March 30, 2008

Another Kenna Video

I uploaded this to YouTube awhile back, but I don't think I posted it. We got Kenna a walking toy for her birthday, and here she is the day we gave it to her. I think this gave her the notion of walking to begin with!

She's Walking!

On Easter Sunday we watched Kenna take her first deliberate steps. She had taken a few here and there going from one piece of furniture to the next, and while we knew she could do it on her own, she didn't seem so certain. Well, last week Ted, Charis and I were upstairs by the computer when Kenna stood on her own, maintained her balance, and then, with major encouragement and cheers on our part, began walking toward us with a big grin on her face. Of course the camera wasn't ready, and it took a few more attempts to capture something on video, but we did get something at least. You can enjoy a few moments by watching:

All this past week she has been standing and toddling about off and on. If she's in a hurry, she still resorts to crawling, but she loves the attention she gets when she's actually walking! She just looks so darn pleased with herself--it's way too cute!

March 29, 2008

The Angels Are Rejoicing!

Monday morning after Easter Arden was the first child awake. Since we did spring break this past week, I wasn't in a rush to get anything done or wake the kids up, so Arden and I enjoyed some cuddle time on the couch. I asked him if he wanted me to read the story book we had gotten him for Easter, and he did. The story ("Benjamin's Box") goes along with the Resurrection Eggs that we had used in the week leading up to Easter. It's a great book, and we both enjoyed reading it together.

When we were finished, Arden asked, "When will we go to heaven?"

I told him that first we need to have Jesus in our hearts before we go to heaven--something he has been told before, but I sensed that today we were going to go deeper. He was very responsive, so I began asking him questions. He agreed that he was a sinner, like every other person in the world, and he knew that he could not get to heaven by himself. Only by believing in Jesus, accepting the fact that He died on the cross for our sins, can we enter the kingdom of heaven.

One thing led to another, and soon Arden was saying, "Mom, I want to pray with you." I prayed a phrase-by-phrase prayer, with him repeating after me, and lo and behold, Arden Daniel is now a Christian with Jesus in his heart!

He has glowed every time we talk about it, and he shared with his siblings as well as his AWANA leader that he asked Jesus into his heart. In fact, he even began asking us if he could be baptized! I think watching Charis' baptism encouraged him in this respect, as he used to tell us, "I NEVER want to be baptized," or "I'll be baptized when I'm 19 or 20."

Praise the Lord for revealing Himself to our precious son!

March 27, 2008


Easter morning dawned clear and beautiful here in Las Vegas. It was a relaxing morning for our family. We typically do whole wheat pancakes for Sunday breakfast, but since we had had those the day before when Joel was with us, I made a skillet breakfast with sausage, hashbrowns, red peppers, scrambled eggs, and cheese. Ted cut a canteloupe to go with it, and it was nice that we could all sit down for breakfast at the same time. (Pancakes are usually eaten in shifts!) Instead of Easter baskets stuffed full of, well, STUFF, we chose to pick one gift for each of the older kids from the church bookstore. Tobin had been asking for a devotional book similar to what Charis and Arden had received on their birthday last fall, so we got him an appropriate one and he was thrilled. Arden got "Benjamin's Box," a cute story that goes along with the Resurrection Eggs from Family Life. Charis' book wasn't necessarily "spiritual," but it was written by "Mr. Rory," the man who directed the children's Christmas drama, and she was ecstatic upon receiving it. In fact, she had it read by the end of the day!

We had invited our new neighbors to go to the service with us. Unfortunately, the whole family didn't end up going, but Mikaela did come along with us. She was so excited that she rang the doorbell at 2 minutes past 9:00! (We had told her mom we'd be ready around 9:20.) She had been so happy that her mom took her shopping for a new dress, and she and Charis were thrilled to be all dressed up. The boys picked out their own Easter outfits, as you can probably tell...I was more concerned about getting us girls dressed and figured that the boys didn't really care as much about dressing up on Easter Sunday anyway! Kenna looked adorable in her little dress from Mrs. J, though she was not very happy that morning, for some reason.

