January 30, 2009

Sometimes I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

Or at least prayers where the answer was a resounding NO, LOL!

After a series on finances at our church (perfect timing with this economy, eh?), I requested Your Money Map from our library. I've skimmed through quite a few chapters already. I'm so thankful that Ted and I have no credit card debt, and currently the only debt we do have is about $1700 left to pay on our minivan. (It will be paid off just in time to get another vehicle that will better fit our family, ha!) Even though the book contains a lot of information that Ted and I already know, have accepted, and claimed for our lives as stewards of the resources God has given us, it is still good to be reminded that EVERYTHING we have is God's, and it can ALL be used for His glory--not just whatever we tithe.

This morning I was reflecting during my prayer time, asking God for wisdom in directing us to a new (or "new") vehicle, saving more, etc., and I couldn't help but start to praise Him once again for His protection over our finances. Some may remember that in 2005 we were asking for prayers for Ted as he flew from Maryland to Las Vegas on a house-hunting trip. Every person we talked to had told us we simply HAD to buy a house--the market was hot, hot, HOT, and we'd make so much money when it was time for us to move again. Ted did his best, but it seemed we hit a brick wall every time we thought perhaps we had found a house we could actually afford to buy.

Finally we opened our minds to the possibility of renting a house instead of purchasing one. Immediately our prospects looked much better--there were tons of rentals going for less than our housing allowance, so we'd actually be able to use some of the allowance for utilities, etc., instead of over-stretching our budget simply to make a mortgage payment.

So we moved into a 2,000 square-foot rental in August 2005. In May 2006 we had to move to another rental because the owner was facing foreclosure. In October 2007 we once again had to move to another rental because THAT owner was not only facing foreclosure but also charges of fraud and who knows what else. (Goodbye, security deposit!!)

Thankfully we haven't had to move again, and even though the process of moving 3 times locally has been painful and frustrating (that 4,000 square-foot house we were in before this one is STILL sitting empty, sigh), we are just so thankful that WE are not the owners going through a foreclosure!!!

God truly does know best! I thank Him over and over for protecting us. If we had bought a house in 2005, it would have been highly overpriced, and then we would be faced with trying to sell it in this market. Not a good prospect.

Thank you, Father!!

January 28, 2009

Answers to FAQs

In case you were wondering...

1. No, I haven't had the baby yet.
2. No, we haven't decided on a name yet. But even if we had, we wouldn't be telling you! (No offense--not even our kids will know the name until Baby is born!)
3. No, we haven't heard where we'll be moving this summer.
4. No, we don't have any idea where we'll be moving this summer.

Trust me, we'll share news as soon as we can!

Baby Update

I realized I haven't posted an update for awhile regarding Baby's kidney. I had another ultrasound on January 14, and over a week later I finally learned the results. Basically, there has been no change, which means his kidney is still measuring within the "normal" range, but on the high end. So they still want to monitor it. That means more ultrasounds, sigh. It's not that I don't appreciate the opportunity to see that the baby is OK, but driving 45 minutes each way to the base hospital, plus finding child care for the kids, plus having to endure a full bladder while a tech presses on my belly...let's just say that at this point, it's more troublesome than thrilling!

The good news is that the OB informed me that if there is a problem with an enlarged kidney (which is fairly common in boys), then usually it will resolve itself. Even if it doesn't, they will simply continue to monitor the situation after birth. No major surgery required, no drama, no need to worry.

So I'm not. :-) As Jesus said, "Each day has enough trouble of its own!"

January 26, 2009

I Love My Husband!

There are many reasons I am still head-over-heels in love with Ted, but I thought I would share a few things he did yesterday that show his character. While I took the older 3 kids to a birthday party yesterday afternoon, he stayed home with Kenna and:

1) Swept and mopped the dining room and kitchen floor
2) Made a yummy Strawberry Earthquake Cake for us to enjoy later in the evening
3) Got dinner ready for us to eat as soon as we walked in the door
4) Kept Kenna contained for 2 hours :-) (Notice I said "contained," not "entertained," as he was busy being Mr. Mom!)

I came home to clean floors, a wonderful-smelling house, a prepared dinner, and a happy Kenna!

I love my man, and I'm so blessed to be his wife!!

January 23, 2009

The Little Things, Part 2

Little joys of life from yesterday...

