February 28, 2008

A Story by Tobin

Tobin caught wind of the fact that Charis was typing her language arts assignment on the computer. He wondered why HE didn't get to type a story on the computer. I told him if he sat down and wrote out a story, I would let him type it out. Amazingly, he immediately got a piece of handwriting paper, wrote out a story, then informed me he was ready!

Below is his story, completely typed out on his own. I taught him how to do capital letters, and the only correction I made was to add a "b" in "grabbed." (He saw the red squiggly line underneath "grabed" and asked why the line was there, so I told him.) He did add a few sentences once he was at the keyboard, but overall, I was impressed with his writing process, and he's pretty proud of himself, too!

Oh, and one final note: "The hero of times" apparently is something from a video game he has played at a friend's house. I think the sentence with 3 mentions of the hero may be a great review of what pronouns are and why we use them! LOL

Once up on a time there lived a monster in a cave. When it saw people a hand came out and grabbed people and ate them. One day the hero of times came to fight the monster. It almost ate the hero of times but before it could eat the hero of times the hero of times cut off head with sword. Then people had a party. They were glad the monster was dead. While they were partying the hero of times went away and never came back.

The end from tobin

Update for the Family Portrait Link

Our family portrait session can be viewed when you type in my email address and the password "family." Enjoy!

February 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kenna!

Our family portrait session turned out fairly well, considering...

February 26, 2008

Shove It In...

Kenna loves her mac 'n' cheese! You can see the boys being hams in this video. It's probably longer than it needs to be, but this way the grandmas can enjoy seeing their youngest grandbaby a little extra.

February 25, 2008

Kenna Tries to Give Kisses

In honor of Kenna's first birthday this week, I will be posting pictures and videos of our little angel throughout the week! I can hardly believe my baby turns one this Wednesday!


Charis was kissing Kenna during her breakfast when we realized Kenna was doing something in return. We decided she was trying to kiss Charis back, only it looks a bit different!

February 24, 2008

Remembering the JOY in This Journey

Praise God from whom all blessings flow--big and small! It was a rough week last week, and I did my fair share of dwelling on the negative aspects of life. Sometimes it's also "fun" to find things to blame the blahs on...there WAS a full moon last week, ya know. It IS the middle of winter. School IS getting a bit tiresome. I would LOVE to be getting more sleep. I REALLY miss our old house with its huge kitchen. If ONLY we were in our old single story house with so much more floor space. Etc.

Well. Enough of that. It's time to offer a praise report, partially as a follow-up to my last post. I know I could find lots of things to complain about, but this is all about looking around and counting the blessings, big and small. So, here we go!

* I have an amazing husband! Not only did he sympathize with the myriad of little difficulties I was having last week, but he also picked up some "slack" for me when I wasn't able to get everything done before he got home. He prayed wholeheartedly for the lifting of my spirits and for strength to handle whatever came my way, and his prayers themselves did just that.

* I FOUND MY KEYS! My apologies to the short people in this house. They (the keys, that is) were in my leather coat, which I hadn't worn since the Valentine's party. I pulled it out to wear to church this morning and sang God's praises all the way there after finding my keys in the pocket.

* I ran 10 miles yesterday! It was gorgeous weather--and it's a good thing I went when I did, because storms blew in later in the day.

* Well-behaved children at the portrait studio yesterday! Yes, Tobin had problems NOT looking behind the back drops, even after we told him to stop. But let me tell you, our children were overall so well-behaved that all I could do was thank the Lord for the blessings He has given us. I saw enough bratty kids in that little area to last me for a LONG time. And trust me, I have learned not to judge someone as a parent based on a small amount of observation, because sadly we all have those difficult moments with our children when we wish other eyes weren't watching. However...I saw enough to tell me that the kids in the studio were the ones in charge ALL THE TIME, not their parents, and it was actually quite sad to see how exasperated the parents were when they could avoid so much difficulty if they only realized that their job is to be the child's PARENT, not Friend, Briber, Driver to McDonald's, etc.

