November 26, 2009

We Interrupt the Spotlight for a Brief Update

Spotlight on Kenna and Lucan to come, but for now I hope to catch up a bit. I'm writing from my mom and dad's house in Wisconsin, the first time we've been here in 6 years! Last time we were here, we were celebrating Thanksgiving with a one-month-old Arden. Hard to believe it's been that long since we were here!

Last weekend was very full. Friday evening we hosted the first meeting of a new family-integrated community (or small group). There were 5 families all together, all of whom were part of the Visionary Parenting class we did this fall at church. We plan to meet once a month beginning in January for a potluck dinner, fellowship, and a devotional that includes all the kids (there are at least 18 kids in our group). So we packed everyone into the house and enjoyed one another's company for almost 3 hours. Ted commandeered the gathering to announce that my birthday was Sunday, so everyone sang to me and we had birthday cake. :-)

Saturday I did a vendor event for my Stampin' Up! business along with a downline member. Unfortunately, the investment so far seems to outweigh the results, but we'll see what happens. I do have a couple of leads; one lady seems eager to schedule a home party after the holidays, so hopefully that will come to pass. It was a long day, and I was happy to get home to a clean house and a completed family picture wall, thanks to Ted and Charis. (To clarify, the boys helped with the clean house, but not the picture wall!) This picture wall is one of the last tasks that needed to be done to finally be unpacked/settled! I love the way it turned out, though now that we have everything up, Ted and I are wondering why in the world we ordered 8x10s instead of 10x13s of our recent family pictures, so we may end up re-ordering those. (Thankfully the prices are good!)

Sunday morning I was treated to some hand-stamped birthday cards--even Ted stamped me a card! He and my ma-in-law went in together to get me a beautiful and comfortable office chair with a mat for my stamping area. This is something we've talked about getting me for a long time but never have. I am happy to have it! Charis gave me a nice watercoloring of a turkey she had made, along with a cute hand-made turkey card. (I should take pictures to post on here later, or maybe I'll have her put them on HER blog!)

After our pancake breakfast, we attended the early service at church, a good ending to our missions emphasis that has been going on this month. I had hoped to get a nap after lunch, but I should have known that wouldn't happen...after being gone all day Saturday, I needed to sort and organize my bags and get things packed up for our trip to Wisconsin on Monday. It was a beautiful day, so I thought I'd get out of the house a little for a short run to clear my head and be able to focus on what I needed to do. Unfortunately, about 5 minutes into the run my knee started to hurt. This is the same knee I injured while running a little over a year ago, so I immediately stopped and walked home. Sigh.

Somehow we got ready for our vacation and managed to hit the road by 8 a.m. on Monday. Our travels were pretty smooth for the most part, though Kenna decided to whine and yowl the last hour. We figured out the problem after we arrived--she had a fever. :-( She's almost over whatever it was that was bothering her but is still pretty pathetic and whiny, especially when tired.

It's good to be back in 'Sconsin, but I must say, my parents' house seems to have shrunk, LOL. But we're managing--we knew we'd need to be prepared for kids waking up at night and going stir crazy during the day. Sure enough, both Kenna and Lucan have been waking up each night, and the boys are driving us crazy during the day!

We woke up to a white Thanksgiving this morning! It's been cold and rainy (and snowy) the whole time we've been here. We're looking forward to getting out of the house tomorrow when the whole clan goes to New Glarus for the big family gathering. It will be our family, my brother and his family, my mom's twin sister and husband plus their three kids and their families...and possibly more people as well. I can't wait! Lots of folks, lots of food, and we'll be eating in their little church's fellowship area, with a gymnasium right there for the kiddos to run around while we old folks catch up! Mom and I have done some baking today--she has made her famous apple pies and is working on the pumpkin pies. I made two recipes of Rose's famous chocolate pecan pie. Tomorrow we'll make some casseroles in the morning before making the drive.

And I guess that catches me up a little here. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

November 22, 2009

Spotlight on...ARDEN

Since Arden is snuggling with Ted on the couch as they watch football, it seems appropriate that I begin this spotlight by noting one of Arden's current obsessions: football. Tobin has absolutely no interest in sports; Arden LOVES sports. Yesterday he and I had a long conversation about football and his aspirations (to play for either the Broncos, Bengals, Vikings, Packers, or Saints). He is so into the game that Ted and I are thinking perhaps we'll let him play on a team next year. I'm not so sure I'm ready to enter the sports arena with our kids--mostly because of the time involved--but I think it's important to encourage them in the areas where their passions and talents lie. So, if current trends continue and his interest doesn't wane, we may very well have a football player in the family.

When he's not playing with his football out in the backyard, Arden can often be found hiding in my bedroom with his Legos. (He has to find a place to play where Kenna can't come steal his pieces!) He got a set for his birthday and has played with it nearly every day since. (Thanks, Ski!) He and Tobin also enjoy playing with various assortments of toys--army men and Legos are a popular combo. Having studied castles and the Middle Ages in our recent school readings, the boys also have been building various castle/knight scenarios. And of course, playing superheroes remains a favorite pastime as well.