The service was very good, and wow, did we have a full house! Our church has expanded the back of the auditorium so it can seat about 1,000 people at a time, and Easter Sunday was the first time that people were able to sit back there. We had nearly every seat filled for the service we attended as well as the one afterward! It will be interesting to see how many people came to all 5 services. This week we'll be dropping a service since the auditorium expansion is finished.

After the service Charis was baptized, and then Ted took the kiddos home while I stayed to serve during my regular serving time. We had a full house in the pre-school building, too! After that I got to see my friends' daughter baptized, and then I headed home, where I smelled wonderful aromas wafting from the kitchen. I had written out a "timeline" for what needed to happen for our dinner, and Ted had everything all ready for us when I got home! What a wonderful man!

The F family came over and joined us for our yummy dinner of ham, sweet potato casserole, cheesy hashbrown casserole, green bean supreme (one of their contributions), curried deviled eggs, and pistachio salad. Later on we had some strawberry cake that Heather had brought. The kids played well together and watched the Veggie Tales Easter movie and (later on) the Enchanted movie we had rented, and we adults played TWO games of Catan!! Woohoo!

For more Easter pictures, go here. You can see Kenna looking happier later that day as well as the pics of us decorating eggs and the kids having their egg hunt (with empty plastic eggs!) in the backyard.

March 24, 2008

Buried With Him in Baptism...Raised to Newness of Life

I know the grandparents can hardly wait to see this, so I'd better get this posted before the day is done! What a glorious Easter Sunday! The weather here was beautiful, crisp and cool in the morning, but quite warm in the sun, especially as the day wore on. It was so amazing to be able to see Charis be baptized in the new outdoor baptistry. I should have thought to take a picture of the area from a bit farther back, but maybe I can do that later. Ted was able to get in with Charis and baptize her along with Kevin Odor, the senior pastor at our church. Everyone who is baptized at CRCC gets a shirt, which Charis is wearing. On the back it has our GF logo ("God First") with the word "In," which means the shirt-wearer is "in," having said YES to God and making the decision to make Him Lord of his or her life.

You would not believe how many people were there! This was happening in between services, and it was awesome to see just how many people were there, first of all, and then to realize just how many of those people were getting baptized. Awesome!! God is at work here in Las Vegas! We were able to squeeze in to get a front-row position for when it was Charis's turn, and I got most of it on video. (The very first part happened while I was turning ON the camera, which was off because I was afraid the battery would die on me, as I had forgotten to switch out the batteries beforehand. At least I remembered the camera.) Ted said that Pastor Kevin asked Charis first of all if she had trusted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The rest of it is on the video, though you may have to turn up the volume, as you can hear the crowd around us as well. It was special for her to have some friends around to watch--the F family was there (you can hear the dad cheering at the end), and in this picture you can see the T family with Charis's friend Addie watching.

March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ted!

Today is my dear husband's 32nd birthday! I cooked up quite a surprise for him, and I'm just tickled that everything worked out so well. Ted had been feeling pretty bummed that we weren't able to go to Colorado for our family ski trip. I knew he missed getting to spend some time with his best friend and brother Joel. So I emailed Joel to see if he would be available to come out to surprise Ted for his birthday. Everything fell into place--I was able to get tickets for just the right times so Joel wouldn't have to take off a whole day of work, plus get him back Saturday evening so he could be home for Easter. Furthermore, I got tickets for the two of them to see Spamalot, a show that only brothers could fully appreciate together. :-)

I refrained from saying anything at all to the kids, knowing that they would inevitably spill the beans. When they woke up Friday morning, I told them the surprise, since Ted was supposed to leave work about 3:00. He was supposed to call me when he got ready to leave, as I had told him that he may need to meet us somewhere. (Joel's flight was arriving at 3:20 p.m.) So I figured the kids wouldn't even be around Ted until Joel was with us. They danced around excitedly all day, asking how many hours until Uncle Joel would arrive.

At 2:30, while I was folding a batch of laundry, Ted walked in the door! Yikes! I shooed him upstairs, terrified that the kids were going to spill the beans! I ended up having him hide out in the bedroom with a book while I got the kids ready to go. I told him that his first clue was to meet us at the In-and-Out Burger downtown. He looked chagrined--I could tell he thought I was going to send him on a scavenger hunt downtown, and he was NOT looking forward to battling traffic! But he gamely agreed, and the kids and I headed to the airport.

