Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Awesomeness of Todd

Today is Todd's birthday. Like most hard working individuals, he has to work, but we will get to go have lunch with him at his office, so that will be nice.  Every year I make a cake for Todd, almost always from scratch.  He usually challenges me with something I haven't done before, which has been fun.  I can guarantee most of them have tasted great, but not all of them have looked appetizing.  Cake decorating has been a skill I've had to learn. Just see any of our pre-children cakes. :) Today I am making a triple chocolate cake, per request.  Although it is a new recipe to me, and an intense one, I'm excited to give him something special.
And since it is 5am and I am in full insomniac pregnancy mode, I thought I would write a little blog post letting you know some of the awesomeness of this guy whom has blessed my life more than any other and continues to do so on a daily basis. So the rest of the blog will be filled with all sorts of bragging, but its the truth- and if you can't handle the truth, then just skip the rest and make sure to wish him a Happy birthday. Or just look at the pictures.  They're pretty fun.
Todd and I met in college after he had served a 2 year church mission on Argentina. During his time away, his sweet teenage brother passed away in a car accident, Naturally, it was a devastating event for his family. The morning that Todd found out, he had read a scripture passage that talked about the death of a loved one. I can't site the verses but in them he felt challenged to commit himself that no matter what happened in his life, he was committed to the Lord and his mission. He decided that despite unforeseen challenges, he was resolved to be a better missionary that morning.  Little did he know what was coming. I tell you this because I've always told Todd that this is the reason I married him. His family needed/wanted/pleaded for him to come home (and with good reason) but he chose to stay and teach the people of Argentina about Christ, redemption, and that families could be together forever.  Despite his own grief, he chose the Lord and overnight, he became a more powerful witness of that truth with his own experience. Courageous.
Once his time was up, Todd returned home to grieve alongside his family. He was a source of strength and comfort to them, so instead of returning to school right away, he spent time with them. Several months after he had returned, he visited A&M with several high school seniors from his home town during our annual Senior Week.  My roommate, Dana, who had also just returned from a mission was so excited to introduce her roommates to one of her favorite people. As you can imagine, after being away for over 2 years- Todd saw a lot of old friends and met a bunch of new people.  If you were to ask him about the first time he met me, he would say that he doesn't remember it, which is fine. He was the blue light special and he doesn't remember names easily, so I've forgiven him.  Honestly, my impression was that he was a cute guy and seemed very nice, but that was about the extent of it.
The next day our institute went to an Aggie game.  It was raining, and as you know Aggies stand the whole game. Somehow I was placed by Todd.  I got to know him a little bit and learned that he would be returning to A&M in the Spring, so I would be seeing him more. On the other side of Todd was his new girl friend. Boy did she think he was something else.  I commented to her later what a nice guy he was, and that he had really dreamy eyes.  She whole-heartedly agreed and said- oh and he sings too, you should hear his voice! Obviously a some point they break up, but I can't recall the details because it wasn't really important to me at the time.
Once Todd returned and was single- he spent a lot of time at my house. He hung out with Dana, and had developed a crush on another one of Dana's roommates- Amanda. :) But after a few dates, Amanda let him know that she was no interested.  No matter. Todd continued to hang out at the house, because we were all friends by this point. Todd and I distinctly remember being at a party once, celebrating Dana's engagement, where we sat next to each other and he put his arm around me.  His thoughts- it's just Lindsey.  Mine- it's just Todd. No sparks, just buds. Todd became one of my closest friends that year.  I remember that if I needed a date for something and couldn't find someone- or didn't feel up to asking, then I could call on him, and we would go as friends, no questions asked. Funny how things change.
In the Fall of 1999, something changed.  I can't really explain it, and neither can Todd.  Divine intervention, maybe?  I'm not sure. Amanda and I were over at Todd's apartment hanging out and we spoke openly about our dating woes. We just weren't getting asked out on many dates lately and we couldn't figure out why- this whole scenario makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD, but it goes to show you how close we were with Todd and his roommate, Stephen. In that conversation Amanda and I made some sort of comment about how there just weren't any good datable guys out there. Todd and Stephen took this as a challenge- they were going to find us some good guys! And somewhere in that moment Todd though- wait, I'm a good guy!
At the Halloween dance, which is so fitting if you know us now, I began to develop feelings for Todd. It was SO WEIRD and I just didn't know what to do about it.  He was my buddy. My friend! WHY?!? WHY was I having feelings for him?! It would mess our whole groove up! As it turns out, around that same time Todd was struggling with the same thoughts and feelings.  Naturally, we turned to our roommates. This makes me laugh.  Our roommates spoke to the other person, confirming the feelings. Then within a small time frame- days, weeks, I can't remember. He confessed to me that he liked me and was interested in dating me. Naturally, I already knew- and instead of being accepting and exciting- I said something along the lines of- its about time! He should have known better then. :)
