September 26, 2008

Founder's Friends

Some people pics from my Founder's Trip...

My "new mom" Ruth and me! (Ruth was #2 Rising Star for the US!)

Dania and Glenda

Wendy and me

Sarah and Jen

Aly and me

Suzie, Beckie, and Kim at the Big River performance.

Founder's Trip, Day 4

OK, I will try to keep this short!! I have other things to blog about and a stamp club meeting to get ready for, but I wanted to wrap up my FC Retreat "journal." Saturday morning I didn't set an alarm but was up by 7:30, which is sleeping in for me. I was a little concerned about my had gotten really red by Friday evening. What I thought was an issue with my contacts turned into what I worried was pinkeye. The lid was swollen a bit, and my eye was very red, but it wasn't really crusty. After some phone calls and talking with my med tech friend Sarah, I finally decided it was simply a scratch and didn't worry about trying to get into an urgent care place. At any rate, I kept my glasses on all day--so that's why you see them in the pictures!

So I was glad Saturday was a relaxing day with nothing scheduled until our closing dinner that night! I had fun making our 3 make-and-take projects with the new stamp set we got in our fancy bag. CUTE, cute, cute projects! I don't have a picture of the projects by themselves, but this is a pretty good shot of those who were working at our table. Most of the gals I had seen and briefly talked with, but it was nice to spend some more time chatting as we worked.

After lunch I took my scrapbooking supplies down to the make-and-take area and worked with another group of ladies. I didn't get as much done this time--I think only 3 pages--but it was very fun to show off Kenna's cute pictures and the layouts I HAD finished! I fully intended to get a nap before our dinner, but that never happened. I was way too busy talking...AND eating chocolates! I don't think I mentioned this in my previous posts, but the Gathering Place also had various candy stations set up like this one, with cute little pails with pink ribbon tied to the handle. We could take a pail (or two or three...) and fill with any kind of candy we wanted! It was a good thing I didn't find the chocolate-covered peanuts until it was almost time to leave for dinner...I probably would have made myself sick on those! I NEVER buy candy (OK, rarely) for myself, so I really did feel like a kid in a candy shop!

For our dinner, we were taken to a beautiful area just outside of Snow Canyon. Sarah and some other gals had gone hiking in the Canyon that morning--I had thought about joining them, but with my eye issue, plus just being plain exhausted from a full day on Friday, I decided not to go. Thankfully by evening time my eye had actually improved, thank the Lord. We took a huge group photo, and then we went to an area that was set up like an outdoor theater. We had some time to enjoy dinner and conversation (yummy fancy pizza and salad and just about any kind of drink we wanted), and then we settled into our comfy chairs for a movie under the stars! We watched No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as a chef who takes in her niece when her sister is killed in an accident. I hadn't seen the movie before--it was quite good and would be a great date movie. Therefore, it made me miss Ted tremendously! I was glad I'd be getting home the next day!

Since the nights cool off considerably, we enjoyed our final gift from Stampin' Up!--a pink fuzzy blanket like the ones that had been draped over the couches in the Gathering Place! I knew I had better hide that from Charis when I got home or else I'd never see it again, LOL. Let me tell you, I've learned that if/when I get to go on another Founder's Circle Retreat, I had better pack an extra bag for stashing away all the goodies!! Oh--and during the movie we could go get popcorn served in paper cones made from the Designer Series Papers and brads--way too cute--and choose from any number of candy boxes. Oh, my, I think I must have gained some weight during those few days...I regret now that I never got a picture of the cute popcorn holders, so just try to imagine how cute they were!

That officially ended our trip. The next morning I left St. George at 8 a.m. on a shuttle for Vegas and had a great time talking with new demonstrator friends the whole way. Ted and the kids picked me up in time for us all to attend church, and after a quick lunch I was in bed for a nice two-hour nap. Ahhh! My suitcase still is not unpacked, LOL, but we've settled back into a fairly normal routine, even though this past week has really not been "normal." Perhaps I can blog more about our adventures later, but for now, this wraps up the report on my first Founder's Circle Retreat!

