October 28, 2010

Anatomy 101

So in science we've been reading about the animal kingdom.  A few days ago, after reading another characteristic about mammals--that they feed milk to their young--an interesting discussion ensued.  Arden was wondering aloud why boys have nipples when they don't nurse babies.  I thought that was an interesting question and wasn't sure how to answer, but I needn't have worried, because I soon realized there was a bit of consternation on Tobin's part when he realized we were talking about mothers having nipples. 

(I should note that during all this, Charis was sitting next to me, completely chagrined by this conversation.  I guess she's a bit sensitive after having "the talk!" You can just imagine her response when she heard what came next...)

"I thought only boys had nipples," Tobin said.  (I have NO idea where he got that idea!)  I explained that the nipples were how babies sucked the milk from their mothers. 

"I thought those were called boobs!"

[Insert muffled laughter here on my part and complete mortification on Charis's part.]

If you're familiar with our blog, you may remember Tobin's fascination with nursing after Kenna was born.  I would have thought that he would be more educated by now, LOL!

Kenna's Future

In recent weeks and even months, Kenna has announced she will do certain things when she's a mommy.  For example, "When I'm a mommy, I'll make pizza for my family." 

"When I'm a mommy, I'll wear that, too."  ("That," in one particular instance, was deodorant, LOL.)

"When I'm a mommy, I'll feed my baby."

And so on.  It usually has to do with whatever she is watching or helping me do.

So I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised when, this afternoon while she was watching Charis work on a little sewing project, Kenna said, "When I'm Charis, I'll make a doll!"

October 24, 2010

Creation Museum Visit and Birthday Celebration

I've read on friends' blogs about their visits to the Creation Museum, and I have been eager to go ever since we moved to Ohio.  When we heard my parents were coming out for a visit near Charis and Arden's birthday, we decided to make the trip this weekend.

What a blessing--our neighbors have guest passes that anyone can use at anytime!  With their 4 passes, plus the free admittance for active duty and police officers (for Ted and my dad), we only had to pay for one child's admission!  (Kenna and Lucan were free.)  We packed a picnic lunch and made the drive Friday morning.  I was SO glad Ted was able to take a day of leave, as the museum was crowded enough on a weekday--I can't imagine going on a Saturday!

What a neat place!  The museum itself is huge.  There was a lot to see, and I'm sure we grown-ups could have spent a lot more time reading all the informative signs if we were on our own.  But the kids did well and seemed to really enjoy everything.  We looked for fossils in one of the first rooms before beginning the "walk through the Bible" portion, which took us around and around from room to room, starting with a set-up of the Garden of Eden and going through the 7 C's:  Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation.  The kids learned about the 7 C's during their VBS week at church, so that was pretty cool.  (Charis is sitting beside me now, watching me type, and whispering, "Really fun!!"  I think she had a good time!)

I enjoyed the room with the construction of the ark--a full 1% of the volume of the actual ark, and it was HUGE!  I can only imagine how big the real thing was!  There were a number of models and explanations of how things may have worked, the practical details that the Bible doesn't record but had to be attended one way or another.

There was a video for the last 3 C's, but since there was a wait to get into the theater, and since we had some hungry (and rapidly getting cranky) children on our hands, we made our way outside and found some tables so we could enjoy our picnic lunch.  The kids fed bread crumbs to the fish in the pond, and then we walked along the garden paths and went into the petting zoo, where we saw alpacas, cows, a camel, zonkeys, sheep, goats, a wallaby, and a few other critters whose names I probably can't spell.

We went back inside to finish up by looking at the Dinosaur Den.  It was very nice to read information about these fascinating creatures from a biblical standpoint.  We watched a fun video about dragons--how legends likely sprang up from the actual creatures that existed way back in time.  Since dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time (despite what evolutionists try to say), it makes sense!  And many people don't know--though we did, having studied it in college and again last year with the kids' science curriculum--that the book of Job actually describes two different animals that were likely dinosaurs, the behemoth and the leviathan.  (And the leviathan clearly was a fire-breathing creature!)

The only thing that marred the day was that Charis got her finger caught in a bathroom door and experienced major pain.  We were able to get a cup of ice for her, but unfortunately, she had to endure a sad end to our fun day.  But getting to ride home with Grandma and Grandpa (with no other kids!) was a little treat.

We ordered pizza when we got home and FINALLY, REALLY celebrated Charis and Arden's birthdays!  We had made them wait to open presents until Grandma and Grandpa could be here, and Arden had been itching to tear open his gifts all week. :-)  We had carrot cake, their request, and then let them have at it, LOL.  I'll post some birthday pictures here, and if you want to see pictures of our Creation Museum visit, you can go here.