We dated for a year. It was so very awkward at first, but eventually, our feelings grew and we were inseparable...which wasn't that big of a change because we already spent a lot of time together. In the spring of 2000, Todd excepted a co-op or internship in Waco. He came back during the summer, but left again in the Fall. A lot of our courtship was spent on the phone and on the weekends. At MARS, where he worked, he made friends and valuable work experience. He loved being there and felt at home in his profession.  His co-workers praised his work ethic and were happy to have him on their team.
That Fall was a big one.  During those months Todd and I would break-up (for 6 days), get back together, visit his family in Florida together and on December 1st, we become engaged. Married in May.  Our first year of marriage, which many say is the hardest, was not hard. The things that couples often struggle with- personal habits, annoying unknown traits, etc- were not there since we had spent a year as buddies.  We knew our quirks. We were also very busy.  Todd finishing up his degree while I supported us with mine.
In December of 2002, Todd graduated, then we moved in with my parents for a few months, and then we moved to Nacogdoches for his first job with Tyson Foods. We loved living there.  We loved our first home, we loved the people, we loved serving together at church.  It was a wonderful beginning. I LOVED my job, but Todd only tolerated his- and eventually his discomfort would move us again.
In Nacogdoches we added our first little girl, Ava. When my water broke at midnight, while I was tidying up my office...because it had to be done right then...I went upstairs and woke up Todd. Two intelligent people totally dumbfounded.  What do we do now?! So Todd called our doctor, who sweetly said- "Go to the hospital.  I'll see you in the morning."
12 hours later, she had arrived.  Todd was so very sweet during delivery.  It was not an easy delivery and he struggled to watch me in pain.  At one point I told him that I was done.  That I was too tired and I didn't want to do it anymore. I remember he looked at me in panic, not realizing that I was fully aware that I had no choice in the matter.  Once Ava arrived, Todd's concern continued to be all about me. 12 hours he stood there, holding my hand, talking me through it all, and now what? I gave him permission to go talk to her, look at her.  Reluctantly, he walked away and I got a glimpse of the father he would become. So tender.
Todd's unrest at work would send him searching for something better and he reached out to friends at MARS, who took immediate interest, and before we knew it- we were on our way to Waco once again. I would arrive already pregnant with Sydnee. We lived with amazing friends for 4 months.  Ava would take her first steps in their home, we would all come down with the stomach flu, and we made lasting friendships with the Prices for their generosity.
The house in Nac sold, and we moved into a duplex just before welcoming Sydnee. This time Todd knew what to do, "Hello sweet baby girl.  I am your Daddy. We are so excited to meet you." Since the girls were so close together, we became experts in carrying two children at the same time. When Todd would get home from work he check on me to make sure I didn't need any help, then could be found playing with his girls, doing whatever he could to make them laugh or smile.  They loved me, but they worshipped their Daddy, still do.
We loved living in Waco. We made life-long friends, and countless memories. Todd continued to work hard to provide, but was home in a blink of an eye if I needed him, a benefit of working close to home.  One day I was working on something and Ava & Sydnee were off playing by themselves.  I was in their room, but they had left me focused on my task.  Eventually I would discover a large amount of freshly cut hair in their bathroom, alongside 1 budding stylist and one massively chopped head of hair.  I called Todd that day.  I had never been so mad in my life.  It's really funny to me now, but at the time, I couldn't believe Ava would do that! Todd came home and took them to Super Cuts. Sydnee was forced into a pixie cut and Ava, who had trimmed her own hair, would have some strangely short locks mixed into her shorter hairdo.  Those girls! Wish I could find that picture, its classic.
Once we felt like we could handle it, we welcomed another little girl to the family. Lucy was such a happy baby and so easy- which was a big blessing with 2 active little girls. When Lucy was a month old she came down with a really high fever in the middle of the night. Todd and I rushed her to the hospital and they began a slew of tests to figure out what was wrong with her.  One of the hardest nights of our lives.  I could not stop crying. Todd and I held onto each other hoping and praying that everything would be OK. She was admitted to the hospital and would eventually be diagnosed with kidney reflux. While I was at the hospital, we had family staying with the older girls, Todd would check in on us as much as possible. He even bought me a small personal laptop so I would have something to do other than sit and worry. She was released with antibiotics that she would take every day until she was a little over a year. Every evening Todd would mix the medicine into some formula, the only way she would take it.

