December 28, 2008

Quick Christmas Update

Pictures (and perhaps details) will have to come later...we're still at Grandma's house!

Monday, December 22--
After hearing reports of snowstorms in the areas in which we would be driving, Ted and I set the alarm for 3:30 a.m. Believe it or not, we were on the road with all 4 kids and a packed van by 5 a.m. A number of little things that may have made life easier were left behind--I blame myself for not making a detailed list like I usually do. Nevertheless, we pressed on and made it to Rhonda's house by about 10 p.m. Yes, that's right...16 hours of travel. We hit snow in Utah and it didn't let up until we were within 50 miles or so of our destination. We passed a number of cars that were off the road and thank the Lord for His protection. Whew...don't want to repeat that anytime soon! The Indian in the Cupboard and How to Eat Fried Worms books on CD helped pass some of the miles.

Tuesday, December 23--
Rest and recover day! Rhonda had some prior commitments, so we hung out and relaxed at the house. We did laundry; poor Charis dealt with car sickness several times during our journey. The first time she missed the bag, so we had yucky jeans and a booster seat cover that needed washed. Never a dull moment...

Wednesday, December 24--
We took the kids to a community center with a free (and way cool) indoor playground so they could get some wiggles out. We went to the family-friendly Christmas Eve service at Rhonda's church, during which Charis and Arden joined some kids in being "shepherds." (They arrived early to don costumes; Tobin chose not to participate.) After the service we went to Joel and Sarah's house for KFC, their Christmas Eve tradition, and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas while Ted and I cut apples for homemade applesauce for the next morning. We also had a picture fest...will have to post some of those later.

Christmas Day!!--
Not many people got much sleep, but it wasn't for anticipation's sake. Kenna had a horrible night, waking every hour and a half, and I had trouble breathing. (Darn'd think 12 days would be more than enough time to suffer...) Joel, Sarah, and baby Anders came over around 9ish for a breakfast of crockpot applesauce, pastries, and scrambled eggs, and then we read the Christmas story and opened gifts. Very fun. Lots of game playing and gift-using activities ensued, with a scrumptious feast that afternoon. We lit Jesus's birthday cake and sang "Happy Birthday" and enjoyed red velvet cake with mint frosting for our dessert that night.

Friday, December 26--
We took the kids to Pump It Up in the morning, where they played hard and expended a minor amount of energy. Did some laundry in the afternoon. That evening Ted and I got a date night to go see A Wonderful Life, a live-theater production based on the movie, Rhonda's gift to us. It was very fun, and we also enjoyed a steak dinner at the Texas Road House. Meanwhile, Rhonda, Joel, and Sarah took all the kids to Chuck E. Cheese, where they had a fabulous time and didn't miss us a bit.

Saturday, December 27--
We did get out to run a few errands, including to the library to get some books for the kids to read. (They have already devoured the ones we brought from the LV library.) Grandma then took them back to the aforementioned indoor playground while I took a nap and Ted attempted to get Kenna to nap. The downside of our being here has been that several of us are fighting colds, and Kenna has not taken well to sleeping in a pack-and-play again. We've had to take turns being the nap police, waiting near or in her room until she falls asleep and then sneaking out. It is NOT ideal, but we expected some difficulties in a different environment, and her being sick hasn't helped matters. She did make it through the Saturday evening church service at Joel and Sarah's church last night, for which I was grateful. I needed a time of spiritual refreshment and soaked in the worship music and the message as well.

Once again we had a horrible night with Kenna, so we are hoping to get her down for a 3-hour nap soon. (Ha!) The plan is to go to Joel and Sarah's house for the Bronco game tonight, so I'm really hoping she does get a good nap so that we can enjoy the game. I know she'll keep busy chasing Haiku (their black lab) and exclaiming over Anders, whom all the kids adore.

And with that, I'll sign off. I have much more to write about when I get the chance...I finished reading an excellent book, The Shack, and would like to try to process some of my thoughts about it when I have a bit more time.