Aside from fun stuff, Arden continually displays a passion for other people coming to know Jesus. I love listening to him pray for our missionaries and for the people groups we study who need to hear the gospel. I know God will use his tender heart for His glory. He is a loving, affectionate guy and quite sensitive. But he also loves to tease, especially his younger siblings!

Right now Arden and Tobin are just about the same height--I think Tobin may have a half inch on his younger brother. But Arden definitely outweighs all the other kids! He is one solid dude. He has slimmed down as he has stretched out. It amazes me how different our kids all are--though Arden and Tobin share clothes, they definitely do not have the same body type at all. It's so fun to watch them growing up! Unfortunately, though, they aren't listening when I tell them they need to stop growing!

In school Arden is clipping right along in the 2nd grade math book. (He just turned 6 and is in what we are calling first grade.) Like Tobin, he also has learned all his time tables. His handwriting is improving significantly, though he still has to think about letter formation. But he is getting better! He enjoys reading, though perhaps not quite as much as his older sibs. I'm afraid some of the Sonlight reading is going over his head--he's much too wiggly and uninterested much of the time. But I hope he's absorbing some of it anyway, and I'm sure he'll get it when we go through it in a few years with Kenna!

And now, for the Arden interview:

Favorite foods: Pizza, chocolate chip cookies
Favorite toys: Legos Star Wars people
Favorite activities: Playing football
Favorite animal: Tiger
Favorite color: Red
Favorite subject: Explode the Code (the phonics workbook series we use)
What I want to be when I grow up: A football player.

November 17, 2009

Spotlight on...TOBIN

Those who know and love Tobin are already aware that he is 110% BOY!! From playing Star Wars with foam light sabers to building and crushing Lego structures, from sword fights to wrestling on the furniture, he seems to have an endless supply of energy. Thankfully, he also truly loves to read, and this keeps him quiet when I need him to settle down. :-)

In school Tobin is buzzing right along with math. He just started the Gamma book from Math-U-See, and I expect he'll breeze through the first part of it quickly, since he also knows all his times tables from the aforementioned Timez Attack game. I truly believe that Tobin could learn ANYTHING if it is in computer game format. He is definitely our media boy--anything with a screen mesmerizes him. It's a bit scary, frankly...I suspect we will battle an addiction to gaming with this one! Thankfully he is also extremely social and loves playing with his friends in the neighborhood and at church.

Anyway, back to school. This year I've seen him grow in leaps and bounds with his writing skills. He does his language arts and seatwork activities with no complaints, and he has even started to enjoy creative writing. He is currently writing a mystery book--no surprise there, since that's one of his favorite genres.

His passion for reading is amazing considering he is only 7 1/2 years old. He recently completed Stephen Lawhead's novel Hood, one of Ted's and my favorite books from one of our favorite authors. Last year his reading project was the Lord of the Rings trilogy--he still hasn't made it through the whole saga, but he did make it through the middle of The Two Towers, the second installment. His library stack right now includes books from the Magic Tree House series, the 39 Clues series, The Adventures of Ordinary Boy, and the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, as well as a few Curious George books. :-)

Like his father, Tobin is a major history buff. He amazes me with the knowledge he brings to our reading each day, informing me he read about So-and-So or Such-and-Such in another book and filling in extra details that aren't included in our school reading. I love that he gets so excited when it's time to read history--I certainly never felt that way when I was his age! My love for history has developed AFTER graduating...which is just one reason I wanted to homeschool our kids with Sonlight! Since Tobin is quick to inform me when things get BORING (according to him), I'm sure school will be a constant flow of mesmerizing entertainment, ha!

Though we still have our spiritual battles involving our impetuous firstborn son (one night saw him raging at us and screaming threats to run away when we sent him and Arden to bed without dinner), he has definitely grown and matured in many areas. I'm pleased to note that I am starting to see glimmers of altruism shining through the self-centeredness. He has genuine concern for other people's salvation, if not their well-being, LOL.

Favorite foods: Ice cream, chicken pot pie, ice cream cake.
Favorite toys: Star Wars Legos, army men
Favorite activities: Playing Lord of the Rings and Fortress America with Dad
Favorite animal: Lion
Favorite color: I think it's black.
Favorite subject: History
What I want to be when I grow up: An army man.

November 14, 2009

Catch-Up Week

Ahhhh. I can't believe it's Saturday already. My perfect plan of spotlighting one child per day of the week failed miserably, LOL. But we had a good week. My Facebook friends may have seen that I declared last week "Mommy Mental Health Week." We did only the bare minimum of school. In addition to reading our wonderful Sonlight books, we:

* Went to the Super Playground on base for a picnic lunch.
* Invited neighbor friends over to play and then had them stay for an impromptu lunch and more visiting.
* Enjoyed a day off with Daddy--and Charis and I did her belated birthday outing. Nothing fancy...just got hair cuts, browsed a craft store, ate lunch at Chili's, and spent our B&N gift cards. (Yikes, Rhonda, I FINALLY used my gift card from my birthday last year!!)
* Cleaned the house in preparation for hosting missionary friends this weekend.
* Soaked up lots of sun while enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
* Welcomed the C family, missionaries to Colombia, as they came into town for our church's missions conference.

