August 31, 2008

Our Baby Is 1 1/2!

Kenna's 18-month birthday was last week (August 27), so I figured it's time to do another Kenna post. At the moment, she is wailing downstairs, a frequent activity of late. I hope she is teething and not starting her moody years this early! She has been waking before 6:30 a.m. and napping a grand total of anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. This is not acceptable! At least she's still sleeping about 12 hours per night...but with her grumpiness, we've been putting her down for bed by 6 or 6:30 p.m., and then saying hello much earlier in the morning than we'd like. Sigh. Poor little grumpy girl.

OK, we'll move on to some happier reports. She is communicating much better these days, mostly by sign language and grunts. Here's a list of the signs she uses the most, quite a few in combination:

thank you
(do you see a trend here?!)
all done

Her words include mama, diaper, bubble (which sounds much like diaper), eat (eee), baby, uh-oh, and give me attention right now, which sounds like "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"

Her current loves include the following:

* Fine cuisine--basically, anything we're eating is great, but she also appreciates the aesthetic qualities of oatmeal, as you can see here.

* Dogs--or any animals, but particularly dogs. The bigger, the better.

* Gymnastics--hanging from the bars of our playground, going down slides, scaring her mother by standing precariously at the top of our slide while waving frantically at the birds...

* Art--her favorite medium is marker on walls.

* Looking good--leave a brush or comb lying within reach, and she's preening for the next hour. (See movie shot pose here--the brush is in her left hand.) Sunglasses are also part of the image...we no longer have to worry about her keeping them on, as she has apparently been told she's cute while wearing them way too often. Oh, yes, and how can I forget shoes...she ADORES her shoes. Well, for that matter, she likes everyone else's shoes, too. We frequently find our shoes in odd places.

* Vitamins--we started giving her a half vitamin for breakfast and dinner after we discovered she could indeed chew the kids' Shaklee vitamins. I'm not sure how many she stole before we took drastic measures to keep them out of reach...

* Water--if I'm not careful and she makes it into my bathroom when I'm getting ready, she's liable to climb into the tub and turn the water on. Or, she has also been known to climb onto my sink and perch there with her legs in the basin, water running. Washing her hands is a FAVORITE pastime, and we must comment frequently about the "bo-bos," or bubbles, that she leaves behind in the sink.

* Dolls--she still likes to love on her babies.

* Books--but we have to turn the pages on her terms.

* Puzzles--she's not quite there on her own yet, but she likes removing the pieces anyway.

* Music--she has learned how to turn on the piano and bang away, and she also enjoys her little xylophone-type toy thing. She must be the one to push the button for her sleepy-time CD, and if she hears upbeat music, she tips her head back and forth and grins...that's her "dance."

And now, to close, a very short (35-second) video of her antics in the backyard. I wish I had brought the camera with us to the park tonight--she was going down big kid slides like no one's business! NO WAY would Charis have been doing all that at her age, nor would Tobin. Arden probably would have, but Kenna is definitely the daredevil of the family!

August 28, 2008

The Joys of Having Boys

So I walked into the boys' room this morning, having completed a successful language arts session with Charis, to tell Arden that I was ready to do his school reading with him. Immediately I noticed a horrible smell. Arden has had some nighttime accidents and so has been wearing pull-ups off and on, so at first I scanned the room for a wadded up wet pull-up, a sadly familiar sight of late because he neglects to take care of it first thing in the morning.

But what should my eyes see but a giant wet spot on the floor?! Right next to where Arden was building a road, I might add! I confronted him about the spot...a couple of nights ago, out of sheer laziness, he had peed in his room, and Ted had had to deal with all that right before bedtime. When I asked this time, he told me "Tobin did it." I asked him to look me in the eyes and tell me the truth, and once again he affirmed that his brother had done it. I wasn't about to let him off the hook, though, so I told him to follow me downstairs.

Tobin was at the table, finishing up his own language arts work. When I asked him about it, his response was, "Arden did it first." Great! A collaborative effort! How wonderful that they are unified over SOMETHING! It soon became clear that both boys had, indeed, peed on their bedroom carpet. Tobin's first excuse was that he had to go so badly that he couldn't make it to the toilet. Um, right, you couldn't go 10 steps farther to the bathroom RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR?!?!

