June 30, 2008

We're Home!

Perhaps some of you were wondering why I hadn't been blogging of late? Or why I haven't been around in the Facebook World?

OK, maybe you weren't. Anyway, our family made the annual trip to Mountain Home, Idaho, for the Commission youth camp. It was a great getaway, but as always, this was a working vacation! I'll have to blog later about our adventures--alas, I have no pictures due to dead batteries and a severe lack of time to go purchase more.

In the meantime, I need to finish the mountains of laundry, work on our menu for the week, and figure out whether it's worth the effort to go to the grocery store today. (I did a Sam's Club run yesterday, so we have lots of fresh produce, milk, cheese, and bread.) We're looking forward to having Ted's mom come for a visit mid-week, so I want to be prepared with some yummy dinners in mind! No idea yet what we're doing for the 4th of July...

June 17, 2008

Father's Day Weekend

Wow, this week is off and running! Here's a quick recap of our full and fun Father's Day weekend:

I left at 6:15 a.m. for an 8-mile run. WAY too late to start a long run like that. Ick! But I made it in exactly an hour and a half, which is great considering the elevation I conquered!! We ain't in the flatlands anymore!

At 1 p.m. I had a Stampin' Up! workshop which was tons of fun. I left the house 2 hours later with $545 in orders and a booking for August--woohoo!

That evening we decided to go out to eat at Sweet Tomatoes, one of our favorite restaurants. It had been a long time since our whole family went out to eat, and when Ted suggested it, I figured HE'S the DADDY, so let's GO!

After church we had a simple dinner of brats and fruit salad and gave Ted his gifts. Charis heaped a pile of trinkets and cards she had made by Ted's plate. It was fun watching Ted "open" the presents (which were wrapped in scrap paper) and exclaim over her artwork. We also got him Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers book and the Archaeological Study Bible (which was a purchase that honestly was as much for me as it was for him!) I got the same Bible for my dad--I'm quite sure he'll be as excited to read his copy as we are to read ours!

After Kenna got a good nap, we headed to the F family's house for swimming, pizza, and watching golf (the guys) and chit-chatting (the girls).

When we returned home, we got the kiddos in bed, and Ted worked on ironing his uniform while we watched a DVD of Tim Hawkins on the Bananas show. Topped off with some ice cream and snuggle time, this was a great way to end the day...and I hope the Father in our House agrees! :-)

June 13, 2008


We made it through the week! No swim lessons this morning, so we had a little more leisure time than the rest of the mornings this week. In fact, Arden didn't even wake up until 9:00! Kenna was crabby, so I tried putting her down a bit early for a nap so we could fit in some school time before leaving the house around 1:15. Unfortunately, she fussed for reasons unapparent to me (I did give her Tylenol, as I think she's teething again) and took nearly an hour to settle down.

Despite a short nap time, we did make it through a good amount of schoolwork. Then it was time to take Charis to one of her little friend's house for a "doll party." Agusta and her family are moving to Albuquerque with the Air Force, and this was her goodbye party. Charis was looking forward to it all week! The girls were to bring their favorite dolls and accessories, plus wear or bring a party dress for "tea time." There were quite a few cute little girls twirling around with dolls, so I suspect it was as much of a hit with the other friends as it was with Charis. I liked the idea so much that I think we'll steal it when it comes time for Charis to have a goodbye party next year!

The boys and Kenna and I headed to Walmart to get some groceries--our cupboards were pretty bare. Then I took them to the McDonald's close to where our old houses were (right by Agusta's house) and let them play and have some ice cream. Kenna was enthralled with her French fries and loved wandering around without getting into trouble! We picked Charis up around 3:30, and she and Tobin donned their "doboks" (taekwondo uniforms) so they were ready to get in Carmen's van as soon as we pulled into our driveway.

Whew. Tonight was also homemade pizza and movie night. Now the kids are getting tucked into bed, and the jury is still out on whether Ted and I will do anything other than collapse in our own bed!

June 12, 2008

The Days Are Long...

