Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Traveling Takes Its Toll...

It started last night around 9:00. Tyler was just laying around. He even fell asleep leaning on my arm -- something an active 8 month old never does. I was a little worried, but thought that perhaps he was just extra sleepy from all the traveling. Lauren had thought that Tyler's head was hot earlier in the evening, but the girls are always thinking that somebody feels feverish, and Lauren is our resident hypochondriac, so....I dismissed it. Until he woke up at 1:00 very hot indeed. I gave him some Tylenol to comfort him and held him until he fell asleep. He didn't even want to nurse for an hour or so.

This morning, he nursed, threw it up, nursed some more, threw it up. And on and on it has gone all day. Derek is also throwing up. He can't even keep water down, and he's pretty upset about it. He threw his water bottle on the floor when I told him it would make him throw up again. I have a dilemma, though. I know how easily babies and little ones get dehydrated, but I don't know what to do about it. What are you supposed to give them to keep them hydrated when everything that goes down comes right back up within a matter of minutes? Any "seasoned" mothers out there with any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Two different renditions of the same photo. He just looks so pitiful.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Christmas Program

Well, we planned and practiced and prepared and practiced some more. We were ready for the program. In fact, I had never felt so good about a program prior to the actual program itself. On the Friday prior to the program, things seemed to be falling into place nicely. The children seem to improve each year. The first year that I did a children's Christmas program, the children memorized their lines, but did not interpret them. There were a minimum number of songs, but they did fairly well on them. This year, the children interpreted their lines beautifully -- without much prompting from me at all. We learned, I think, 10 songs, complete with harmony on several of them, and the children did a superb job!

Here they are waiting to go in. Don't they look excited?
Each year, several of the small children dress as animals. Usually, one of my own children ends up being the black sheep. Derek had his turn this year!
Meagan, Lauren, and Derek were in this little group of children. Meagan is the top right angel. Lauren and Derek are the first children on the top and bottom row to Meagan's left (your right).

One of the songs of the older children was entitled "The Perfect Ten," referring to the 10 commandments. The idea of the program Angels Aware was that the angels were having a meeting with Michael (our star). In that meeting he told how God had decided to go to earth to save his people from dying in their sins. He chose to go as a baby so that we could all have the ability to feel close to him. They laid the stage for man's need of a Saviour through showing how Moses and the prophets all unsuccessfuly tried to show man how to live close to God, but he didn't listen to them. I had to change some of the words of "The Perfect Ten" to be more biblical, but it went off quite well!

This is Elisabeth's last year in the program as she goes into 7th grade next year. There were not very many girl's speaking parts, so I created a solo part for Elisabeth and her friend. They did such a beautiful job. I have included a video of part of Elisabeth's solo, but it really doesn't do justice to how well she really did sound. Every time I heard her singing into the microphone, I got all choked up. God has been so good to this momma!

We were so busy leading up to the programs -- after all, we had 45 angel costumes to make! :) But, it is always worth it in the end. If you are family or friends and would like me to get a copy of the program to you, just let me know. They videotaped the entire thing!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Good Friends Are Treasures

We had the privilege of visiting my home church this weekend. What a special treat. There is just something so "magical" about returning to your roots. To people who know you and all of your faults. To people who watched you grow up. To people who know that your daughter looks like you because they remember when you were her age. To people who love you unconditionally. It is always so refreshing. A time of renewal.

This visit was even more special because my best friend Angie's husband, Steve Hobbins, is now the pastor of my homechurch. We were going to leave on Sunday afternoon but decided to stay through Sunday night because we enjoyed the preaching so much.

This morning, I was able to see a friend I haven't seen in several years. He has been out of church for quite a while and just came back in the last six months. I was also able to see a good friend from high school, Karen. She and her husband have two children. In the picture below is me with my two friends Angie and Karen. We were all in one another's weddings. I get teary just thinking about all the great memories we have together and how we never get to see one another anymore. But as soon as we are back together, it like no time has elapsed at all. We just pick up where we left off.

For someone like me, who finds it very hard to get close to people, I treasure my "old" friends. As the children's song says, "Old friends...are gold!" I truly believe that. We had our ups and downs as teenagers, but came through it all in the end as friends. I will cherish this photo just as I cherish our friendship.

"If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone; one should keep his friendships in constant repair." ~ Samuel Johnson

"A friend is someone who sings your heart's song back to you when you have forgotten the words." ~ David Coppola, Ph. D.