September 25, 2008

Founder's Trip, Day 3

So Friday was our Kanab tour, the location of Stampin' Up!'s manufacturing facility. The new place was built pretty recently, so I didn't get to see the one in all the old pictures with the red store front, but I was very impressed with it! We had to be ready to leave by 8 a.m., and the drive to Kanab was about 2 hours long. I was on the "Georgia Peach" bus, full of mostly first-time Founder's Circle achievers. Part of our bus ride involved the opportunity to tell Shelli what we thought Stampin' Up! should STOP doing, what they should START doing, and what they should KEEP ON doing. It was nice to have a chance to be heard, and it was interesting to hear all the different ideas of what "should" or "shouldn't" be happening within the company!

Here's a picture of my new friend Beckie and I in front of the building before our tour. We were allowed to take pictures inside part of the building--the foyer area with displays and Shelli's "apartment" where she stays when she's visiting the facility. I write "apartment" in quotes because this gorgeous area is probably more square feet than my regular house!! She decorated it herself, and it has the feel of a bed and breakfast--at least, the bedrooms and bathrooms do. There's a beautiful kitchen that (sadly) is much bigger than my own!

We weren't allowed to take pictures during the part of the tour that led us through the areas where they cut the rubber and make the impressions. Wow, though, what a fascinating process! We learned all about the work that goes into making the stamp sets die-cut, a new and very popular feature that is here to stay, thank goodness! Several more people have full-time jobs thanks to that decision! We watched ladies packaging stamp sets and even packaged wooden blocks ourselves--it's like a puzzle finding the right-sized pieces and getting them all to fit in the box. I have a whole new respect for this whole process! I could certainly never do that kind of work day in and day out. But the environment is very nice--you'd never know you were in a manufacturing facility. It's well-lit, bright, clean, and you can just tell that the employees really enjoy their work environment. After going through the place, we got to sit and ask questions of some of the guys who are managers within the facility. I must confess I don't remember much about this portion of the tour, as it was approaching lunchtime and I was extremely hungry and sleepy!

Thankfully it wasn't too much longer before we Georgia Peaches were loaded up onto our bus again and got to ride to the "Park That Stamps Built!" You can see the cut up pieces of rubber that are used as playground filler--we could even see some of the stamp images! Very fun and soft. We were told that Shelli sends the material to anyone who wants it for their parks for only the cost of shipping. I wonder how many parks around the country have rubber instead of rocks?! For lunch we got to order Subway from a little traveling vendor wagon and of course pick out chips, a cookie, and a drink. I sat with Beckie and met Julie and her downline Stacy, a Rising Star, and enjoyed visiting with them. One thing I enjoyed about my trip was how many Christian demonstrators I met--these gals share my beliefs also, and it's like an extra little connection that makes for instant bonding.

On the way home, we played some games...all of us "won" a pack of the new Georgia Peach Designer Series Papers (woohoo!), and then we played Bingo for more prizes. I ended up with a pack of the new In-Color buttons, not because I got a Bingo, but because a new friend (Dawn) had won two prizes and got to choose someone to give a prize to. She picked me! That made staying up late the night before chatting with her all worth it, LOL! Really, it was sweet of her to pick me...we weren't even sitting close together. It was fun meeting and getting to know Dawn; I had seen her give Convention presentations, and it was great to learn more about her on a personal level.

Back at my hotel room I found another little gift, but I didn't get a picture of this one because I was in a hurry to scoot out for dinner before our evening activity. It's a cute charm necklace with our first initial in silver glitter. (What would they do if a male demonstrator made it to Founder's Circle?!) About a dozen of us went to a nearby steakhouse for dinner--you can see my table of 6 here. The cute blonde gal on the left is Jen, the one whose room housed my suitcase for a couple of hours. :-) Next to her is Jo, Jen's upline, and Georgia, and on the other side is another Jennifer (who apparently looks like me, or I look like her, as we were confused by some other people on occasion!), me, and Sarah.

After stuffing ourselves beyond the point of reason, we went back to the hotel to catch our bus. This was one of our free nights, and about 45 of us had signed up to go to a gorgeous outdoor theater to see a performance of Big River, a musical based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As an English major, I was very excited to go, but I was also extremely exhausted from an already-long day. Thankfully the production was AMAZING, and there was no danger of me falling asleep. :-) My only frustration was that the demonstrator sitting in front of me texted nearly the whole time, and the glow of her phone was rather irritating. Why pay to go see a show when you're going to sit with your head down and text your way through it?!

It was about midnight when we got back to the hotel, and I'm quite sure I was asleep not long after!