* The homeschool garage sale I attended--I spent $34 and got TONS of GREAT stuff, including 27 Mythbuster episodes on DVD!! One of my biggest joys from yesterday was seeing the look on Ted's face when he saw the collection! Also lots of wonderful books that our whole family will be enjoying for a long time to come.

* The gorgeous weather. From the wonderful smell of rain Wednesday night to the bright sunny afternoon yesterday, I'm finally starting to realize that I will actually miss Las Vegas when we move.

* Listening to Kenna's shrieks of laughter while I jumped on the trampoline with her. "Bump," she would demand, and I'd jump some more, toppling her over in a matter of moments, much to her delight.

* Watching the kids do an "experiment" to see what it's like to be blind. (Our current Sonlight read-aloud is Follow My Leader, about a boy who is blinded by a firecracker at age 11 and has to learn to adapt.) Charis kept asking for more and more "tasks" to perform while "blind!" Great discussion opportunities. I cherish these moments of homeschooling my kids.

* Surprising the kids with a hot chocolate treat in the middle of the afternoon...while sitting down myself with a chai latte!

* Seeing Charis almost single-handedly make the meatloaf that we had for dinner last night. What a great little cook she is becoming! (And as a fun side note...she crushed the crackers while being "blind," but the rest of the project she did while fully sighted--thank goodness, ha!)

January 20, 2009

We Love Three-Day Weekends!

I really think we should have more of these on the calendar. I had a great weekend, starting with a long day of scrapping at Debi's house on Saturday. I finished our Disney World pages, so now I am officially two years behind, ha! I also did a few more pages in Kenna's album. This needs major work if I am to finish before the new baby comes and provides more opportunities for getting behind in scrapbooking. Debi and I had a fun day together and enjoyed a break for lunch at Panda Express. Her daughter had left for college in Reno that morning with her dad driving her, so I think it helped Debi that I was there to somewhat take her mind off the fact that her firstborn is flying the nest. I can hardly imagine what that feeling will be like...it's only a decade or so away before my sweet little Charis is ready for college! I say "only" because I think of how short the first 10 years of our marriage seemed (we'll hit 12 years in June) and of how fast time is already flying with our children. (Although there are plenty of long days in there, trust me! See earlier posts, LOL!)

Sunday afternoon I did a Sam's Club run--I'm realizing now I need to blog some things about Charis, but I will do that later. Anyway, I started experiencing some major contractions while shopping and came home to sit down with relief and visit with some friends whom we had invited over for the evening. We watched a little football, ordered dinner from Pizza Hut, and began a series of pinochle games while the kids watched Horton Hears a Who with their friend Addie. Laura and I got thoroughly trounced by the guys in all three of our games. (Well, there was the game that we lost by only a couple of hundred points, but it was dismal overall.) The contractions continued, causing me to wonder if I should have started nesting a long time ago.

But, thank the Lord, the contractions had subsided by Monday morning, leaving me free to continue with the grocery shopping at the neighborhood Walmart. I did quite a bit of work on my business--Ted did the Sonlight reading for school time while I prepped for a Tuesday morning workshop with my deaf friends. While he fixed lunch, I entered orders from my Friday night show (almost $550, woohoo!). I took a break to play a game of Catan with the whole family while Kenna was napping, and then I spent a good hour and a half or maybe even more entering receipts from last year--ugh. I can't believe I totally let that area of my life go!! I used to be so anal about my business tracking, entering each individual receipt the day I spent or earned the money. Now...?! Now I just enter 8 months' worth of STUFF all at once!!! Yikes! I have got to do better this year.

Before bedtime, Ted and the kids and I finished reading The 101 Dalmations (the REAL novel), one of my all-time favorite books. (I don't know if it's on the Sonlight list...if not, it should be!) After we got the kids in bed, Ted and I watched Facing the Giants for the first time. (I had picked it up for us for Christmas.) It was quite good! We had seen Fireproof in the theater, and I have to say that this one was just as good. We look forward to watching the extras tonight.

So, that was our weekend. Terribly exciting, wasn't it?! I guess it would have been if I had really gone into early labor, ha!

January 17, 2009

And Another One

Today Kenna got into the honey jar. Talk about a sticky baby!! The days are long but the years are short, right?!

January 16, 2009

Today's Kenna Stunt

A big uh-oh here.

Kenna can now get out of her onesies. Heaven help us all!

