Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Post your hunch and win a prize!

Well, not really. Unless you consider recognition from the blogosphere that your hunch was correct a prize.

Tomorrow I go in for my 19-20 week sonogram and will find out if baby #4 is a boy or a girl, Lord willing. We know it's either one or the other, but I don't have a hunch either way. I could seriously wait until the birth date before finding out, but I also don't mind finding out ahead of the great relief of everyone around me who wants to know NOW! We found out via sonogram that Christopher was a boy and then waited until the birth date to be surprised with both girls, and it was fun both ways. People argue that finding out ahead of time helps with preparation and gifts, but we are SO prepared either way! Aside from diapers, wipes and other consumables (which are all gender-neutral), we have all the clothing, bedding, equipment, etc. that this baby boy OR girl could possibly hope for. I guess people just want the emotional preparation. John tells me that he needs time to get used to the idea of what our family is going to look like. I'll buy that. It is fun to find out.

So be brave and post your guess in the comment section! You'll find out some time tomorrow whether or not your hunch was correct.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NO MORE wishing this kid a happy birthday...until he turns 6!

As you may remember from earlier posts, it seems we have been celebrating or at least talking about Christopher's birthday for over a month! On Easter Sunday (March 23rd), we put candles on a cake and had a mini-joint-celebration for Hannah's, Christopher's and Pop's birthdays - mainly because my mom was in town. Then we had a 'family party' on his actual birthday (April 2nd), the same day John got into a car wreck. His 'friends party' was scheduled for Saturday, April 12th at our house, but had to be rescheduled because we had an unexpected family funeral to attend in Wichita Falls the same day. Having to reschedule the party was not necessarily a bad thing because it gave me more time to figure out what games or activities I could do for his party since I had originally planned to rent a bounce house as the primary party activity (that was nixed by the orthopedic doctor after Christopher broke his arm on April 5th).

We had no available Saturdays left in the month before we headed to Pennsylvania for our month-long vacation/sabbatical, so I decided to reschedule his party for Sunday, April 27th immediately following the worship service. Now, I had invited all the kids in his class (about 15 or so) to his Saturday party and usually just the kids his age with at least one parent attend the party. But since we had the party at the church right after worship, we invited the whole family of each of his classmates so that we could all eat lunch together, party and go home. I was just trying to simplify things...HA! It just so happens that 4 of the largest families in our church (each of which has 5 kids or more) have kids that are Christopher's age, and most of the other families (including our own) have 3+ kids. So out of the 12 families that were able to attend, we had a total of 74+ people at this bless-ed event! With that many people, the party is an instant success even without the grandest activities or increased expenses. I figured that whatever money we would have spent on a bounce house would roll over into pizza expenses. I baked and frosted my own cupcakes from scratch (96 of them!!!), brought watermelon, apples, and salad, made my own pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey out of felt that I bought at Walmart, and Martha (Nana) provided the piñata and candy. Voila! Oh, and we didn't even have to rent the facility...

Here is Sarah not wasting a crumb of that cupcake. I wish I had a picture of the 90+ cupcakes that were proudly displayed on the dessert table.

Here is my Walmart donkey creation. After hearing the weather forecast of rain and a cold front for Sunday (I thought we'd just do a picnic lunch outside and have the kids play on the church playground), I made a mad dash to Walmart to buy felt and fabric glue. The fabric glue didn't work, so I was up until 11pm Saturday night hand-sewing this thing together! Thankfully this traditional game was a huge success with all the kids!

I love this picture! The kids all erupt in laughter when the blindfold is removed to see where the donkey tail has been pinnned (or in this case, velcroed).

This is what you call organized chaos. I had the fun job of blindfolding the kids, spinning them round and round, then putting them in the direction of the donkey. There must have been about 40+ kids in line for this.

John was on piñata-duty. With this particular age group AND with this number of children, I was extremely thankful for this kid-friendly piñata. Instead of striking and breaking it with a stick or bat, each kid gets a turn at pulling one of the ribbons until someone pulls the one ribbon which opens the trap door and lets out all the candy.

Here begins the mad rush to gather the fallen candy...

After we came home and Christopher opened all of his presents, we happily declared the celebration of his 5th birthday OVER!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Budding theologians...

I've caught Sarah (age 3) several times in imaginative play by herself when she often gives names to whoever or whatever she is playing with, be it cars, stuffed animals, dolls, etc. This is very amusing and fun to watch and listen to because she is naturally given to excessive drama which comes out in her playtime (as well as her notorious fit-throwing when things don't go her way). Anyway, the other day I overheard her 'reading' a book and making up the story as she went along. Every time she would turn the page, she would gasp and go on to tell what exciting or scary thing happened next. When she put the book down, I realized that she was flipping through C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. She quickly proceeded to play with her cars, which she named Adam and Eve, and then sang a song in a very flat key while she played about how Adam and Eve shouldn't eat the fruit, 'cause they disobeyed God, and you don't want to eat the fruit, 'cause you have to leave the garden and on and on into the nonsensical. Of course, by the time I get my video camera, she's on to other things.