September 24, 2008

Founder's Trip, Day 2

Thursday morning I intended to sleep in, but I was awake fairly early, so I decided to go for a run. I probably went about 3 miles, enjoying the cooler air and the chance to be alone and think. After my shower and quiet time, I headed downstairs for breakfast and sat with a demo named Aly. (Those who are in my stamping downline may know who she is--she does the card kits for my 3rd level upline!) Aly and I had a great visit over breakfast, and I found out she is 10 weeks pregnant with her first! So we had more things in common--expecting babies and NOT being able to go to Hawaii because of them, ha!

After breakfast I got on the shuttle to the day spa nearby. I had decided to treat myself to a pregnancy massage and pedicure. This was the sign that greeted us as we walked in! I love it! Unfortunately, I began to worry a bit shortly after getting inside...the receptionist informed me that they had actually scheduled my appointment for Friday instead of Thursday! I'm not sure how this happened, as I specifically said I was looking for a Thursday appointment. Furthermore, Friday would not have been a possibility because of the tour at the Kanab manufacturing facility (more details in the next post on that!). At any rate, of course the spa ladies were horrified by the mix-up. They were able to get me a pedicure, but I would have to come back on Saturday if I wanted a massage. I did schedule it, but Friday evening I ended up calling to cancel because I was just too tired to get up and make a 9:00 appointment.Anyway, at least I was able to enjoy a pedicure, and those AWESOME massage chairs sort of compensated for not getting a real massage! Cindy, another demonstrator, was getting her pedicure at about the same time, and I enjoyed visiting with her. She and I had gotten to chat on the airplane when we returned to Maryland from the Western Caribbean cruise a few years ago, so I knew she was also a homeschooling mother. Cool how it worked out that we were together at the spa! She also has 5 children, though her youngest is 8. Her oldest is 19. It was encouraging to hear that it CAN be done!! She has been a demonstrator for a long time, probably even a few years longer than I have, and this was her 2nd Founder's Trip.

Back at the hotel, I grabbed lunch to take upstairs and eat. Then I settled in for a nice, two-hour nap. Yay for naps! My cell phone woke me hubby was calling for clarification on the directions to Charis' dance class! By the time I got a hold of him he had already dropped her off. Ah, well. I spent the next hour and a half or so working on my scrapbook. I had brought supplies for Kenna's baby album, since I had only done 2 pages so far and the girl is over 1 1/2 years old already!!

I met Sarah and 2 other demonstrators for dinner at the Olive Garden and had fun getting to know Penny and Jen and Jen's darling baby boy Hunter. (In this photo you can see me, Sarah, and Penny.) After dinner we all helped Sarah finish her swaps, and then it was time for the Business Share. Everyone got in their comfy pajamas and met in the Gathering Place, which was full of squashy sofas, armchairs, pink pillows with the familiar baroque pattern, blankets, and fuzzy rugs. First of all we grabbed our 135 Christmas/holiday swap cards we had brought with us and did the swap snake-style out in the hallways. (If you don't know what that is, I'm sorry, I'm not even going to try to explain, but suffice it to say that it took awhile but was very fun, and it helped us make sure that we got one of each card!)

After the swap, we crowded back into our various sitting areas. An ice cream float station was set up, as were finger foods galore--queso dip, veggies and fruit, crackers, chips...yikes. Why did we bother going out to eat?! We sat down, carefully balancing our food and drinks, and listened as different demonstrators shared business ideas. Most were already compiled into a handout for us, but some hadn't sent their idea in time to be included. (Glad I'm not the only one who put that off...though I did manage to submit something!)

At about 11:00 a herd of demonstrators decided to call it quits and began leaving, prompting Bonnie (a SU! employee) to announce that the Share was officially over. I stayed a little while, chatting with various people, and really had a great time. My business share idea was to show a copy of our daily schedule, which is all color-coordinated and allows me to focus on the kids when it's time to homeschool and on business stuff when it's "office time." A number of people told me they appreciated what I shared, and I got lots of ooohs and aaahs over being "so busy" with 4 kids and one on the way. :-) It's a bit of an ego boost, but truly, I wouldn't be able to do what I do if it weren't for God's grace AND my wonderful husband's support. Shelli, our founder and CEO, was working on HER swap cards...and she wouldn't let anyone help her! She wanted to do them all herself, and before we left for home we were able to pick up a card she had made and signed. While she was working, I got my picture taken with her. She's as sweet as she is beautiful!