* Strawberry smoothies! Ted took the kids for a surprise trip to get ice cream when pictures were finished so I could evaluate the poses and pick out which ones we wanted to order in peace. He brought me back a smoothie that was to die for. :-)

* Today I learned that there was a meth lab operating in our old neighborhood, just a house or two away from where we used to live. I don't remember if I posted this before or not, but the house right next door to where we were burned about 3 weeks after we moved out of the big house. Praise God for His protection!!

* I do, however, miss the layout (and amazing space!!) of that old house. So I have to try really hard to replace those longings with gratefulness for what we do have...a finished back yard where the kids can play (as opposed to construction dirt and rock in a hot, treeless yard)...rose bushes in the front yard...a guest bathroom (so I don't have to keep MY bedroom and bathroom completely company clean all the time!)...a bigger stamp room...space for guests to sleep in privacy.

And, lest we take it for granted...we HAVE a house. We have food. We have clothes. We have two working vehicles, one that is completely paid off. Ted has a secure job. We are healthy (sniffles and coughs notwithstanding). We have good relationships with our extended family members. We live in the greatest country in the world. Most of all, we have assurance of spending eternity with Jesus in heaven.

Aren't we blessed?!

February 22, 2008

Minor Irritations

I could list all four of my children here, but that wasn't really the point of this post's title! I've had the blahs all week, been frustrated and discouraged, and just have generally felt cranky, irritable, and, well, like a failure when it comes to doing what I'm supposed to.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm fairly "good" at weathering life's major storms. Owner of our house foreclosed upon and we have to move? OK, no problem. (The first time, that is...) Sick child needs to go to ER? All right, let's go. Eight weeks into a pregnancy and my baby is gone? Difficult, but the nearness of God and the overwhelming sense of His love and majesty brought me through in a way I never would have imagined.

So why, then, do I have such a terrible time with daily irritations?? Why can't I accept life's minor problems and frustrations with humor and grace as a regular response instead of an exceptional one?

Here is a smattering of life's minor irritations that have come my way this last week:

* My keys--gone. I am highly suspicious that a short person made off with them, but there's no proof yet. They've been MIA since after the Valentine's Day party last week. If anyone has any ideas where I should look, please let me know, because I think I've checked just about every possible location.

* The IRS informed us that we made a mistake on last year's return, and we had to pay $211. Sigh. At least it's not $2,000.

* Arden dumped a full glass of milk on his way to the table yesterday. Not only did it spill in the immediate vicinity (table, chairs, wall), but it also BOUNCED (I've never seen milk bounce before, but trust me, that's the best word here) up onto the dividing wall, onto the Sonlight instructor's guide that was on top of the wall, OVER the wall (it's fairly short), and onto the floor in the family room.

* Kenna managed to drop a container of grape tomatoes onto the floor at the commissary yesterday. The kids helped me chase them all down, and since it was my fault that the package was within the reach of Miss Inquisitive, I felt obligated to buy it anyway. I will scrub the tomatoes and we will enjoy them. Or else!!

* The drain clogged up yesterday, causing some alarm that there was a problem with the garbage disposal. The gross stinky water sat in there all day. Thankfully, My Hero came home from work last night and figured out that it was simply blocked in the U-bend. He sacrificed wearing his favorite pair of flannel pants for the evening after getting them yucky while making repairs. Thank God for my husband!!!

* Kenna has decided that afternoon naps are optional. A nearly one-year-old who keeps herself awake for 6-8 hours at a stretch is NOT a happy baby, no matter what people may tell you.

* Taking 4 children to the eye doctor at 4:30 p.m. on a day when Kenna's total nappage equalled 2 hours was probably closer to a Major Irritation rather than a minor one, but I'll stop here.

You get the idea. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing traumatic, nothing that makes me want to bury my head and weep for days. But frustrating and difficult when it seems one irritation comes on top of another.

I'm in the throes of trying to get started writing the Bible study for Commission, and I'm sure a big part of my discouragement is the spiritual warfare that we always seem to encounter this time of year. In fact, Ted was quicker to point it out this year, as we have definitely noticed a trend of an alarming number of Minor Irritations that hit us at once when I "officially" begin working on the Bible study!

Please keep me in your prayers if you think of it. The youth camp in Idaho is a significant ministry for our family and our dear friends that we meet each year. God always does great things in spite of ourselves, and I can't wait to see how He will help me overcome these small obstacles for His greater glory.