A friend is someone we turn to when our spirits need a lift,
A friends is someone we treasure for our friendship is a gift.
A friend is someone who fills our lives with beauty, joy, and grace
And makes the whole world we live in a better and happier place.
-Jean Kyler McManus
Enjoy your friends today.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ripley's Aquarium and Thoughts of the Future

Well, the funny looking picture in my last post was the under side of a sawfish. He was lying right on top of the glass. We went to the Ripley's Aquarium on Christmas Eve. They were open until 9:00 p.m. We were able to touch stingrays and see shark eggs incubating, among many other things.

The shark right above our heads. Look at those teeth!

An octopus. It took us about five minutes to find him.

Our little "fish" in a bubble

This is some kind of giant crab. There were several of them in the tank, and one of them looked like he was trying to adjust his glasses with his front pinchers.

Elisabeth picked up a horseshoe crab. Apparently, they are perfectly harmless.

We have had such a blessed year in 2008. None of our children were seriously ill--not even pneumonia or bronchitis. We were able to pay all of our bills. None of our family went to heaven this year. We were joined by a new little life in April. We purchased a new dog in January.

So many blessings. God certainly has been good to us. But, even during the years when there has been sickness and even , God has still been good to us. God is always good.

Yet even in spite of His infinite goodness, I still fail Him. The God of the Universe wrote a love letter to me, yet I find it difficult to spend time reading it every day. I have been saved for 30 years and still struggle with the most basic elements of Christianity and loving God. The new year is still five days away, but I have been mulling over and praying about what I think God wants me to do this next year.

1. Read my Bible and pray every day (if even for 5 minutes each). Sometimes this is so hard to accomplish with little ones running under foot. :)

2. Call someone in the church in need each week to be an encouragement. (This is especially hard for me, as I have a real aversion to talking on the phone. My dad used to make me call businesses and people as a teenager, but it didn't work. I still don't like to do it. ;)

3. Do something for someone else once a month. (Make a meal, bread, cookies, or some other such thing for someone with my children.)

4. Speak in kind, sweet tones as often as possible to my family.

5. Enjoy the life God has given me.

These may not seem very deep, but they are the things the Lord has laid upon my heart to work on this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Not much time to post, but we did make it Tennessee okay. We didn't end up leaving our house until 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. We stopped at Carrie Henschen's house to milk some cows on the way, and Elisabeth ended up having to take a shower due to some unfortunate events in the milkhouse! ;-) So, we didn't get to our hotel until 3:00 a.m. It was quite a ride, and Chad drove nearly the whole way (something he doesn't like to do) because I was so worn out from getting ready for the Christmas program (which was a huge success).

I'll write more about our adventures later, but....can you guess what this is?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We're Getting Ready for the Christmas Program!

Well, true to my word, we have been absolutely swamped this week: at the church every day for program practice, making 45 angel costumes which involve about 4 main steps each, making beards, "thinking" about packing for leaving on Sunday, etc. Whew! This picture was taken last night around midnight! The three older kids were helping me make beards for the Christmas program for the major prophets and Moses to wear. Doesn't this one look so nice? I just hope they actually stay on the children's faces.

Chad was going to wake the boys up at 7:30 to go to the church to work with him. They share a bed, and this is how they were when he went in to wake them up! So hilarious.

From Monday's post, most people voted for numbers 1 and 6. My personal favorites were numbers 4 and 6. #1 - Mine (probably shouldn't have included it, though) #2 - Budge #3 - Chad #4 - Brian #5 - Elisabeth #6 - Meagan. Wasn't Meagan's just adorable?
The last two weeks have been crazy around here - Christmas program decorations, school parties, Christmas parties, program practices, issues at the church and school. Life has been anything but calm, and I'm a big fan of peace and calm. In fact, I was analyzing myself the other day and made a discovery. I am a perfectionist (that's not the discovery); you can't really tell in my house right now, but I like for things to be "just right." (They haven't been "just right" for the last 5 years! Ha, ha!) Being a perfectionist isn't really the bad part because that part of me compels me to do my best at everything that I do, i.e. Christmas program. The bad part is that if things are not exactly right, I get very upset. Any job done by anyone less than perfectly upsets me. Something happens beyond my control to throw a wrench in my day, and I am cranky. This is not good.

I am not a calm person, to say the least. However, in my very soul, I am pursuing peace (sometimes more actively than others). Today, I am claiming several verses that speak to my heart about peace:

Psalm 72:7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Psalm 119:165 ¶ Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
This one hurts. "Nothing" shall offend them. Not even the hurtful things that some people might say. Not even the fact that hubby was too busy to kiss me goodbye (that didn't happen today!).