Joel arrived on time and was hailed enthusiastically by his short fan club, and then we inched our way down Tropicana to the In-and-Out Burger where Ted had been waiting for us for about a half hour. Just as we were about to turn the corner, Joel called Ted on his cell phone. Ted was parked facing the street so he could see us when we came in--it was perfect! There he was, on the phone with his brother, when we drive by waving frantically! It was awesome!

So the big surprise worked! We enjoyed dinner together, and then the kids and I came home to enjoy a movie night (Enchanted, which is absolutely charming and made me laugh out loud numerous times) while the guys got to have some time together. From what I hear, they thoroughly enjoyed their evening out.

Today we relaxed at home. Ted and Joel played the Settlers of Catan card game while I made whole wheat pancakes with strawberries and blueberry syrup. (Yum, if I do say so myself!) After breakfast I did some prep for our Easter dinner tomorrow while the guys finished their card came and then jumped with the kids on the trampoline.

I set up the table to be ready for decorating Easter eggs when they all came in. It was great fun, and, believe it or not, the FIRST time our kids have decorated Easter eggs! It seemed we always had a toddler around, and I never wanted to venture into this mess...last year, when they were at a good age, Ted was in Tampa and I had a newborn. Decorating eggs was the LAST thing on my mind. But this year was perfect, especially with a 1-1 adult to kid ratio! I plan to make some curried deviled eggs with some of our creations. Charis especially enjoyed the creative process. The boys mostly liked dipping (or dropping) the eggs into the cups of dye. It sure brings back memories for me--I remember every year decorating eggs with my brother and often with my friend Kim. Our moms would help us with the whole process. Sweet times! Then we'd be eating egg-salad sandwiches, boiled eggs, mashed eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs forever, it seemed. (Dad hates hard-boiled eggs, so it was up to us to eat whatever we decorated! At some point we would realize that last dozen was probably too many!)

When our eggs were finished, we set up a board game of Catan, much to Tobin's delight. Arden "played" along by playing with the extra wooden pieces, and Charis put more finishing touches on her eggs and then worked on some Easter surprises of her own for her brothers.

We took a break from the game to fix Ted's birthday lunch--bean & cheese patties and Cajun potatoes, at his request. We decided to let Uncle Joel win the Catan game (OK, not really, but he did win), and then we celebrated with some yummy carrot cake. I made the cake yesterday afternoon, and I wish I had a picture of Tobin's face when I told him it was CARROT cake I was making. I just know he was imagining rows of little baby carrots with Ranch dressing drizzled over the top instead of frosting. He was horrified, but when he got to lick a beater, he decided that carrot cake wasn't so bad after all!

So now the boys and Ted and Joel are on their way to the airport, Kenna is napping, and Charis is in her room. It's been a very full weekend already, and we haven't even gotten to Easter yet! Tomorrow will be a big day, too...Charis is getting baptized! Then we'll celebrate the day with a special dinner and good friends and fellowship. I'm sure there will be much more to post in the days to come!

Curious Kenna

She has this nickname for good reason...

Loving Our Neighbors

We have entered a new "world" in our kids' lives: we now have neighbors! OK, it's not the first time we've lived near actual people. But it IS the first time we've had children in VERY close proximity to our house. In Ohio and Maryland we were surrounded by retired folks. Our first LV house we did meet the B family down the street with 4 girls--they are still great friends, even though they also live in another neighborhood now. But again, we lived closest to retired folks. Our second LV house was in a beautiful neighborhood, but folks pretty much kept to themselves. Besides, the people we did see were either--you guessed it--retired or else they had teens or college-aged kids.

So a couple of weeks ago when I returned from the ladies' retreat to find a moving truck right across the street, I wandered over to say hello. Upon discovering that there was an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, I knew I needed to bring the rest of the family over for introductions!

Our kids are in heaven! Braden and Mikaela love to play with us, and their mom, Carmen, and I have enjoyed getting to know each other while we watch the kids ride up and down the street. (There are no sidewalks in this neighborhood, so a vigilant eye is required!) I've let the kids invite Braden and Mikaela over to jump on the trampoline, and I enjoy listening to them and watching their antics while I'm working in the kitchen.

