Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Digitally Speaking

Daniel bought me the Paint Shop Pro X software a few months ago and I've been struggling with it ever since. It was starting to intimidate me. I just couldn't seem to figure it out. Even the guide book confused me. Today, though, was a break through. I just spent a couple of hours fiddling with it and suddenly I got a few little things to work. I made this "Baby Blue" page and was so proud of myself I about burst!

Then I picked the guide book back up and it started to make more sense now that I understood what a couple of the basic tools do. I made a second page using a kit downloaded from Shabby Princess and only ran into trouble when I couldn't figure out how to change the font color. Other than that, I'm learning by leaps and bounds!

Daniel has ordered Adobe Elements 5 for me for Christmas. Once I master that one, there shouldn't be anything I can't do! My dream is to someday be able to make those digital page kits like they sell at Shabby Princess and other places. I've been able to make some simple things with my old basic software, but I'm hoping to be able to do all the advanced 3D embellishments with these new software programs. All I need is time to practice.

Magnetic Reading

I got a refund check in the mail recently, and yesterday we spent it at Barnes and Noble. I got 4 new books by Terry Brooks. Okay, technically they are old books, two that I read a very long time ago and two that I never read.

I also got Danya a math drills for second graders book. We told her that when she finishes it (all 60 pages) she can invite some of her friends from her homeschool charter school over for a "girl party".

For Gloria, I found magnetic poetry "First Words" for beginning readers. It has large tiles with big print and easy words. The toughest words are "monkey" and "teacher", so I know she can read them all. We all played with them together last night for her special time. We made silly sentences like "The bad blue dog ate my teacher." Then we would change the sentences a little bit at a time by overlaying another word over a word in the sentence. For instance, Gloria substituted the word "good" for "bad" and "mom" for "teacher". She absolutely loved it! The only hard part for her was having to share with her sister the next morning.

Fazoli's Kids' Night

On Tuesday nights kids can eat for 99 cents and they have crafts, too. So Danya begged us to go and we caved. They got to color, eat all the breadsticks they could stomach, and flip fake meatballs at a spinning pizza chef with plates on his hands covered in velcro. Every kids dream, right?

Kevin tried to chow down on a breadstick but forgot that he hasn't learned to swallow anything that isn't pureed to a soupy consistency. He just gets so intent on shoving things into his mouth. Poor guy, he really needs some teeth. I, on the other hand, am hoping he doesn't get them for a while. At least not until I'm ready to wean him.

We let the girls have plenty of time to do the crafts, but really it was mostly just coloring. They had an origami shirt they could fold, but they just took the pattern home with them. At least they can say they've been to the kids' night once, now.

3 Cute Kids

What We're Reading: The Boxcar Children

Aunt Toni, my sister, sent the girls the first four books of The Boxcar Children collection. I remember reading these when I was little. It's written in a simple style so that Danya could probably read it by herself, but we're reading them aloud.

We're participating in the Book-It! program from Pizza Hut and we're counting the first Boxcar Children book that we just finished reading as part of the four books a month each of the girls has to read.

They both really like the books so far. Gloria likes that the youngest child, Benny, is her age. So, thanks Toni for the great gift!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baby Blue

I took this picture yesterday morning with my new camera. We moved the kitchen table out of the way, opened up the blinds in front of the sliding glass doors, and hung Kevin's blanket over two kitchen chairs. We put the Boppy pillow under the blanket, too, for Kevin to lean against. Then I turned off the flash and took these using the morning light coming in through the glass doors.

Kevin is trying hard to learn to sit up on his own. He sort of slumps forward and pushes up with his arms. He's still working on the stomach muscle control he needs to stay sitting up. We're hoping that with practice he'll have it figured out soon.

This blanket from Linens N Things is just perfect for a drop cloth. I'd really like to get a real photographer's background stand eventually, but this works for now. I'm thinking of getting a few more of these blankets in different colors. They are incredibly soft and catch the light beautifully. Of course, with a baby boy this adorable, who's going to notice the background?