Lucy would turn 1 in Waco and Ava finished kindergarten. Todd was called to be bishop of our congregation.  For those not of our faith, and still awake, he was the lead minister to the 600-ish members in our area. The day it was announced they asked me to say something too.  I told the congregation that I didn't know a better man. That I could guarantee that he would work hard to serve them, and that his leadership style is gentle, kind, and more prone to listen than to talk.  I included that he was the loveliest man I knew...and then realized that perhaps lovely wasn't the best way to describe a man. :) Our stake president got up after Todd had spoken and said something along the lines of- if all wives were able to describe their husbands as lovely, this world would be a better place.
At MARS there began to be some unrest, which in short lead to Todd losing his job.  It was one of the more difficult times in our lives, so much uncertainty. Todd, true to form, would get on the computer at 8am and stay there, with a break here and there, till 4-5pm.  He decided that his "job" was finding a job, so he was going to treat it like a job and put in his hours. With the help of family, some miracles here and there, and loads of answered prayers, we made it through that time without going into massive debt. I remember Todd's car AC broke, which was terrible timing- being summer and no funds available. So Todd would leave for interviews extra early and change in the car out of sweaty clothes into interview clothes. With the help of his brother, Todd landed a job in Houston.  A 3-hour move that we did not see coming.  It was an extremely difficult move, but it was our best and only option. So we packed up our 3 little girls and headed south, to a place we swore we'd *never* live.
Initially I could not figure out why we were here. It didn't make sense. We found a rental home in the neighborhood I wanted, and Sydnee started kindergarten/Ava 1st in a matter of a week. The company, as part of their package, did all of our packing and moving for us, which was a huge blessing. Ava and Sydnee got into their new routine/life and Lucy and I tried to set up house while they were gone during the day. Within a short period of time it became clear why we were in Houston.  Todd was happy at work, really happy- for the first time ever. He felt valued and important. Something that had been taken from him when he lost his job.  Cameron Intl. gave him his confidence back and also gave him insight on what his work life should feel like- a balance of hard work, that you enjoy, and satisfaction from knowing you are where you are needed.
During our time in Houston, we have grown closer as a family and a couple. We've added Camille and will add another little lady in May. People, friends and strangers, make comments about how sorry they feel for Todd being surrounded by only females.  They obviously don't know Todd- or our daughters. There is no void to fill.  No empty ache. Every day Todd wakes up the girls and brings them downstairs- sometimes carrying them, or holding them upright if they are especially sleepy. We say our morning prayers together before he leaves and then he spends a moment with each one- telling them he loves them, to have a good day, and to make good choices.  He always finishes with me, telling me he'll be home as soon as possible- which, he says daily, is never soon enough.
He comes home to open arms and squeals of excitement, "Daddy home!" Then, after his long day at work, he rolls up his sleeves and helps anywhere he can.  If the day has gone well, dinner is on the table, if not- he comes in and helps in the kitchen or wherever the girls might need him. Once dinner is over, he helps clean up the kitchen and starts bath time.  It's his special time.  He's always done bath time. He brings the littles upstairs, splashes with them, washes their little faces, then wraps them up, dries them off, and puts pajamas on them.  We finish the evening with scriptures, & story time. Then the older girls have taken their shower, homework is checked, piano is practiced, and books are read together. Once they older girls are tucked in, Todd's focus is making sure that he spends time with me- or serving me in some way.  He finishes the kitchen, helps with the laundry, cleans a bathroom, or finds a way to tomorrow easier for me. Every night he puts lotion on my feet and rubs them as we watch tv or read together or talk about our day.  Every night. He is my best friend.
Today is Todd's birthday. I can't help but be thankful that 15+ years ago, a spark grew into something more. Our lives are not perfect.  There are plenty of little girls fighting, arguing with parents, and sassy talking. That's a part of our normal routine too.  We are busy, like any family, and have our fair share of bad days. People often ask me how I can do so much with 4 little girls, and here's the big secret- its Todd. That's probably not a big secret to those who know us best. Whenever I have a meeting for Relief Society, or an emergency, or an activity- he steps up.  Whenever I take on a PTO assignment or bake cinnamon rolls by the hundreds, or decide I need some time away- he steps in. Whenever I come up with an idea- like summer craft camps, redecorating/reorganizing a room, painting furniture, planning a last-minute vacation, birthday party extravaganzas, or making 700 rice crispie treats for the school- he tells me what a great idea it is and then asks how he can help.
I recognize that he is not your average husband, and I am thankful every single day for the lovely person that he is, the amazing father he has become, and the Godly man continues to be.  He is all in.  He changes the stinky diapers, he unclogs the toilets, he paints little girl finger nails, and he lets those girls know how much he loves them and ME every day- with his example and his actions.

