Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

True to last year, we are making our annual entry to our blog.  I suppose it is better than none. :)

Big events in the past year...

Madison Elizabeth joined our family in February and she is just... well amazing.  More to come about her a bit later.

We moved... again. :)  We are back in Colorado Springs for the third time and also, as fate would have it, are homeowners.  Lowe's has become a weekly location of choice and of course we almost singlehandedly support our local Costco. 

Kevin is still a space geek and is now responsible for keeping billion dollar space vehicles from crashing into each other.  Every little boy's dream. 

Amy is still the managing CEO of the circus performers we continue to employ.  She is happy to be back at the "Y" with her gym rats and she and Breanna have a rockin' piano studio. 

Breanna is a junior at Air Academy High School.  Between her grueling academic schedule, being part of the state champion marching band, lifeguarding and teaching piano we cherish every moment we have with the girl as they are becoming numbered!  Go Trumpets!

Ryan has continued to thrive musically and academically, is incredibly close to receiving his Eagle Scout award (blast those last few merit badges!) and has found a love for metal shop.  He is excited about attending Air Academy High School with Breanna next year and we will see him out on the marching field in May.  Go Horns!  Go Mellos!

Courtney seems to have the "golden touch" for pretty much anything she sets her mind to completing.  Her middle school doesn't have an orchestra program, so while continuing with cello and piano studies, she decided to pick up percussion so she can join marching band in a few years.  She and Ryan are both in jazz band and we LOVE the early morning hours that requires.  Go drum line!

Derek recently discovered a talent for acting as he was given a fairly significant part in his school play.  He also joined his older siblings in the "gifted" track at school and we love that he still has a childhood fasciniation of Legos and Playmobiles.  Of course piano continues to round our his repertoire... his second instrument has yet to be decided. :)

Audrey started Kindergarten this year and is reading everything... books, comic strips, billboards, and warning labels.  The latter has posed some interesting conversations.  She is such a gift and we love hearing her play the piano in duets with her siblings has proven to be quite satisfying as parental units. 

Ethan turns three tomorrow!  We didn't think we would survive his first year, and his second year was well.. wow.  Just wow.  We love the boy and he adds a spice of life we had not yet discovered with the others.  His ninja skills with the laundry basket are epic and the year of the three year old is looking to be just as adventurous as the other two. 

Madison is equivalent to the queen's crown jewels in our eyes.  She is adored by her siblings, the mother unit as well as the father unit.  We toted her around with us during marching season and it was so fun to have that experience with her.  If and when you meet this wee one, we think you will agree that she is just wonderful. 

May this season find you filled with hope, joy and laughter.  The light of Christ continues to shine brightly on his children and we are happy to share that sentiment with you. 

Much love,
The Amsden Family
Kevin, Amy, Breanna, Ryan, Courtney, Derek, Audrey, Ethan and Madison