Discipline ensued, to include both of them working to clean their mess and then a phone call to Daddy at work (which I think upset them more than the spanking I had given each of them to begin with). They both tearfully apologized to both Ted and myself and asked for forgiveness, which of course was granted.

But gee whiz!!! Am I raising puppies or children?! This reminds me of the days we lived in Maryland, shortly after Tobin was potty trained, when we discovered his handiwork in odd his dresser drawer, his toybox, his toy boat, and the infant car seat that we weren't using at the time. I guess he felt the freedom to let fly whenever and wherever he had a whim. Let's hope we don't regress THAT far.

August 27, 2008

Taekwondo Update

Our three older kids attended Taekwondo Day Camp August 18-22. With my wonderful neighbor Carmen's generous offer to drive all the kids to and from camp, that meant I had a good 6 hours with a quiet house Monday through Friday last week! Arden was delighted that he got to attend camp, even though he's not in classes. There was some taekwondo activity, but lots of summer camp-type things as well, to include crafts (tie-dyed t-shirts, for example), playing at the park, a pizza party on Friday, and so on.

One thing I didn't particularly relish was having to make a lunch for the three of them to take every day! I sure am glad I don't have to do that on a regular basis, LOL. It's stressful trying to figure out what healthy food we have on hand that they will actually eat once they leave the house! One more reason I'm glad we homeschool and can eat mac and cheese, Ramen soup, or leftovers for lunch!!

Anyway, Kenna and I enjoyed hanging out, though it was REALLY weird to have just one child. I really cherished the time I got to play one-on-one with her, reading and playing silly toddler games that made her shriek with delight. She also obliged me by napping wonderfully throughout the week, so I got some nitty-gritty housecleaning done as well as some napping myself. We also went to base on Friday to do some errands. Grocery shopping with one child goes SO much faster.

On Thursday of camp week Charis and Arden had their belt test. It's hard to believe they've been doing this long enough to test again already, but there they were. They did great, according to Ted, who got to see them test this time around. Last time they tested was right before we left for Idaho, so we missed the traditional potluck promotion ceremony the Saturday afternoon afterwards. (I'm not too sorry, considering it happened in June in the Las Vegas heat!) But this time we were in town, so we all headed down to the park by the studio, where the kids had spent lots of time during camp week.

It was "blessed hot," as Carmen would say! At least we got to eat underneath the pavilion. Apparently last time the pavilion was taken, so everyone was out in the sun. (There are no big trees in this park!) Honestly, it would have been fairly miserable, but the kids were super excited to see whether or not they passed their belt tests. I chased Kenna around during most of the awards presentation, but thankfully she discovered the ice buckets under the pavilion and happily entertained herself in the coolness underneath the tables. (I tried not to think about any germs she may have been ingesting when she would pop an ice cube into her mouth, but hey, she was happy, and I was able to see what was going on.) In this picture you can see our two receiving their yellow belts--they're the ones in the baseball hats. Mr. and Ms. Martin, the brother and sister team who teach at the studio, are in the orange and blue shirts, respectively.

So, we now begin another 8-week round of classes before shelling out another hundred bucks for the next belt test. Sigh. Well, the kids are proud of themselves, and we're proud too...but we haven't yet told them that they will not be continuing classes after we finish our contract in November! It's a great program, but 3 times a week is a lot, and once they pass their next belt test, their classes will shift around and will conflict with Wednesday night AWANA, which is our priority. I know it will be tough news for the kids, but I'm hoping they will graciously accept our decision and understand the time and money factor is significant. Perhaps in the future we will be able to let them start up again if the desire is still there.

August 26, 2008

Wonderful Watermelon

We always enjoy a good melon during the summer, as these pics and video clip show!

August 25, 2008

Goodbye, Olympic Games

Well, finally we're done sitting on our duffs and watching toned, muscle-y athletes work hard! It was a tough 16 days, but we managed to persevere by consuming large amounts of popcorn and ice cream and taking naps whenever possible. We endured stupid commercials and the agony of realizing the broadcast went beyond the 4 hours we had programmed the DVR. But thanks to the newspaper and the Internet, we were able to follow our favorite Olympians 'til the very end.

