Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Books

Here's my new reading list for 2009. To see what I read last year, check out the link in the sidebar. There will also be a link to this year's list, so feel free to check back anytime!

1. Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell--this was the first book I've ever read by her, and I had a really hard time getting into it. In fact, after three chapters, I almost put it down for good. Instead I kept at it, and eventually I really was drawn into the plot. It was good, but not good enough to make me want to read more by her.

2. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith--a truly entertaining read. I liked the characters, learning about another culture, and the clever way Mma Ramotswe solved her cases.

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo--a wonderful, beautiful story, but definitely read the abridged version!

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--GREAT book! Narrated by death, the story of a girl growing up in Nazi Germany and learning about the power of words, for good and for evil, a must-read!

5. No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke--interesting book about how no Christian is perfect and we shouldn't expect visitors to our churches to fit our ideas if "perfect" either, very thought-provoking, although by the end I felt like it was longer than it needed to be

6. Night by Elie Wiesel--famous true story of surviving a concentration camp during WWII, not for the faint of heart, excellent thought-provoking read

7. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum--an excellent read! This book really sucks you in, you just can't put it down! The movie, although good, is almost a completely different story!

8. Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin--firsthand account of Kate's pregnancy and the first year and a half of the sextuplets' lives and the many ways God saw them through their challenges, well-written and very interesting, but sad in light of their current marital problems

9. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers--wonderful, beautiful, uplifting story of God's grace in action and what it really means to love someone as Christ does, based on the book of Hosea

10. Extras by Scott Westerfeld--4th book in the Uglies series, entertaining, but my least favorite of the 4, centers on a brand-new character, but Tally does appear for part of the story

11. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger--a classic that I had never read before, I didn't love it and had to really make myself read it, but I'm glad I did and can appreciate it for capturing the character of a depressed, angst-ridden teenager and for being a very ambitious and brave novel for the time it was written

12. The Shack by William P. Young--a book that has caused a lot of controversy in the religious world, I really enjoyed it and the insight it provided into relationship with God. Is it biblical truth? No, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from it.

13. A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines--the story of a group of old black men who band together to all take the blame for the shooting of a white man, I really enjoyed this book, especially the author's skill at capturing the different voices of the many charachters (each chapter is from a differnt person's point of view) and drawing the reader into their lives.

14. Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes--a thought-provoking read for every Christian wife, reminding us that after God, our husbands should be the most important things in our lives, didn't agree with everything, but definitely one I'll read again

15. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger--fabulous book! I'm amazed that the author was able to keep who knows what at what point in time straight! Beautifully written! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

16. Miss Harper Can Do It by Jane Berentson--super fun book, excellent choice if you want something entertaining that combines love, war, 3rd graders, and a chicken

17. Dracula by Bram Stoker--the perfect October book! Better than the movie, although I was a little disappointed in the ending

18. Jane and the Ghosts of Netley by Stephanie Barron--seventh in the Jane Austen mystery series, as pleasing a read as all the others! As a Jane fan, I really enjoy this series and wish the stories were true!

19. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen--a classic, a favorite, I love it every time I read it!

Talking with Toddlers

Here are a few more fun things the kids have said recently:

First, despite the fact that our Christmas decorations have been put away for nearly a month now, the kids still regularly have this conversation:

Child A: Where Kiss-miss twee? (Where's the Christmas tree?)
Child B: Is in da addic! (It's in the attic)
Child A: (sadly) Is not Kiss-miss anymore.

There for awhile we had this conversation every day, sometimes more than once. And if it isn't the Christmas tree, it's the trains. Our Christmas train is also in the attic, much to Zachary's despair.

Second, Jim found some lined Crocs on sale for the kids over Christmas too. They love these shoes because they can put them on themselves! That's why I like them too! Thomas plopped down in my lap the other day with his Crocs on, held them up for me to see and declared proudly, "It's my cwocadile feets!" Too cute!

Last, this one is a heartbreaker, for me at least. I've been teaching the kids to say their full names, and they're pretty good at it. I need to get that on tape! The other night, Jim asked Zachary what his name was, and he said very carefully, "Zac-a-ree" I thought I would cry! It was the first time ever that he has called himself Zachary instead of Za-say. We quickly turned to Reagan and asked her what Zachary's name was, so we could hear her call him Ya-ya. She did, thank goodness! Jim and I both hope she ALWAYS calls him Ya-ya. Since that night, Zachary has only called himself Za-say, but I know the end is near. Sigh.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reflections on 2008

Well, it's a little late in the month to still be thinking about this post, but I like the idea and the continuity, since I did this last year too, so here are my thoughts on all the things we did for the first time in 2008. I have included links to posts written about these items when appropriate. Enjoy!