The Millers in Colorado

Oh happy day! Our friends, the Millers, are in Colorado for Thanksgiving and a wedding, and we got to see them on my birthday! We drove to Littleton to meet them at Mike's parents' house.

The girls were so happy to see each other! They played non-stop. They especially liked taking pictures with my old camera. Since I have a new one, the girls get to use the old one. It has a 1 gig chip, so they took 210 photos. They didn't even fill the chip. They also played Disney Monopoly. We all had burgers fresh from the grill for lunch.

Betsy and I got to hang out and talk while nursing our babies together. Her daughter, Rachel, is almost 2 months old. Kevin looked like a toddler next to her! Danya took this picture, by the way. You can see Glory looking stylish in her new camo shoes. Danya has new Mary Janes, and I'm wearing new boots. On Black Friday I also got a new soft brown jacket and 3 shirts on sale, so I feel like Christmas came early for me. Or maybe just a wonderful birthday. I told Betsy that I am so homesick. Betsy gave me a beautiful poinsettia plant for my birthday, but getting to see her and her family again really was my favorite birthday present!

My 29th Birthday...Yes, Really!

I turned 29 on Sunday. I'm not sure anyone will believe me since it's the age that every older woman lies and pretends to be. I'm going to enjoy the last year of my 20's. Daniel says he likes being married to a 20 something year old. I told him to enjoy it while it lasts.

Gloria took this picture of me with my new camera that I got for my birthday. If it looks just like my old camera, that's because they are almost identical. The difference is that this camera is a 7.1 mega pixel, lets me crop photos IN the camera, and has a few new tricks like a light meter to help me take better photos. I also got a mini tripod, which I've wanted for years, a new scrapbooking idea book, a 2 gig memory disc, and a new camera bag. Daniel also took me shopping at the scrapbook store the night before where I got some new paper and stickers.

The 2 gig disc is amazing. I can take 1,000 photos before I have to download the disc. We also went out to eat a couple of times to celebrate and Daniel took me out to a movie. We went to see "Deja Vu" which was an excellent action flick. I'd say I had a fantastic birthday!

First Christmas

Kevin loves to rip open wrapping paper, so his eyes are lighting up at all the gifts under the tree. I'm sure he thinks they are all for him! He also got a kick out of watching the girls decorate the house and the tree. We still haven't gotten the perfect picture of him next to all the gifts, but this one is close. I just had to share since he looks so incredibly cute!

Alone on Black Friday

On a whim, early the morning after Thanksgiving, I decided to sneak out of the house alone and catch some Black Friday sales. Since we had our Thanksgiving dinner the Monday before, we did most of our Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving day. Kmart was having alot of good sales that day.

Friday morning I fed Kevin at 6:30 am, laid him back down in his crib and googled Black Friday sales on the computer. Then I hit Target. It was so much fun and so relaxing to shop alone. I never ever get to do that anymore. Since I got there at 7:30am I missed all the crazy people who rush to the stores on Black Friday at 5 am, but I beat all the people who sleep in and then start shopping at around 9.

When I got home I finished wrapping all the presents. I had already stayed up until 11pm the night before wrapping most of the gifts. I think we are prepared now, and shouldn't have to do any more Christmas shopping. That's good since we are celebrating Christmas early around December 16th with Daniel's family in Oklahoma.

Lost in Suburbia

Kevin, the girls, and I went for a long walk last week through the residential area near our home. This was the first time I carried Kevin in the baby carrier. Usually Daniel does that. You know, an almost 20 lb baby in one of those things can really strain your back! I was attempting to find a nearby lake with a walking trail and playground that we went to once before.
Instead, I got lost, we found a school playground for the girls to play on, and we took the scenic route back home. We finally found a 7-Eleven and asked for directions. It turns out we were only a few blocks from home by then.
The weather was perfect, Kevin was happy the whole time, and the girls enjoyed getting a drink at 7-Eleven, so overall it was a really good walk.

Mountain Adventure!