During a particularly good "Room Time" for Kenna (so I thought), we were making great progress on our Language Arts writing assignments. Tobin was having a reasonably good time comparing and contrasting Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, and Charis was actually happily writing a story based on a Story Starter picture prompt. (A happily writing Charis is a rare creature!)

So I should have suspected something was amiss when an hour had gone by and Kenna was still not fussing to get out of her room. I had Arden go ahead and let her out, and soon we saw her at the top of the stairs, with her onesie unsnapped...and her bare naked bottom hanging out. This might have been cute but for the odor which wafted all the way to the dining room.

Yup. She had pooped. And un-diapered herself. I dreaded what I might find in her room, but thank the good Lord she hadn't yet made it around to creating any artwork with her feces. There WAS a pile of solid poop on the bedspread of the twin bed in her room, which cleaned up easily. Whew!

With our morning school session officially over, Kenna enjoyed a morning bath.

January 12, 2009

You Make Me Laugh!

Yesterday during lunch Kenna looked up at the back screen door and saw a bug. She immediately notified us, pointing and exclaiming, "Buh, buh, BUH!" We acknowledged that yes, it was indeed a bug. (How clever of her to notice!) She stopped her proclamations, stared thoughtfully at the bug for a moment, then wrinkled her little nose and said, "EWWWWW!" The whole family burst into laughter, so I knew I had to remember to write this on the blog!

While reading aloud to me this morning, Arden was running his sentences together. He's a great reader for being only 5 1/2 years old, but he does tend to be a bit monotone and wants to read fast like his older sibs. I had him stop and pointed out the periods on the page. I suggested that he take a little break, maybe take a breath or something, when he came to a period so he would remember to pause more between sentences. Dutifully he read the next sentence, stopped completely after the next period, took an enormous breath, and moved on. It was very hard not to giggle!

During our Sonlight read-aloud time this afternoon, I caught a whiff of stinky feet. I asked who the culprit was, and of course everyone denied being the one to have smelly toes. Tobin even leaned down to sniff his foot to be sure. When I asked, "Well, does it smell?" his response was, "Only if you get REALLY close!"

January 10, 2009

Dry fur, anyone?

As I was putting lotion on this morning, I noticed the disclaimer on the bottle: "Finished product not tested on animals." Which begs the question, WHY would anyone think there would be a benefit to putting lotion on animals?!

Christmas Pictures

Reindeer sandwiches. :-)

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day

Playing at Pump It Up!

Date Night to see A Wonderful Life theater performance.

Ski Day!

January 08, 2009

It's the Little Things

As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I have decided I need to celebrate little accomplishments and bits of unexpected joy rather than focusing on whether or not I cross off all the items on my to-do list each day. One thing I've realized about myself (brought into sharp focus during the holiday season as I read Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson and The Shack by William Young) is that I think of myself as a "human doing" more than a "human being." I tend to feel the need to justify my "worth" by ticking off all the things that "got done" during any given day. I'm not sure why...my husband certainly would be the first to understand if he comes home to a house that looks like a tornado hit it. (He's spent enough time alone with the kids to know how difficult it can be just to get a meal ready!) And my parents undoubtedly gave me unconditional love and approval that didn't hinge on my accomplishments.

But there it is. And I'm glad I've recognized that trait in myself and put words to it so that I can turn it over to God. I want to let Him work on me so I can truly ABIDE in Him rather than working for His approval, which is basically what I do when I focus on DOING things for Him rather than BEING His child.

So. I've decided (resolved, if you will, since I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions to speak of) to take time to chronicle a different sort of accomplishment throughout the year--that of enjoying life and reveling in the intangible achievements, milestones, and steps I and my family take in our journey toward eternity.

Today, I joyfully praise the Lord:

* For the opportunity to hear my girls shrieking and giggling together as they played and read on the stairs. They are developing a special bond--no surprise, since Charis prayed 2 years for a baby sister!

* That my stairs got vacuumed. Even better, my 8-year-old did it!

* For a loving church family and the privilege of serving a meal to a family of fellow believers.

* For the words from my OB doctor today: "Wow, you're teeny-tiny!" That felt good after seeing how much weight I've gained so far (21 pounds)!

* For allowing Kenna to actually nap long enough for me to do Sonlight reading with the older 3 kids without interruption. Never mind that I didn't get to any of my business tasks today--we did school!! Piled on the couch, looking at wonderful books like The Greek News, The Year of Miss Agnes, Leading Little Ones to God, and First Guide to the Universe!

