April 28, 2008

In Memoriam

In memory of Redbug, beloved pet and ladybug.
Found: April 18, 2008
Died: April 28 (or possibly sooner), 2008
Buried with 4 doodlebug friends in our backyard this morning; exhumed shortly thereafter upon a decision by Charis (the owner) to create a memory box containing the body.

Redbug was greatly loved and admired by all who saw her (him?). The tiny bug brought joy to many children and enjoyed a good life in its baby food jar of a home. Redbug, you will be missed.

April 27, 2008

All About KENNA

Today Kenna is 14 months old, so it's appropriate that we put the spotlight on her.

Crawling is becoming a distant pastime, as Kenna is walking all over the place. In fact, she moved up to the walkers classroom at church today, leaving behind some nursery workers in Babyland who were very sad to see her go, I'm sure! However, along with her walking skills we need to encourage some shoe-wearing skills. We haven't forced shoes on her because 1) she didn't really need them and 2) she wouldn't have kept them on anyway. (She also doesn't care for socks.) But now that she is officially a Walker, it's time to get her used to wearing shoes. We tried 2 different pairs on this morning and went with a Nike pair (hand-me-downs) that velcroed all the way around the back, making it easy to slip her little foot inside and then secure it. It was not secure enough to escape Kenna's shoe-stripping attempts, but at least she managed to keep the shoes on long enough to get to church.

Currently Kenna has one baby sign which she does very well. It's the sign for "more," but it pretty much means, "Give me that food right now" whether or not she has already had a portion of said food. She knows what she wants, and she helps us know, too, by pushing our hand away if we are offering her something she doesn't want. She's like a little queen rejecting anything that isn't worthy of her time and attention! Thankfully she's a pretty good eater.

Favorite foods these days include bananas, strawberries, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and scrambled eggs. Of course, anything on our plate is always much better than what is on her plate.

The newest hobby is switching lights or fans on and off. We have a set of switches within her reach, but she can really only turn them OFF, though she can almost turn them ON if she's on her tippy toes. So she strains and grunts and stretches, then fusses until Big Sister comes and turns the family room light and fan on for her, and then she happily turns them off and the process starts all over again. She enjoys "helping" us flip the switches when we go in and out of rooms. I remember doing this with the other kids--how time flies!

Kenna's tummy and back are very ticklish, and we love hearing her howl with laughter when we're tickling her. She's also getting into the "where's your [insert body party here]" game. She particularly likes to show us her belly button, and she'll happily show you YOUR belly button, whether or not you're interested in allowing the world to view it. She can also pat her head and tummy, and we're working on facial parts. She can locate other people's noses quite handily and likes the reaction she gets when she pinches them hard, but she isn't as amused when we tweak her own nose!

Kenna's schedule these days usually includes a morning and an afternoon nap that are around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, though there are times when she only takes one long nap. I suspect that before too long we'll be dropping the morning nap, and that should make our school schedule interesting. We'll probably work on math and individual language arts activities in the mornings, when the kids can work somewhat on their own, and do our Sonlight reading in the afternoons when Kenna is napping. I won't worry about changing anything yet--we still have 2 weeks on our old Sonlight schedule before we're ready for the new, and we have a trip to Idaho to plan as well. So hopefully by the time we're ready to gear up and get back into the swing of things we'll have a better feel for what our days might look like.

Overall, Kenna is a happy, healthy girl! At her one-year check-up (which occurred when she was 13 1/2 months old) she weighed in at 21 pounds, 7 ounces, but I can't remember how tall she was. (I was stressing out over having all 4 kids in a very small exam room while the doctor came in and out, apparently not knowing what to do for a well-baby check up. Why can't we just stay at the pediatric clinic, for crying out loud?!)

We still call Kenna a baby, but I can already tell her independent streak is going to propel her to the next stage long before I'm ready for her to leave babyhood.

April 25, 2008

Where in the World?

For some lunch time conversation, I asked the kids where in the world they would want to visit if they could go anywhere and why. Here are their responses:

Charis: "Colorado and India. Colorado because it snows there, and I don't know why India."

(We read about Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, in our Sonlight reading this morning and also talked about our friends the P family who are preparing to move there as well, so that could have been a factor.)

Tobin: "Africa, because I want to see lots of animals. I would climb a tree to stay away from tigers and watch out for snakes."

(We did discuss the fact that tigers are found in Asia, not Africa, and debated whether bears are found in the jungle.)

Arden: "China, because I want to tell people about Jesus."