Back in my room, I discovered the next gift...this cute little pocketbook that matches the beautiful pink bags we were given at Convention for being in Founder's Circle! Many of my local friends have seen my pink bag. I love it. It's not something I would have ever picked out for myself, but I'm so glad I have it! And now I have a matching pocketbook! I feel like such a girly-girl!

Founder's Trip, Day 1

Last Wednesday I was pretty much a crazy lady before I left for my trip!! I can't believe all that I did here at home, to include completely packing (having not even started before 8:30 a.m. that day) plus making a meal for my family to have for dinner that night. I won't go into the gory details of my busy-ness...I'm sure you other moms/women know what it's like to get ready for a trip!

To be honest, I was somewhat nervous about the trip, as much as I was looking forward to getting away. My dear friend and upline, Mimi, who was supposed to be on the trip with me, ended up having to back out for various reasons just a day or two before I left. I kind of felt like a junior high girl, wondering if I'd find anyone to sit with, ha! Of course I knew who some people were, and there were a couple that I felt I had connected with from past events, but somehow it was different. Still, there was nothing to do but plow ahead and see what happened!

So Ted took me to the airport after an early lunch, where I met up with the Stampin' Up! staff that were waiting to put me on a shuttle to St. George. I was really expecting a bus full of demonstrators, since they had told us people would be flying in to Vegas or St. George. However, it was me and one other demonstrator in a big, black SUV to St. George, Utah! Thankfully Catherine and I got along quite well and chatted pretty much the whole way! I even helped her a little bit with her swaps.

Once at the hotel, the Courtyard Marriott, we were ushered into the Gathering Place, where we were swarmed by demonstrators waiting for their "missing piece." Each demo was given one piece to a Christmas stamp set, Deck the Halls from the holiday mini-catalog (page 20), and we had to find a group of other demos so that we made a whole stamp set. Once this was accomplished, we got to go to the table and get an actual Deck the Halls stamp set to keep! It was supposed to be a "getting to know you" game, but it was more like chaos, LOL. We were also given a Founder's Circle yearbook, the first time they've done something like that. Even though I'm not fond of my picture in the yearbook, it was GREAT to have everyone's names, pictures, and email addresses all in one place.

Finally I was able to head up to my room. (My OWN hotel room!!! That has NEVER happened!) The hotel staff had assured us that our suitcases would be waiting for us, and I was looking forward to unpacking and settling into my room, maybe getting a quick nap or at least some rest before our dinner at 7:00. I got to my room, found a darling name plaque hanging on my door (Stampin' Up! does everything well, right down to the tiny details!), and went in. My suitcase was nowhere in sight! I called the front desk, they asked some questions, and then the hunt began. Turns out it was delivered to a gal whose last name is similar to mine...took awhile, but I got it eventually. Whew!

I unpacked, enjoying all the space I would have to spread out, and took a short nap before dinner. Downstairs in the lobby I met up with Sarah, a demo I had met awhile back, though we had never really had much time to chat. We did have something in common--we both had to miss the Panama Canal cruise because of having babies around that time! We ended up eating together at a table with 4 other demos. Dinner was very can see our dessert in this picture. (Notice the silk tablecloths! Yes, that is a Stampin' Up! design!)

After dinner I headed back to my room to change shoes, as Sarah and I decided to walk to Target to get a few things. I went to the bathroom and about jumped off the toilet when I saw this darling bag hanging from the shower rod...was I in the wrong room?! Then it hit me that this was a gift from Stampin' Up! I had forgotten that on incentive trips, SU! places little gifts in our rooms! (Of course, it seems it's been so long since I've actually gotten to GO on one of the incentive trips, so no wonder I forgot, ha!) I took a picture of the bag but left it hanging...and later when we returned from Target and I got it down I realized there was STUFF inside of it!! A brand new, gorgeous stamp set that will be in the NEXT catalog, 3 brand new ink pads (Chocolate Chip, Pink Pirouette, and Bordering Blue), plus a roll of double-stitched Chocolate Chip grosgrain ribbon. Only my stampin' and scrappin' friends will understand the excitement that these products generated. :-)

September 17, 2008

Red Rock Canyon

I took the kids on a field trip yesterday to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It was good to get out of the house, and though the kids seemed a little reluctant, not knowing exactly what to expect, they ended up having a blast and are already begging to go back. I'm glad I bought the annual pass! It's not a far drive from our house, and it's a great place to go exploring and picnicking, especially now that fall is on its way.