What We Did in 2008!!

(in no particular order)

1. Read 25 books-now, to some of you, that may seem like a LOT, and to others of you, it's nowhere close to the number of books YOU read last year, but it's a number I am proud of. I also kept a list of the books I read this year, which was also fun and the only way I could know how many I read at all. I LOVE to read, and I'm happy to be able to make time to do it! More on reading in a later post.(See link in sidebar for more on the books I read in 2008)

2. Conversed with my BABIES--and began to accept that they really aren't babies any more! 2008 really brought on a language explosion with the kids. They talk all the time. asking questions and making guesses and figuring things out. I love that we can actually TALK ABOUT things now, and I know this will only get better in 2009!

3. Got DVR- I LOOOOOVE DVR! It's the most wonderful thing! I love that with just the push of a few buttons I can automatically record the kids' favorite shows every day so we can watch them when the time is right for US. So it doesn't matter when The Backyardigans are actually ON. With DVR they are always on when I WANT them to be! It's also really nice to record mom and dad's shows and watch them at our convenience, fast forward through all the commercials, and rewind live TV because we didn't quite catch what that character said.

4. Walked down the aisle-Reagan had a big first in 2008, making her wedding debut as a flower girl and doing a FABULOUS job of it too!

5. Lost a gate-2008 witnessed the demise of our beloved kitchen/playroom gate and the release into house freedom of our children. It prompted many changes in all our lives as we adjusted to this new arrangement. I won't lie, there are still times when I think back longingly to the days we had a gate to confine the children to one room and wish we still did. It sure came in handy sometimes! However, we really couldn't keep the gate forever. The kids had to learn eventually how to behave in the rest of the house, and mostly they've done pretty well!

Read Free-Range Quads and Security Measures

6. Gained a gate-attached to a fence that surrounded our whole back yard and opened the great outdoors to our children! What an incredible blessing the fence has been! The kids love to play outside, and it's so nice to have a safe place with plenty of room for them to run around and explore!

Read Outdoor Fun and More Outdoor Fun

7. Taught Ladies Bible Class-this was a big deal for me, as I am not generally comfortable speaking in front of people my age and older, but it has been a wonderful experience. It's always good to have a new challenge and get out of your comfort zone, especially when surrounded by so much love, encouragement, and praise. The ladies in my class have been wonderful and that was enough to get me back up in front of them more and more.

8. Really did it alone-last year's list included doing it alone, referring to the fact that in 2007 both Jim and I finally spent time taking care of the kids without any help for hours at a time. In 2008 we expanded our abilities and each kept the kids alone overnight or even longer! Yea for us!

9. Spent a night away-obviously, if we kept the kids by ourselves overnight, that means that we both also overnighted away from the children. Mostly this was Jim, away for both business and pleasure, but I had a little child-free vacation too. Perhaps in 2009 we'll overnight away from the kids together!

Read A Day Away

10. Moved into big beds-and what a journey THAT has been. Still, for all the drama and headache of this transition, it has been worth it.

Read Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves and Update from the War Zone

This post has gotten long enough, but there are so many other things I could talk about for 2008. If you just have tons of time on your hands and have enjoyed looking back at the other posts, here are a few more memorable moments from 2008:

Also, for a look back at 2007, check out Reflections on 2007 and 2007 Posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow Day!

So the kids and I are sitting at breakfast the other morning, and Thomas looks into the playroom and asks excitedly, "What's THAT?!?" Now, Thomas is excited EVERY time he asks this question, and usually he's asking about something he already knows the identity of. He just likes to ask. So i wasn't terribly concerned about turning around to try to figure out which of the billion things in the playroom he might be referring to. "I don't know," I answered, "what do you think it is?" This tactic always works when he's asking about an object he already knows. He answered, "I think it's rain!" Awww, man, it's raining! I thought to myself, as I turned around to look out the window. But wasn't raining! It was SNOWING!!!!

"That's not rain, kids, it's SNOW!! It's SNOWING!!" I shouted. Now we were ALL excited!