To all my friends and family, I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

December 19, 2008

Charis's Dance Recital

The first Wednesday in December Charis's worship ballet/dance class had their first performance, which happened to be at the assisted living facility that we visit now and then. The girls did a great job. Their teacher is a teenage gal in our homeschool co-op (Bethany), and she has a passion for dance and worship. Charis has LOVED the classes and looks forward to going again after the holidays are over. The folks in the audience were quite appreciative--you can see some of them clapping. You can also see a number of little siblings running amok, which only added to the charm! This video is nearly 3 minutes long--not as short as I usually try to make our clips, but I had to get the whole song!

Kenna Meets "Snowy"

Rory, the director of Nick Saint, gave Charis this giant stuffed animal after the play was over. (Each kid involved in the production got to keep one of the big toys!) Kenna was delighted to meet such a large furry creature!

Snow Day Video

The Crib Tent

After nearly a week straight of Kenna not napping, I was feeling desperate and on the verge of insanity. NOTHING was getting done--next to no homeschooling, definitely no house cleaning, and very little if any Christmas preparations. This child is more work than my other 3 put together! Thankfully a couple of friends reminded me of the great invention known as the Crib Tent. I told Ted that this could be my Christmas present, and he stopped and got one on his way home from work yesterday. Now Kenna can climb neither in nor out of the crib--and even though she didn't nap today, at least I knew she was contained and safe! It did make me wonder, though...yesterday and Wednesday she actually took good naps! Did having the Crib Tent today keep her awake and mad?!

December 18, 2008

Christmas Parties

Usually we try to only schedule one or two parties around the holidays to keep from getting stressed during a season that's supposed to be full of peace and joy. This year I counted 4 parties that I've been to (or am going to!). I'm not sure if that's being over-booked or not, especially considering two of the events were ladies only!

December 7--Preschool Leaders' Bunco Party--We all went to church for this, as child care was provided on campus. Ted and I joined other couples for a yummy evening of appetizers, desserts, door prizes, and of course bunco! (Am I spelling that right?!) I won a prize for being the biggest loser, ha! I lost 10 rounds out of 12!

December 13--Ladies' Handmade Holiday Christmas Tea--My friend Debi and I planned another ladies' Christmas party. She had hosted one last year and it was so much fun I asked if we could do it again, but at her house, since it's much less child-proof and therefore more beautifully decorated than mine. :-) My idea, though, was to do a handmade gift exchange instead of the usual "buy a gift and bring it" exchange. With the economy in shambles, we figured it would be a good way to emphasize the spirit of giving and creativity. Let me tell you, that Saturday morning was the BEST!! I had a total blast! There were 9 of us altogether, and we laughed so hard and just had a ball fellowshiping together. We did a potluck brunch and ended up with lots of yummy food. We played a few games and then did the gift exchange, and we did it via the "stealing" method, i.e. everyone gets a number and then chooses either to open a gift or steal one that has already been opened. We put a limit of two times per gift for stealing. Several gifts made the rounds, and it was so much fun to see what people came up with for their gifts! There was a gorgeous scarf, two pieces of framed artwork (I got the one Debi made--it's a Christmas one that I love), a jar of homemade pickles, homemade bread, homemade divinity, a pretty Christmas decoration, cookies...and apparently I'm forgetting one. But I think we were all pretty happy with what we got, and more importantly, we made some great memories.

December 16--Bible study Christmas party--This was our last session for our current study of Beloved Disciple (about the Apostle John). We enjoyed a yummy potluck dinner at Janet's house plus an ornament exchange that I completely forgot about. Thankfully Janet had provided an extra ornament for the pregnant lady with no brain cells, so I was able to participate, too! We exchanged little gifts, too, an unplanned kind of thing, but I came home with some homemade candy apple jelly, a couple of ornaments, and more treats to eat.