Today during lunchtime, Christopher (age 5) said to me, "Mommy, God is magic." I said, "Well, magic is pretend; it's an illusion or a trick, but God is real." He paused for a minute and then said, "Well, the reason that God is magic is because He is three in one." At this point I couldn't argue with his conclusion since the concept of the Trinity is incredibly mysterious and 'magical', no matter how old or mature we are in our thinking!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sibling fun

All of a sudden I noticed Sarah pushing Hannah around the house on this little car today and I just had to videotape it. As I was videotaping, I wondered how on earth Hannah got herself onto the car until she fell off and Sarah effectively picked her up and put her back on. This kind of play between my kids cracks me up and delights me to no end. So enjoy the video and the lovely tour you get through my disastrous house (do you think my kids have enough toys??).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hannah taking steps

Hannah started taking steps before she turned 1, but I'm just now getting around to taking video of her doing it. She's become a very fast crawler, and even crawls very well up on her feet out of necessity (this is shown in one of the videos and is pretty comical). But she loves to stand up in the middle of crawling and take a few steps, which are becoming less and less wobbly. The funny thing is that she takes more steps when she has a toy or something in her hand rather than when her hands are free.

In the video below, Hannah is walking while pushing a little toy stroller. Unlike the activity walker, you cannot lean on the stroller without it toppling over. So she is basically just using the stroller for added balance (however slight) while walking.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The effects of a wicked Texas thunderstorm...

Last night, around 4:00a.m., I woke to the sound of wind and rain whipping against my house and thunder crashing and lightning flashing simultaneously. A few minutes later the tornado sirens for our area sounded and I started poking John, who simply rolled over and resumed snoring after a delirious, "Huh?" So I stayed there on my back, wide-eyed at all the lightning and wondered every few minutes, "Does that sound like a train?...Does THAT sound like a train?" and debated getting everyone up and into the middle bathroom's bathtub with a mattress over our heads. Thankfully the storm died down around 5:00a.m.

However, this morning I found the side wall of our backyard fence fallen against our swing set. John also got a call from Tanya about the storm damage to the church - pictures posted below.

Now I have a clear view of my neighbor's back yard.

Christopher has enjoyed telling everyone, including the fence repairmen, "Be careful you don't get poked by the nails!" Sarah kept asking the fence repairmen if they knew how to fix our fence. This was all very exciting to them.

The back wall of our fence didn't fall over, but the base of 2 posts were broken, so you can see the fence leaning backwards in this photo.

OK, this is what our church looked like BEFORE the storm (picture below taken at the Fall Festival in October)...

This is what our church looks like AFTER last night's storm. Our poor steeple fell into the front yard and broke.

If you look closely, you'll see the cross on the ground at the left and the base of the steeple is cracked.

Several trees on the property were also uprooted. THANKFULLY, the steeple didn't fall on anyone or anything besides the ground!

The wind gusts also ripped some of the siding off of the back wall of the church. John said that several of the iron-rimmed trash cans were missing from the playground, but amazingly enough, the little pavilion which is made of tarp and offers a little shade on the playground area wasn't damaged at all.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Pop!

Well, it was actually yesterday, but we celebrated with cake today! I guess this is the 2nd celebration since we did do a joint celebration for Hannah, Christopher and Pop on Easter Sunday...but this one is more official since it's closest to his actual birthday and it's especially for him.

When you're as old as Randy, you can wear shirts that look like that and get away with it! (Not really - he has gotten a lot of grief since he bought that shirt but still wears is proudly). Maybe that's it - when you're as old as he is, you just don't care what people think anymore. "I like it, therefore I'm wearin' it!"

This time Sarah helped Pop blow out the candles on his carrot cake (mmmmmm...).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A little too much excitement for one week...

Well, we couldn't just have one McCracken visit the emergency room this week...

As you all know, John was in a car accident on Wednesday. Thursday morning I had a routine 16 week OB check up where the nurse practitioner had a very difficult time finding the baby's heartbeat with the doppler. She had no problem finding mine, which was increasing in pace the longer it took her to track down the baby's heart beat. My OB stepped in to give it a try after she was unsuccessful and found it, but not immediately. After I had let out a sigh of relief (that's an understatement), he told me, "You see, it doesn't matter how long it takes to find the baby's heartbeat; it's either there or it's not...and your baby's heartbeat is most definitely there." A strong 160 bpm, thank the Lord, but MAN! Talk about an anxiety roller coaster. He/she was apparently hiding in a low, deep spot.
On Friday, I packed up to leave for a weekend women's retreat with the ladies in our church. The kids stayed with John Friday night and then went over to Nana and Pop's house for Saturday night so that Nana and Pop could get the kids to church and John could get himself and his sermon to church in a timely manner. I was having a marvelous time out at Pine Cove when I received a phone call Saturday evening from John telling me that Christopher had fallen out of a chair at Nana's house and seriously hurt his arm when he landed on the floor. They said that they had never heard him cry like that before and he cried on and off for the better part of an hour. So John and Martha (Nana) took Christopher to the ER to get an X-ray and sure enough, his elbow was fractured.
Christopher was very upset upon hearing that he had to go to the doctor but John told him that he wouldn't get a shot. Once the doctor came in the room and asked Christopher what happened, Christopher became very animated and said, "Well, I was at my grandmother's house for a sleep-over...and I was sitting on the arm of the big brown chair...and I fell off and hit the floor...and my arm bended all the way back to my elbow and hurt really badly." The doctor very carefully felt up and down his arm asking if this or that hurt and Christopher was calm and aware enough to point to his elbow as the only part of his arm that hurt. They gave him tylenol with codeine for the pain, which John says took effect very quickly because Christopher started saying what a cool place the hospital was and told the nurses and doctor that he knew the body had 206 bones as well as what the skull, femur and humerus bones were. They got a big kick out of that. So he has a temporary splint until he gets a cast (probably by Monday).

