a "one size fits all" approach, and I've been humbled more times than I care to admit!

I hate the thought of not nursing Kenna any more (or even much more), but to be honest, it was such a relief to just be able to hold her and cuddle her while she drank her bottle. Her screaming fits and pushing me away have been extremely stressful, and it's been hard to enjoy feeding times at all. Hopefully I can recapture some of those special, precious moments.

The Hills Are Alive...With the Sound of Panting

I'm back in the running routine. I do miss our flat roads around our old neighborhoods, but I'm getting used to running around here. Unfortunately, though, what goes down must come up, and I can't run much of anywhere without starting by going DOWN hill, which means I end by coming UP hill!! The good news is that I'm getting conditioned, slowly but surely. It was a great day when I realized I ran about a mile and a half uphill without stopping once--the first time I ran that route I stopped at least 3-4 times!

Last Saturday I did a 10-mile run, the second time I've gone that far. Ted and the kids picked me up at Smoothie King--I treated myself to a nice smoothie for breakfast. I finished in 1:45:10, which means my average time per mile was 10:31. Not bad, if I do say so myself! I was pleased to note that a hill I had run on occasion closer to our old house was a piece of cake after running the hills around this area! I'm hoping this conditioning will help me run the half-marathon in a few weeks.

Next Saturday I'll be running a 10K race, so I did a 10K run around here just to check out my time. I've only run one other race in my whole life, and that was a 10K about a year and a half ago with Sarah. It started out going uphill and was a pretty tough course, plus it was a very windy day. As I had only run 6 miles one other time previously, I wasn't expecting much. When the day of the race dawned and I was having stomach issues, I figured I'd be lucky to even finish. My time was a few seconds under an hour and fifteen minutes. My time today was 1:05:15. Woohoo! And that's even with running hills. I think the course may actually be flat, but I'm not too familiar with that area of town, so we'll see.

November 04, 2007

Drama Queen

Today were tryouts for the children's Christmas play at our church. Charis had her heart set on playing Mary, while Tobin's goal was to land the non-speaking role of Darth Vader. (The play was written by the drama coordinator at our church, and it's quite humorous!) So, at 1 p.m., after I had finished serving in the pre-school area, we joined the throngs of other parents and children wanting to participate in the first children's Christmas play.

Non-speaking roles were determined first. Tobin lined up with about 8 other guys (most of whom were much taller!) to demonstrate his Darth Vader acting skills. He was supposed to jump out on stage, brandishing his light saber, only to be told, "No, sorry, Darth Vader isn't in this show," then slump dejectedly and shuffle off the stage. I have to admit that Tobin won the Darth Vader jumping out part hands-down; however, he was told he didn't look "sad enough" as he left the stage. Though he probably could have been a sheep or goat, or even part of the angel chorus, Tobin decided that it was either Darth or nothing, and so he was done for the day. (Whew! Thank goodness! I'm off the hook for making an animal costume!!)

Finally it was time for speaking roles. Children went up in groups of five to read the same scene. I finally pulled Charis aside and told her she needed to just stand up and volunteer; the scene involved 3 shepherds, an angel, and a narrator. She was waiting for Rory to call for Mary, but really he just wanted to hear everyone read. So she went on stage and read Shepherd #3's part, which, unfortunately, was only 2 short lines. She was also partnered with kids WAY bigger than she was. When she sat down, she said in a sad voice, "I don't think he's going to pick me, because I didn't get to read very much."

I told her that maybe she could ask Mr. J if she could try reading the narrator part so that he could hear her more, as long as everyone else had had a chance to try. Sure enough, for the final grouping, there were only 3-4 kids who hadn't yet read. Charis bravely marched up to Rory and asked very politely if she could read the narrator part, because she didn't get to say very much. I think she impressed him by even asking; later on one of the preschool leaders called to tell me that Rory had said Charis had won a special spot in his heart when she asked if she could have another chance on the stage! Charis read the part beautifully, with great expression, and only needing help with the word "pre-historic."

After this initial reading, the kids got in groups based on what part(s) they wanted. Joseph and Mary were the roles to be determined first. Charis joined about 7-8 other Mary wanna-bes, and they all took turns speaking the lines. I have to say, she did a great job. Really, all of the Marys did a good job. Some of them had been terrible readers, but when they were speaking the lines instead of reading, they did much better. Finally it came down to one question: which girl matched Joseph in size?! As there were only 2 Joseph candidates, he was picked first. Since Joseph ended up being about twice as tall as Charis, Rory told her very gently that though she was a good little actress, she was just too little to be Mary. She kept her composure quite well.

