Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why I Never Get Anything Done

Many days, I find myself wondering where the time goes. I get up in the morning with a mental to-do list, and by the end of the day, I find myself surrounded by dishes and laundry and generalized "kid mess." Why can't I ever get anything done?

Well, I now have it all figured out. I do get things done, but the kids are getting things "undone" even faster. As a result the done/undone equation always turns out with the undone being greater than the done.

Case in point: We took last week off of school to do some much-needed organizing. One of the things that desperately needed attention was our puzzle and game cabinet. I got all four of the older kids involved, putting pieces where they belonged, checking to see if there were missing puzzle pieces.

In the meantime, THIS is what Carsten was doing:

That stuff in his hair is a variety of different hair care products. I'm not sure if he was trying to straighten, shine, or add body to his hair, but apparently, he had enough products out to do all three. So, THIS (and a hundred other incidences like it) are the reason I never get anything done.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Steffen's First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! (Those are Steffen's little feet- Gobble, Gobble! ;-)We celebrated this year with Bryan's family. They came over to our house and we all enjoyed a lot of food and some really great weather. The kids got to play outside almost all day.

Steffen was a very good baby, although he made sure that he got his "feasts" every two hours as usual. He weighs 13 pounds now, but he's still working on that third chin. He's quite the Mama's Boy. I haven't had one quite so insistent at such a young age about being held by Mommy. I'm not complaining! I know by now that it will be no time at all before he'll be following Daddy all over the place with barely a thought as to what Mommy might be doing. So I'll enjoy this brief time when he only has eyes for me!

Lost Maples

Well, fall is here! This really is my favorite time of the year. I love the cooler weather, Thanksgiving, and the beautiful colors. Unfortunately, we don't get a lot of leaf change around here in Texas. BUT, we do have Lost Maples.

Lost Maples is a state park that has trees that just look gorgeous during the fall. We took the kids there this past Sunday. We went with our friends who have 5 kids, so there were 11 kids under 9, and it was great fun! There's a pretty good 7 mile hike that you can do, but we opted for the shorter, but still scenic, trail.

Even the trip out there was pretty. The sun was shining and the hills were fun for the kids who are far too accustomed to flat terrain. We even passed a ranch with buffalo! I wasn't able to grab a picture of that, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The kids had a great time, especially since their friends were there. They explored, ran up and down the path, and threw rocks in the streams. Nathan went home wet up to his neck.

Carsten was real trooper. We had the backpack for him to ride in, but he was only in it for about 10 minutes. He walked (or, more accurately, marched) the entire way. He was just about asleep on his feet by the end of the trail, but he kept going!

Justin, for his part, had to be sure to get a good taste of the water.

We enjoy doing things like this with the little people. Enjoying God's creation together just makes us feel blessed to be a family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Carsten's Birthday

Carsten turned 2! With a new baby in the house, it would have been far too easy to miss his special day, but I was determined that he should have a party too. His favorite stuffed animal is his Eli the Elephant, so we thought we'd do a circus type theme.

Even though I've gotten pretty proficient at the birthday party thing, for some reason, everything I did for this one was a disaster. I guess nursing every two hours just gets in the way of accomplishing anything. Anyway, after finally throwing away two cakes, I settled on cupcakes with sprinkles. And, to keep things easy, we just had hot dogs and chips. I made several salads to assuage my guilt over the unhealthy fare. Seventeen people cancelled on the day of the party (which was probably a good thing, except that once you've done the preparation, a smaller group doesn't really make a difference.) Oh, and I had to take Steffen to the doctor for a check-up in the morning, and I got a speeding ticket...

Anyway, we did have a great time, and we actually got to talk to some people since there were fewer there. Carsten, for his part, wasn't to sure about the whole thing. He's the only one of our kids who doesn't like to be in the spotlight. It was so funny! He was excruciatingly embarrassed when we sang happy birthday to him. And then, when he touched the candle instead of blowing it out, we all laughed. That completed his embarrassment. He refused to blow out the candle.

When we went to get him to unwrap his gifts, he hid in the corner of the dining room.
He did like running around outside with all of his little friends, though. That part was great. And once the gifts were unwrapped, he enjoyed playing with them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Baby!

Well, this is a little overdue (kind of like the baby)but here it is:

Steffen Levi
Born September 30, 2009, 6:58 PM
8 lbs 4 oz, 21.5 inches

I had really wanted him to be born in September, because now the kids' birthdays line up Jan, Feb, March and Aug, Sept, Oct. Isn't that cute? Anyway, Steffen just barely accomodated my whim.