There is a 13-mile scenic drive loop with stops for trails and sightseeing along the way. I packed a picnic lunch and water bottles...though we could have used more water! Never having been before, I wasn't sure what the trails would be like. The first stop actually didn't have much of a trail at all--mostly rocks and crevasses to climb down, then up again. I was glad I hadn't bothered to go running that morning, as carrying Kenna up and down was definitely enough to get my heart rate up! The first stop was probably the most strenuous as far as our hiking efforts. Had it not been for having Kenna with us, I would have enjoyed hiking with the older kids a lot further than we went, but considering our circumstances, I think everyone had a good time.

After exploring/hiking at the first couple of stops, we decided to drive a bit to find a picnic area, about halfway through the loop. Unfortunately, there wasn't any shade available, but the food was definitely a welcome diversion. The kids played around for awhile, and then it became obvious that Kenna was approaching naptime. So we wandered on out of the park, but we will definitely be back! I plan to take my mom and dad there when they visit in October. And if it weren't for the fact that I'm pregnant, I'd seriously consider the 1/2 marathon that takes place there! What a great place to run! However...this year's event took place on March 1, so assuming it's approximately the same time each year, that means I'd be 36 weeks pregnant by time the next race comes. Don't think the doctor (or my mom!) would be too keen on having me run a 1/2 marathon at that point...

Some Kenna Pictures

The other night we had corn on the cob. I cut Kenna's corn off for her, and she ate it like it was going out of style. She had already indicated she was finished and ready to get down, but then she started grunting and pointing toward the extra corn. We gave her one of the boy's cobs that was only partially eaten, and she thought she had struck the jackpot!

Kenna is still involved in her love affair with shoes. Lately she finds her brothers' socks and pulls them on before slipping her feet into their shoes and tromping around. She always looks immensely proud of herself when she does this.

There was a little girl who had a little curl...right in the back of her head! If it weren't for this bit of curl, poor Kenna would definitely pass for a boy. Many people already assume she's a boy, even if she's wearing her sparkly pink shoes! After her bath her hair looks so funny, kind of like a mullet, but when it dries the long strands curl up, so I haven't been able to bring myself to cut any locks yet.

September 12, 2008

End of Quarter Update

It's weird but true--we are a quarter of the way through with our Sonlight curriculum! I can hardly believe we've really been able to accomplish so didn't seem that we did a lot over the summer, with breaks for travels and whatnot, but apparently we did! So it's appropriate that we take a break next week (especially since I'll be gone Wednesday through Sunday for my Founder's Circle retreat) and evaluate how we're doing. So, without further is a (rather lengthy) update on what school has been like around here.

Charis recently began her Gamma book with Math-U-See. She's thrilled because it's pink. :-) She is officially a big girl now, learning multiplication! The beginning lessons have been very easy for her, and I am LOVING the way MUS is laid out. Everything makes so much sense, and the kids just pick things up so quickly. No ridiculous drills like I had to do in school. (Did anyone else have to recite addition, subtraction, etc. facts out loud for memorization's sake?!) To mix things up a little, the kids occasionally enjoy doing timed computer drills and flashcard games.

Tobin is 9 lessons away from finishing his Alpha book, and Arden is on lesson 17 (out of 30) in the Primer book. I think I'll order his Alpha and Tobin's Beta at the same time. Truly, Arden could be doing work at the same pace as Tobin...he has picked up SO MUCH just by listening to his siblings' lessons. But though he has the mental capabilities, he is still working hard to write the numbers, so I think we're doing just fine where we're at with him. He has improved TONS in just the last few weeks and is basically doing a whole lesson every day...that is, every day that we do math. :-) The other two do math pretty regularly, but this being Arden's kindergarten year...and considering he's already over halfway finished with the kindgergarten math book...I'm not too concerned about daily lessons!

Charis loves learning cursive!! She and Tobin are still doing A Reason for Handwriting. I'm trying to hurry Tobin through the review exercises so he can get to the regular assignments, which involve writing a verse on a border page of his choice and then coloring the page. I know he'll be much more excited about that, and I've been letting him skip lots because his handwriting is quite good.

Arden is using a Handwriting Without Tears workbook that a friend passed on to me. He also gets some practice in his Get Set for the Code workbooks (prequels to the Explode the Code books that Charis and Tobin have done).