I called her over to me, thinking to suggest that she join the angel group and try again. She did shed some tears when she came over to me, but she was game to keep trying. So next the angels were up, about 9 or 10 of them (a bit larger group, as all the Mary-rejects merged with the few original angels). Once again, Rory taught the girls the lines, and they all said them several times. The next thing I knew, Charis and four other girls were on the stage, as Rory narrowed down the choices. The girls said the lines again, and I could tell Rory was having a very hard time selecting only two of them! (I'm glad I didn't have his job!) Finally he walked up to Charis and said, "Charis, you are just so darn cute that you simply MUST have a role in this play! You've won the part of an angel nearly on cuteness alone!" The other gal who was chosen was a natural--I wasn't surprised at all that she was picked.

So, Charis is Angel #2 in our little holiday production! To say she is excited is a complete understatement! I'm excited for her. I know the fact that she is so tiny, petite, and "darn cute" did help her land this role, but she also did have great expression every time she got to say a line. We just need to really work on having her project--her voice is so tiny! But she is enthusiastic, and I know we can help her do it.

Her lines are actually fairly minimal, so I'm sure she'll have them memorized in no time. Then she'll be able to focus on projecting her voice, having just the right expression and emphasis, and so on. The performances will be December 15 and 16 for all the elementary classes--so this won't be on the main stage at church. Nevertheless, it's a pretty big deal for our family, and we're all very proud of Charis!

Finding a Wife

The other day Arden and I had a cute conversation. He was playing and talking with Kenna, as he does often. (He's such a great big brother! I'm glad he has the opportunity to be the "big" brother!) Here's a close to word-for-word recount of the conversation that ensued:

Me: Arden, you're going to be a great daddy someday.

Arden: Yeah.

Me: How many kids do you want?

Arden: Fourteen.

Me: Wow! That's great! We'd better pray that you find a good wife who also wants 14 kids!

Arden (getting a sad look on his face): But, Mom, no one I know wants to marry me!

Me (trying hard not to laugh): Well, I'm sure God will bring just the right girl along at just the right time!

Arden (cheering up): Yeah!

A Tender Heart

During her short life, Charis has demonstrated often that she has a very tender heart towards others and towards the things of God. I've prayed that she would always have a passion for God's Word, and it's been very exciting to see how that prayer is being answered even daily.

For her birthday Charis received a girls' devotional book. It has verses, a short devotional, application questions, a prayer, and an activity page. She LOVES this kind of thing, and I was not too surprised when she told me the other day that she wanted to get up early and have her quiet time like Mommy and Daddy do. Sure enough, the next morning, she was up at a quarter to seven! (This is the girl who would sleep until 9:00 if left undisturbed!) She has done the devotions on her own and is so excited to show us what she has done each day. I pray she always has this excitement.

During breakfasts we have been reading Psalms before we start our home school day, and lately we've been working our way through Psalm 119, one or two sections each day. One day I made the comment that some of the verses were good prayers, and Charis got the idea to write out a prayer to God using some of those verses. She begged me to be able to do that for her handwriting practice, so she got a practice page and very carefully wrote the following prayer, which she then posted next to her bed so she could "read it every morning to God!"

Dear God,
I want to obey your laws for ever and ever. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to yor Word. I will never leave you. O, Lord. I love you God. Amen.

November 01, 2007

Maybe We SHOULD Have Gone Trick-or-Treating...

Ted and I have decided not to "do" Halloween with our family. We do church festivals instead, and I have no problem with our kids dressing up. But for various reasons we have chosen to skip the whole Halloween scene. So we went to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner last night instead:

A) It was something fun and special for us to share
B) We had free coupons for our 2 birthday kids that expired at the end of October
C) It got us out of the house during some of the Trick-or-Treating hours.

The restaurant was very quiet. We had a whole section to ourselves. However, we were still trying to impress upon our children that just because it's a buffet-style restaurant doesn't mean they are allowed to wander at will. After returning with my yummy potato rosemary soup and apple cinnamon muffin, I once again told the kids they needed to stay in their seats. Arden, who was finished with his meal and entertaining Kenna in the stroller, moved to obey, tripped over his bulky tennis shoes, and landed head first into my chair.

Loud wailing ensued. I was sure it was just a bump and tried to calm him down. When he looked up, however, we saw an ugly gash that screamed for attention. We tried icing it a bit, then Ted took Arden to the bathroom to try to clean the wound and get him quiet. A helpful bus boy got us a bandaid, which my kids believe heals just about anything, so that did calm Arden down a bit and bought us some time to finish dinner and decide what to do next.

Well, there really wasn't much of an option; we went home, and then Arden and I made the long drive to the base hospital. (I suppose if I had been going the speed limit, it would have taken about 45 minutes, ahem.) It was about 7:30 p.m. when we left the house. Arden was asleep by about 7:40 p.m. and slept the whole way. I had to carry (actually, lug) him into the ER. Thankfully it was a slow night, so we "enjoyed" our shortest ever visit to the ER, leaving less than an hour later.

Praise the Lord, no stitches were needed. The glue worked fine, though to listen to Arden you would have thought major surgery was involved. I think he was a worse patient for having had a nap on the way--if he had stayed awake, he wouldn't have been so weepy. At any rate, he was a little chatterbox all the way home, so I knew he was doing much better.