Carmen is divorced from the kids' father and is living with Joe, a nice guy who really seems to treat her and the kids well. They plan to marry but don't have a date set yet. I told her to let me know when they get one, and I will help her make invitations if she wants. It's been a teaching opportunity for our kids, as they had no idea what a divorce was. I know I have explained it before--I can't remember why it had come up at some point, maybe a library book or something? Anyway, they apparently didn't remember that discussion, because Charis asked if Joe was Braden and Mikaela's daddy. I think she wondered why they called him "Joe."

So, I explained the situation as best as I could, and all 3 kids just froze and stared at me when I told them what happens during a divorce. They looked absolutely horrified. In fact, Charis looked as if she were ready to burst into tears. I quickly assured them that divorce was NOT an option in our family, and Daddy and I will stay married until or unless God takes one or both of us to heaven. I also tried to keep things positive in respect to the other family--as in, what a blessing it is for those kids that they now have someone else who can be like a daddy to them and help take care of them.

They need to know the truth about what happens out there in the world, and I hope that this may help them understand a little more and have compassion for those who deal with difficult family situations.

March 21, 2008

The Picture Saga

As you may remember, we had our family portraits taken awhile back. The studio said our order would be ready to pick up on March 10. Planning to that end, I cut and stamped about 135 Easter postcards, wrote a family update, printed address labels, and prepared envelopes for the mailing we decided to do at this time of year rather than Christmas. (So if, by chance, you're wondering why you never heard from us during the holidays, that's why!)

On March 11 I made a special trip to the mall--with the 4 kids in tow--to pick up the pictures. We NEVER go to the mall except for times such as this. It's approximately a 20-25 minute drive, and we just never shop there. So I planned a special outing for us, figuring we could pick up the photos, have lunch in the food court, and the kids could play in the indoor play area.

However, the pictures were not at the studio.

The employee assured me that they should arrive by Thursday (March 13), and she took down my name, address, and phone number and said she could mail them to me to make up for the inconvenience of having made the trip for naught.

On Thursday, the studio called. The orders had arrived...however, our order was not among them. She was going to call the lab to have them re-sent, and they should arrive within 4 days.

By Tuesday, March 18, I had not heard anything, so I called the studio to see what was going on. The lady I spoke with said that she had just received a box, so she would go through the orders and call me back when she found our photos. "Just give me about 15 minutes," she said.

Four hours later, I called the studio again. I listened to the sound of shuffling papers as the same lady pawed through the boxes (what was she doing during those four hours?!), and finally she told me that our pictures were not in that box, so she would need to call UPS and check on the tracking number.

Wednesday morning, March 19, I called again. This time it was obvious that our pictures were nowhere to be found, and they were going to have to be reprinted altogether. Since the photos were more than a week past due, the lady said that at this point she would willingly print off anything I wanted there at the studio, and I would still get my regular order from the lab (which has better quality pictures anyway). She said she would also throw in a free collage (which they had tried to get us to purchase for $24.95 on the day of our photo session).

Frustrated by the whole situation, yet wanting to get our Easter mailing together, I agreed that I would come and pick up the wallet-sized pictures of our family. Once again I made a special trip to the mall, retrieved the pictures, and accepted the apologies of the studio employees. I can't really fault them at all, other than the frustrating lack of follow-up on their part when they told me they would call me twice and didn't.

So. Our Easter mailing is ready to go to the mailbox, and after all this, the cards will STILL arrive AFTER Easter for most people on our mailing list.

Also, I'll have 120 extra photos of our family that I will have no idea what to do with.

I guess I shouldn't have waited to make Kenna's birthday thank yous, either...I was holding out, waiting for the photos to arrive so I could include wallets of her along with the cards.


March 19, 2008

Ladies Retreat

On March 7, I rode with some friends to Springdale, Utah, to the Majestic View Lodge for our church's ladies' retreat. Ted was able to get off work, so we left in the morning and stopped in St. George, UT, for lunch at the Cracker Barrel (yummy!) and some shopping. I'm not a big shopper, but it was kind of fun to putter around in various stores. It was interesting to look in the scrapping stores, though I never buy any supplies other than what I can get through Stampin' Up! (Partly for convenience' sake, partly because of my discount, and partly because yes, I'm a Stampin' Up! snob!)