I am so pleased with the new Sonlight LA that Charis is using this year. The Diamond Notes approach for writing has helped her tremendously when it comes to putting her thoughts together in paragraph form. She enjoys writing stories but has never been too keen on any writing assignment, but this year I'm finding that her reluctance is overshadowed by her eagerness to work on "loading the bases" with thoughts that apply to the "Pitcher's Mound" (topic sentence). Writing the "Home Plate" sentence is still proving to be a bit challenging, but I have seen DRASTIC improvement in both her attitude and her abilities!

In addition to her weekly writing assignments, she continues to work through a phonics book (MPC Plaid), from which her spelling words come, and her Wordly Wise B vocabulary book. She has loved every reader that she has gotten her hot little hands on and usually finishes them in a single day...unless I MAKE her stop halfway through!

Tobin is doing quite well with his program. Having gone through the same thing with Charis last year, I now understand the weaknesses in that approach with the writing (it may be worth the money to buy an updated instructor's guide...perhaps they've added the Diamond Notes for that level too?) and sometimes just skip over the writing assignments that I know will cause problems, choosing to do something different, or else modify the assignment so it will be more age-appropriate. Tobin loves his Explode the Code and Wordly Wise A workbooks and would probably finish the whole things if I turned him loose on them. He has completely finished the Beginner's Bible, which is supposed to last us a number of weeks yet, but I'm not concerned since he's reading far beyond the requirements anyway! I do have him read out loud occasionally...his weakness is not knowing how to pronounce words because he reads to himself so much! (A funny example is that I'm having a hard time breaking him of the habit of saying "shawl" instead of "shall." In the middle of a play fight, he will yell out something along the lines of, "NONE SHAWL PASS!!" and I just have to giggle. His pronunciation definitely makes sense when you think about all, ball, small, tall, etc.)

This year we are reading through the book Leading Little Ones to God along with various chapters of the Bible. We've already read through the book of Mark and are currently in Genesis 14. There are also Scripture passages to memorize--they finished Psalm 1 after the first few weeks but have already learned the next few verses, which is fine since they just began AWANA and are on the fast track to memorizing as many sections as possible already!

History has been really fun this year! We are doing Sonlight Core 1, which is an introduction to world history. Currently we are reading through the Usborne Book of World History as well as A Child's History of the World. We also have weekly readings from Missionary Stories With the Millers and From Akebu to Zapotec, which highlights a different people group (with names going from A to Z) that doesn't yet have the Bible in their own language. This doesn't even include several books that we've already finished! All this history leads to a lot of map work, and the kids love getting to write country names on our big markable map. (You can see Ted helping Arden here!)

Our current reading project here is the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals, which has fascinated all the kids, who usually find something to giggle at in wonder of God's creative designs! (Today the interesting fact was why flamingoes are pink--because of the shrimp they eat! If their diets were different, they would be yellowish brown.) We also pick up the Usborne Science Activities, Vol. 1 book weekly for various experiments, some of which we do and some of which we simply watch Justin from Sonlight do on the DVD. (Yay, Justin!!)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Popper's Penguins was a great hit. We also enjoyed Homer Price, one which Ted remembers from growing up. This weekend we will finish our current read-aloud, Gooney Bird Greene, which has been very fun and entertaining.

That's it for the "official" curriculum! We're planning a field trip to go dig up some fossils in October...THAT will be fun! Next week I also plan to do some fun things with the kids before I go on my retreat, though I haven't totally decided where we're going yet. Perhaps a trip to Red Rock Canyon for a picnic lunch and exploring. And of course there's always lots of home ec going on as the kids learn to take care of their busy little sister, cook meals with Mom, and various other chores.

September 10, 2008

A Trip to See the Dentist

Today was the day the older three kids had their 6-month check-ups. I am pleased to report I did NOT forget this appointment, ha! We dropped Kenna off at my friend Debi's house, where the two of them had a wonderful time while we were away. We made it to the office about 20 minutes ahead of our appointment time...guess I'm used to having to get to the base hospital 15 minutes before appointment time! We waited awhile, but I think the kids were called back a little before their scheduled time. I wasn't allowed to go back, so I sat in the outer lobby and chatted with my friend Monica in Maryland until the hygienist came to get me.

When I went back, the kids were happily watching cartoons (Tom and Jerry!! Oh, those were the good ol' days!), and Tobin was about to have his exam. None of the kids had any cavities, thank the Lord, and they all behaved very nicely. (Whew!) I chuckled when Dr. Galea asked Tobin if he had a nice teacher. Tobin answered affirmatively, and I said, "I'm glad he thinks so!" before explaining that we homeschool.