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas from the Amsden family!  Here is just a brief update if you took the time to come to our blog … which, by the way, you can see hasn’t been touched since last year!  Yikes!
Kevin was selected for an assignment at the 50th Space Wing (Schriever AFB, CO) and he’s very excited for the new opportunity.  So, it looks like we’ll be heading to Colorado Springs again this summer, for the third time, and are very excited about only having to move 6 hours away!
Amy may soon be nicknamed “Elmer”, as she is the glue that holds everything together in our family!  She is a master planner and asking to go over the calendar is not for the faint of heart.  This pregnancy has caused her to wake early, which she uses to do a full day’s work by 8:00 am! 
Breanna has become an incredible trumpet player!  She was selected as a co-section leader (the only sophomore) and loved having “little freshman” to lead during an awesome marching band season, she made the All-State band again this year, and was selected as one of only two trumpets in the Albuquerque Youth Symphony – the top youth ensemble in New Mexico.   
Ryan is a Patrol Leader in his Boy Scout troop and was able to complete National Youth Leadership Training this summer.  He continues to excel on the French horn and made his school’s top band, as well as the Albuquerque Junior Orchestra.
Courtney has already mastered middle school and has skyrocketed on the cello!  She is one of only two sixth graders to make advanced orchestra and has managed to hold first chair for the entire school year.  Additionally, she also made the Albuquerque Junior Orchestra.
Derek is excited to be turning eight this year and looks forward to being baptized!  His love of Playmobiles and Bionicles is addicting and his soccer skills are awesome to watch.  He has turned into quite the artist and even had a piece featured in the New Mexico State Fair.
Audrey is starting to read and insists on learning the piano like her siblings.  She and Ethan are two peas in a pod and it is hilarious to watch them interact.   Her curly hair and delicate features still cause people to stop and gasp when we’re in stores.
Ethan has turned into an amazing toddler, after making us wonder if we’d EVER survive his infant years (the kid doesn’t sleep)!  He has a more extensive vocabulary then any of our kids did and he loves to yell “Aaaa-men” at the end of prayers!  His dimple remains simply adorable.
Madison  We think that will be the name our new baby girl, due to arrive March 2nd, though Amy is hoping sooner, as all of the girls have come 2 weeks early!  Regardless of her name or arrival date, she is already adored by her siblings and we all can’t wait to meet her! 
Our lives continue to be led by the Lord, for which we are grateful, and we are excited to see what path our family heads down in the next few years.   May our thoughts find your family happy, healthy and ready for a new year!
Much love,
The Amsdens

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Christmas Letter 2013

As another year comes to a close, and as we hit a level of crazy last year which resulted in no Christmas cards being sent out from our family, we have several updates to share. 

Kevin was selected to attend Air Command and Staff College last year, for a Masters in Military Operational Art and Science.  This gave us the opportunity to live in Alabama for 10 months.  What an amazing experience – we found that the south suits our family quite well.  Kevin was also notified that he will be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel this spring, which we’re all excited about.  He is now the Director of Operations for a space test branch and enjoys trying to fly satellites the size of shoeboxes!  

Amy continues to run our “command center” and still manages to throw a few piano lessons in on the side.  She, in particular, loved our time in Alabama – especially the breath-taking flowers (ever seen Confederate Jasmine?), rows upon rows of pecan trees, and sandy-white beaches that squeak!  She sincerely hopes the Air Force sends us back there … mostly so that we’re closer to Disney World!

Breanna had an amazing musical experience in Alabama, making All-State for trumpet as well competing on piano.  Here in New Mexico, she made it into the Albuquerque Youth Symphony on trumpet, had an fantastic marching band season, and just found out that she made All-State for NM, as a freshman!  She is thriving in high school and in her honors courses.  She is already scoping out collegiate marching bands and we are excited for this adventure with her.

Ryan entered middle school this year and decided to pick up the French horn as his second instrument.  We love to have two brass players in the house and enjoy the “out of the box” projects his honors classes demand of him.  He received his First Class scout rank earlier this year and has become part fish due to the time he spends in the pool with the Chargers swim team.

Courtney is in fifth grade and is lovingly called “our rock.”  She has excelled in learning to play the cello and piano and will perform at the drop of a hat.  She recently was accepted in to the gifted program in our school district and thrives when presented with a challenge.  She also spends quite a bit of her time in the water as she continues to swim for the Chargers swim team.     

Derek is in first grade and loves learning to play the piano and has become quite the little reader.  He dotes on his little brother and cruises up and down our street on the new found freedom of a “two wheeler.”  He can’t wait to join the swim team and asks every day if we can go back to the beach. 

Audrey is three and, well, she is just adorable!  We love everything about her from her curly hair, to her “princess” attributes.  The camera finds her almost every day and she loves it.