Happy birthday Todd Blackhurst.  You are my favorite. I'm so grateful to celebrate you today.  You make my life happy and my heart full.  What a blessing you are to many, especially our family. I hope we can spoil you today in the way that you spoil us every day.

Love you.
Bunches.
-Your Wifey

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pillows and Popcorn: Odd Thomas

I read the book, Odd Thomas a while back with my book club and we vowed to watch the movie together, but we're busy people so Todd and I gave it a go.  It's very close to the book, and so I thought it was pretty fun.  Netflix describes it like this:
In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

That pretty much sums it up.  So if you're not into weird ghost stories- this movie and book are not for you. We liked it though, so if you a fix in your supernatural barometer, give it a go.

Word to the Wise

Me: Lucy, why do you have black tights on?
Lucy: Because I'm a Ninja
Ava: Do you want to be a Ninja when you grow up?
Lucy: No!  A princess!

That's how we roll, people.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pillows and Popcorn: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Redbox sent us a free movie code last night so we picked up the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Lindsey hadn't remembered hearing anything about it but I did, knowing we would enjoy it. We do like Ben Stiller, though we were about 20 minutes in before we finally remembered his name. Lindsey just calling out random names until we gave up and just googled it.

We really liked the movie and recommend it.
Lindsey and I frequently watch a movie at the end of the day to unwind and to relax together. We want to share our thoughts with you so be on the look out for more to come.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Baby Camille!

Happy birthday sweet Camille.  It's hard to believe its been a year. I've pondered lately on what each of my girls have taught me about life.  I think Camille has taught me joy.  I can be uptight as a Mom sometimes.  I want things done my way- behavior, attitude, appearance.  The longer I am a Mommy the more I learn about what to let go and what is really important to me.  Of course I still expect a lot, but I've learned to breath a more and let life flow a little more.  Camille is full of love.  She smiles easily.  Laughs often.  She makes people happy when they pass her in the grocery store with her loud & energetic, "HI!"  She has taught me that sometimes the most important thing in the whole wide world is whatever she is doing.  No phone, no Facebook, no e-mail.  In the moment.  She is a JOY.

When Todd and I were considering having a fourth, we were all kinds of uncertain.  Originally we decided that maybe we'd only have 3, but I just couldn't shake the thought that maybe 4 would be better.  It's what we had always said we wanted...and it does make a nice even number.  I'm grateful that the Lord knew what He was doing when He placed Camille in our family.  She is a perfect blend of cute, fun, and happy.  We are blessed to have her in our family and celebrate her sweetness today!

PS I know I am missing several faces in the pictures below.  This is why *I* like taking the pictures- because no one sends me pictures of them.















Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our first swim lesson...well, almost

I thought we met our quota on emergencies.  No?

Breaking news from last night: http://www.khou.com/news/local/9-people-overcome-by-fumes-at-swim-school-249651331.html

As posted by me on our neighborhood site when the news broke out:
To give a little more info- lessons were underway when all of the sudden half of the swimmers and instructors were sick (and panicked-which is understandable). The rest of the pool, then the entire building was ordered out. We weren't sure what was going on, but kids and instructors were throwing up and coughing like crazy. Staff passed out water and checked on everyone. The swimmers closest to the middle of the pool seemed to be the most effected. My little girl was on the side and her class all seemed fine. Several of the instructors and children went to the ER via ambulance- some just precautionary. It was a scary experience, but we are grateful to be fine so far. Thanks again to EMTs, fire fighters, & police officers for running into the danger when everyone runs out. Hats off to FINS for being ready in the face of emergency.