We now have 5- count them- 5 boys. Our house will never, ever be quiet, that's for sure. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Megan and I will have our hands full keeping up with all of them.

Steffen is a pretty good baby. Adorable, of course, and he likes to be held a lot. He thinks he should either be eating or snuggled up to Mommy. He's settling in nicely now- three weeks old today! It's amazing how fast the time goes.

For those of you who may have gotten our first e-mails or phone calls, you'll notice that we've changed the spelling of his name. No one could seem to figure out how to pronounce it, and we didn't want him to spend the rest of his life having to explain it. So, it's not Steven, nor Ste-fawn, but just Steffen- both short "e"s.

All of the kids love him dearly, but Carsten and Justin have been the most fun to watch. They are just enamored by him. Every night, they want to know if he's big enough to sleep in their room. Justin holds him every day, and he says that Steffen is HIS baby, not anyone else's. Carsten calls him "MoMo"- no idea where that came from- and he thinks MoMo should never cry. He comes and gets us the second Steffen lets out a peep.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Evan's Birthday

Evan had a birthday! Okay, so it was nearly a month ago (not quite, though!). His birthday was August 12th, I just haven't gotten around to getting the pictures posted. Evan had a Puzzle Party. The invitations were cut into puzzle pieces that had to be put together. (I'm certain the parents were thrilled about that.) And we did a puzzle scavenger hunt in the backyard. The kids had to find puzzle pieces and follow the clues to the treasure box.

The cake was also a puzzle- should have used lighter icing, but- live and learn. Anyway, the kids (and adults) were more than happy to eat it.

The pinata was the grand finale, and that's always the favorite activity. After all, it involves lots of candy.

Fortunately, Uncle Sam was there to be sure that the pinata was FINALLY broken.

Even the littlest people had fun.

All in all, Evan had a great time and he is very excited to be five years old!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carsten the Big Boy

Well, we've done it! We moved Carsten to his big boy bed! He's sharing a room with Justin, so they're both having a great time. They're not getting very much sleep, but they are enjoying themselves. We made the transition a several weeks ago.

(As a sidenote, in case you're worried that Carsten looks like a girl, his hair has been cut since that picture...)

And, about 4 weeks ago, one of our cats had a kitten. Mittens is doing well despite her mother's inexperience and general meanness, and the kids are, of course, in love with her. Justin carries her around, and lets her hang on his shirt. She looks a lot like her dad, so we're hoping she hasn't inherited her mother's personality. She's very curious now, and ventures further around the house every day.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Martha Syndrome

August has been quite a busy month for our family and, according to the calendar, it'll be getting quite a bit busier. All the school year's events have to be planned and coordinated. Meetings have to be held and activities and classes scheduled.

Along with this, of course, comes the inevitable recruitment. We all want other families involved in our activities, and, most of all, we want HELP! None of these things can happen without a lot of man(and woman)power to get them moving.

Now, we're all busy. Most families these days have a host of options when it comes to activities and other events. Very few of us find ourselves with a great deal of leisure time. This isn't really a bad thing. After all, we have to do something with the hours God grants us each day. We just need to be certain that our priorities reflect the plans that God has for us. It is our responsibility to make sure that what our families do glorifies Him.

At any rate, we often find ourselves inundated by requests for volunteers and participation. And for every request we receive, we're sending out requests on behalf of our own pet projects and groups. Each person feels that his or her request has great merit. "I am doing a great work," we think, "everyone should be involved." Then, as we realize that the volunteers aren't materializing as we had hoped, we often descend into self-pity. "Why does everyone expect ME to do all of this? Why aren't they doing their fair share?" Sometimes, we trudge resentfully on. Other times, we contrive ways to force unwilling people to serve. We have developed the Martha syndrome.

Martha was very industrious. She was busy working, cleaning, cooking- seeing to the needs of Jesus and His disciples. She was carrying on a very commendable work. Often, she is portrayed as a harried and unspiritual woman- an interpretation that had always made me feel a little unsettled. Several years ago, my grandmother, both a prayer warrior and a great Martha said to me that she believed that Martha's problem was not that she was working. After all, Jesus and His disciples were hungry, and meals (particularly 2000 years ago) do not make themselves. Her mistake was in looking around and being resentful of someone with a different calling. "Lord, tell her to help me," she said of her sister. And isn't this precisely what we do today?

What we don't see, because we are human, is the totality of what God is doing in another's life. While God has called us to one project, someone else might be busy working for Him in another area. Or perhaps God has called us to a season of quiet and rest. He gives to each one grace to do exactly what He has called him to do. As long as we carefully submit our time to Him, He will make sure that we have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3) That certainly includes the strength, time and patience to accomplish His work.