Tonight--Nick Saint Cast & Crew party--We are currently waiting for the babysitter to come stay with Kenna and the boys while Ted, Charis and I attend this party. I'm so glad we were able to line up a sitter on short notice (the party date wasn't decided upon until Monday or Tuesday!!). I spent most of yesterday working on a scrapbook album to present to Rory, the writer/director of the play. I must say, I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I plan to take pictures of each spread so I can order the same prints and reproduce the album for Charis some day!! I wish I could have just done both at once, but I didn't have enough card stock and paper. Ah, well. I hope Rory enjoys having the album as much as I enjoyed making it!!

That's it for our holiday outings, other than going to church, of course. It's kind of funny that the year we were the busiest (with Charis and Ted going to rehearsals and performances the first half of December), we ended up attending the most events. But each one has been very fun and memorable...and ironically will help our travels seem like a true vacation!

December 17, 2008

Run That by Me Again?!

This kid funny is from a little while ago, but I wanted to write it down before we forgot. Ted and I were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner one evening when we heard Tobin say to Arden, "You're not supposed to say the F-word!!" Ted and I looked at each other, at a loss for words. HOW in the world did THAT come up?!

But then Tobin continued: "You're supposed to say TOOT!"

We about died laughing when we realized that in our house, the "f-word" must be FART!!

Our Snow Day

These are some pictures from Monday. The first one is in the front yard, just as it was starting to snow. The rest are in the backyard. Kenna was throwing a little "snowball"...the kids made little snowmen with giant carrot noses (the boy on the left is our friend Riley)...the boys worked on a snow fort...and Charis later made a big snowman after she had finished her tiny masterpiece. I regret I never got back outside to take a picture of her finished product, which was taller than Kenna, or to get shots of the whole yard covered with snow, but I was dealing with a non-napping toddler. Grrr. That's a whole other post which I won't write now, though!

December 15, 2008

Would You Believe?!

IT'S SNOWING IN LAS VEGAS!! And I mean SNOWING! This morning's vocabulary word was "accumulate," LOL. It has piled on the branches, and you can't even really see grass anymore. The kids are beyond delighted. When they first woke up, small flakes were coming down, but they were melting as soon as they hit the ground. I didn't let the kids go out for awhile, as it was muddy and just plain messy. But later it actually started sticking, so we all bundled up and went out to catch snowflakes on our tongues. (Arden kept referring to them as snow drops!) The boys cupped their hands and held them in front of their bodies, very still. When I asked what they were doing, they said they were going to collect snowflakes to make snowballs, LOL! Can you tell they haven't had much exposure to snow?!

We had friends over from "down in the valley," who said it was just raining at their house. So the kids had a blast with their friends, making real snowballs (as it had accumulated enough to actually play with by that point), little snowmen, little snow forts, snow angels (on the trampoline, ha!), and so on. It was a very fun break for all of us.

I will post pictures later. I started this post awhile ago, and now it's 7 p.m., the kids are in bed (Kenna never did nap...3rd day in the last 4 days she has shunned her nap, sigh), and I'm going to go spend some much-needed time with my hubby!! After the rehearsals and shows last week, it's very nice to have a quiet evening at home!

December 12, 2008

Baby Update

I had my 24-week check-up yesterday. Our little boy is quite active and kicked the heartbeat monitor several times, causing the tech some consternation as she tried to count beats!

There is a minor blip on an otherwise uneventful pregnancy...based on the ultrasound we had in November, one of Baby's kidneys is measuring on the high end. It's still within range, but because it's on the borderline, the doctor wants to be conservative and send me for another ultrasound in January to take some more measurements. I guess we'll go from there if it's enlarged; in the meantime, I don't really have any extra time or brain cells to devote to worrying, so I'm not going to! As she said, it's still within the normal range, and I'm glad that there will be some follow-up. The u/s is scheduled for January 14. We pray that all will look good and there will be no reason for concern at that time.