Our Sydnee, fun-loving 7 year old with a heart the size of Texas.

****
The full story: Sydnee had been 15 minutes into her first swim lesson when all of the sudden I could tell something was not right.  I watched as one of the instructors and a little girl came to the side of the pool panicked.  Soon after the little girl began throwing up, and I later saw the instructor receiving oxygen. There is a viewing room for the parents and within seconds everyone was out of the pool and the parents were all super confused as to what was going on.  We assumed that there had been some of sort of pool contaminate and they were going to have leave the pool.  Unfortunately, it was way more serious.  Somehow chlorine gas had burst out in a plume into the middle of the pool, although that's still a presumption.  The authorities- of which there have been loads- cannot figure out what exactly happened or how.  I will say this- because the weather was nice- they had opened one of the large wall openings (I'm not sure how else to describe it)- this act alone may have saved Sydnee and several others from getting the brunt of the chemical blast.  The pool, from the viewing room, is like a broken T or an upside down/backwards L.  Sydnee was on the side and the people most effected were in the middle.  Once all of the parents/children/instructors were out- ambulances began to arrive and access the situation.  As an adult this was serious stuff and at this point in the night we still were not sure what was going on.  Sydnee seemed fine.  EMTs asked her to breath deeply and let them know if there was any pain or if there was any tummy pain.  She was fine.  Scared, but fine.  They treated the most effected first.  Several of the worst were instructors- which should read high schoolers/college students.  Soon after the treatments began 4 were rushed to hospital.  We stayed and watched.  I wanted to make sure Sydnee was OK and she had a tag around her neck which put her in line to be treated (if needed).  Since she was non-emergency, she was one of the last to be seen.  The EMTs decided to admit everyone left to the hospital for tests.  Sydnee at no time showed any signs of exposure.  They said she would ride in the ambulance unaccompanied (meaning I couldn't go with her) and I could follow.  I decided to decline.  I felt like riding in an ambulance without me, when she was by all appearances fine, would be more traumatic than necessary.  So I signed the papers, they told me what to watch for, and we left.  By the time we left, the only people remaining were searching for the clues as to why this had happened.  Fire trucks, police cars, and soon HazMat authorities lined the streets.  We got home and cried a little, then watched a movie and ate ice cream- our solution to a rough night.

Isn't it a scary world we live in sometimes?

I have to give props to the FINS team.  They were very concerned about their own instructors, but they were also attentive to the parents and children involved.  It was emergency that they never saw coming, nothing they planned or trained for- but they were ready.  I have to also express a prayer for the emergency personnel.  I know I said it before but it takes a lot of guts to walk into a situation, unknown, ready and willing to help whomever needs you.  They are heroes to me.

I should mention one more little hero.  At one time Sydnee looked at my with wet eyes and said, "Mommy, I'm scared."  I told her that she was going to be fine, that the danger was over, and that good people were here to help.  Then I leaned in closer to her and said, "The best thing you can do right now is pray.  It will make you feel better."  And she did.  In the middle of chaos, my sweet little girl bowed her head, closed her eyes, and said a little prayer.  No one saw her but me, but it is an imagine in my head that I hope stays forever.  

When life is crazy, when the unexpected happens, when there is known or unknown danger/ fears, when people are hurting or when we just don't know what else to do- we pray.  Sometimes its all we can do. Later that night we prayed as a family.  We expressed our gratitude that our little one was safe.  We expressed thanks for those that stepped up to help.  We pray for FINS, their instructors, their staff, and owners.  We pray for those that were admitted, and we will keep praying for their recovery.  I'm not sure what next week's swim lessons will be like- it will require bravery from everyone involved to step back into the water.  It was a night to remember and a sweet reminder that when life gets scary, we know where to turn.  What a blessing.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Guilt is a good motivator

One of my favorite family members told me she checked up on my blog recently.  She didn't have a lot of reading material because this blog has not been my priority!  Since I've sent out valentines and put this blog address on the card, I thought I might should update y'all.  But please note the last line: "Infrequent updates occasionally available on our blog."  Keep your expectations low, OK people?