*melt* My dear, sweet little missionary! I love his heart for God. The fact that he said this with his mouth full of peanut butter only made it all the more endearing!

April 24, 2008

All About CHARIS

Since I haven't done any general updates for awhile, I decided to focus on one child at a time. Today it's Charis' turn to be in the spotlight.

Recently Charis got on a cursive kick. She asked me to write all the letters in cursive on our whiteboard, and she carefully copied them and practiced on her own for days. Suddenly everything she wrote was in large, loopy cursive letters, which looked remarkably good considering the fact that she has not had specific cursive handwriting instruction. However, she discovered that it was rather labor-intensive to write in such a manner, so I think she has decided to wait until she can start work on her next handwriting book, which will transition her to cursive. Thank goodness--it was getting annoying to try to read the myriad of notes she was leaving us all over the place!!

A new obsession for Charis is bugs. She has a pet ladybug whom she appropriately named Redbug. Redbug lives in a baby food jar with holes poked in the lid. Charis learned that ladybugs eat aphids, and she learned how to locate aphids on our roses so Redbug has something to eat. Redbug gets a new home every few days when the dirt and leaves start to smell bad, and Redbug has also accompanied us to the park, to a friend's house, and in and out of the house depending on where Charis is at the moment. This kind of pet I can handle.

Over the last couple of weeks Charis and I have both been rather obsessed with finishing Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I finished Book the Thirteenth, The End, yesterday, and Charis is on Book the Twelfth. We've both giggled at the antics of Sunny, whom we picture to be like our own Kenna, and while I can't say I'm completely satisfied with the ambiguous ending, I'm looking forward to discussing it more with Charis once she finishes, which, at the rate she's going, could be today or tomorrow.

A few mornings ago I discovered Charis reading Book the Tenth at the breakfast table. Since I knew she had finished at chapter 8 (about 2/3 of the way) in Book the Ninth the previous evening, when I had allowed her to stay up a bit and read with me, I confronted her. "Just WHEN did you finish that book?" She immediately burst into tears and confessed that she had stayed up the night before to read. This has happened a few times before, and she is always tearful and remorseful and apologetic, promising it will NEVER happen again. Her punishment is that she has to have her door open at night and she is not allowed to stay up and read for 2 weeks. (We usually give her 2-3 nights per week that she can do this.)

I can't say I blame her one bit, though. It's really hard to put a good book down!

Charis has discovered The Garage Sale! When Mom was here with us last weekend, we went to a fundraiser garage sale benefitting the Nevada Homeschool Network. We had donated a bunch of stuff, from books to toys to our old pots and pans that we replaced recently, and I was hoping to get away from the sale without hauling back the same amount of stuff that we had donated. Thankfully, I was able to escape with a single Trader Joe's bag full of books (can't resist books, of course) and a $7 bookshelf that will be perfect for Charis' room. Charis was delighted when she only had to pay $2 for all 5 of her treasures, which included a pony-on-a-stick. I don't know if the pony has a name yet or not.

So last night Ted and I were praying in bed right before falling asleep when we heard some major thumping. We figured it was the boys, still rowdy from a late night at AWANA. As Ted got up to leave the room, I realized I had accidentally pulled Charis' door shut--it's still supposed to be open, remember, because of her sneaky reading habits. Sure enough, Ted walked into Charis' room to find...

...that she was riding her pony-on-a-stick around the room with all her might! It was 9:45 p.m.!! Did she not think we would hear her?! We only tucked her in about 15 minutes before we headed to bed ourselves!!

When Ted got back in bed and told me what he had found, we both laughed our heads off. Hey, at least she wasn't reading! She KNEW that was forbidden!!!

Truly Sad, and Sadly True

From a full-page newspaper ad for a cell phone service.

"You give them food, clothing and shelter. Big whoop. They want cell phones."

April 17, 2008

Tobin's 6!

April 13 was Tobin's actual birthday, but we had his party the day before. This year we shared the day with some friends whose son turned 6 on April 8. Caleb and Tobin were excited that we would be taking them to Pump It Up! Ted has taken the kids there a few times on vacation days, but I had only heard about all the fun. I think I was almost as excited as the kids were! We spent approximately a half-hour in each of two different play areas, and then we went to the party room for a pirate cake and ice cream.Our "party attendant" seemed to think we were a little odd for not having the boys open their gifts during that time, but we were only allotted 2 hours for the whole party. By the time the kids had watched the safety video and learned the rules for play, played like mad in the two play areas, shuffled from room to room, got organized enough to have cake and ice cream, we had a grand total of about 10 minutes left of the whole experience. So we opted to just relax, finish eating cake, and watch the kids enjoy their pirate party favor bags. Tobin got to open his presents as soon as we got home, and our friends Braden and Mikaela from across the street came over to watch and to help break in the new stuff. :-) Tobin got some great little lego sets that he absolutely loves--really, everything he was given was very nice. However...it's now time to weed out some old toys, because I am NOT keeping this much STUFF around!!