December 11, 2008

Christmas Happenings

This Christmas season is flying by and doesn't "feel" as Christmas-y. I'm sure it's because (in large part) the big musical production Nick Saint has nearly consumed our time and energy. Tonight is opening night, and I can't wait to hear how things went. Currently I am home with Kenna and the boys while Charis makes her big stage debut and Ted scurries around in black changing sets.

Last night Tobin, Arden, and I stayed after church to watch the final dress rehearsal while Debi and her daughter sat at our home with Kenna, who slept most of that time. Since we had to wait until the service cleared out...not to mention getting the tech crew ready to go...the rehearsal didn't begin until after 8:30. The show was finished by 11 p.m., and I took the boys home while Rory (the director) was still giving notes. It was nearly midnight by then, so it will be early bedtimes for the next couple of nights for our sons, who think "sleeping in" is one of the seven deadly sins.

Anyway. Though I'm sad that I don't get to see EVERY performance, I'm looking forward to seeing the "real" show on Sunday afternoon with the boys. I bet all the kinks will be worked out by then, LOL. The cast and crew did an amazing job last night. There were a few tech issues--mics not coming on at the right time, for example--but overall everything was FANTASTIC!! I wish all of you could come and see the show live...if you live in Vegas, I hope you will!

Besides chauffering Charis back and forth from rehearsals, we've managed to squeeze in a few Christmas-y activities. Last Friday night the cast and crew were "off," so we made the most of it with a family night of making a gingerbread house from a $10 kit I picked up at Michael's. It had absolutely everything in it, from the pre-baked walls to the icing mix and candies, which was a good thing, because Ted and I were so tired we almost called off our house-raising efforts in favor of going to bed at 7 p.m. But the kids had a great time, and even though the walls caved in later (we didn't wait as long as we should have before decorating them), the kids are proud of their artwork. We're not sure when the destruction of the house will take place, but I'm sure it won't be long before we give in and let them make like Hansel and Gretel. Just for the nutritionally-conscious, you'll be glad to know that a single serving of a gingerbread house is 1/48th of a kit, LOL!

We've also put up our advent calendar, though we've only done readings 3 or 4 days total. Our advent book has been cracked open once. I think when we're all together again in the evenings, our family traditions will re-appear and it will feel more like we're getting ready for Christmas! Thank goodness the play is this week and not next week! Our house is decorated nicely sans Christmas tree. If you read our blog regularly, you'll probably know why we chose not to put a tree up this year. In a word, Kenna...

Despite the busy schedule, I'm making time (though propping my eyes open) for Bible study every morning. My study group is finishing up Beth Moore's study on the disciple John. It's wonderful, and I love digging into the Word. My quiet time takes about an hour each morning. Frankly, it's taken over my exercise time because I just can't get myself awake any earlier than 5 a.m.!! Hopefully when the weather gets warmer I'll feel more like getting out and walking. But anyway, I find that I NEED my time with the Lord before I tackle each day. Ted always makes hot tea for us, and I love sitting in "my" spot each morning, meditating on God's Word and prayer time usually spills over into my shower time and beyond...I find myself just talking to God as much as I can before my young charges awaken, asking Him (begging Him!) for wisdom and patience in parenting our little treasures. That concern consumes me these days, it seems.

Oh, my--I could go on and on, but I'll stop here. It sounds like Arden is finally asleep. I planted myself at the computer because he was wreaking havoc in his room instead of going to sleep. (Our computer desk is in the hall outside the kids' rooms.) Now I need to get back to my office and prepare for tomorrow's stamp club!

December 10, 2008

It's Not Fair!

Poor Arden. He thought he was a victim of severe injustice. I heard him wailing while I was in my office, "Mom! Why does Kenna get so many pieces of fudge?!"

I dashed out of the room to discover that I had not, after all, placed the container of fudge back in the refrigerator after I had transferred the fudge from my bread pan (which I needed for tonight's meatloaf) to another container. As there was too much fudge for the container, I had simply topped it with foil instead of a snug-fitting lid.