Jonathan, Reagan, Zachary, and Thomas watching the snow come down

It snowed all morning, but didn't stick much and by lunchtime even what had stuck earlier was melting away. I feared this would be the only snow we saw all season and the kids didn't even get to play in it! But around mid-naptime the snow started to stick again, at least in the grass, so after nap, I bundled the kids up and out we went!

Thomas, Reagan, Zachary, and Jonathan

Reagan and Jonathan brushing snow off the bushes


There wasn't a whole lot of snow-playing. There just wasn't enough of it to play in. Mostly the kids just ran around in circles and enjoyed being outside for a change. Oh, well. At least they got to be in it a little.

BUT snowed in the night and we woke up to white streets! More snow! But it was also much colder. Nevertheless, I was determined the kids would get to play in this snow too! maybe we could even build a little snowman!

Do you have any idea how long it takes to layer and bundle four two-year-olds for 20-degree weather? Well, it took me over an hour! By the time we finally got outside it was already starting to melt away in the sunny spots and most of our morning was gone. But we made the best of it! No snowman though. The snow wouldn't stick to itself. Might as well have tried to use dry sand!



It may not have been much, but we had a blast! We hope you enjoy your snow days too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update from the War Zone

If you've been reading this blog for more than just the last couple of months, you know that Jim and I have been fighting the bedtime battle ever since moving the kids into their big beds. (If you're new and don't know what I'm talking about, or just want to read about it again, check out Big Kid Beds and Beatings Will Continue)

Well, the kids have been in their beds for about 4 and a half months now, and I have spent that time praying constantly for God to show us a way to win this war! My nighttime patience with the kids has grown shorter and shorter as time has gone by without any measurable progress in getting the kids to go to bed well. Then one day God sent us a secret weapon, and bedtime has become MUCH easier. What is this miraculous secret weapon, you ask? Well, I'll tell you!

It's darkness! And it's wonderful!

We stumbled upon this idea basically by accident. We were fed up with the nightly nightmare of trying to keep the kids in their beds without beating them senseless or duct taping them to the mattresses! So we decided to turn the lights out as a temporary punishment. We knew that they HATED being in the dark. A few times they had been plunged into darkness accidentally, incidents that resulted in immediate screams of "It's dark! It's dark! It's dark" until the lights came back on.

So one night when we were completely OVER IT, instead of yelling at them to stay in their beds and be quiet, we merely informed them that if they didn't behave, we would turn out the lights and it would be DARK. (The lights on the ceiling fan in their room are on a dimmer switch, and we generally left them on, but dimmed all the way down) They didn't believe us, so I turned off the light, shut the door, and stood outside in the hall to listen to them yell about the darkness for 15 seconds. That's all! Only 15 seconds! Then I turned the light back on and told them they needed to stay in their beds and be quiet or I would turn the lights off again. The next time, they stayed off longer. The last time one of us turned off the lights, they all got quiet and went to sleep before we turned it back on!

That was about a week before Christmas. Our bedtime routine since then has evolved into this:

1. Put the kids to bed, say a prayer, kiss them all good night, remind them to stay in their beds and be quiet or we'll turn off the lights, and leave the room with the light dim but not all the way dim.

2. If they don't stay in their beds or are unnecessarily loud, we dim the lights all the way.

3. If they still aren't quiet, we turn them all the way off. And they stay off.

It's been wonderful! I don't have to sit in their room policing them for half an hour. We don't have to yell at them anymore! We don't spend an hour and a half (or longer) going in and out of their room to get them back into bed or tell them to be quiet and leave each other alone! Some nights we don't have to go back in at all! I go in to check on them before going to bed myself and am surprised by the brightness of the room because they were so good the lights never even got dimmed!

Peace has been restored.


And in case some of you are concerned that our children have been traumatized by their dark punishment, let me assure you that they haven't been. They aren't afraid to go to bed. They don't cry themselves to sleep. They don't scream in terror. They aren't waking up with nightmares. It's not pitch black in there, and after all, they aren't alone. That's been our whole problem! Darkness IS a punishment. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be getting results! But it isn't torture! They are fine! And sleeping soundly! And we are all at peace! At least for now!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Age Ticker

Hi, Candace! I'm so glad that you enjoy my blog! Here's how to get your own age ticker...go to There you will be able to design your own ticker, and it will give you directions for adding it to your blog. It's free! It's been awhile since I did mine, but I believe you'll get some HTML gobbledygook to copy and paste to the Layout section of your blog. It shouldn't be too hard, but let me know if you have trouble and I'll try to give a better explanation! Good luck!