The next day, Tobin's actual birthday, unbeknownst to him, his Grandma K was riding with friends from Salt Lake City where they had spent time for a conference that the husband was to attend. They arrived around dinnertime, just at the same time the J family arrived to share dinner with us. When Tobin realized his grandma was here, he yelled out, "Grandma K! Can she stay with us for a little while?!" It was a fun surprise for all the kids. (And Grandma is staying through next Tuesday, so yes, she gets to stay with us for a little while!)

We enjoyed a yummy spaghetti pie dinner, and Debi brought a lemon cake for dessert. We put some candles in it and sang to Tobin again, and then he opened his gifts from family members. The Bronco jersey from Grandma J was a big hit, and I am pleased to report that he was ecstatic about the gift Ted and I got him--the young reader's Adventure Bible. He exclaimed, "A BIBLE!!" and was so excited that it almost made me tear up! He's been reading Genesis on his own the last few days and is proud to announce however many chapters he has read. I'm not sure how far he's gone altogether, but as of Tuesday he had already read 17 chapters!!

So, all in all, I think our boy had a fun and memorable birthday. :-) Be sure to click on the link to see the rest of Tobin's party pictures...there is a GREAT shot of Kenna (first picture of the bunch) that Laura took on her camera and sent to me, plus an adorable picture of Arden.

April 16, 2008

Science & Technology Expo

On Friday the kids and I, along with Debi and her son Kyle, went to the College of Southern Nevada for a science expo (click here to see more pictures). I didn't really expect that we would stay all that long (mostly because of Kenna), but as it turned out, we ended up being there about 3 1/2 hours, and we could have stayed longer! We had a blast! Thankfully Kenna, who had had her shots the day before and was on Tylenol, sacked out in the stroller and took an hour and a half nap. That really saved us! During our time on campus, we:

* Watched dueling robots
* Listened to heartbeats from computerized animals and humans
* Touched snakes, lizards, and turtles
* Poked at sheep parts, including a heart, kidney, eyeball, and brain
* Saw a black lung
* Learned more about our bodies
* Looked through microscopes
* Watched an astronaut film in the planetarium
* Learned about spring constellations

It was very fun, even if we did miss the model rocket launches and didn't have time to view the sun through the telescope at the observatory. Sigh. It's days like these that I'm extra glad we home school!

April 10, 2008

I Dare You Not to Laugh!

I was making lunch the other day when I heard raucous laughter from the family room. After seeing the commotion, I grabbed the camera to capture Kenna's peals of laughter--evidently she was highly amused by the "blowing" of balloons at and over her head! Enjoy!

April 07, 2008

Last Week

The week after spring break it was back to our school schedule...with Ted away for 6 days. He left Sunday morning about the same time the kids and I headed to church. He was at a conference at Hurlburt AFB in Florida, and I'm honestly not sure if I spelled that right or not! It was good for us to be doing school that week, as it provided structure during the days. The evenings were pretty crazy. Monday evening a hostess and 9 of her guests came to my house for a hands-on workshop. Tuesday evening my Bible study group came to my house. Wednesday evening we went to church. Thursday evening a scrap club meeting was supposed to be at my house, but only the hostess and her daughter showed up. I admit it was nice to have opportunities for adult conversation, but I was exhausted all week! The kids were bathed ONCE the entire time Ted was gone. Usually he takes that task, and I just didn't have the energy to wrestle through four kids' baths. Plus, I figured they'd just get dirty the next day anyway!!

On Friday a couple of friends and their kids came over, so that was fun. The kids and I had our pizza and movie night that evening (Herbie Rides Again), and then I turned in after reading a couple of chapters in The Hobbit. (It's been awhile since I read the series, and I wanted to read it again before pressing on with some new books I have on my to-read list.) Ted's plane was delayed in Atlanta due to weather conditions, and his 11 p.m. arrival time became about 2:30 a.m. Thankfully he was able to sleep in a little bit, though not much...Kenna did her best to make her voice heard despite my efforts to keep her quiet!