February 20, 2008

Are They Trying to Tell Me Something?!

This was spelled out on our fridge this morning. Well, actually, I don't know exactly WHEN it was placed there, but I noticed it as I was opening the door to get the kids' breakfast.

Poor Li'l Kids

This is how our kids looked most of President's Day weekend. All four of them stayed home from church Sunday, two with fevers (Tobin and Charis). All of them had runny noses, coughs, etc. While it wasn't the most fun way to spend a 3-day weekend, it was at least fairly relaxing for us all. Tobin conked out pretty frequently, having camped on the couch in his pajamas with his blanket, stuffed buddy, and books. Charis went from lying with bleary eyes by the fire place to skating around on her roller skates--we could always tell when the cold medicine was kicking in, but unlike Tobin, who fell asleep, she would get a burst of energy and use that to practice skating!

Thankfully the children are mostly better now, just a few sniffles and coughs to work out.

February 18, 2008

More Tidbits

We had some beautiful weather a couple of weeks ago, and since Kenna was driving me crazy with her wanderings around the house, I finally took her out back and put her on the trampoline. She LOVED crawling around on it, and I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the little hair she has sticking up from all the static! (You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it in order to see her static head.) I did let the kids on, but the boys had to come off pretty quickly because they couldn't refrain from jumping. Charis crawled around with Kenna for awhile, and then I took the baby inside because I needed to do some other things. It was a fun change of pace for her, I think.

February 9 was the AWANA Sparks-a-Rama. Charis and Tobin had been practicing with their team for a month of Saturdays, and they were eager to go compete. Our church had enough kids to form 2 teams, and of course our kids were on separate teams, which meant we had to watch both sides of the gym! Arden and Kenna were in the stands with us, which was interesting...Kenna wanted to crawl all over the gym! She had awakened at 6 a.m. that morning and hadn't taken even a little cat nap before we had to leave--the kids had to be there by 8:45 a.m., and it was nearly a half-hour drive to get to the school. By the time we got home it was nearly 1:00, so down Kenna went for a much-needed nap. Both of our teams placed 2nd, and the kids seemed to have a great time.

One of the couples with whom Ted and I have enjoyed playing Settlers of Catan (our new favorite game) ended up suddenly having to move to California. We got together for one last game night the Saturday before their move day. I had offered to keep the girls for Laurie since she would be alone with the packers and movers and had to clean, etc., so Alyssa and Katie came to our house last Monday. Laurie was one of the very first people I met after moving to Las Vegas. She was part of a play group that I attended for a little while, and she also became a member of my first stamp club here. When Ted and I learned how to play Catan, I told Laurie, since she had told me about the game while Ted was deployed and I thought it sounded like something we'd like. Though we hadn't seen each other for awhile, we all got together and enjoyed game nights on occasion through the fall and winter. Ted and I prayed that we would be able to show God's love to the M family, as they had told us they weren't very religious and didn't know yet what they planned to tell their girls about God. We were sad when we learned they would be moving, as we felt like we were just starting to get to know them better.

Charis, my tender-hearted daughter, had prayed for their family the night before we were to watch the girls. She told me that night that she wanted to tell Alyssa (the 5-year-old) the Christmas story, the Easter story, and about heaven. I told her that was a wonderful thing to tell her friend, because she might not know those stories like Charis did. Well, the next evening at dinner, after Laurie had picked up her girls and we had said our goodbyes, Charis informed us that she had told Alyssa about heaven, and Alyssa had said she wanted to go, too! Charis told her that she needed to have Jesus in her heart to forgive her sins, and then she even modeled a prayer that Alyssa could pray. Alyssa's response was, "I can't remember all that! Can you just pray that Jesus will come into my heart for me?" And Charis did!

Now, I make no judgments as to the condition of Alyssa's heart before the Lord, but I am so thrilled that Charis loved her friend enough to be sure to tell her the gospel before having to say goodbye. Lord willing, Alyssa will remember that conversation and begin asking questions of her parents. We're praying that they will find good Christian friends who will show them God's love and water the seeds that have been planted. What a challenge my daughter is to me, to be bold in proclaiming the salvation our Lord wants to give everyone!