A "Corny" Birthday Outing

Charis and Arden celebrated their 10th and 7th birthdays on October 18, and we've had some fun family outings both the weekend before and after.  The Saturday before their actual birthday, we decided to have our own family celebration at Young's doing something we haven't tried before but the kids have been begging to do: go through the corn maze! 

The weather was beautiful.  And obviously we weren't the only ones with this idea--there were HORDES of people there!  But the wait for our turn on the wagon to get to the cornfield really didn't take long, and before long we were winding our way through the paths.  We were wishing we had brought the stroller along, as the paths were definitely wide enough and hard enough that it would have been fine to wheel Lucan or Kenna along.  As it was...either Ted or I carried Lucan most of the way.  The older kids argued over who was the "leader" and "took turns" deciding which path to choose.  It probably took us about 45 minutes to an hour, partly because we were trying to hit all 4 of the stations with questions to answer.

We decided to have an early dinner there and then, of course, ice cream!  It was so beautiful outside, and the kids enjoyed climbing the tractors and the big tires, watching the animals, and looking at all the pumpkins and gourds.  I don't think we ever get tired of going to Young's!  We will definitely miss being close to it when we move (who knows where) next summer!

To see all the pictures, you can go to our Facebook album.

Cincinnati Zoo

A few months ago Ted switched squadrons.  He's doing essentially the same job, just for a different group.  His old squadron gave him a going-away gift that was incredibly thoughtful--7 tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo, 7 wristbands for the rides, and a free parking pass!  A day at the zoo wouldn't have been very cheap for our family, and as we had never been to this zoo before, we were excited to go.  We decided Columbus Day would be the perfect opportunity--cooler weather, low crowds, and the bonus of actually coinciding with school topics, LOL.  (We've been studying the animal kingdom in science!)

All in all, it was a very good day.  We didn't take tons of pictures...I'll just post a couple of my favorites.  The zoo is a very nice one--you'd never know it's in the middle of the city!  The kids especially enjoyed the elephant show.  (I've never seen an elephant SKIP before!)  And the train ride and merry-go-round rides were a hit, of course.  The nocturnal creatures building was very fun; we got to see a barn owl, and since one of the main characters in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series is that species, it was a big moment when the owl finally turned its head and we were able to see "Soren!"  The girls were especially taken with the baby chimps and bonobos hanging onto their moms.  (It reminded me of trying to cook dinner with Lucan hanging on to my legs, ha!)

Charis wrote a poem about our experiences.  (If you don't have access to her blog, let me know and I'll send you an invitation--her blog is private.)

October 19, 2010

Spotlight on...LUCAN

Today was Lucan's 18-month well-baby check-up.  (We're about a month late...)  Weighing in at 24 pounds, 4 ounces, he's in the 26th percentile for weight and 33rd percentile for height (31 3/4").  He is definitely not going to be the same build as Arden, LOL.  Overall, he's a pretty healthy little guy.  Since we had his check-up this morning, I thought I'd take time to jot down some notes about him at this stage in life.  All too quickly, I know, things will change!  So, here are some random things about our sweet little Lucan.

Lucan definitely understands more than he can communicate.  He has a grand total of maybe 6-7 signs:
  • More
  • Please
  • Eat
  • Milk
  • Shoes
  • All done

His verbal skills aren't much more impressive.  I was hard pressed to list a half dozen words that he consistently uses.
  • Eee (eat)
  • Hi
  • Nigh (night-night)
  • Dare (there)
  • Yay!  (Both arms must be raised above the head when saying this word.)
 Um, yeah.  Notice "Mama" and "Dada" are not even on the list!  Neither is "uh, oh," which was definitely one of Kenna's first words.  (Go figure.)  If it would count as a word, I'd list "uuh" or maybe "ooo."  He says that a lot.  While I'm not terribly concerned about the lack of verbiage from the baby of the family, his PCM (primary care manager) suggested having him evaluated to see if we can help him begin to speak more and whether speech therapy is needed at this point.  (Although, to be fair, she didn't seem overly concerned about it, either--just something that probably had to be said at this point.)  I think someone may be calling me to set up an in-home appointment to come and observe him in his natural environment...I wasn't really clear on whether this WOULD happen or COULD happen.  I guess I'll find out!  With 4 older sibs who know their baby brother REALLY well, there really isn't much need for Lucan to talk.  I've been trying to make him use more sign language before giving him what I can tell he wants, and we will try extra hard to have the kids really work with him to repeat words (which he does try to do on occasion).