I know, I know, but the years are short. Right now this coming year can't go fast enough for me! I am absolutely worn out with this phase of parenting. Either Arden was the most mellow baby ever born (and I'm sure he was), or else I've just completely blocked from my memory just how hard this age is. At 15+ months, Kenna is into EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. She throws books off the shelf. She empties the sandwich baggie box. She finds the older kids' markers. She dumps over the piano bench and all its contents. She pulls things off the counters. She climbs onto the dining room table. She climbs onto the school table. She climbs onto the couch. She climbs into drawers. She's not content in the stroller unless we are MOVING, and I suspect her very first sentence is going to be "I do it!" She's like a little Energizer bunny in size 4 sandals!

So, besides the fact that I have an indefatigable child, we've got a marathon schedule going on this week and next, with some days being even more hectic than others. Now that we're halfway finished with the two-week swimming lessons session that the older kids are doing at the Y, I'm starting to wonder if there isn't an easier way for our kids to learn to swim! Oh, sure, 45 minutes SOUNDS reasonable. But what no one tells you is that 45 minutes is basically MY WHOLE MORNING!!! The lessons are actually from 9:00-9:45 a.m. But beforehand we have to rouse everyone out of bed (not Kenna or Tobin--they're usually up bright and early, to my dismay), get breakfast, clean up breakfast, find swim suits and towels, lotion everyone up, change Kenna's diaper one last time, pack some drinks, and herd everyone out to the van. It's about an 8-minute drive to the Y, and from there we park and unload the stroller and all the kids and towels and do the actual lesson part. Kenna and I hang out at the playground area, and I have actually enjoyed the opportunity to chat with some long-distance friends on my cell phone with headset so my hands can be free to rescue Kenna when she gets herself into a predicament. Then, when the lesson is finished, we head home with cries of "Mom, I'm HUNGRY!" echoing from the back of the van. (I tell you, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase, I would have been a rich woman long ago!) So upon arriving home, Kenna gets buckled into her booster seat with an early lunch so I can scrounge up something healthy for the older kids before putting Kenna down for a much-needed nap (much-needed for me, that is, not necessarily her!).


But that's not all! No, indeed!

Once Kenna is down for her nap, the rest of us have lunch (because even though a snack was devoured minutes beforehand, the kids are, of course, starving). Following lunch clean-up, we have actually done school 3 out of 4 days this week. I may be crazy, but the kids were driving me nuts BEGGING to start school again. They knew the brand new box o' Sonlight materials was sitting in my room, and they couldn't wait to get started!! Besides, the structure is welcome around here, and I also enjoy the chance to ENJOY my kids after a hectic morning. After a 3-week break, it's been fun to get back into the swing of things, even though our "schedule" is in dire need of an overhaul. For now, though, it's enough for me that the kids are loving school time. I'll figure out an official schedule once swim lessons and our trip to Idaho are past.

Following school time, which ends whenever Kenna wakes up, we then set our sights on the next activities--dinner and taekwondo practice, the latter of which is 3 times a week. Thank the LORD for my neighbor Carmen, who drives Charis and Tobin to and from the studio along with her kids! Other afternoon activities this week have included babysitting a friend's daughter, delivering a meal to a family who recently had a 4-pound baby, and visiting our friend Mr. Mel at the assisted living facility we've adopted as a ministry. Yikes!

I know once the marathon pace we're keeping is over, I'll be thankful for the opportunity the kids had to take real swimming lessons. This is the first time we've been able to do it, and getting all 3 of them in at the same time at a close location was a blessing. They NEED to gain confidence in the water. We've got a beautiful community pool that I would love to spend time at this summer, plus friends who have pools, and I don't want to worry about the older kids. Kenna will keep me worried enough, I'm sure!

In the meantime, I'm thankful that we can take a break the next 3 days. On Monday we'll start it all up again...only next week we also have to plan for my stamp club on Thursday afternoon and getting ready for the Commission youth camp!!

June 07, 2008

Girls' Getaway

My dear friend and Stampin' Up! upline, Mimi, flew into town on Wednesday to spend some time with me. We've loved getting together at Stampin' Up! events at least twice a year, but sometimes it just doesn't seem like enough! We've been talking about our own little "retreat" for awhile now, and finally we just did the thing. We decided that rather than paying for each of us to fly to a different location, it would be easier to have her come to Las Vegas and just get a hotel for a couple of nights.