During our Thanksgiving dinner, Brandon mentioned how much he wanted to go sledding in the mountains. His dad is disabled and couldn't go, so I sort of volunteered Daniel. He and the girls have been wanting to go, but flying down a rocky slope while freezing my begonias off doesn't sound fun to me.

So Daniel, Brandon, and the girls went to Estes Park. It took a long time to find a good sledding place, but they had fun once they got there. Poor Gloria slammed into the only big rock on the whole slope and gashed her head open. Daniel convinced her to go down one more time with him on the sled so that she wouldn't be too terrified to ever sled again. (Or at least, that was the "guy logic" he explained to me later...)

On their way back home they stopped when they saw Elk on the side of the road. They got out and tried to feed them handfuls of grass. One of them scared Brandon when it came too close and acted threatening. Danya wouldn't even look at the camera because she wanted to keep her eyes on the big scary animal only a couple of feet away. Daniel said he thought it was the best part of the trip!

Thanksgiving with Friends

We celebrated Thanksgiving a few days early with our neighbors, the Caulkins. Even their dad came! The whole meal turned out great.

We made two pumpkin pies and bought apple and cherry pies. I made deviled eggs and Daniel was in charge of the Turkey. We also had sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, stuffing, and all the fixings. I made the traditional cheese and cracker tray that my Dad always made when I was growing up.

The only rough patch was the night before when Daniel accidentally bought a frozen turkey that takes 3 to 4 days to thaw. So I asked my friends on the Two Peas in a Bucket message board for help and they told us to go buy a fresh turkey. Can you believe we didn't know that you could buy them already defrosted? Other than that, the whole day went off without a hitch! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Learning to Share

At our house there are some lessons on sharing being learned...okay, actually it's me who is learning to share. I've got some scrapbooking buddies, and they don't have any supplies of their own, so I'm learning to say "yes" more than "no" when they ask if they can have something.

It shouldn't be so hard since some of these things are items I've had for years and never gotten around to using. But I feel like a miserly dragon that is reluctantly prying her claws off her hoard of gold one finger at a time. God keeps whispering to me, "Where is your treasure?" (Matthew 6:20-21)

The upside is that having Sarah and Shannon over to scrapbook on a regular basis means that I'm getting alot more pages done. I've actually used half of my November Story Tellers kit already, and it only arrived four days ago!


We've been making sure that Kevin gets lots of tummy time lately, and it has paid off! This past week we put him on the floor and held his butterfly just out of reach.

He scooted a couple of inches to get it! He would bend his knees and bunch them up under his belly, and then sort of pull himself forward with his fingers grabbing the carpet.

We were all excitedly encouraging him and Daniel ran to get the camera! We'll keep practicing, and I'm sure he'll be crawling in no time! Maybe we'll even give him the same nickname his Grandpa Clint had when he was a baby, "Scooter!"

Happy 30th, Daniel!

You are so blessed, with one kid per decade! And we are so blessed and proud to have you for a Dad and husband. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Pineapple Upside Down Fun

Gloria was fascinated by the idea of baking an upside down cake. Do you eat it upside down? Do you put the candles in the bottom?

Even though she doesn't much care for pinapples or cherries, she was glad to help make the cake for Daddy. She liked sprinkling all the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan, too. I'm just glad Daniel bought real brown sugar and didn't get the kind made from Splenda.

It turned out to be delicious! We gave Daniel 3 candles to represent 30. After cake, we made icecream sundaes with the extra cherries!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Eureka! He's found it!

Kevin finally found his toes! He's been looking at them for months now. He's even grabbed at his legs a few times. This week he finally started grabbing and holding his toes! He prefers the one handed method so that the other hand is free to slobber on.

Daniel and I have been trying like crazy to catch a picture of him holding his toes. Note to the wise: babies will never hold their toes if you try to make them do it. We've tried wrapping his fingers around his toes, but he just laughs and lets them go. When he wants a little "toe grab" he reaches out and latches onto his big toe. We realize now that toe grabbing is serious work and we don't try to rush the master anymore.

The End of the Trilogy

Saturday night was the last "Pizza and Movie Night" at our house for now. We watched the final Lord of the Rings movie, "The Return of the King" with our three neighbors and their friend, Amber.