So, as I send out my requests for help, and receive requests from others, I'm going to pray that the I will trust the Lord to give me, and my many friends involved in so many worthy causes, "all things." I, for my part, will extend grace to others and hope they do the same for me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Days

Well, it has been HOT here- over 100 most days, which means that it can start hitting 90 as early as 10:30 in the morning. Nevertheless, there's been a lot going on in the (air conditioned) Bain household. We're starting school again next week so that we can take time off after the baby's born, so this is a good time to give a summary of our summer activities.

We finally put in a playset! The kids have loved that, even though they've had to go out early to play now that it's so hot.

Carsten is surviving the heat just fine, and giving an entirely new meaning to "riding bareback."

He is also working on moisturizing his curls with- you guessed it- Vaseline. Despite repeated washings in Dawn and soaking in baby powder, that stuff sort of just has to wear off. His hair looked wet for days.

We made jam and Carsten and Nathan were on hand to help out with that.

Of course, VBS is a big part of summer each year, and this year's VBS week went really well. It was a blessing to both workers and kids. 200 kids came, 15 children accepted the Lord, and the kids raised $1695 to give to a new church in south San Antonio. (They raised this money all in coins! The girls and boys compete for the heaviest bucket.) I taught 3 year olds, and Justin was very happy to have Mommy as his teacher and Aunt Sara as his assistant teacher. My friend Kim helped out too, and we had a great time.

Justin had a little unsanctioned sleepover.

Carsten has made eliminating the flies that plague us his life's mission. Evan got a brand new fly swatter as part of his VBS crafts and he gave it to Carsten. It's his most prized possession right now. He runs around swatting (but never hitting) any flies that might sneak in the door.

No summer in a house with a 6 and 7 year old would be complete without a few missing teeth.

And, finally, when the heat keeps you this cooped up, you sometimes just have to climb the walls.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baby Talk

Well, this week has been VERY busy- we had VBS! More on that to come...

But, I couldn't wait to blog a little about Carsten. He just turned 20 months today, and over the past few weeks, Bryan and I have been discussing his vocabulary, or, more precisely, his lack thereof. Now, experience has taught me that sometime between 18 months and 2 years, something clicks in their little minds, and they suddenly start talking. Still, Carsten has been relatively silent, and I was starting to get anxious to see some sort of progress.

Well, this week, the wheels started to turn. He's started repeating words and pointing things out. He's by no means reciting Shakespeare, but tonight, for example, when I asked him what he wanted he said, "Ba" and pointed to the ball. Major victory! He knows he can communicate! And he's very proud of himself. The other kids clap and cheer at his every effort- there's no lack of positive reinforcement here.

Anyway, we'll see how long it takes him to really make progress, but it's so cute to observe those first few attempts. In no time, we'll be wondering if he will ever STOP talking, and he'll be competing with his siblings for monologue time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

AWANA Derby Pictures

Here are the pictures of our kids at the Awana Derby, courtesy of our friend Tanya. (Yes, we managed to forget our camera...)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

And the Winner Is...

May has been a very busy month for the Bain household, as the lack of new blog entries attests. All through the year, we carefully balanace the kids' activities, trying to make sure that nothing conflicts and nothing exhausts (at least not completely.) In May, however, all bets are off. Every activity needs to have an end-of-year awards ceremony or demonstration, and those things, of course, require rehearsals and extra practices.

The upside of all this craziness is that we get to see what the kids have been working on all year. And, most importantly of all, we take PICTURES!

First up was Megan's Keepers at Home club. This is a Christian scouting-type program. The girls earn badges for different skills: baking, sewing, pet care, and so on, plus stars for service hours. Megan is in the little girls' Pebbles group this year, and she earned 17 badges.

Next year, we're going to put together a boys' Contenders for the Faith group. Evan was especially excited about earning badges in "Pretenders."

Then, the kids had a gymnastics Fun Meet. Evan and Justin are with the preschoolers, and Nathan and Megan are beginners. The school age kids are not competing against the other kids, but they are scored based on their competency. All the kids had a good time (with one notable exception- see below).

And then, there was one more little one who thought the evening was entirely too much sitting and NOT getting to play on all of the wonderful equipment:

Finally, we had AWANA awards and the AWANA pine car derby. Nathan and Megan worked very hard on their Scripture memorization. They both finished their books, reviewed all the verses, and finished one extra workbook apiece. Even the little boys participated in the derby. Evan took 2nd place for speed, Megan took 1st place for design for her Calico Kitty car, and Nathan took 2nd place for design for his Lego Racer car. Daddy worked hard to make sure that all the cars were weighted just right.