Psalm 122:7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. This is my prayer for all of you who read this today.

Proverbs 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Referring to wisdom, of course, but I would love for my paths to be peaceful and pleasant.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

I Peter 3:11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
I am going to seek peace today. How about you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Okay, It's Time To Vote!

Remember about the game that we played at our school staff & faculty Christmas party with the playdough? Well, we brought that playdough home and played with it on Sunday afternoon. Chad always comes up with great ideas, so our first competition was to make a drummerboy! I know, that is SO hard! :) Well, here are some of the results (Mom's and Dad's are omitted because they were so awful!)

Lauren's Drummer Boy

Derek's Drummer Boy

Elisabeth's Drummer Boy

Brian's Drummer Boy - He was the only one who put straps on his drum.

Okay, our second competition was sleds or sleighs. Most of us opted to do sleds (Lauren and Derek did not compete this time). One person did a sleigh. I won't tell you whose sled (sleigh) is whose. There are 6 different sleds. Please state in the comments which sled is your favorite. There is one picture that contains three sleds; they are numbers 2, 3, and 4 respectively from left to right. We will let you know as soon as all the results are in whose sled won! Thank you in advance for participating and having a little Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Aren't those icicles just beautiful? We have talked about the fact that they are probably dangerous, but we just cannot bear to knock them down because they are so pretty. Of course, today has been quite warm (it's 37 degrees right now) and rainy, so I think most of the icicles are melting anyway. But we sure have enjoyed looking at them while they were here.
This week is one of the busiest weeks of my entire year. Our church's annual children's Christmas program is next Sunday evening, and I have the privilege of leading the children's choir. This year's program is entitled "Angels Aware." We are so excited about it, but still have so much to do. Please pray for us this week! We also leave immediately after the program next Sunday night for our little family vacation in Tennessee. So much to do. I tend to get easily overwhelmed when I have a lot to do and am praying earnestly that the Lord would help me to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me through this week as He sees fit.
We had our school staff and faculty Christmas party last night. What a riot! We had about 35 people come this year, as we invited those involved in any capacity, not just the teachers. We provided the appetizer food and then everyone brought a dish to pass. We had such a fun time. Of course, if you know Chad, you know he made us do some crazy things! My two favorite games of the evening were the Communication Game and Pictionary with Playdough. What a sight to see grown men playing with playdough and loving every minute of it! It took them right back to their childhood. In fact, they thought they had really irritated Chad and apologized this morning, but he really enjoyed their antics.
In the Communication Game, one person draws while the other person tells them what to draw. For example, we drew antlers. The "teller" cannot say, "Draw some antlers." He must say, "Okay, draw a line about 1/4 inch long. Now curve out to the left about 1/4 inch and then curve back around to the line you started on, etc." That is how my partner was telling me to draw the antlers. Our first attempt at antlers turned out pitifully. We weren't allowed to use any geometric words like triangle, square, rectangle, etc. It was a lot of fun. The team whose drawing looked closest to the real object won.
We have another party to attend on Tuesday. I have 40 angel costumes to make plus beards for prophets and clouds and even the ten commandments! Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it! I covet your prayers. Tomorrow, we will need your help voting on something. So plan now to help out! There are many of you out there that read but never comment. We'd like your help tomorrow, okay? Have a great day.
Love, Amanda

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins and More

1. Friends are the family you choose. (A friend gave me a plaque for Christmas years ago that had that quote on it. I love it!)
2. Protect your health; it's the least you can do for your family.

3. I'm ready for a reprieve from the little stresses of daily life over Christmas break. (We are taking a little family vacation to Gatlinburg over Christmas break, and we are so excited to just relax and spend time together.)

4. Sensuous by Estee Lauder is one of my favorite perfumes. The "old" Claiborne for Men is my very favorite cologne!

5. The oldest ornament I have is a white glitter-covered dove that a friend gave me in college as a symbol of friendship.

6. Take some smiles, messes, giggles, messes, sweet words, hugs, books, cereal, messes, balls, and lots of love; mix it all together and you have Derek, our little two-year-old bundle of FUN!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to shopping in Traverse City with my hubby and children, tomorrow my plans include my second Christmas party of the season, and Sunday, I want to serve the Lord with all my heart (and make a nice roast with homemade bread for lunch)!
Psalm 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Maybe I'm all alone on this one, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with the daily tasks that confront me. Sometimes climbing out of bed in the morning is a daunting task. Sometimes, I have more of those "overwhelming" days than I would like to admit. Sometimes.