Leave it to our Kenna to discover something left on the kitchen island. She had dumped the contents upside down (thankfully the pieces were all in the foil, not on the floor), gotten one of her own bowls, filled it almost to overflowing with the delectable treats, and was making her way to the couch, obviously intent on cozying up with a nice holiday snack. Her clothing, hands, and face showed that she had sampled a bit before deciding to stock up.

Sorry, no pictures of this one, but I couldn't help but laugh!

December 07, 2008

Charis's Commercial!

Here is a link to the commercial for the world premiere of the Nick Saint musical that Charis is in. You can see her if you look to the left of the video screen at the very beginning of the ad--she is wearing a white dress and is with her "mom" from the play. Opening night is this coming Thursday. Please pray for health for all cast and crew members and especially that God is honored in this production!

December 05, 2008


In case you're wondering, Vaseline is much easier to clean up off a tile floor than it is to clean out of a toddler's hair. Two days and 3 baths later, it finally seems to be back to normal. And at least my kitchen floor got mopped again--for the second time in 3 days.

Note to self: The kitchen counter is a terrible place to leave a container of Vaseline!

This picture was taken after Bath #1.

The Lights at Springs Preserve

After a full morning/afternoon of hiking and climbing rocks, you'd think we'd be ready to take it easy, right?! Nope! After a rest time in the mid to late afternoon, we grabbed a dinner of leftovers and headed out again to the Springs Preserve. I've heard great things about this place, but we hadn't ever been, so it was a good choice for our family as well as for our guests. I guess entrance fees are quite a bit higher during the rest of the year, so we took advantage of the lower rates to go and view their lights and be part of the festivities. The weather was great--cool enough for jackets, but not freezing cold.

Our activities inside the Preserve included meeting a water droplet (think giant M&M) and Elmo, then seeing Santa. I was a little surprised by how EXCITED Arden was to meet Santa! We don't "do" Santa at our house, though I did try to whisper to the kids to not make a big deal of it, since their cousins DO believe in Santa. But it didn't matter--when it was our turn to go see Santa, Arden ran full speed ahead yelling, "SANTA!!!" and threw his arms around the jolly old fellow. The man was a GREAT Santa, complete with twinkly eyes and a real beard, LOL. The kids also decorated Christmas ornaments from recycled CDs, and then we watched a "Dickens" presentation which was a pro-environmental sketch based on A Christmas Carol. We then walked around the garden area (which made me want to come back in the daytime so we can see more stuff!) and got some balloons made for the kids. Unfortunately, Tobin's balloon sword popped within moments of his receiving it when he swung back and hit it against an evergreen tree. Boy, was he sad about that. Kenna, however, didn't seem too phased when her balloon popped after she bit the head off the "puppy dog."

For more pictures, you can click here. There aren't nearly as many as in our Red Rock album, so it shouldn't take long to see them all!

December 03, 2008

Videos from Our Day at Red Rock

Arden was the first to try rappelling--brave boy!

Now it's Charis's turn!

Tobin finally gets his turn! Looks like he learned a lot from watching the others go first.

Though she couldn't go rock climbing with her older siblings, Kenna shows off her jumping skills at the park!

Black Friday in Red Rock Canyon

Thank goodness no one in our family is a die-hard shopper. It was unanimous that we head OUT of the city the day after Thanksgiving to enjoy spending time at Red Rock Canyon, a place we've been several times of late and will probably never get tired of. After a leisurely morning, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the park. Amazingly, it was actually crowded! The other times I've taken the kids were on school mornings/afternoons, and there were hardly any other people there at those times. But the Friday of a holiday weekend?! I guess we weren't the only ones trying to avoid the insane shopping rushes. Still, it was fun to get outside after being shut indoors by unexpected rain, and such a sunny day called for some exercise to work off all of Thursday's calories.