I hope to post more about the "little things" throughout the year. Heaven forbid that I neglect to enjoy the life God has given me in favor of "accomplishing" things.

January 07, 2009

Kenna Stunt of the Day

Today's feat was finding and opening a large bag of chocolate chips from the pantry. (Previously opened--kept closed with a twist-tie.) The crime scene was discovered shortly after suspect entered the Land of Chocolate Bliss. Upon "arrest," the suspect had only one comment: "Mmmmm, mmmmmmmm!"

January 05, 2009

We're Home!

Here's a really great shot of our whole family on Christmas Eve at Joel and Sarah's house. I saved it from her blog...hopefully the quality is OK for posting here! I'll have to get the full-sized picture later so we can have it for our scrapbook, but seeing as how I'm 2 years behind, there's no rush, LOL. So anyway, we made it home safely on Friday with no snow whatsoever and only one throwing-up incident (compared to 3 on our first journey), and thankfully Charis fully utilized the bag this time, so there were no major disruptions to the journey. This time we listened to The Great Brain (one of Ted's favorites from growing up) and The Adventures of Ali Baba Bernstein on CD. We arrived home around 7:30 p.m. Vegas time, I believe, so not too bad!

A quick summary of the rest of our time in Colorado...

Monday, December 29--
Ski Day! Ted, Joel, and the older 3 kids went to Loveland for a fun-filled day of skiing and snowboarding. The kids did great during their ski lessons, and Ted and Joel had a great time together. It was the warmest day of our time there, so it worked out well. Arden was especially thrilled to get to join his siblings this time, since last time he was only 2 years old and had to stay home with Mom. This time Kenna was the one at home with Mom and Grandma, and it was, well, kind of a long day. I DID enjoy some great one-on-one time with her that I usually don't have; we read lots of books together and played with various toys, and she did nap a little bit for me. However, she also got to watch 3 baby DVDs just so I could have a bit of peace for doing laundry and trying to read my own book. (Truth be told, Kenna watched WAY more TV in Colorado than she EVER does here at home!)

Side note: While watching Kenna have a meltdown on this day, I realized that her bottom canines had popped through! That explained SO much...her runny poops and runny nose, low-grade fever, lack of appetite, sleeping problems, and general irritability. Sure enough, Kenna began sleeping reasonably through the night the rest of our time in Colorado.

Tuesday, December 30--
Today was swimming day. The Apex has an indoor water recreation center that includes a great waterslide with inner tubes for riding, plus a shallow beach-like area with slides and fountains for the little ones. Kenna lasted about an hour and seemed to enjoy the water, but then I think she got cold. So she and I got dressed and bought hot dogs for everyone to have for a snack, and then I took her upstairs to the play area we had taken the kids to before while Ted and the other 3 kiddos enjoyed the water park for a couple more hours.

Wednesday, New Year's Eve--
Ted and his best friend from high school, Bill, got together for a day of skiing while Grandma kept the rest of us hopping! We went to the mall, rode the carousel, looked around at the Lego store, ate at the food court, went back to the Lego store, managed to leave without purchasing anything from the Lego store, and drove back to Rhonda's condo for Kenna's nap. I worked on my last load of Colorado laundry while waiting for Kenna to fall asleep, and Joel brought Haiku (their black lab) over so the big kids and Grandma could all go hiking for awhile. I think I got a 20-minute nap, but Kenna wasn't in a napping mood much of the time we were gone!

That evening our family went to Bill's family's apartment for a yummy spaghetti dinner and fellowship. Their three kids are the same ages as our older three, and they had a great time with their peers. We enjoyed catching up with the B family, too.

Thursday, New Year's Day--
This was our last day in Colorado, and we spent it being thoroughly lazy! Parades, football, good books and good food...and I seem to remember getting a great nap since there were more people to help with Kenna! We enjoyed spending time all together. I love this picture of Sarah, Anders, and Arden. Our kids REALLY loved spending time with their baby cousin. Kenna would squeal "BABY" whenever she saw Anders...or his picture! He's really a cutie, and we were so glad to get to see and hold him. He'll be so much bigger next time we get to see him.

Friday, January 2--
Road trip! With clear roads this time, our journey took "only" 13 hours. :-) We did stop to let the kids work out some wiggles at a couple of play areas, so all in all, the 750-mile trip went fairly well.

And that's that! My next post will hopefully be done without Kenna on my lap, and it will just be pictures. :-)