Feel the Love

This is the Valentine's craft I did with Charis and Tobin. Arden wasn't interested, but I thought they turned out cute!

Poor little Kenna woke up sick on Valentine's Day, but I was determined that she would look adorable regardless! (Ski, did this outfit come from you??)

Arden enjoys the cookie he just finished decorating.

Charis and I at the home school elementary Valentine's Day party.

We had a nice Valentine's Day. Ted and the kids had gotten me a bunch of pink roses the Sunday beforehand, so we enjoyed those all during the week. I never did get a picture of them, and unfortunately they are trashed by now. In the afternoon the kids and I went to church for the home school group's elementary Valentine's party, where the kids all received way too much candy but seemed to have fun with the games and projects provided. Kenna was fairly high maintenance here, so I was relieved when the last station was finished and we could head home and put her down for a much-needed nap.

We had taken a family vote and decided to have a nice dinner at home instead of battling the crowds in a restaurant, all the better since Kenna wasn't feeling well. I made a family favorite, Parmesan Ranch Chicken, with broccoli-cheese rice (a mix that we all like very much) and vegetables. For dessert I made a Decadent Peanut Butter Pie, but as the kids had had SO MUCH sugar during the day, Ted and I saved the pie to eat by ourselves after they were in bed. (Don't worry, we gave them pieces the next day!) Charis helped me set the table with our nice dishes and linen napkins, and we lit candles and played nice music. Ted read 1 Corinthians 13 while I dished up the kids' plates, and we had a scrumptious meal.

February 14, 2008


Hmmm. I've wanted to update our blog for awhile and have lots of things I want to share...for now I will give you random snippets of life around here.

* Tobin lost his second tooth a couple of days ago. Actually, he YANKED out his second tooth.

* Our house remains intact despite winds of 67 miles per hour last night and today.

* Charis has finished her AWANA Climber book twice and needs only to say a few verses in the "Climber Plateau" section before getting her review patch.

* Kenna seems to be holding fast to her trend of getting sick on Thursdays. Not sure if it's the time spent in the nursery Sunday mornings or what, but just as she gets over one illness she turns around and gets another one. At least she naps great on Thursdays and Fridays!

* Tuesday afternoon I learned it is possible to experience enough pain in a small part of one's body (right-hand pinkie) to nearly vomit. Thankfully the door in which said pinkie got stuck did not even break any skin, let alone bones, and although there is some stiffness yet today, I can use all 10 digits with a fair degree of success.

* I've given in...we're becoming PBS junkies. In addition to our once-a-week program, Word Girl, I've been allowing the kids to watch Super Why and Cyber Chase. Reading and math skills for the kids, a half-hour of peace for me...it's a good trade-off. Now, if I can just figure out how to alternate programs and computer time so they aren't in front of a screen all the time...

* I'm realizing that the above bullet probably sounds strange to some people whose children regularly watch multiple hours of TV every day, but when you go from having ZERO TV time to watching several 1/2 hour shows per week...well, that's not very typical for our family. All things in moderation though, right?!

And now it's time to pick up Charis and Tobin from PE. I will have to continue this riveting account of our family life at a later time.

February 05, 2008

Tobin Lost a Tooth!

Saturday morning Tobin gave his loose tooth a mighty yank and pulled it out! It must not have been a big deal to him, because he didn't even tell me about it--I found the tooth on the counter after returning home from church activities that morning. He was pleased with himself but forgot to put the tooth under his pillow that night, so the Tooth Fairy didn't come until the next evening. After receiving his dollar, Tobin immediately began working on his next loose tooth.

Home School Update

It's been awhile since I actually wrote much about home schooling, so I'll take some time for a little update before I have to go work on dinner.

We are in Week 24 of Sonlight Core C, and it's going great. The kids are absolutely loving our current read-aloud, In Grandma's Attic, which I highly recommend. There are follow-up books which I hope to get for the kids for a birthday or something like that, because the stories are just too good! Ted is also thoroughly enjoying these chapters. I love hearing him laugh out loud with the kids.