And what a joyous end! Thanks to numerous, never-before-allowed hours of television, our kids can now identify the flags of at least 20 different countries. They know what terms like "block," "spike," "heat," and "semifinal" mean and the importance of staying in bounds. They look to Michael Phelps as their new hero. They know what an "anthem" is and have stopped asking why Mommy gets teary-eyed every time she hears it. They frequently shout things like "Yeah, baby!" and "Go, go, GOOOOOO!" And they can do a victory dance like nobody's business.

Yes, the Olympic games were well worth the time invested. We laughed, we cried--it moved us, Bob. (Veggie Tales allusion there for the uninitiated.)

And now, for your viewing pleasure, in case you haven't quite gotten enough of the Olympics, I present to you OUR Olympic Games.

First up, Nastia (aka Charis) and Jonathan (aka Arden) dazzle us with their routines (and their costumes).

Next, Tobin gives Daddy the "what for" in this wrestling match--or is it the other way around?!

Finally, the kids' version of beach volleyball. They set this one up all by themselves. The video clip is but a small portion of what we actually got to see. They worked out an ingenius system for playing with 3 people--Arden switched sides after every 2 points! It was so cute to see the boys hugging every time they got a point as a team!

August 23, 2008

Stampin' Up! Convention

So, a quick recap of the Stampin’ Up! Convention, which was in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago. Ted, my wonderful, amazing husband, took leave to stay with the kids so I could go and do my thing, and I am so glad I could! My LV friend and downline Heather went with me, so it was fun to have a traveling buddy this year.

We arrived in SLC on Tuesday, July 29, and met up with our roomies, my upline and dear friend Mimi and another dear friend Monica, whom I met in Maryland. We settled into our hotel and had a late lunch/early dinner at P.F. Chang’s and enjoyed relaxing and chatting that evening while finishing swaps, etc.

Wednesday was check-in and tour day. I was thrilled to find out that Mimi and I both made it into Founder’s Circle, which includes the top 100 demonstrators in the company! Mimi has been honored multiple times before, but this was my first time, and when my Service Account Manager put “The Bag” on the counter in front of me (Founder’s Circle achievers receive a special bag), I about fell over from shock! Much shrieking and crying ensued! What an honor.

Later that day we went to Riverton to tour the home office, which I had done a few years ago, but it was still neat to see. That evening we met up with other friends, including my friend Erin and some gals in her group. Erin and I signed up at about the same time when we were stationed in Idaho, and it’s always fun to get together again. We ate at a yummy Mexican restaurant and then browsed some shops. Monica and Heather became my shopping consultants, as I decided I needed something a little nicer for Awards Night the following evening than what I had brought! They found a great deal for me, and since the belt loop was missing on one side of the dress (not that you could tell), the manager even reduced it I walked out of Coldwater Creek with a $100 dress that I only paid $18 for!! Not bad!

Our first day of Convention was exciting, and the Awards Night that evening was kind of a blur for me. I’ve walked across the stage before for earning incentive trips, reaching $20K in sales, or having recruits promote, but I’ve NEVER had my name on the screen and walked up for a specific spot in Founder’s Circle! It was like a fairy tale! As it turned out, though I was expecting to be #100 out of 100, I was actually #93. :-) Mimi was #68!

So what does one “get” for being in Founder’s? First of all, there is an all-expenses paid retreat. This year the retreat is to St. George, Utah, which happens to be just 90 miles away from Las Vegas! But it’s sure to be a spectacular treat, from what I hear, as they spoil and pamper all those who go. I’m so excited that Mimi and I will get to go together! The trip is in September, and Ted is once again willing to take leave so I can go and play! (Thanks, Honey!!! I love you!!!) Also, I of course received the fabulous bag pictured above, and I got a $250 cash bonus. The closer you are to #1, the higher the cash bonus. Demonstrators #76-100 all got the same amount, #51-75 got $500, and it goes up from there. The highest amount is $25,000!