John thought this picture was kind of funny because it looks like he lost his right leg along with breaking his arm. Oh, and for those of you thinking it's "lucky" he broke his left arm instead of his right...he's left-handed.

Sarah was so concerned after Christopher broke his arm and was crying uncontrollably (he hardly ever cries), that she came over to where he was and said, "Here Chrio-fer" as she handed him her blanky, which is her most treasured possession. It was SO sweet! I guess she thought, 'Well, this is what brings me the most comfort, so maybe it'll work for you.'

I love this picture because Christopher is dancing around, being silly while Sarah is thoroughly entertained and giggling.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pictures from Christopher's 5th Birthday

As promised, here are some pictures documenting our family celebration of Christopher's "actual birthday." He'd been telling people all day, "Today is my actual birthday because it's April 2nd."

We began the celebration by having dinner at our favorite local Chinese restaurant (369 Chinese BBQ). You wouldn't believe how much food Christopher can put away when he eats there. He'll tell you that his favorite food is pizza, but that his other favorites include Chinese fish, Chinese noodles and Chinese beef.
By the way, if you click on the above picture you'll get an enlargement and possibly see the blow to the upper left side of John's head that he received in his car accident yesterday. Then just click on the back arrow to get back to the blog page.

Pop and the birthday boy, being his normal silly self.

Pop and Sarah.

Hannah's first try at Chinese noodles. She LOVED them, along with everything else I put in front of her. You name it - green beans, fish, tofu, chicken, Chinese broccoli, rice - she'll eat it...and with only 4 front teeth! I start my kids young in order to ensure that they'll eat anything Chinese! Hey, it's in their blood, even if they don't look a bit Chinese on the outside...

Nana and the birthday boy.

Christopher and Sarah at the Italian Gelato stand just down the sidewalk. Christopher got a cone with bubblegum flavored ice cream and Sarah wanted a cone "wiff nuffing in it."

She later decided she wanted a lick of mommy's ice cream.

Hannah's first taste of ice cream (raspberry), and she loved it!

Then we headed to Nana and Pop's house where presents were waiting. Sarah just had to join the fun of opening the presents. She would say things like, "Here Chria-fur, wip it wike 'dis."

Along with some new clothes and toy trucks, Christopher got a bunch of new books to read. This particular book (My Book about Me, by Dr. Seuss) is one that we found at the library which Christopher read over and over and over again. So he was excited to have his very own copy to keep.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The good news and the bad news...

The good news is that it's Christopher's 5th birthday today! He's very excited about turning 5, about eating out at his favorite Chinese restaurant (369 Chinese BBQ in Plano) and going out for ice cream at Sonic. He's also very excited about his "friends party" which will be held next Saturday, weather permitting. I'll post pictures of him and the festivities surrounding his birthday later on.

The bad news is that John was in a car accident this morning. He was driving through an intersection at HW121 and Preston Rd (one of the top 10 most dangerous intersections in the nation) and got side swiped by a woman running a red light. She hit the driver's side, but thankfully her car went into the back seat instead of the front. John says all he remembers is a big crash and then coming to on the other side of the road not knowing what just happened. Thankfully a witness to the whole ordeal stayed until the police came to file a report. That is an incredibly busy intersection, so it's a wonder that he didn't hit anyone else as he was knocked out of control. We are thankful to the Lord that apart from a scratch and some bruising to his head along with some serious whiplash, John is fine...although he will most likely be very sore tomorrow. The car is a different story... According to John, our little Buick, which was a gift from my mom, is totaled. Bleah. It's a hassle, but in the grand scheme of things I know that insurance will cover this and cars can certainly be replaced. In the meantime, we are thankful that the Lord was watching over John today.

When I told the kids that Daddy was in a car wreck but that he was ok, Christopher said that we should just take the Buick to someone who knows how to fix it. I told him that it was probably beyond repair and then he said, "Well, maybe Daddy could fit inside a VW Bug. That would be fun." I told him that would be fun(ny), but not entirely practical.