ALWAYS, God is all that I need. He is right beside me assuring me that no task is too great for me today, reminding me, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small" (Proverbs 24:10). My strength is small because I have not tapped into God's almighty strength. He is omnipotent, or all-powerful. He can move mountains. He can calm storms. He can probably handle a dishwasher full of dishsoap suds! ;o)
Christ is all I need,
Christ is all I need,
All, all I need,
Christ is all I need,Christ is all I need,
All, all I need.
He was crucified,
For me He died, on Calvary.
That He loved me so,
This is why I know,
Christ is all I need.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brian's Birthday

Well, to show what a bad mother I am, Brian's 8th birthday was actually September 27th, but we didn't celebrate it at that time. We had bought the boys new bikes in August as a birthday present and gave them to them early so they could enjoy them before the snow flew! I don't even know why we didn't have a party for Brian, but we ended up having a sledding party for him. It really was nice because our friends the Griffin's are here from the Philippines, so their three younger were able to come, and they even stayed to help, which was so nice--and fun!

Chad made up some game for them to play with balloons
(Don't tell their mothers they were running with suckers in their mouths ;)
Derek helped Brian blow out his candles--because they kept re-lighting
All of the wet snow clothes by the front door!
Luke was really enjoying his cake!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is Hilarious!

I know there are many of you that don't want to take the time to let a video load, but this one is worth it. I should send it in to America's Funniest Home Videos or something. We already decided that if we sent it in and won the $10,000 the Griffin's and we would split the money 50/50! The s are each on a different pedal of the exercise bike holding on to one of the movable handles just going to town. It's truly hilarious!

I've Been Tagged!

Amy tagged me to post my fourth photo from four months ago. Of course, I haven't been blogging for four months, so....I chose my fourth photo from four months ago. Four months ago my sister-in-law Tracy and her family came to visit for an afternoon. We all went to a little lake nearby to swim. The picture is of my Derek and Lauren, and Tracy's Courtney. They were all sharing a snack, I believe. ;)

I am going to tag the Kitson Family and the Reed Family and Jael. So, if the two of you wouldn't mind, we'd like to see your fourth post from four months ago! You're IT!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Back in October a member of our Sunday school class gave Chad several of the Trick or Treat coupon books from Big Boy for free kids' meals. We have gone to eat there a couple of times with those coupons. Today was the last day to use the coupons, so Chad wanted to go one last time. We all ordered and were waiting for our food. A couple (probably in their late 40's) was seated across the aisle from us. When they left, they commented about how nice our family was. A few minutes later, our waitress came and told us that someone had paid for our complete meal (with no free kids' meal coupons ;). What a blessing! I felt that God had just reached out and given me a big hug.

On Midnite Scrapper I was reading about RAKs, as she puts it, and PIFs, or Pay-It-Forwards. I really think that the whole concept is a Biblical truth: God gives to us to give to others. So, this week I am going to certainly be looking for someone else to show a kindness to. Pass it along.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Seven and a Half Months Already

Where does the time go? It seems like just a few hours ago I was wondering when the squirmy little one who didn't fit inside me anymore was going to decide to make his entrance into the world. Now, seven and a half months later, he is finally sitting up on his own for 30 minutes or more at a time, smiling and flirting with all of us, grabbing my face and laughing when he's happy to see me...I love him so and just cannot imagine life without a baby.

We washed him up and took some pictures
(I don't even bother to try to lay his hair down anymore!)

We always sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" while we bathe him.

"Now where did that little puppy go?"

I just adore my daddy. He's playing ball with me.

Lots and Lots and Lots of.....

Yep, you guessed it, SNOW! Cold, fluffy, wet snow. We had two snow days this past week, Monday and Friday, due to all of the snow; and it snowed every day this week. In fact, I don't think there has been a day in the last two weeks that it hasn't snowed. I love the snow. If it's going to be cold, there might as well be snow. Lots of it. Enough to ski, sled, build snowmen, have snowball fights, all that good stuff! :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The other day as I was reading my Bible, I prayed that God would show me a special verse for motherhood. I love being a mother, but motherhood does have its own set of special challenges, adventures, if you will. As you dwell on motherhood this week, think on these things,

Isaiah 60:22
"A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a great nation:
I the LORD will hasten it in his time."