Ted was agreeable--he's so wonderfully supportive of me! Of course, it may have helped that on Wednesday he actually flew to Denver to hang out with Joel for a day and go to a concert with him that evening, ha! Ted came home Thursday morning, so Mimi and I headed downtown to the Plaza Hotel, where I had gotten a good deal on a two-night stay.

I must say, the Plaza Hotel has definitely earned its 2 1/2 star rating. But for our purposes--gabbing about all the things we want and need to talk with each other about--it has been just fine! Who cares if the wallpaper is a bit stained and peeling?! The air conditioning unit shudders frequently and moans as if its overworked and underpaid (which it probably is). But we don't mind. The service has been good, and the front doors of the hotel open right up onto historic Fremont Street, which I had never been to before. It was kind of fun walking up and down the area, though it's not exactly a place you'd want to take your kids. But we did enjoy watching a street artist concoct beautiful paintings made with spray paint on metal--you'd never believe the qualify of the artwork produced in 6 minutes!

Mostly we've stayed in our hotel room talking and brainstorming and praying together. We did get out to exercise--we ran 5.3 miles yesterday and 3 miles this morning. We ate at Tony Roma's Thursday night and Lombardi's Italian Restaurant (right in our own hotel) last night. We've munched kettle corn and sipped lattes, and yes, we actually did sleep a little bit, too. Six hours the first night and seven hours last night!

Soon it will be time to check out of the hotel and head back to "real life." I'm thrilled that I get to share my home and my family with Mimi, and tomorrow afternoon we're meeting with a few of my downline members for an informal time of stamping and sharing. Perhaps we'll even squeeze one last run in together before we take her to the airport on Monday.

I'm so thankful for the blessing Mimi has been in my life! I'm already looking forward to seeing her and so many other dear stampin' sisters at our Convention in less than two months!!

June 03, 2008

A Whole New World

Well, it's that time of life. It's time to start letting the kids get in on the busy-ness that we call SCHEDULED FUN! We've always been cautious about jumping on the activities wagon--more so than we probably would be if we had only one or two kids. But with 3 so close in age, we decided it would be unwise to begin T-ball, dance lessons, or any other type of activity when they were still so young.

Well. Enter our new neighbors, whom we have grown quite close to in a short time. The kids adore playing together, and it's a wonderful thing for a homeschooling mom to be able to host playmates for her kids, thereby giving her some much-needed freedom. (Is it sad that I feel "free" to do cooking or housework or even business activities while my kids are entertaining and being entertained by other children?!) Joe, the soon-to-be step-dad of Braden and Mikaela, is a black belt in taekwondo, and he had been talking to Carmen, the kids' mom and my new friend, about getting the kids in lessons. He personally knows a family who has a studio in the area, and he regards them very highly.

Coincidentally, Ted and I had been thinking for awhile that some kind of martial arts training would be very good for Tobin. So, with the interest of our friends and the recommendation for this particular studio, off we went for a trial session. Despite a very squirmy, fussy Kenna who would NOT be contained in the small seating area of the studio (she and I walked the strip mall multiple times), what I was able to see did impress me. I went ahead and signed Charis and Tobin up for the 2-week trial so we could see how they liked it.

Though it was difficult to say NO to Arden (he's too young for the class the other 4 kids are in), he took it quite well. And I have to confess that I probably would not have even considered this activity if it weren't for Carmen's generous offer to take my kids to lessons. They meet 3 times a week for 45-minute sessions, which isn't a big deal until you consider the fact that this particular studio is a good 25-minute drive WITHOUT Las Vegas evening traffic! After prayer and discussion, Ted and I decided to sign the older two up for 6 months. They already have their first belt test on June 19, and I confess I'm getting pretty excited.

From everything we checked out on the web site to the training DVD, I am quite impressed. I also have to say that I have seen a NOTICEABLE improvement in Tobin's self-control overall. The activity also seems to be very good for helping Charis in the physical coordination department, which is not her strong suit. She faithfully practices her forms each day, and I love watching her!