But the kid understands quite well what's happening around him!  When I tell him it's time for a diaper change, he trots to our "spot" and assumes the position.  When he hears it's bath time, he trots into the bathroom and begins stripping down.  And oh, the boy knows when it's time to eat!  Guess we just need to prod him a little to make him work harder for what he wants.

Mommy, Mommy, and did I mention, Mommy?!  We are definitely in the clingy stage.  I remember going through this with the others around this same age.  It can be very aggravating when trying to make dinner--it's not easy toting around a large object on one's leg or working with a small person's head stuck between one's knees.  All I can say about this is, thank God for hips.  And nap time.  And when I read about the Proverbs 31 woman having arms that are strong for her tasks, I think..."She ain't got nothin' on my left bicep!  This baby-hauling mama HAS to have strong arms in order to survive!"  (I just sometimes wish there were more than two of 'em!)

Other favorites include:
  • Listening to Daddy make raspberry noises.
  • Light switches--turning them off and on.
  • The phone.  (We never lose it anymore...he certainly knows how to page it...)
  • The piano, especially when Charis is trying to practice.
  • Having his shoes ON.  Even when wearing pajamas with feet.
  • Big bouncy balls.
  • Greeting Daddy when he comes home from work.
  • Indiscriminate waving.  Alive or not, it doesn't matter--if he can see you/it, he will wave to you/it.
  • Giving high fives.
  • Riding piggy back on Charis or Tobin.
Lucan is really getting into books these days, which is fun for all of us except Kenna, because it seems to be my reading time with her that he decides is the best time to horn his way onto my lap, grab the book we're looking at, push her aside (literally), and demand my full attention.  But other than the Mom-stealing part of reading time, it's fun to see him really start to be engaged with what's happening on the page, pointing and exclaiming in his own little babble language.

Puzzles are another budding interest.  We have quite a few of these to capture his fancy, from magnetic book puzzles to foam and wooden shapes.  He definitely knows where pieces are supposed to go, even if he isn't quite coordinated to get them all in the right way.

We still like to go for walks in the wagon, but the weather is turning colder, so we no longer do this before the big kids rise and shine.  So we don't go out as frequently, though I do try to send him to the back yard with an older sib to bounce on the trampoline or just putter around with a ball and some toys.  I do miss the little play gyms we've had in the past...

And, as you can see below, he loves being a little ham!  He always has an appreciative audience.  Lucan really does light up our life ("Lucan" = Irish, "light"), and we can't imagine our lives without him.  What a blessing and a treasure he is!

A Peek into Arden's Mind

Arden sat up front with me on the way home from base after Lucan's 18-month check-up.  He chatted quite a bit with me, and the random comments and questions were just too cute not to record for posterity!

"Mom, I really wish I could be called Daniel."

"That tree is naked!"

"Mom, in 5 more years I can play football.  I am 7, after all."  (This after turning 7 YESTERDAY!)

"Mom, do some pirates not wear shirts?"

[Then, apparently not satisfied with the answer I gave him...]

"Tobin, you know more about pirates.  Do some pirates not wear shirts?"

"Mom, true or false:  Dad is the fattest person in our family."

All these comments came--in the order I just typed them--in a span of about 5 minutes.  I love my creative boy!

October 16, 2010

Stinkerbell Strikes Again

It's been a few months since Kenna attacked her hair with the scissors, but don't think she's lost her "Kennis the Menace" nickname in the meantime!  Here are just a few of her recent feats we have "enjoyed" over the past week:

  • Orange highlighter all over her body.  And I mean ALL. OVER.  Her toes looked like Cheetos!  The good news:  Highlighter is easily removed with baby wipes!
  • Orange highlighter on a significant space of her bedroom wall.
  • Glitter glue on an envelope and piece of card stock I left on my desk.  (She hid UNDER my desk when I realized something was not quite right...I hadn't left my office light on...)
  • Arden's foam airplane cut into little, tiny pieces.
  • Four large, jagged pieces of Cowboy Cake OUT of the cake pan and INTO her belly.  (Yes, she cut the pieces herself.  Guess who's not getting any ice cream when we're at Young's today?!)
  • At least 20 blank name tags stolen out of my workshop basket, unpeeled and stuck to the dining room table. 
I call this, "Unplanned Adventures in Homeschooling," since most of these activities took place during our school day schedule!  Good opportunities to respond with the character and attitude of Christ, right?!

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Where is the time going?!  It seems not so very long ago we were enjoying our first autumn back in territory where you can actually SEE the seasons changing.  I just got back from a three-mile run in crisp, clear weather, soaking in the morning sunshine and trying to absorb as much of the beauty of the colored leaves as possible--I'll need something to hold me over 'til spring once the trees are naked again and I'm once more shoveling snow off the walk.  We're trying to get outdoors as much as possible during the school days, too, as the weather has been beautiful (aside from a few much-needed rainstorms over the past week). 