More Company!

By New Year's Day we had had three whole days with no company, so obviously it was time to get some more family over quick! Uncle Clay and Aunt Carey met our company needs by packing up their kiddos and making the drive over from Indiana.

We were so glad Jim's brother and his beautiful family could come for a visit! Aren't these kids adorable?


Sweet little Avery

Baby Avery was a huge hit, and not just with Reagan!

Lovin' on the cousins and Aunt Carey

This was the CUTEST thing! When Tyler went into the kids' room for the first time, he went straight to Zachary's bed, climbed in, put his head on the pillow, and pulled up the covers! He was ready for a nap! MY kids rarely put their heads on their pillows without being asked, and they NEVER cover themselves up! Looks like Tyler is ready for a big boy bed to me!

The bulk of the visit was spent watching the kids interact with their cousins, teaching and learning and playing together.

Tyler taught his cousins how to ride a horse and fight the enemy at the same time!

Reagan taught Avery how to take the car apart with the noisy spinny thing

But the highlight of the visit was Tyler's birthday party! The Friday before his 2nd birthday, we threw Tyler a party! A good chunk of Jim and Clay's family was able to make the drive up from Jasper for the festivities, and we had a blast! We were so happy to be able to take part in this birthday since we had not been able to make Tyler's 1st birthday last year. It made for a crazy day and a very full house, but it was all worth it!

Tyler, eating Aunt Jayne's super-yummy birthday cake with his Uncle Jim
(Okay, who are we kidding, Jim didn't eat any cake! Crazy icing-hater!)

Oh, and JonZReaTom got presents too! Thank you Papaw and NeNe and Ashton! The kids LOVE the tools and workbench!

All the cousins!
Zachary, Tyler, Reagan, Avery, Thomas, and Jonathan
What a fun visit we had with our cousins! It was such fun to see the kids play with Tyler! Every new visit, the 6-month age difference becomes less and less apparent. It won't be long before there's no difference at all! What fun that will be! And Avery will catch up in no time too! Oh the fun times we have ahead of us! Thanks for coming you guys! We had a great time!

The Day After and After and After

The day after Christmas, Bud, KayKay, Aunt Nancy and Uncle George all came for a visit. So you know what that meant...more presents!

Thank you Bud, KayKay, George, Nancy, Aunt Jodie, Uncle Jeff, Kinley and Kallen for all the wonderful presents!

This one was by far the biggest hit with the kids. They fought over this vacuum cleaner for the rest of the day!

George helps Jonathan figure out his new puzzle. The pieces slide around on the board like through a maze, but they don't come off! I love it because it means Thomas can't snatch all the pieces and drop them behind his bed!

Here we are reading MY favorite present--Billy Brown Makes Something Grand by Tamara Kitt, copyright 1961. It was one of my favorites growing up and Mom found a used copy (it's out of print) for me on Amazon. It looks just like ours! There are actually two stories, each one involving Billy Brown and a grand creation that he makes for his ever-patient mother. Have any of you ever read this book?

Bud and Zachary, sitting with Nancy, having a phone conversation (with Reagan's new Disney Princess phone, another big hit that got fought over)

Reagan decided she did not need a nap that day and began crashing early. She was delighted to have a lap to snuggle in for a quick little nap before dinner, and KayKay was more than happy to oblige!

After the kids went to bed that night, it was time for the next big project, the kids' new kitchen! Jim and Bud put it together while I did some purging in the playroom to make room for all the new toys. Then I put on all the stickers and we set it up in the playroom for the next morning's big reveal!

When the kids came out of their room the next morning, they headed straight for the playroom. Jonathan led the pack and the whole way there he kept saying, "My vacuum cleaner! My vacuum cleaner!" He obviously wanted to make it clear to everyone that he had first dibs on the vacuum cleaner! And when they entered the room and everyone else stopped to stare at this beautiful new thing that had appeared in the playroom, Jonathan didn't even notice! He went straight to the vacuum, which was RIGHT BESIDE THE NEW KITCHEN, grabbed it and looked up at us all with victory on his face! Then the other kids descended upon the kitchen and he realized that something bigger and better had arrived!

Oh, if only they were old enough to cook for real!