Most people give their yearly updates in December with their Christmas cards.  We didn't do Christmas cards because something happened at our photo session and the pictures- for the most part- were not usable.  We were not able to reschedule, so I vowed to send Valentines- and I did!  I sent them on Feb 14th. :)  Better late than never, people.  The only pictures that were salvaged are on the Valentine above...except the one of Camille.  I took that with my very sophisticated iPhone. :)

So! To give my sweet family & friends: an update, here is my 3rd blog post since Lucy's birthday last year. You're welcome!

January: This month was too far away for me to be expected to remember anything.  Let's just move on...I'm sure I did something, but if I can't remember- what makes me think you'll care?

February: This was one of the busiest months of my life, well, it seemed that way at least.  To honor one of my sweet friend's little boys- I created a team for the Color Fun Run 5k.  It was a memorable experience and I was grateful to be one of Atticus' Angels...even though I was GREAT with child and I waddled instead of ran.
Some of our team after the race.

My shoes and my swollen ankles


Ava turned 8 and it was her year to do a friend party, so we went all out.  I did a lot of the early prep work, but then my darling sister Leah & my beautiful niece Samantha came to run the show.  It was a tea party, and every tiny aspect was just lovely.  I hope it created some nice memories for Ava and that she could tell how much we love her through all this effort.
Seriously the best cake I've ever made. My Mom and I kept licking the frosting off of the bowl, spoon, other people's plates...OK, not really the last one, but it was tempting.

This is the night before Ava's party.  As you can see, Lucy's Tinkerbell banner is still up. Birthdays 2 days apart, what do you expect?

I love the tiny details of a party, they make me happy.

All our tea party attendants.
What would a tea party be without the Mad Hatter?  I hope Ava knows how cool her Daddy really is!
By this point I am VERY pregnant and once we celebrated Lucy's & Ava's birthday, we anticipated the arrival of Camille.  All of the girls had come early, Ava 10 days early, Sydnee 1 day early, & Lucy even came 12 days early- and naturally we thought our last little angel might as well.  We were wrong.

March: Leah came and stayed with me the first week of March.  We wanted to make sure that if I went into labor in the middle of the night, someone would be there with the other girls.  It was fun hanging out, but that's all that happened.  I was induced on 3-13-13.  Love the date.  And Camille Ruby was born.  It was a very easy labor- for the most part.  The epidural worked!  Hallelujah!  I pushed only once.  The sweet little girl became our 4th little lady and we have loved her every minute!



Who can resist those almond-shaped eyes?!!?




April: Heather came and helped me out when Camille was 6 weeks old. She was going through a growth-spurt and I was grateful to have someone else there to try to figure out what this baby wanted.  We got through it, though, and she has been a really easy baby since then.

Also in April, the Kennedys all took on a Healthy Living Challenge.  We all contributed money and the person with the most points at the end of it would get the cash.  Here were the rules:
1. 30 minutes of exercise a day
2. 8 ounces of water 8 times a day
3. 5 servings of fruits or vegetables a day
4. Daily scripture study
5. Limit of one sweet or coke.
6. Personal pray twice daily.
7. BONUS points- no sweets/cokes
8. BONUS point- one hour of exercise
9. Weekly point- if you ate fish 3 times a week
10. Weekly point- Red meat eaten only 3 times or less.
11. A personal daily goal point.  Mine was to hug each of my girls every day, which was harder than I thought it would be.  Todd's was to play the piano.

It was really hard finding time to exercise...OK I had the "time".  What I mean to say is that it was really hard to find the motivation and energy when my baby was only tiny.  I really didn't do a lot of exercising until the summer months.  The other parts of the challenge were not as difficult. Just so I don't have to keep you in suspense- Jacob won, only missing a few points for the entire time we did the challenge.  Impressive.  Not far behind were Dad & Anne.  Todd and I have remarked how we need to do this again, it was a great motivation to take care of ourselves.

The biggest high light of April was Ava was baptized.  Normally for kids growing up in the LDS church, you are baptized when you turn 8, but since I was so very pregnant, we asked her to wait a couple of months.  We enjoyed the company of many family and friends for her big day.  It was a very special event for a very special little girl.



Todd also turned 36, which means he is OLD.  OK not really.  I just like to say that.