Ethan joined our family on December 7, 2012.  Everything about this little man has been on his time schedule… “It’s time to be born?  Okay… how about in 50 minutes?!?”, “Baby food?  No thank you… I will take only table food”, “Teeth? How about six all at once?”, “Sleep?  No time for sleep.  Thank you.”  We love this boy and it is a good thing that he is adorable.  

We hope this letter finds you and your family well and enjoying the season.  We are so thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to our family that we have grown from and continue to thrive knowing that our Savior loves each of us.  Merry Christmas.  We love each of you!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Everything happens so quickly

We fell in love with Alabama. Kevin graduated with another Master's Degree. We moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ethan is nine months old... tomorrow! As I look back on the last six months, I am seriously amazed that we are all still together in one piece. Things can change so drastically from one day to the next and yet we all somehow manage through the day, sleep and are ready for more in the morning. I think we have finally "settled" although we still have a few lingering boxes upstairs waiting for a random bookshelf. I believe the most difficult part of moving is feeling as though the children have found their niche. As I picked up Breanna from swimming and I watched as she was laughing with her teammates, it did my heart so much good. She got in the truck and said, "I think I am going to like it here." Huge sigh of relief. As I picked up Ryan from Cross Country practice and he lingered while talking with his new found friends, another moment of happiness happened. I watched Courtney in the pool with her lane buddies and as they floated and laughed I had another moment of silent victory. Watching Derek "high five" his soccer buddies and hearing his contagious laugh brought a smile only a mother can understand. Yes. Finally. It has taken two months, but I think we have arrived.

Monday, March 4, 2013

There are benefits to living out in the "sticks"

We took our house in Prattville "sight unseen."  Pros and cons to that method of house hunting and we will probably do it again at some point as all of these houses are only our "make do" houses.  We haven't found our "place" yet; however, we are anxious to find it soon.  Anywho...

A huge "pro" to living outside of the city is that whenever I need something I either make it myself, change the menu or do without. It is a "pro" because I have to be creative and self reliant. Today's need? Hot dog buns.  When you go to Costco and purchase the club pack of Nathan's hot dogs they are definitely on the immediate menu; however, who has ever been to a Costco which does not carry hot dog buns?  I searched high and low.  Not one to be found, so we left without them.  Swimming for all three kids (at different times of course) is tonight, I have a piano student and Kevin is teaching at UAM, so it is absolutely crazy starting at 3:13 PM.  Dinner has to be easy.  Kids like hot dogs. I love Nathan's hot dogs.  Problem solved except.... no hot dog buns.  Solution?  Make them.  Seriously, how hard can it be?  We will find out in approximately 8 minutes when these puppies come out of the oven.  If I am successful, I might even try out my hand at New York Style Buns. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The pink stuff is the best!

Johnson and Johnson original baby care lotion.  The pink stuff.  The baby smell.  My favorite.

With each of our children it seems to be a guessing game as to which lotion and soap their skin will have the best reaction.  (Just had to rephrase that sentence to not end with a prepositional phrase!)
With each one, the pink stuff works the best.  It can't be Baby Magic... it has to be Johnson's.  With Audrey we tried the purple "sleepytime" bottled lotion and had to quickly get her back in the bath to wash it off as she was screaming in pain from whatever didn't work with her gentle skin. 

With Ethan, we tried the yellow bottle with shea butter in it.  His skin broke out in the "baby acne" and, well, that is just not acceptable.  Babies are supposed to have the most beautiful skin.  So, we went back to the good ole' standby, trusted and true pink lotion.  No reactions, beautiful skin and a heavenly smelling baby.  Can I hope that Johnson and Johnson reads this blog and Ethan can be a model? Sure I can.  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

39 weeks and 6 days

Ethan is one month old today. Yes, the time has flown by. No, I still haven't forgotten the pain of labor and delivery. Yes, he has stolen our hearts. No, He isn't sleeping through the night... yet. He is pretty darn close, though. Yes, I feel that having a newborn and five other children is kicking my booty most days. No, I haven't slacked on my laundry duties.