After checking into our room, we had our first session that evening. The speaker was good and lots of fun. We didn't stay up too late that night...I roomed with my friend Debi and two older ladies, and I was more than happy to go to bed early. It was actually a rough night (I roomed with some gifted snorers), but I woke early and took a walk after my shower. If I had brought running pants, I would have gone for a run, but it was pretty COLD outside, so I walked briskly in my jeans and sweatshirt. I probably walked about 2 miles and was more than ready for breakfast when I got back.

The lodge had a beautiful view of the mountains--Zion National Park is a short drive away, and the scenery is definitely majestic. After our morning session, four of us grabbed our box lunches and headed for the park. We ate lunch, and then Heather, Michelle, and I went hiking while Debi read and napped in the car. It was gorgeous! The hike alone was worth the trip up there! Michelle and Heather gave me a hard time about the "strenuous" exercise we were getting, but we all had fun giggling and guffawing our way down the trail.

We made it to the Lower Pool, where little waterfalls were trickling over the rocks, and thought we were halfway through the hike. The sign seemed to indicate that the trail would loop back to where we started. Ha! Another half hour later we realized the trail was actually leading us much farther away from our starting point. When we heard thunder, we briefly considered hitchhiking our way to the picnic area, since we were now by the park lodge. But we didn't--don't worry, Mom. :-) We walked along the river and made it back. The journey was approximately an hour long. We drove around the park some more and headed back to the hotel, where I crashed for awhile before dinner.

We had another session that evening and one the next morning, and then it was time to go. I drove Heather's vehicle home to give her a break, and we made it back early enough in the afternoon that I was able to enjoy time with my family (though I probably should have taken a nap!).

The sessions were good, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed that the spiritual content wasn't deeper. I suspect the whole event was designed to be more of an outreach and a way to connect women together. However, having experienced three amazing ladies' retreats in Idaho, I really missed the small group discussion time and chance to get to know other ladies more intimately as well as dig deeper into God's Word.

Still, I can't complain. It was a nice little getaway. You can see pictures--mostly scenery--by going to this link. You may want to click on "Slide Show" and enjoy them more fully.

March 18, 2008

Getting Back on Track

I've known for awhile that I needed to majorly tweak our daily schedule. The one that had been posted on our refrigerator was put together at a time when Kenna was nursing 4-5 times a day and napping about 3 times a day, so obviously it's been obsolete for awhile!

Last week I made it a priority to evaluate our activities and put some structure to them. I've long known that in our household, anyway, unstructured "free time" leads to mass chaos, major sibling squabbles, and a frazzled and frustrated mom. I prayed a lot about how to handle the afternoons, which is where things have ALWAYS broken down. The kids were whining to watch various PBS programs, and I had no rhyme or reason for letting them or not letting them, other than I would feel guilty if it seemed they had been having too much "screen time." Computer time was another issue--it used to be in the mornings, taking me away from school instruction when someone strayed into another web site and couldn't figure out how to get back to the game at hand. (There were also issues with Tobin finding new web sites that I hadn't had a chance to approve!)

So. Last Wednesday I had a working schedule together, and we've been practicing it for a week and a half trial run. It's even color-coded; thanks, Sarah, for that idea! (I just need to get a new color cartridge so the colors are the right ones!!) So far things seem to be falling into place beautifully! I'm sure this will last a short time, as Kenna is bound to realize that things are going smoothly and decide to change her routine. For now, however, I am grateful for the sanity this is providing.

Kids want computer time? Check the schedule--you get it two days a week, with each child getting their turn during one particular time slot.

Kids asking to watch a PBS program? Check the schedule--you get Super Why 2 days a week, CyberChase 2 days a week, and Word Girl on Fridays.

Mom wants to meet a friend at the park or run some errands? I have two blocks of time during which we can do such things--and we aren't "giving up" anything terribly important.