Arden still gets in on the action by going along now and then to watch the class with Carmen--he does great sitting still and watching. He's learning, too, and Joe is working with all 5 of the kids to help them. We'd love it if they all pass their belt tests and can move on to the next class together...otherwise, we'll have to figure out a way to carpool!

So, we'll see where this all leads. Right now is a great time to try it out, since it's summer and AWANA and Bible study sessions are on break.

Guardian Angels Work Overtime With This One

So Kenna has learned to climb. The event described in this post actually took place awhile back (like 3 weeks ago), and I am finally breathing normally. What clued us in to the fact that something was going on was a repetitive beeping sound. All of us except Kenna were downstairs. Normally this is not a big deal--she manages stairs fine, and we're all on alert to shut every door once she is out and about (otherwise she manages to have fun with toilet water). Well, finally it dawned on me that the sound I was hearing was the computer--the keyboard was getting some use, and it wasn't the right password! I grabbed my camera and headed upstairs, thinking I'd find her on the chair, "typing" away. I thought it would be a cute photo for the blog. Instead I found Kenna standing ON the keyboard!

Now, look carefully to the right of the photo and you'll see the middle window, with another window underneath--both are next to the entryway. Behind Kenna and the monitor is a wall that extends about 8 inches above the built-in computer desk. Beyond that is maybe a 16-foot drop to a ceramic tile floor.

PRAISE THE LORD for His watch-care! Thanks be to Him for the guardian angels that His Word tells us are assigned to each little one! Needless to say, we no longer leave the chair out at the computer desk. We keep a folding chair in that area now, and when we're finished working at the computer, we fold it up and put it away.

I told my mom about this and asked her to never, NEVER stop praying for our kids!! You just never know when something tragic can happen--or COULD HAVE happened.

Don't Know If I Can FACE This...

It all started last fall. I received a mysterious email that stated, "Jen T___ added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Jennifer in order for you to be friends on Facebook. To confirm this friend request, follow the link below."

"Wow!" I thought. I AM friends with Jen! I felt excited. I'm a friend!! But why did I have to click on a link in order to tell her I'm friends with her?! There wasn't any other option, other than, I guess, to ignore the email and the link altogether. I wished it were more black and white, like those notes you get in elementary school from the weird boy who sits in the back of the third row.

I like you. Do you like me? Check
___ YES
___ NO.

Facebook, apparently, doesn't do things that simply. I didn't want to hurt Jen's feelings, so of course I clicked on the link and "confirmed the friend request." I puttered around a couple of minutes, not sure what I was looking at, and went on my merry way.

Then in January it happened again. Another friend, another request, another dilemma. Why shouldn't I be e-friends with someone I know in real life also? It seemed simple enough. I confirmed the request again.

Two months later, a couple more friend requests. Lately, multiple friend requests, and now I'm overwhelmed! What is this world, this Facebook?! I can barely keep up with my blog, and keeping my email in-box to fewer than 100 messages that need filed or responded to is like treading water in the ocean during a hurricane. Why should I be spending ANY more time on the computer?! I don't even have time to browse the Sonlight forums, for crying out loud!! And that's my "job," as a homeschool mother!! (OK, not really, but it's probably more valuable than updating my status on Facebook.)

So I finally actually created a Facebook profile. Put a family picture in. Wrote a little about my activities and interests. Typed in my graduating years. When I finished--BAM, there it was! A list of people I might want to be "Friends" with! How did Facebook know that I knew that person? Or him? Or her! I haven't seen her in years!!! Oh, my goodness!

And then I realized what was happening. I was getting SUCKED INTO FACEBOOK!!! If I didn't watch it, soon I was going to be the freak that was asking innocent people to confirm that they are friends with me! But what if they don't want to be my friend anymore?! I don't know if I can handle this kind of rejection!

And so I remain on the fringe of this Facebook fad, dabbling a little here and there, curiously wondering what my friends are doing at this VERY SECOND (are they STILL sleeping, for crying out loud?! That was Wednesday, Jen!!), and trying to decide if I should devote computer time to Facebook or updating our family blog.

Decisions, decisions.