This post is mainly for myself to remember the little man's birthday since my journal rarely makes it off the nightstand now a days. If you would like to join for those incredible 53 minutes, feel free. :) I have never carried a baby in my womb past 38 weeks. Never. We thought for sure this little guy would show up somewhere around Thanksgiving. Yeah... nope. We had everything set with who was going to watch the kids, rides to swimming and other activites. We were all set to rock n roll over the Thanksgiving break. It came and went. The next week came and went. I was dialating, effacing and the baby was moving down, but no action. We talked induction at 39 weeks simply due to my selfish reasons and then I decided I had moral issues over choosing my son's birthday, so inductin was not discussed again. We just waited. Kevin and I thought it would be stellar to have Ethan in December simply for the reason that we would then have two birthdays in January, two in September, two in October and two in December. We are a bit obsessed about "evenness."

Kevin's mother arrived on December 6th at 4:00 PM. I went into labor on December 7 at 1:57 AM. I really think something subliminal happened and let my body finally relax enough to go into labor knowing that the other children were now taken care of in their own home. No "farming out" children, everyone sleeping in their own beds and someone to drive them wherever they needed to be.

  I rested through a few contractions in bed and then decided that we were definitely in business. Got up and started a shower (which I never made it into) and started getting a few odds and ends together. I knew the birth plan that I wanted which included waiting long enough at home so that I didn't have to have a stupid IV put into my arm and jump through all of the hospitals "hoops" while having a baby. I wanted him to come naturally without any help from medication or having to follow anyones rules but mine. After using the bathroom, I immediately felt my body change into transition phase. It was seriously like a light switch flipped. Crazy experience and one I will never forget. At that moment I had to trust my body to do what it was meant to do and hope that we made it to the hospital in time. Going through the next couple of contractions, Kevin's mom asked if we wanted to just stay home and have have the baby there because she could tell he was coming... FAST.

We decided to leave and try and make it to Montgomery in case there was any hemmoraging since this was our sixth baby. We just felt like staying home was taking a gamble we didn't want to risk.

  We threw everything in the car and headed out of Prattville to I-65. Kevin will never confirm nor deny reaching speeds of epic timliness on our trip down the interstate and I will always curse concrete bridges since we had to cross three of them to get to Montgomery and the repeated breaks in the bridges certainly didn't hinder my labor from progressing.

At the I-65, I-85 junction, five miles from the hospital, I told Kevin I needed to push and he pushed the accelerator farther down. We have always joked that if I gave birth in a vehicle, we would replace that vehicle with a new model. Let's just say we started discussing new Subarus.

Kevin had called labor and delivery on our way down to let them know we would be flying through. They had a wheelchair ready and the security guard, after trying to first direct us to registration, cleared our path and said, "She says the baby is coming out!" The nurse could not push the wheelchair fast enough as I held the baby through three more contractions. Getting to the L&D floor, I hopped up on the bed and said, "Okay, I am going to push on the next contraction." The nurses looked at me like I was crazy, and tried to get the belly montior and IV started while trying to change me into that ridiculous hospital gown. "You can't push" is all they could say, so in my mind, I said, "Oh yeah? Watch this!" Me, the hospital bed and one push and I had my baby boy. The nurse turns to me and says, holding the belly monitor, "Well, I guess we don't need this any longer" and I just look at her while I am handed Ethan. The doctor walked in ten minutes later with uncombed hair and relayed the fact that I hadn't given him much time to get there. I just smiled. They really should have trusted a woman who was giving birth to her sixth child.

  I had the birth I wanted, Kevin never got his new car but had a heck of a fun time getting us down to the hospital, and Ethan has now completed our family.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The other side of the coin

So here I sit... 39 weeks and 3 days into this pregnancy with the little man.  I have never carried a baby this long... NEVER!  36 weeks with Derek, 37 with Ryan, 38 with the three girls.  What in the world is going on folks? 