The three girls in this photo (Left to right: Shannon, Amber, Sarah) have also been coming over once or twice a week to scrapbook with me at night after the kids are asleep. They even helped me clean up the basement and unpack all my scrapbook supplies so that we can work at the two huge craft tables down there instead of cramming around my kitchen table.

Unfortunately, the city of Westminster inspector said that our basement lights cannot be plugged in using extension cords, so until we can get the lighting situation fixed, it may be difficult to scrapbook down there. I'm thinking of inviting the girls over for a Christmas card making party soon.

I'm not the only one with a new buddy, though. Kevin and Daniel have been hanging out with Brandon. Kevin just for the "guy bonding" time. Daniel has been playing football with Brandon in the courtyard between our house and his. Brandon will be 13 next month and his life's ambition is to be a wide receiver.

The Sitter

This is Sarah, our new friend and babysitter. She is wonderful with Kevin. We've gotten to know her and her family in the past few weeks, and she is very responsible and good with the kids. It's rare to find a 14 year old who doesn't mind changing diapers and doesn't freak out over a little baby spit-up.

She loves to hold Kevin and play with him. He loves to pull her hair out in fistfuls. Yes, Kevin is addicted to long hair! He likes it to dangle over him, tickle his face, and wrap around his fists.

Sarah and her sister, Shannon, even got Kevin to eat a whole jar of baby food! Danya and Gloria, meanwhile absolutely love playing Barbies and "little people" with Shannon in their room. I'm hoping that Sarah and Shannon will watch the girls again later this month for my birthday so that Daniel and I can go see a movie. I'm thinking of having them come once the kids go to bed at 8 o'clock, and then trying to catch a late show of "Deja Vu". The picture on the right is Shannon.

Celebrating 30!

Daniel and I went out to Olive Garden for lunch on Saturday to celebrate his birthday. He got a small chocolate cake and they sang to him. The best part though, was just getting the opportunity to sit quietly together and talk.

Daniel's been working so much overtime lately that we hardly see him anymore. We left the kids at home for two hours with our 14 year old neighbor and her almost 13 year old sister watching them. I can't say we weren't nervous, but we really enjoyed the break.

I keep telling Daniel how strange it is that for years he has looked like he was 30, but now that he finally truly is 30, he doesn't look it. We looked at pictures yesterday of what a change he has made in just one year, but really his life has changed more than just losing weight. In the last year he has changed jobs, moved to Colorado, had a third child; his first son, celebrated 10 years of marriage, and lost almost 50 pounds. It's almost like becoming a whole new person!
I'm so proud of him! He's inspiring me and encouraging me to get healthier and we're both considering taking online classes next January. It's strange to think that by this time next year we could be starting on having a fourth child and our lives will feel like they've changed drastically all over again. God is good, life is good, entering our 30's is good.

Wash and Learn

It seems to happen at least once a year that our laundry gets out of control. So we bagged it all up (8 loads!!) and took it to the laundromat. While we were there the girls did their homeschool work. They worked on math, reading, and writing in their workbooks. Then we played a game on one of our homemade gameboards.

We tried several different versions of the game using two dice. We used quarters for the game markers; heads for Danya, tails for Gloria. First we had them each throw a die and move that many spaces in a race to the finish. Then we had them each throw both dice and add them together to move forward. Then we had them throw both dice and subtract the smaller number from the larger number. Even though they can both do more advanced math, this is good practice to get them to remember the basic math facts faster. I think that's important since subtracting triple digit numbers isn't that impressive when you still have to do the subtracting on your fingers.

We also got to do a little math in figuring out how many quarters we needed: 8 loads at $1.25 a piece for the washers.

30 Years, 30 Gifts

Daniel turned 30 this month! The kids and I surprised him with THIRTY gifts for his birthday. We let him start opening them a week in advance, 3 presents at a time, until today. Today is his actual birthday and he gets to open all the presents that are left today.