Chores will be done after breakfast, right before soon as I put together our chore chart! (Actually, "family service" chart. Helping each other should NOT be a chore!) This is one of the few things left that I need to work on.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results. It really helps me to stay on task, as I tend to stray to the computer if the kids seem to be playing nicely together. Inevitably it ends up that I get wrapped up with what I'm doing and all of a sudden kids are yelling, crying, getting hurt, and I'm yelling back because they're irritating me and DARN IT, WHY CAN'T I SEEM TO HAVE ANY TIME TO DO WHAT I WANT OR NEED TO DO?!?!

Now, if I can stick to the schedule, I have blocked times to do office work, and the kids are gainfully occupied--AWAY from each other!

As you may have noticed, however (or maybe not), this does leave me much less time for blogging! I've barely been able to skim my friends' blogs, let alone write about all the fascinating things going on in our lives. Hopefully I'll get better at spending my office time so that I've got our home accounts, my business activities, and "fun" computer time balanced.

March 13, 2008

A Little Credit for Mr. Mom, Please

Last weekend I went on a ladies' retreat with 212 women from our church. I'll blog more about that later, but I wanted to give some recognition to Ted, who blasts all the stereotypes that say men can't change diapers, don't know how or what to feed the kids, and are generally buffoons when it comes to raising children. I'm not sure when it became socially acceptable to assume the worst about fathers, though I've been aware of it as a trend in sit-coms and commercials for years.

While I was away on Sunday morning, Ted made his yummy whole wheat pancakes (which he does EVERY Sunday), fed the kids, helped them get dressed, drove everyone to church, dropped each child off in his or her classroom, and got seated...BEFORE the service began. He endured a number of comments to the effect of, "Wow, you have all four kids on your own, and you're here on time?!" I'm sure he smiled and nodded politely, but what he was really thinking was, "Come on, people, give me a little credit! If Beverly can do it for 6 months, I can certainly do this for a weekend!"

So here's to my hubby, who is not only a wonderful, amazing husband, but who also wears his badge of fatherhood with pride. He does everything I do, and he helps without complaining or making me feel as if he's doing me a tremendous favor (even though he often is!).

This man
* washes dishes
* cooks meals
* sorts laundry
* washes and dries clothes
* folds and irons clothes
* changes diapers without batting an eye (or flaring a nostril)
* bathes the kids
* sweeps and mops
* makes frequent grocery runs
* and so on.

So please, people, let's not act surprised when a husband does his job well! I'm proud of my man! I give him all the credit in the world for seeking to be a man, husband, and father after God's own heart.

March 05, 2008

Let Her Eat Cake!

Eating cake, part 1: Kenna begins eating her birthday cupcake, daintily picking off the mini chocolate chips and eating them one by one.

Eating cake, part 2: Kenna is starting to get a little messier, but she never does go all out!

Kenna's Birthday Party

We celebrated Kenna's birthday last Sunday afternoon surrounded by friends. Having had a good nap after church, she was pretty happy most of the time and didn't seem phased by all the commotion. (Guess she's used to it!) We tried to keep things pretty simple, but I couldn't resist getting the special 1st birthday items from Party City. Charis and I had gone with my friend Debi to the store the day before and had fun picking out plates, napkins, a "one" candle, and helium balloon (which is still a hit--Kenna waves to it every time she sees it). And the little birthday crown was too cute NOT to get, and Kenna obliged us by keeping it on long enough for several photo sessions. I think she forgot it was on, actually, since she was distracted by other things.

Since eating the most amazing cupcakes at a hostess's house last December, I had determined that we would make red velvet cupcakes for the party. The recipe said it would make 22-24 cupcakes, and I decided that would not be enough once we got all our friends' kids in the house. So we also made a bundt cake and covered it with cream cheese frosting from a can, but we all agreed that the vanilla whipped frosting with mint extract that was on the cupcakes was much better. At any rate, the cake/cupcakes were fabulous, and it was fun to watch Kenna. She was so incredibly dainty, picking off the chocolate chips one by one at first. Finally Ted broke off a piece of actual cake and gave that to her, and then she did get a little bit messy. But not much!!

You can see more birthday pictures by going to the birthday album and clicking on slide show. I will upload and post some videos later, but right now it sounds like it's breakfast time for a fussy baby!