Several suggestions have been offered... since I worked out all throughout this pregnancy my body is stronger and can sustain the full 40 weeks.  I have already forewarned Kevin about the bruising he should expect after labor due to my She-woman strength, so maybe this is a viable option.

"He just isn't ready to come out yet" is another thought.  Well, at this rate, when will he be ready?  He did try flipping footling breech three weeks ago, but Kevin and I flipped him back around.  Maybe he is trying to show his will and determination or maybe he is just happy being carried around all day in a warm bath.  I seem to think it is the latter and that he is just as content as can be. 

He is waiting for Grandma Dee. She gets here on Thursday.  The day can't arrive soon enough.  I have had great anxiety over who will care for the younger children while Kevin and I are gone.  We love spending those first few days just the three of us and the thought of needing to share him does not make me happy.  So... maybe Thursday night will be the night.  Come on, Grandma!

The title for the blog post relates to the fact that in the past, I believe I have been truly insensitive to other couples in our current state.  Of course they want their baby in their arms.  Of course they know "what causes that" and of course it is obvious the baby hasn't arrived.  

We shall see.  Induction has been offered and it may very well be our option come next week, but here is to hoping for the spontaneous delivery I want!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Not so "green"

When we moved to California a group of us in the PTA started a massive recycling project at the school on base which has since brought in thousands of dollars due to California's CRV refund project.  It is still up and running.  We had the support of the principal, staff and Santa Barbara county.  It rocked. 

In Colorado, we had to pay $3 a month to recycle.  That is less than one footlong at Subway.  Deal. 

In Alabama, the response I got when I inquired about recycling was, "Well, we don't really do that here."  I just about dropped the phone.  I tried for 6 weeks to just ignore the recycling symbol on all of my plastic, cardboard and glass containers.  At the end of six weeks, I just couldn't do it anymore.  I thought of everything I preached to the school parents in California and the reminders I gave to my friends in Colorado and just had to find a way to "do my part" here in this beautiful state.  My solution?  Kevin.  He is now our recycling man.  A couple times a week, he drops by the recycling center at Maxwell and empties our bins of recyclables.  When he was gone last week, I ventured over to the Prattville Recycling Center to find an unmanned, detached semi truck trailer with what looked to be recycling materials in it.  I looked around to see if I needed to sort it, but finally determined that I was just to throw it in the truck.  Sweet. Done. 

As I was driving home, however, I noticed so many recyclables waiting to be picked up with the trash that it saddened me.  I  wish everyone would catch "the vision" of recycling.  Maybe someday. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shoulders, sidewalks and busses

I know this title of my post is incredibly random, or at least I made it appear as such.  They are all actually related and here is how...  In trying to figure out, as a family, how to get everyone to four different schools, Breanna offered to ride her bike to school since we are only 2 miles away.  Huge round of applause for our brave daughter and it made me love her even more (if that is possible).  One big problem.  There are no sidewalks in this town except in the downtown area and in some parts of the "east side."  If there is a sidewalk, it is generally only on one side of the street.  Not only are there no sidewalks, but there isn't even a shoulder off either side of the road to ride on.  To illustrate the safety hazards of such a roadway, Kevin had to go out and purchase some fluorescent yellow and green running shirts so he didn't get knocked off on one of his runs since he now runs with the traffic and is sometimes faster than some of the "moving" vehicles. :)  What this town does have is a massive bussing system to rival those of any other place we have lived.  To inquire about bussing times, routes, etc I have the powerful tool of the bus driver's personal phone number.  Quite convenient, I must say.  The bus drivers own the road, any inch of asphalt on the side of the road as well as the dirt and plants that dare to grow near the bus path.  It is actually a good afternoon of entertainment as I sit idiling waiting for my turn to pick up our children and I think I have figured out all of the hand signals the traffic directors use, too. Little do they know that I am privy to their secret language!  Mu-ha-ha-ha.