So far he has received:
a new coat, 2 bags of sugar free candy, an electric razor, a toy car, a remote control car, a screaming balloon, a nerf hoop, 5 new kitchen utensils, a new cheese grater, a flat frying pan, a pac-man t-shirt, boxers, Knight Rider t.v. series DVDs, a Popeye DVD, an Adam Sandler DVD collection, a pinball game, 2 suction cup dart guns, a slinky, a razor/hair trimmer, and 2 bike hooks

He gets to open the rest today, including the gift from Jennie that he's been waiting to open since it arrived. We're just waiting for Danya to get home from her charter school. Meanwhile we'll bake him a pineapple upside down cake!

Fantastic Four!

Holding the sign that Danya made, Kevin is doing his swelled-chest muscle man pose for Daddy to show how big he has grown!

What's new for Kevin at four months? He's pulling hair, pinching, scooting across his crib on his belly at night, and reaching out and grabbing any object he wants. He's also acting like he might be teething. He cries alot and has gotten very clingy. Sometimes he just won't be happy unless his Mommy and No One Else holds him.

He'll suck a cookie or piece of bread until it dissolves. He gets mad if everyone around him is eating and he isn't. He also just learned to grab his toes and hold them. He hasn't figured out how to roll over yet. He's very talkative and loves to test out his voice with babbling, cooing, screaming, and laughing. He also desperately wants to learn to sit up. He tries so hard! Yes, this boy is determined to do everything his sisters can do.

Santa: The Early Years

Kevin makes the whole "red hat, round tummy" thing look goood! We were caught by the advertising at the entrance to Walmart. They showed a picture of a baby holding his toes wearing a Santa hat and a diaper and we just had to try it with Kevin. Unfortunately he didn't figure out how to grab and hold his own toes until the following week.

However, we did get some cute pictures of our little man that should be ready to pick up next week. We still haven't sent out our family photos that we took in September. Now I'm thinking that we'll combine them with Kevin's 4 month photos in the Santa hat and send them all out with our Christmas cards next week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tummy Time Trio

We've been giving Kevin lots of "tummy time" lately. He's getting really good at pushing up on his arms and looking around. He's also pretty good at reaching out and grabbing things. For instance, when Daniel tries to feed him, Kevin wants to take the spoon from Daniel and whack himself in the head with it. We assume he's trying to get it into his mouth.

The problem with playing on the floor is that you never know when one of your big sisters are going to swoop down and shove their faces up close to yours, tickling you with their hair and squealing baby talk at you. That can be a bit startling. But worse than that is when your mommy lays you on her bed and picks up her stuffed doggies that sing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You, Babe" and pushes the play button only to discover that the batteries are almost dead and this horrible mutated dying voice says "I gooot yooouuu, Baaaaabe" in a loud mechanical roar. That's enough to make even the happiest baby scrunch up his face and cry as hard as he can. Yup, some days it's just rough being a baby.


Jennie, this picture is for you! Kevin sure does like his stylish and warm new clothes!

Playing Games with the Neighbors

The office lady said that the big kids (anyone over age 8) couldn't play the games at the apartment complex party. I thought that was unfair, so I told the kids to come to my house and we'd make our own games that anyone could play.

We cut holes in cardboard boxes and used them to toss a football, basketball, and beanbags for three of the games. Then Brandon drew a chalk target on the ground and we tossed bean bags at that too. The kids assigned points and decided where the bigger kids had to shoot from and where the little ones could stand. Danya handed out the candy to the winners. When Daniel got home from the store he tried all the games, too. Then he suggested that they play "500" with the football. He and the neighborhood kids had a great time yelling out points and diving for the ball.

We also invited the kids to our house that night for a "Lord of the Rings" party. We ordered pizza and about 5 kids came and watched "The Fellowship of the Ring" with us. Danya, Gloria, and their friend Anna watched a Barbie movie upstairs and got to eat pizza in their room. We're going to watch part two, "The Two Towers" next weekend! I think that the kids enjoyed everything because I heard one of the boys say, "Hey, we should make this the house we hang out at all the time!" We loaned our PS2 game "The Return of the King" to Brandon, also. He asked Daniel for help with it this week so Daniel went over to Brandon's house and they played the game together for about an hour before Daniel had to go to work.

