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!