Our "normal" routine is back in full swing after our two-week vacation.  Ahhh, schedules!  We've finished two more weeks of Sonlight's Core 3.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing the kids beg me to read MORE when we come to the end of a day's history, science, or literature reading.  Even Kenna is in on the action nowadays, chanting, "Mo-ore, mo-ore, mo-ore" when I put a book down.  Sonlighter in training! 

We have discovered the need to tweak a few parts of our daily schedule, but I figured that would happen.  For example, Charis and I decided that her piano practice time needs to be during Lucan's room time; otherwise she has some extra fingers on the keyboard!  And sometimes I've been doubling up with the boys, doing language arts at the same time instead of one at a time.  This helps us finish sooner before lunch and gives the kids some extra outside play time.  Some days I'm sure I'll need more one-on-one time, but it's nice to be flexible, right?

This afternoon we're heading to Young's to do their corn maze for the first time EVER!  (How can we have spent so much time in Ohio and never have done this yet?!)  This is our family celebration for Arden and Charis's birthdays.  Charis requested a quiet family party, and Arden seems content with our plans so far, which is a good thing...after our history travels, we don't have a big budget for partying!  Arden even wrote out a birthday wish list, which was very cute, written just like this:

A lego set,
A popout light saber, 
A Book of sudoku Puzzles, 
And a Bionicle.

Ane yes, he had underlined all the items!  I was just impressed that the list was limited to 4 items, LOL.  Since he already has a pop-out light saber, I think he has a fairly good chance of scoring what he wants this year! 

Charis is turning 10, and for her rite-of-passage into double digits, I will take her to get her ears pierced.  She opted to wait until next weekend, when Grandma and Grandpa K are here to visit.  She's becoming quite the young lady!

I'll sign off here--it's time for me to shower and then get my hair trimmed before we begin our family adventures.  I hope wherever you are, you're experiencing a lovely, blessed season!

October 10, 2010

The Talk

Our firstborn is nearing double digits, and various circumstances were all pointing to the glaringly obvious:  It was high time we sat down and had "The Talk."  Though Charis and I had read a couple of (excellent) introductory books, and though I have breezily referenced the Birds and the Bees on necessary occasions, we hadn't actually gotten into much detail.

So I marked my planner for Saturday, October 9, nine days before her 10th birthday.  A girls' day out was on the calendar (though around here a "day out" generally means I'm away from the house for maybe 3 hours), and Charis was excited to get Mom all to herself for a bit.  We decided to do some hiking since it was a lovely fall day.  I packed a few supplies in a backpack and we were off.

We spent awhile hiking some unfamiliar trails and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Then we sat on a bench and started our discussion.  I used some suggested wording from a great little booklet I borrowed from a friend called I Want to Teach My Child About Sex: An On-the-Go Guide for Busy Parents.  I was thrilled (and relieved) that Charis didn't seem embarrassed or uncomfortable, and my theory is this:  being proactive and getting a head start over the inundation the world will inevitably bring is a HUGE benefit to Christian families approaching this topic!  I cannot tell you how pleased I was when I asked her, "What do your friends say about sex?" and she said, "Nothing--no one has ever said anything to me about this."  Wow!  Either our child is the most sheltered kid in the universe, or else we've let her pick the right friends, LOL.  By her age I know I had at least encountered vague references to the issue--of all places--in my Christian elementary school!

So it really did take away any awkward feeling on my part to really feel as if I were truly the first to teach my daughter about this.  (It also helped that Ted and I had been praying for a couple of days about this whole thing!)  I am fervently in favor of introducing the topic to a child younger than one would normally feel "comfortable" doing so simply so you can beat the world to the punch, so to speak.

So anyway, we chatted for a little while, and then we read The Princess and the Kiss out loud together.  I answered a few questions that Charis asked, and then we prayed together for her and for her future husband.  It was a very sweet, very precious time together.

Later that night, after we had sent the rest of the kids to bed, Charis snuggled on the couch with Ted and me, and we read the first two chapters of What's the Big Deal?, which is the third book in the God's Design for Sex series.  The first two books, The Story of Me and Before I Was Born, are the aforementioned resources I had read with Charis in recent years.  (You can learn more about this series by reading this quick but thorough review, written by a homeschooling parent.)  Charis and I will continue reading a chapter or so at a time together, but we felt it was important to begin with both parents reading aloud this play-style dialogue so that we can show our kids that they can come to either of us to talk about these issues.  Once again, we closed our time with Charis by praying--all three of us prayed, and it was very sweet to hear her prayer for herself and for her future husband.