Halloween Happenings

Halloween was fun but cold. The Saturday before Halloween our apartment management had a little party in the office. The girls got to make a craft, play Halloween twister, and have some snacks. On Halloween night we handed out some candy then I took the girls around door to door just in our apartment complex. It was bitterly cold but the girls didn't want to quit until they got quite a haul of candy. Then we took them to Riverside Baptist Church in Denver to the Family Fun Festival where they played games and jumped on inflatable toys like the Jupiter Jump and a slide. I can't believe I forgot to bring a camera.

Guitar Girl

The one and only thing Gloria consistently asked for when we asked her what she wanted for her birthday was a guitar. Not just any guitar though. It had to be a pink Barbie guitar. I think she was really worried that we weren't going to get her one since she didn't get one the day before her birthday during her Chuck E. Cheese party. We were saving it for the morning of her actual birthday.

Saturday, the 28th, she got to open her last two presents in the morning. First she opened the shopping cart (in the background of this photo), then she got her wish. Her eyes just lit up when she opened this guitar! She said that now she can be a rock star and Danya can play the piano and they can be a rock band.

In this picture she's posing like a "rock and roll girl", wearing her new glitter jeans she got for her birthday and red nail polish. Later she put on one of the cool new hats her Daddy gave her and practiced her new guitar down in the basement. It's a real acoustic guitar. I'm hoping to find a beginner's book to teach her to play some simple tunes eventually.

The Other Mouse

Gloria celebrated her 5th birthday with the mouse. No, not that one, the other mouse; Chuck E. Cheese. We invited Anna, our neighbor, and her big sister, Shannon to come with us. They all had so much fun playing games and eating pizza.

Unfortunately all the games kept breaking or getting jammed. There were only two employees working that Friday. One would come and fix the game and give the kids extra tokens. So what should have been a two hour party turned into a three hour party as we kept trying to use up all the extra tokens we got.

Gloria helped make her cake, chocolate with vanilla icing. She wore the new hat and jacket Aunt Jennie sent her and the camo pants and pink shirt that her daddy gave her. She said she wanted to be a "camo girl". The highlight of the party was probably when the kids got to dance in front of the video camera and see themselves super-imposed over the music video of Chuck E. Cheese and his friends that was playing on the giant t.v. screens along one wall.

Daniel and I played several games together. Daniel carried Kevin in a baby carrier on his chest while he and I played the basketball game again and again. We raced to see who could get the most baskets as fast as possible before the time ran out. Kevin really likes being carried around in that thing. I was nervous because we had so many close calls when a basketball would bounce off the rim and come flying back almost hitting Kevin in the head. I think Shannon decided that we were fun to hang out with on that day because she and her siblings have come over almost every day since the party. Shannon has also become my scrapbooking buddy!


Kevin is our first thumbsucker. Danya loved her pacifier. Before she was born Daniel and I decided that we wouldn't give our baby a pacifier. Daniel's mom told us we would change our minds. We endured the endless crying for a week before we caved and gave her the passy. She kept it until she was about 2 years old.

Gloria hated the pacifier and would have nothing to do with it. She wouldn't take a bottle either. She nursed exclusively until she was 6 months old and then decided that she was ready for a sippy cup and would take nothing else. She also turned her nose up at baby food. She wanted to do everything just like her big sister.

Kevin is a mixture of everything. He likes an occasional pacifier but is perfectly content with slurping his own fingers. He especially likes to suck his thumb at bedtime. He likes nursing, but sometimes demands baby food. If everyone around him is eating he expects us to share. He has only accepted a bottle a couple of times and then it had to be a certain kind of bottle. He also only likes a certain size and shape of pacifier. They have to be the 6 month size with a rounded bulb on the end, nothing flat or small. He also likes to put everything in his mouth except those things that are specifically designed as teethers. He is definitely a contrary baby.