As expected, the kids had a blast climbing and exploring, and with 4 adults along this time, it was much easier to wrangle Kenna around. (She pretty much requires her very own bodyguard for these types of activities. "No fear" is more than just a slogan--it's her way of life!) We spent some time at the first stop on the 13-mile loop, then skipped the next two because of crowds. After a brief look off the high point, we made our way to the picnic area, which, surprisingly, was not as crowded as we had feared. Of course the kids were all starving, so food was devoured at an alarming rate, followed by more exploration.

Just as we were ready to pack up and head home for naptime, some rock climbers came along and began setting up their ropes and equipment for climbing. The kids were enthralled and wanted to wait to see a performance. By the time everything was set up, we figured we might as well wait and let the kids see some action. Boy, did they ever!! The two men who had initially climbed up high to throw down ropes, etc., came down right by where we were watching. The younger guy did a little upside-down showboat routine to many "ooohs" and "aaahs." I guess such an appreciative audience was welcome, because the leader of the group (who is obviously a dad and a Boy Scout leader) offered to let all our kids (or at least the 4 older ones) do a bit of "rappeling." This offer was met with cries of delight, and so Arden, Meghan, Charis, and finally Tobin were treated to a little lesson followed by a chance to "rappel" about 6 feet down. The kids all did so great! I'll have to upload some videos later, but you can see Arden bravely taking on the challenge of going first. As you can imagine, this was the highlight of their day!

We took LOTS of pictures of this excursion, and you can see 60 of them here. The first batch is from Clint and Ski's camera, followed by the ones we took--so they're a bit out of order and have some similar shots. But hey, it's pictures. :-)

December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Our family enjoyed hosting Ski, Ted's sister, and her husband Clint and daughters Meghan and Tabitha for a few days at Thanksgiving. Charis and Meghan immediately hit it off and were together pretty much constantly, even trying to dress alike when possible! The T family arrived Wednesday for a late dinner, and we had a lazy morning on Thursday with homemade applesauce that had been cooking in the crockpot overnight for a quick and easy breakfast. Since I had done most of my cooking and baking beforehand, the day was fairly laid back. We played games and chatted most of the morning and early afternoon, sending the kids out during a bit of clear weather, which didn't last long--would you believe we had RAIN for two days here in Las Vegas!!

The F family arrived close to 3:00, and we set out all the food...wish I had thought to get a picture of THAT! Our menu included ham with pineapple sauce, cheesy hashbrown casserole, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, homemade cranberry sauce (yummy, Heather!!), green bean supreme, sweet potato casserole, butternut squash puree, pistachio salad, a relish tray, pecan pie, cinnamon-apple upside-down coffee cake, and Oreo "truffles," which were more like "Oreo bombs." Whew! I guess the only thing we didn't cover was dressing, but it wasn't missed at all, LOL.

We had the kids make "Pilgrim hats," an idea I got from Megan, who had made some in advance. They enjoyed the activity, but the hats were not on display long, let me tell you! It was a cute idea and much less involved than the idea Heather and I originally had, which was making candy turkeys. THOSE involved Oreos, Reeses PB cups (large AND small), Whoppers, candy corn, and frosting...yeah, Pilgrim hats were a MUCH better plan!! After the kids were satiated with sugar, we let them watch a movie while we grown-ups attempted to get a game together. We ended up playing a round of Taboo, and then we all (or at least most of us) ended up in the family room watching Wall-E. Since Ted, Arden, and Clint had not seen the movie before, it was a fun way to end the day--all cuddled up in front of a heart-warming movie.

For more Thanksgiving pictures, you can click here. I will have to wait until tomorrow to post more about our day-after-Thanksgiving activities. Just a clue, though...they did not involve shopping, LOL!

A Few Random Pictures

...before I try to catch up and blog about our Thanksgiving.

Charis and Tobin with their taekwondo instructors, Mr. and Ms. Martin (brother and sister), at their last class.

The morning before Thanksgiving Kenna was apparently tired...she plopped down in the middle of the kitchen floor with her buddies and blanket!

Kenna found Arden's bike helmet and pads and decided to try them on.

A weekend treat...playing computer games with Daddy.