Charis and I got out of the house Saturday afternoon and had some girl time. We went to the library and got another armload of books just for her (well, I'm sure Tobin and I will read some of them, too), since she was "out" of things to read here at home. Then we went to Walmart, where she used some of her spending money to buy a bead kit and I got a few groceries and miscellaneous items. I found cheap-o kites for $1 each, so we plan to try those out soon. I figure we'll see how we like the adventure before I invest more money in them! A stop at Sam's Club allowed us to stock up on fresh fruit and dairy products, and then we came home to a rather panicked Ted, who had been napping while the boys watched a movie only to wake up and discover they were GONE.

Praise the Lord, they were just across the street at our friends' house, where the front door was wide open and they were sitting on the couch with Braden playing a video game. BUT, we had a VERY long talk about why they are NEVER to leave the house without permission and especially not when a parent is sleeping!!! YIKES!

That evening Ted took the boys to a hockey game! He said Arden especially absolutely loved it and commented on the players in "time out" (the penalty box). Tobin had fun too, but he was more interested in the social aspect of being there with some friends. Charis and I enjoyed more girl time at home--we popped popcorn and watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Little Women. She had read an abridged version of the book, so she really enjoyed seeing it come to life and comparing it to the book.

Yesterday Ted and I had a date! A real date! Just the two of us!! Debi watched the kids for us, and it was our first time out ALONE since July! We had gone out with Ted's mom and with my parents, but that's it! So, we thoroughly enjoyed our conversation over Famous Dave's yummy barbeque and our time at Barnes & Noble, followed by ice cream at Cold Stone. What a blessing!

And those are the highlights from last week!

Spring Break

The week after Easter we took our spring break. After a very busy weekend (Joel's visit, Ted's birthday, Easter, etc.), I planned for Monday to be a down day. We hung out in our pajamas and the kids played while I caught up on some house and computer work. Tuesday I took the kids to my friend Cindey's house. Every Tuesday Cindey plans to work on her stamping/scrapping projects, and she opens her home to whoever wants to come over, including kids. Many times she has kept my kids for me while I do a workshop downtown for my deaf friends, who meet on Tuesdays, but rarely have I been able to go and play. So I decided we'd do that. I worked on Kenna's birthday thank you cards (yes, they were late, I know) while the kids enjoyed playing. No one else was able to come, but Cindey and I enjoyed visiting, and another friend did drop by to chat for a little while.

On Wednesday afternoon that week I took the kids roller skating. We hadn't been at all since before Kenna was born, and Charis had been looking forward to taking her own skates that she got for Christmas. Unfortunately, she was so absorbed in the book she was reading that she left her socks AND skates at home and had to make do with dirty socks that we found in the van and rental skates. She had a great attitude about it and told me later that she liked those skates better anyway! Tobin didn't skate at all but spent the whole time hanging around the video machines. Bleh. Next time I will take Charis and Arden and find somewhere else for Tobin to go!! Arden had a grand time shuffling around the rink, though he did spend a little time at the games with Tobin. But he skated enough that I felt it was worth the money to get him in. I skated while holding Kenna when she would let me, and then I'd let her crawl around or cruise along by the table area.

Thursday morning the kids had PE, and that afternoon we visited Willow Creek, an assisted living facility that we have been visiting for the last month. (I will have to write a separate blog entry about that later.) Arden played chess with a man we had met the week before, and when we left, "Mr. Mel" had tears in his eyes when Arden gave him a great big hug. The kids love going there, and I was so glad that they counted it a treat to be able to go during our spring break week.

On Friday we went all out and went to the Las Vegas zoo. (I say that rather sarcastically.) I drove down Lake Mead to Rancho, where I discovered an enormous casino that I had never seen before. There I was, driving along past houses, auto repair shops, and regular places, when BAM! A concrete and neon wonder appeared, stretching as far as the eye could see. A couple of miles down Rancho we turned onto a street where small hand-painted signs read "Zoo" and "Zoo Parking." The "parking lot" consisted of a rocky area that could fit maybe 10 vehicles. I guess it just goes to show what Las Vegas' priorities are! Highlights of the zoo included the kids climbing around with some goats, finding a baby turtle who was upside down and "rescuing" it, listening to zillions of birds screeching, watching the two lions napping, and doctoring Arden's toe after a rooster nipped at it. The American alligator was MIA, but we did see the Chinese alligator. Many other cages were empty, but the zoo made up for that by making sure there were plenty of birds hopping around and shrieking. Two hours was more than enough time to see everything AND have a picnic lunch. I'm glad we got to go to the National Zoo and the Denver Zoo and look forward to finding another real zoo to see in the future!