Nancy, Me, and KayKay with Thomas, Zachary, Reagan, and Jonathan

Zachary, Thomas, Reagan, and Jonathan in the new clothes Aunt Jodie made them! So impressive and adorable! The shirts have their initials on them! They are excited because Daddy just announced he was going to bring out their tricycles! Yea!

Zachary, obviously not having any fun at all!

Our beautiful Reagan!

We had such a great time with my family! I'm so glad they could make the trip to see us for Christmas! Hopefully they can all come again soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Day!

Finally the big day arrived! Here's what the room looked like when the kids saw it Christmas morning:

I'm sure it isn't too hard to guess that the tricycles were the first things they went for! They were so excited! In fact we had to open several presents ON the tricycles because no one wanted to get off of them!

After opening and playing with all the presents, we took the kids into the garage to ride their tricycles. Jim had cleaned it out good earlier in the week just for this reason, so they had a nice big space to try out their pedaling skills. As it turns out, they have no pedaling skills! But there was definite potential. I know they'll figure it out after some more practice!



Then it was time to say good-bye to Gammy and take a nap. I'm so glad that she was able to join us for Christmas! The kids don't get to see her nearly often enough! It was fun for us all!

After nap, we were actually able to go outside and play for awhile! The weather was sunny and not too cold! The kids had a blast! The weather here the last couple months has either been bitterly cold or raining, so we haven't been outside much. This was a special Christmas treat! And we took a ton of pictures! Have I mentioned Momma and Daddy got a new camera for Christmas? Woohoo! It rocks! Thank you Bud and KayKay! We love our present!

Zachary, having a swingin' time!

Jonathan practices his mad trike skills

Thomas, getting a little help from Daddy

HOW ADORABLE is this pic of Jonathan and Zachary? So sweet!

The best of our attempts to get a pic of all four on the slide--the weight was just too much for little Jonathan to hold back! Still pretty cute, I must say!

Mr. Photogenic!

Daddy and the kiddos!

Mom gets a turn too!

After a rest on the big swing, the kids decided it was time to run, and they started playing the most hilarious game with each other! Here's how you play:

Step 1: Play peek-a-boo with your sibling around a tree. Make sure you're having enough fun that all siblings will want to come and join you!

Step 2: Once all siblings have gathered at said tree, someone shouts, "Look! Another tree!" and points at another nearby tree, as if it just grew up out of nowhere and no one has ever seen it before!

Step 3: Everyone runs to the new tree shouting, "A tree! A tree!" and gazes upon it with amazement.

Step 4: Someone looks back at the original tree and shouts, "Look! Another tree!" and everyone runs back to the first tree. Then the game begins all over again.

I swear they ran back and forth between the two trees for the longest time and each time they screamed as if they had never seen that tree before in their lives and it was the most amazing thing imaginable! It was so bizarre, yet so entertaining, to watch!

Well, this ends Christmas day, but the festivities are far from over! Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Santa

This year was really special since the kids are finally starting to "get" Santa. At least they recognize him when they see him, and they know he brings you presents! We wrote letters to Santa for the first time this year. It was hilarious! I gave each of the kids a piece of paper to color and then I wrote their letter on top of their coloring. I asked each of them what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas. Without fail, all four children initially responded, "Presents!" Well, okay, but what kind of presents? Reagan asked for a doll. Jonathan asked for a dolphin. That's right, a dolphin. Jim and I think he thought that was what Reagan asked for and just copied her. Thomas asked for a Santa. Zachary just asked for presents. But, what kind of presents, Zachary? I just want presents! He said it in his scrunchy voice. I've got to get that voice on tape. It's impossible to describe it. I call it scrunchy because he scrunches up his face when he does it. It's super cute!

So that was a lot of fun, but I have to say that technically Santa only answered half their requests. Reagan did get a doll and Zachary did get presents. Thomas did not get a Santa unless we count his picture on a gift bag or his "presence" in the house when he brought their goodies. Jonathan did not get a dolphin, but he did get a Diego boat that seems to have taken his mind off the missing dolphin. At any rate, he hasn't mentioned it!

Christmas Eve we made a plate of cookies to leave out for Santa, and the kids got to eat some before going to bed.

Look! I'm actually eating a cookie! It's a Christmas miracle!




Even Daddy got a bite!

Jonathan, Zachary, Reagan, and Thomas, right before Jonathan let all the cookies slide off into the floor! But that didn't stop Santa from eating them later that night!

The whole "Santa won't come until you're asleep" thing did nothing to get the kids to bed faster, unfortunately! Maybe next year!