May:
Because everyone needs more to do when you have an infant in the house and 3 other little girls under the age of 8, in May we decided to redecorate the play room.  It was a yucky chocolate brown color and although I love eating chocolate- it didn't work for this play room.  So we spent a weekend tearing down the ugly border and changing the brown to a sun-shiny yellow.  I pretty much love it.



Here's the little nook area, I did the valence myself.  Never under estimate a woman with a staple gun!
June:
When the summer was approaching I wanted to put the girls in some summer camps- but they are so expensive!  So I decided to create my own camps.  No, really, I did.  I know I'm crazy, we've established that a long time ago! I invited friends and neighbors- and people came!  In droves! I filled 24 spots for 3 weeks.  It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work!  To check out the pictures from there, go to my blog: www.stampwithlinz.blogspot.com
The Craft Camp welcoming committee


July:
We had our annual Kennedy 4th of July get-together at our favorite ranch house in central Texas.  We hung out together for 3 days and had a wonderful time.  I love my family & their families!
Samantha, my niece, & Camille- aren't they cute?

My sisters and I at the Belton parade

Landry & the Edens were back from Australia! It was soo good to see them!

Our 4 little ladies

Miss Sydnee

August: With school fast approaching, we decided to take a little vacation and go see family & friends in San Antonio.  While we were there we also went to Sea World and the Alamo.  It was a wonderful vacation and we enjoyed seeing  "Uncle" Bill & "Aunt" Nancy (who are really my cousins but since my Mom was an only child I always thought they were my aunt/uncle.)  My kids adore these people. Me too.
We also got to hang out with the Moores, whom we have vacationed with every other year since our kids were little.  We love San Antonio- but we really love the people that live there!



Also at the end of August Todd and I decided to punish ourselves by entering a team fitness challenge: 500 meter swim, maximum push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups in 2 minutes, and a mile and a half run.  Did I mention I hate running?  And swimming?  And well, exercising without a soccer ball or a Frisbee or something? As part of the challenge, we were timed and had to get all of our events done in an hour.  We competed.  We survived...and I think that's pretty good.  I was pretty confident I was going to drown, but here I am breathing and stuff- so win/win.  Am I right?  Todd and I had great teams, but let's be clear- I'm thinking it was a one-time deal for me, man.  I'll stick to the soccer field.

September- School in session! Ava is in 3rd, Sydnee in 2nd, and Lucy is doing a Mommy Preschool until next year. We love our school and are blessed  Preschool has been a lot of fun too.  Just like my other girls, Lucy is the only girl.  I've decided that this is the Lord's way of letting me get to know little boys.  They sure are fun!

Ava & Sydnee also started soccer.  I coached Ava's team "Green Lightning" and assisted Sydnee's team the "Texans."  It was a lot of fun.

October- This month I participated in a craft show at Frank Elementary.  I didn't sell much but I did get a big head start on my own Christmas crafting...in other words I gave out what I didn't sell.  It was a win/win!
The cast of the Little Mermaid: Ariel, her sisters, King Triton, the Chef, and Sebastian. :)  We think we're pretty awesome.
And as usual, we dressed up as a theme.  Naturally in this picture Ariel is not cooperating.  Figures.

Our biggest news for this month was that Todd got a big promotion and is now the Production Control Manager for Cameron.  He loves his job.  It has been one of our greatest blessings.  We are so grateful.

November- we hosted Thanksgiving this year.  Todd's parents' house is under construction and it makes sense to have it at our house.  We love to host, we have the most kids, and half of the families live in Houston.  Here I am in my great grandmother's apron.  It was something that my Mom had but didn't want anymore.  Unfortunately it ripped right down the middle after I took this picture, but I enjoyed channeling my inner-Ruby. :)
December- Santa came to our house, which is nice.  Then we headed over to College Station for the Kennedy Christmas.


Always a good time!  New Years with the Blackhursts and fun games into the night- a great way to ring in the New Year.
Uncle Brett came home from Afghanistan, which was a huge blessing.  We love Uncle Brett!

I guess I should mention I turned 35 here.  Getting older has never bothered me, maybe I'm weird or maybe I've been to too many funerals.  I think each year is a blessing and I'm just grateful to be here. :) Stay young my people.

OK how's that for an update?  I'm sure there were other things that I've missed.  Probably deep and profound lessons and blessings...but hey- this is what you're getting.  Remember its been a year and I've only posted 3 times.  Let's just consider you updated and call it good.  OK?

Love to you my favorite people!