The kids came home with goodie bags full of stickers, new toothbrushes, floss, blue toothpaste (which they all love but I hate because of the way it dries in the sink, yuck), and their treasures from the "treasure tower."

After retrieving Kenna and having lunch, we had a somewhat leisurely afternoon...I did have the kids help me clean the house, but we opted to skip school today since we're taking a break next week so can just catch up then on anything we don't finish this week. (I will have to post a separate homeschool update later.) When Kenna went down for a nap, I did too...a migraine that hit me last weekend is trying to return, so I let the boys watch Return of the Jedi while Charis enjoyed some quiet room time and I got almost a 2-hour nap. (Kenna slept for almost FOUR HOURS!!!)

Now Ted and the kids are at church, and I'm dealing with the migraine. It's about time that I can take some more Tylenol, and then I'll probably head to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel better.

September 09, 2008

It's Already Started...

Pregnancy brain, that is. My fellow moms will understand what I mean by that. I am an organized person. I have a planner, I use it, I live by it. Yet somehow I completely forgot to take Kenna to her 18-month check-up yesterday afternoon. I even confirmed the appointment when the automated system called me last Thursday evening. (Although really, why call us to confirm a Monday appointment on a Thursday?! Wouldn't it be better to do it the night before??) And still I managed to have a completely busy, productive afternoon that did not include a trip to the base hospital.


September 06, 2008

Psalm 127:3-5

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.

Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.


Arrow Number Five due March 31, 2009...
We're all a-quiver!

September 05, 2008

Roller Coaster

Many of our friends and family know that our big dream has always been to end up in Colorado at some point, whether during or after Ted's Air Force career. One job he has always wanted has been to teach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, from where he graduated in 1997. Though he has been in touch with the history department for a number of years, the timing has never seemed to work out with our assignment process.

So you can imagine the excitement when, early this summer, the announcement went out that USAFA was accepting applications for teaching positions. There were some requirements listed, such as already having a master's degree and being ready to PCS next summer, and Ted fit the bill for everything on the list. So he quickly began gathering the necessary paperwork to submit by the July 15 deadline. He did everything he could possibly do on his own and had papers ready for his commander to sign before we even left for our trip to Idaho at the end of June. Things were looking good.

Then came a time of testing as we waited...and waited...and waited for the last required signature. Without going into unnecessary details here, let's just say that the deadline came and went and we had no idea whether the signature had been acquired and forwarded on to the Air Force Personnel Center, despite Ted's near-frantic phone calls checking on the status of the situation.

About a week and a half after the deadline, when we had all but given up hope that his application package had even been submitted, he learned that not only had it been submitted, but everything was in order. Whew! One step down.

Next came some more waiting to learn whether Ted's career field would let him go for a different type of assignment. This process was scheduled to take the whole month of August. So we waited.

And Ted was ecstatic when someone from USAFA contacted him directly! They had received his information and really seemed to want him to come teach there next year! We hardly dared to imagine that this dream was coming true, but Ted got busy and had his commanders write the necessary letters of recommendation for him. In the process of talking with someone from USAFA on the phone, he even was told that USAFA wanted him to fly out for an interview during September! Though the Air Force wouldn't pay for his ticket, we decided we were definitely willing to pay for the expense, as an in-person interview seemed to all but guarantee Ted a teaching position.

Well. Apparently the Air Force entities have not learned to communicate with one another. Yesterday Ted received an email from the personnel center stating that his application was not being released for consideration. Thankfully Ted has a friend/contact at AFPC who informed him that the reason in his particular case was manning issues--meaning that his career field is unwilling to let him take a different assignment.

One small glimmer of hope remains, and that is the fact that the USAFA contact told Ted that they have some options to help Ted get out there regardless...but we don't know what all that entails, and of course at this point we are reluctant to invest in sending him to CO for an interview when it looks like the Air Force doesn't want him to go.

I'm not sure why God is leading us through all these ups and downs. We trust Him completely, knowing His plans and timing are perfect. I've prayed that God would pour out His favor on Ted--he has endured many trials related to his current job, and I would love to see him in a position that fully utilizes his talents and passions. (The family-friendly schedule wouldn't hurt, either!!) Regardless of what happens, we'll keep trusting the Lord...but we'd sure appreciate your prayers for patience and faith in the meantime!!