Whew!  I'm patting ourselves on the back and thanking the Lord for a good introduction to this next phase of parenting. :-)

October 04, 2010

Day 13--Valley Forge and Home

We got off to a smooth start on our last day of vacation.  Amazingly we were out of the TLF and on the road before 9 a.m.  It was mostly going to be a travel day--our original thought of perhaps camping outside of Gettysburg went by the wayside after our last disastrous attempt at camping!  So we decided it would be best to press on toward home, even if we got in really late, and have Friday as an extra recover-from-vacation day rather than stay at a hotel (and pay more money!) and get home Friday evening.

However, we did plan a couple of stops along the way.  First up was Valley Forge.  It was raining, but thankfully it was mostly a drizzle, so we were able to get in and out of the Visitors' Center without much difficulty.  We looked around the little museum and then went out to another building to watch the movie about the famed year o' misery that Washington and his troops spent in the area.  An interesting perspective--and one that is admittedly new for me, and perhaps others who mostly know of Valley Forge as the desperate wintering place for the Continental Army--is that really, it was no more difficult than a soldier's life in general at the time.  The soldiers weren't sitting around in despair, longing for home and whining about their lot in life.  They pretty much sucked it up and did what they had to do, which included activities for basic survival.  Yes, there was disease and death, but truly the winter there was a time of preparation, training for the next phase of the war, which became a turning point that led to eventual victory.  So, it was good to learn that side of things instead of the typical woe-and-misery scenario that seems to be the usual lesson plan.  I guess a modern-day parallel might be asking a Democratic politician how the war in Afghanistan is going and asking an active-duty Army officer on the ground IN Afghanistan how the war is going...hmmm.  I'd better stop here with that.

Anyhoo, due to the rain, we piled back in the Suburban and slowly drove around the area, looking out the windows at the little huts/cabins that the soldiers built (I suppose most are replicas) but opting not to go tromping around.  It really is a beautiful area.  (I'm sure it would have been even prettier on a sunny day with the autumn colors blazing!)

We hit the road and wondered about our next intended stop, which was the Flight 93 memorial site.  It was a couple hours' drive away, and we thought perhaps we'd be out of the rain by then.  Ha!  As it turned out, most of Pennsylvania was under a tornado watch that day!  We were in a torrential downpour for literally hours!  When it was obvious that the memorial site would be a pretty dismal experience, we simply pressed on toward home.  I continued reading our book out loud, and Kenna and Lucan got good naps at various points of the day.

Since we didn't stop earlier, Ted decided it would be fun to have dinner at Young's, and we pulled in there shortly after 7 p.m.  It was blissfully empty, so we enjoyed a wonderful family dinner and ice cream, and the kids took pictures by a ginormous pumpkin on display outside before we buckled up one last time and headed for HOME!!  (Poor Lucan...it seemed he was always strapped in somewhere...a car seat, a stroller, or a high chair!  Was he ever happy to get home and run amok!)

So, now we're home, obviously, and we enjoyed a three-day weekend to recover.  I made the obligatory commissary trip, Ted did most of the laundry, and the kids trashed the house in about three minutes flat.  On Saturday I took the older three kids to Goodwill to find pants and winter shirts, since the weather here was considerably cooler than when we left.  Thank the Lord, we found some clothes that fit!  It was 45 degrees Sunday morning when we headed to church!

Now we're supposedly back to "real life," LOL.  Ted's probably still at work, wading through hundreds of emails, and we managed to stumble our way through our school schedule despite errands and various interruptions from short people.  We're literally hitting the ground running this week--I realized that I have something EVERY evening this week!  Yikes!  I'm trying hard not to overbook myself or my family, but it somehow ended up that this week is incredibly busy.

Tonight--rehearsal for a benefit concert on November 19.  (Most Mondays from now until then will be spent thus.)
Tomorrow--I take Charis to an auditioning class from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  (Presumably I can drop her off?  I hope so!)
Wednesday--We host our small group study for dinner and accountability/prayer time.
Thursday--Ted and I are both on for music next Sunday (I'm filling in for someone else), so we'll be at rehearsal with the kids bouncing around in the play area.
Friday--We host our once-a-month family community for dinner, fellowship, and devotions.

I have scheduled NOTHING for next weekend, and I intend to keep it that way!  (Although I do need a haircut...!)

I'd better close here and start working on dinner!  If you want to see Valley Forge and big pumpkin pictures, go here!