Also, during the week, I caught up on paying bills (ugh, not fun, but needed to be done), prepared for a home workshop on Thursday night, met with some downline gals to plan our holiday stamp camp in December, and looked for ways to use up the produce from our Happy Box. :-)

So, it was a busy but fun week, and I'm sad the weekend is already half over. The C family arrived for dinner last night, and the kids pretty much ran wild all over the house, thrilled beyond measure to be reunited with Jackson, Makayla, and Avianna, whom they had met in person a couple of months ago when Scott and Laura were in town for a bit and came over for an evening of dinner and fellowship.

Today Scott went to the Ohio vs. Iowa football game, and the rest of us went to the Super Playground on base again. The kids had a blast--well, they were having a blast from the moment they awoke at 7:30 a.m. (We were actually amazed they slept in that long!)

Scott will be preaching at church tomorrow, and then they'll be out somewhere for lunch. I foresee a nap for myself... Then the C family will spend one last night with us before moving on to other activities on Monday. We are so thankful for the chance to fellowship with them.

November 09, 2009

Spotlight on...CHARIS

I'm way behind on life in general, so it stands to reason that my blog has been neglected of late. Rather than try to re-hash what our family has been up to over the last couple of weeks, I decided to take some time to spotlight each of our sweet kiddos this week. Today is Charis's day.

A recent highlight for Charis has been her re-entry into the world of drama! I took her to an audition for a local youth theater production a couple of weeks ago, but she wasn't selected for any parts. This, I felt, was actually a good thing, since the rehearsals would have eaten up three days a week and performances will run December 4 - 13. Additionally, all the main parts likely went to older kids (they wanted ages 8 - 18), so it would have been a lot of time and effort with little return.

So, though she was a bit disappointed, Charis took the results in stride and continued on her merry way. Last Friday, I nearly threw the paper out without looking at it, but I ended up flipping through the Life section and saw on the last page that there was an open audition for Oz: The Musical, and that they would be casting about 100 local kids to be Munchkins or flying monkeys. Charis and I looked at the web site, and she decided she'd like to try out. Since I had a stamp club meeting Saturday morning, Ted took her downtown for the audition. They put the kids in groups of 18 to teach them some choreography and part of a song, then had them perform in groups of 6. Nearly 200 kids auditioned over the course of the weekend, and Charis was one of the ones who made the list!

We're very excited for her opportunity to get some experience and have fun doing something she loves...without having to spend so much time in rehearsals! There will be 2 rehearsals plus the dress rehearsal the week after Thanksgiving, and then the performance weekend. I think we can deal with that!

Charis continues to enjoy her piano lessons and has progressed really quickly. She is teaching herself a number of songs from my old piano books, and I love hearing her play hymns and Christmas carols while singing along very loudly. She enjoys going to music rehearsal with me or Ted and has made quite an impression on the other members of the worship team. I can't wait until she can perform in church someday!

In school, Charis is learning division and has picked up on this very quickly. I attribute this partially to the fact that she learned her multiplication facts so well (thanks, in part, to Timez Attack). She has recently begun writing more on her own and has completed some fun creative stories. She has asked--and I have agreed--to have her own blog so she can share her writing with others, and I hope we can set aside some time before too long to set this up. For those who are interested, we can give you an invitation to her blog, as it will be private.

And of course, Charis stays busy with her own crafty creations. She spends way more time in my stamp room than I do. :-) It's always amazing to see what she comes up with!

And now, a few last tidbits about Charis:

Favorite foods--Chicken pot pie, spaghetti pie, lemon chicken, yum!
Favorite colors--Red, white, and blue
Favorite animal--Horse
Favorite activity--Oh, boy. Crafts, singing, and spending time with my family.
Favorite subject--I think it would be language arts.
What I want to be when I grow up--A seamstress.

November 07, 2009

Farewell to a Dear Friend

A beloved friend has said goodbye to life in this world, victim of one too many beatings. Though we mourn her passing, it is now time to recognize the contributions she made to our family. A helper and support through the long days and wee hours of the night, with us from the moment we brought our first newborn home until recent days, we bid a fond farewell to...

...the Boppy. May she rest in peace.

November 03, 2009

Harvest Festival

The weather warmed up a bit on Halloween, allowing us to get to church for the Harvest Festival without bundling everyone up. Lucan had had a good nap in the afternoon and was pretty good-natured throughout the long evening. We first enjoyed an hour of family worship time--it was fun to watch Kenna sitting with the big kids on the floor, doing the motions and trying to sing along with the songs. Then there were games, bounce houses, nachos, a hayride and bonfire with s'mores, and way more candy than any one family needs. Which reminds me...I need to make appointments for us all to see the dentist...

Kenna Funny

Kenna walked in on me when I was going to the bathroom and declared, "Mommy, you have blue pull-up on!"

Shhh. Don't tell. ;-)