September 04, 2008

The Stats

Oops...I forgot to write the heights and weights of the kids!

Charis--42 pounds, 47 1/4 inches
Tobin--48 pounds, 46 inches
Arden--48 pounds, 44 1/2 inches
Kenna--?? pounds, 32 inches

Kenna has her 18-month appointment on Monday, so we'll get for-sure numbers for her then!

Labor Day 2008

This year was our 3rd annual Labor Day School Promotion! It works out well here, since all the classes at church promote the first weekend in September. Plus, AWANA started last night, so Charis, Tobin, and Arden are officially in 3rd grade, 1st grade, and kindergarten, respectively. As we've done in the past, we took pictures of the kids holding their school signs and weighed and measured all three of them. I also measured Kenna--not sure how accurate the number is--but I didn't get her to stand still on the scale! Typically we've done our "first day of school" activities on Labor Day, but since we actually did school throughout the summer, we did NO school activities this day, with the exception of our read-aloud before bed. (Mr. Popper's Penguins is a HUGE hit with ALL of us...especially Daddy!!)

So instead of doing any "schoolwork," we headed to the mountains with our friends Adam & Laura and their daughter Addie and Mark & Joanne and their kids Cody, Dillon, and Bryce. We went to our favorite picnic area, and though there were quite a few folks around, we found a nice spot with both shade and sun (it alternated between being too hot and a little too chilly!) where the kids could play and explore. Kenna had a blast finding the muddiest spots she could possibly locate and smearing her dirty hands all over her clothes--because even though she must touch new textures, she's not too fond of being dirty! She kept us on our toes, as her first inclination was to follow every "dit-tie" (doggie) that came across the trail. She got to pet a lot of dogs; folks were quite nice to stop and let her admire and chortle at their pets.

The dads and the older kids enjoyed building a dam and playing in and around the water, hiking up hills, sliding down hills on their rears, and generally being dirty and happy. We moms enjoyed relaxing in the shade or sun, depending on our body temperatures at any given moment, and keeping an eye on the little ones. We packed picnic lunches, which were devoured in spurts as the kids had time to come and grab bites. They were so busy!

Kenna fell asleep before we were halfway down the surprise, since she had awakened at 5:30 that morning!! Not only did she sleep all the way home, but she also napped another couple of hours once we got home. I also got a nap--woohoo!

To view pictures from our Labor Day adventures, you can click here. View the slideshow--it's much more fun!

September 02, 2008

Hoping I Don't "Kneed" Treatment

So I was going for a slow jog on Sunday, trying to get back into the routine after being sick all last week with a cold. I had run 2 miles on Saturday and felt pretty good, so I thought 2 miles on Sunday before church would work well. However, as I got started, my right knee started to feel a little sore. Weird. I've never had knee problems before...but then again, I WAS running downhill. Not fast, not hard, mind you--but still. I stopped and stretched a bit, wondering what I should do. I tried jogging again, very slowly, and it seemed OK. So I kept going. By the time I got home I had forgotten about the incident, as both my knees felt just fine.

Unfortunately, during my quiet time and throughout the morning, I began to notice that things were not fine. My knee was stiff--I couldn't completely bend or straighten it, and if I tried, it hurt. Not good. I didn't have much time at home before I had to zip to church to serve at the 9:00 service, and by the time we got home after 12:30, I was definitely limping. I iced the sore area and put some muscle cream on it...took a nap...and woke to find that it was definitely swollen. More ice, more cream, an Ace bandage, and lots of prayers--I don't have time for knee problems, Lord!!

Yesterday morning (Labor Day) it was still sore and swollen. We had plans to go to Mt. Charleston to picnic with 2 other families, and we decided to go ahead and go, as the walk to the picnic area wouldn't be any more strenuous than trying to get up the stairs in our own house. (I'll post more later about our Labor Day activities.) I iced my knee before and after our trip and wore the Ace bandage while we were out and about. I took another nap yesterday afternoon...and when I woke up...PRAISE THE LORD!! The swelling was noticeably down, and the pain was very much subdued.

I had decided that if nothing had changed by Tuesday morning (today), I would call the doctor, but things are noticeably better. I'm still trying to be careful not to bend too deeply and taking it easy on the stairs, etc., but I'm cautiously optimistic that I won't need any major therapy!! No running for me for at least the rest of the week, though I hope to walk a little here and there to keep it strengthened.

Thank you, Lord!!