Science has been a big hit these days. We just finished the Usborne First Book of Nature, ending with the chapter on moths and butterflies. We ordered a butterfly habitat and caterpillars from Insect Lore, and this has been GREAT! We all love watching the caterpillars--they grow noticeably each day. Any day now they will be crawling to the top of their little jars and morphing into the pupa stage. Then we'll carefully place them in the butterfly habitat and watch eagerly for when they begin emerging as butterflies! Hopefully we'll be able to capture some on video. I'm taking pictures daily so we can see the changes. It will be fun to go back through and see the slide show, which I will be sure to post.

We've also enjoyed "Science in the Kitchen" experiments. Fridays seem to be our experiment days, which works out well. Overall, science is probably one of the favorite things to do and read about around here.

In history/social studies we are going through the Usborne book Wild Places and are nearly finished with the jungle section. I had to suppress a giggle when Charis commented that the ladies drawn in various jungle life activities "weren't very modest." We did have a little discussion about how cultures vary in what is the norm!

We've also read some bios of Christian heroes, including William and Catherine Booth, Adonirom and Ann Judson, and Hudson Taylor. In our Bible story book we just finished the Old Testament and are moving on to the birth of Jesus. AWANA keeps the kids busy memorizing verses, but we also have at least one home school verse per week that we work on together. Charis is actually finished with her handbook and will likely earn her review patch in the next week or two. I'm not sure what she'll do after that for the rest of the year! Tobin will also start working on his review patch before too long.

In math, Charis is on lesson 18 out of 30 in her Math-U-See book (Beta). I need to order the Alpha book for Tobin and the Primer book for Arden, but I'm trying to decide whether it's urgent or if I should wait a little longer and just order Charis's Gamma book at the same time. She is working on column addition now, adding such things as:


She does quite well at it when she takes her time.

Tobin's handwriting continues to improve, and he's much more willing to do written work these days than he was even a couple of months ago. Charis struggles with writing assignments, mostly because they aren't her idea and I think they overwhelm her a bit. Once she gets going she usually does all right, but this is the area where more tears are shed than any other!

Arden is on lesson 78 in his reading book. He's at the transition part where they are trying to wean the students from the markings over the letters, and it's proving to be much more of a challenge than it was for the older two. I'm not too surprised, though, because he IS quite young. I'd be glad to shelve the book for awhile, but he wants to keep plugging away. He's not doing too badly, but he's definitely not going to be ready to make the leap into other books when we finish this lesson book. I may pull out Phonics Pathways, which I used for awhile with Charis, and see if that helps him some more.

Charis and Tobin continue to enjoy their weekly PE class, which lately has included archery, volleyball, and tennis. They come home each week full of stories of all their friends, which include the teens in the group! I love that they get the chance to interact with all different ages of kids. I suspect that Charis has a little crush on one of the older boys, but she doesn't even know how to voice it. She just keeps saying that he is her friend and he is so nice. He's 15. :-) I know the mom, and the family is so neat. I'm generally impressed with home school kids anyway (why else would I be home schooling, ha!), and watching the older kids look out for the younger ones and be good role models for them really warms my heart.

Arden and I enjoy some special time while the older kids are at PE. We usually read and play some games together, and then I give him a TV treat while I get some extra work done around the house or on the computer. Kenna is usually napping during that time anyway.

And speaking of our youngest home school student, Kenna has been battling sickness for almost a month straight. She had finally gotten over whatever virus she had previously when she got hit last Thursday morning with a terrible fever that lasted for over 2 days. She mostly slept and thankfully did take quite a few liquids. Saturday afternoon she broke out in a horrible rash, and after much research, we concluded that it was roseola and we didn't need to take her to urgent care after all. The next two days she didn't want to sleep at all, but once we got past the Super Bowl party, she slept great that night and is back to her normal schedule, praise the Lord. The rash is all but gone, but she is obviously still recovering. Her voice is scratchy and pathetic-sounding, and she isn't quite herself. But at least there is no fever, and her appetite is slowly getting back up to speed.

February 01, 2008

A Home School Family

A lady in our home school co-op posted a link to this great video about a home school family. If you're in home school circles at all or know folks who are, you'll get a kick out of it!

I shall return later with a home school update of our own, but for now this will have to do, as it's time for lunch!