This is getting kind of long...the rest of Convention was just as wonderful...lots of great announcements and ideas and time to fellowship with my friends. Friday evening Mimi and I, with the help of a number of other gals in our group, put on a meeting for our whole group, over 40 people! It was so much fun, and I’m amazed at all the training and ideas that were packed into a 3-hour time period. The following evening we had another pow-wow session, an informal Q&A time for those gals who are more business-oriented and wanted to talk more about building their Stampin’ Up! businesses. I’m really excited to see what happens this coming year for them!

So, all in all, it was a wonderful trip. As usual, I came home and had to jump back into normal life, so I feel I didn’t really process everything...I haven’t even set up my goals officially for this coming year! But I did get a great start already, as my new catalog open house was a grand success, and I’m eager to see what the year brings for my family as God continues to grow this business.

August 19, 2008

In God We Trust

Here's your chance to let the media know where the people stand on our faith in God as a nation. NBC is taking a poll on whether the motto "In God We Trust" should stay on our American currency. I have no idea how long the vote will be open, so I encourage you to go here to vote.

When I got the notice, the vote was 52% remove it and 48% keep it. When I voted this morning, however, the vote was 37% remove it and 63% keep it. Interesting!

Where Was This a Year Ago?!

Subject: Travel regulation change protects renters whose landlords default
FYI….Good news at least for folks who may be forced out.

by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

8/11/2008 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- A new change to the Joint Federal Travel Regulations authorizes the military to pay to move service members and their families whose landlords default on property the military members are renting.

Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy and chairman of the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee, approved the change Aug. 8, said Eileen Lainez, a Defense Department spokeswoman.

The change is retroactive to July 30, the date President Bush signed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. That law strengthened regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac government-backed mortgage companies and created a new program to help about 400,000 families save their homes from foreclosure.

The federal regulation change is designed to help military service members forced to relocate locally when landlords default on their mortgages, Mr. Lainez said. It does not apply to military members who own their own homes and default on their loans.

Army Lt. Col. Les Melnyk, a Pentagon spokesman, said the change will come as welcome news to the high percentage of service members who rent rather than buy their homes due to frequent moves. While more than 65 percent of Americans own their homes, only about 25 percent of service members are homeowners, he said.

Because they rent their residences at disproportionately high numbers, service members haven't been impacted as heavily by the foreclosure crisis facing many communities, he said. But anecdotal evidence indicates that a growing number experience the second-hand effects of the crisis when their landlords default and they are forced to quickly find new housing nearby.

"When that happens, the service member should not have to incur the cost of the move," Colonel Melnyk said. "This change in the Joint Federal Travel Regulation ensures that they are financially protected when this happens and shows that we as a department care about our troops and their welfare."

Colonel Melnyk encouraged service members to contact their housing or administrative officers if they believe the new JTFR change may help them. In addition, he urged all service members to take advantage of free legal and financial counseling offered at all military installations and through the Military OneSource Web site.

August 13, 2008

Thus Endeth the Streak

Well, I made it 27 days! Amazingly, I exercised every day we were in Salt Lake City except Sunday, our travel-home day. I had hoped to walk on the treadmill at home, but despite Ted's herculean efforts to maneuver the treadmill into the family room, we realized that the "key" to make it work is MIA. By that point it was too late for me to consider doing anything else, so I gave up. I haven't been exercising every single day since then, but perhaps I can give a streak another shot later. :-)

August 11, 2008

Homeschool Song

I know, I know, an update is in order since it's been so long, but with time at a minimum this morning, this is all I'm going to do. This was posted to our homeschool loop, and I thought it was cute! Hopefully non-homeschoolers will not be offended. ;-)

I Will Survive (the first year of homeschooling) *Or* any year
Originally written and produced by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor
Mercilessly altered with apologies by Natalie Criss

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach
´Cause I´m not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we´re nuts,
but they don´t even bother me

Come on, let´s go walk out the door.
We´re on the road now,
'cause we´re not home much anymore
My friends would laugh and say we´d be unsocialized.
I heard one mumble
that I´d give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we´ll be all right.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They´re not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
and just expect us to be free
you´d better call ahead first
´cause we´re probably busy!