Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years!

From our family to yours, Happy New Year. We wish you all the richest of blessings in 2011. God was especially gracious to us in 2010, and we can't wait to see what next year holds!

Just in case you aren't sick of seeing our pics yet, here are some of my faves from the photoshoot we had in November for our Christmas picture. I'll spare you repeats of the ones I have already posted or that appear in the side columns etc. All pictures were taken by Ben & Joy Hallock (comment or contact me if you are interested in having them do a photo shoot for you - I'll hook you up. They are amazing!!). They are pretty much ALL my faves, sooo, these are just some highlights:-)
Makin' that chubby boy smile!

My handsome boys
This one has "future facebook profile pic" written all over it:-)

Current facebook profile pic. Love it!

I love how Grey is just peeking over Brian's shoulder

Love that baby!!
Caught in action, dancing. This was the fancy spin part. They make me smile

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tarzan Baby - Video

Well, we've noticed lots of changes in our baby the past few weeks. He's not so much a baby anymore (sooo sad!). He's growing up quickly! On December 22nd we noticed his FIRST TEETH popped through (2 bottom, middle). Finally!! You still can't see them, but you can feel them. He was 9 months old on the 21st.

He's become very fast at crawling too, and also pulling up. Brooks got Disney's Tarzan for Christmas from his cousin Vienna. The very first time we saw it, we said, that's Grey! Doesn't he look just like him?
Awww, it's Grey, all Disney'd up!

Brian has always called Grey the Vanilla Gorilla, ever since he was born.

And the pièce de résistance, incase you had any doubt. This is how Grey crawls! See the videos for proof!
Like I mentioned, Brian has called Grey the Vanilla Gorilla ever since he was born. Just today I googled it, to see just what Vanilla Gorilla actually means. Here's proof that Brian is up on all the hip terms these days, and I am a clueless housewife. The urban dictionary describes it like this "a caucasion male, who is large in stature and body language. Actions are sometimes brutish but considered favorable in popular culture. females find the vanilla gorilla's actions and persona to be attractive. other males wish to emulate the Vanilla Gorilla. He is often found in muscle car and motorcycle circles as well as at auto racing events.The vanilla gorrilla is often the hub of activity at any event; considered to be cool and the man on the scene." LOL! Now isn't that just our big little man? Aside from the muscle car thing, however, he really does like to chew on toy versions. Hmmm. He certainly has the large, attractive and cool thing down anyway. Cutie.

Crawling on his feet, like his alter-ego, Tarzan. He's never used his knees. He is wearing 12mth pj's...almost too small!

And he's pulling up like crazy now too! One thing about Grey - he is not easily enticed. You can dance on your head, and if doesn't want to come, he won't. He only seems to move when HE wants to.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Man up, Canada

What I hate...about snow.

It takes no less than 3 hours to bundle up 2 children. And we don't even have snow boots or snow pants. Super annoying. Plus, they only want to play for 5 minutes, and then track in mountains of snow, which the baby tries to eat.

When there isn't adequate plowing, sand, or salt, the driving is horrible.

It seems like it's harder to keep the house warm than it is to keep it cool. Open the door one time and it takes hours to warm up again. It would really help if we had a house that was insulated well (or at all!), and if we had an alternate heat source, like a fireplace.

Yesterday Kenna had a complete meltdown because her mittens weren't pink or purple (to match her coat). And even though she prayed it would snow here (prayer, answered!), she told me she thinks she really likes the beach. The novelty wears off fast.

I'm really glad I don't own a shovel...I then, don't have to shovel...I can just wait a few days until it melts!

On the plus side, it's so pretty. And I do love skiing, sledding and skating...and reminiscing about the worst storms we've driven through.

A friend commented on my facebook status a few weeks ago (I was complaining about the weather:-), and he told me to "Man up, Canada"...laughing!...but I don't wanna!

Winter Wonderland

Well, last year we spent Boxing Day (Canadian holiday, Dec 26th) pinning down a screaming Brooks while he got his chin stitched up. This year we spent Boxing Day...buried. There was no snow on Christmas, but it started snowing sometime in the evening. And did it ever come down! This was a storm that uniquely came up from the south, instead of down from the north. And it dumped on us! Much more snow (twice as much!) as we got last year in a storm, which was a record in this area. We skipped church...for lots of reasons. 1) We don't own a shovel (we used our kitchen broom, lol). 2) We own, but can't find our car scraper. 3) We can't afford to replace our car right now, should someone hit us. 4) Church comes too was still snowing big time when we would have had to leave. A state of emergency was declared (naturally), and they had snow plows etc sent down from the north to help clear the roads.
Around 11am. The tree is weighed down to the ground, heavy with snow

11am. We have 10 inches in normal spots, more than that in some areas. By the end of it all, there was well over a foot of snow everywhere.
This bush normally goes all the way up to our big window. It's literally ground level now, under heavy, wet snow
Aw. Cute!
Brian was itching to get out and drive all day. Finally around 7pm he decided we were too low on milk, and he wanted a movie, so he *must* go out. I told him everything would be closed. He didn't believe me. Guess what? EVERYTHING was closed. He tried 3 stores:-), and redbox was virtually empty, so he came home defeated. He loves to drive in the snow! He got stuck for 30 mins on our own street on his way home. Haha.

Snowy day activity - We found our'd been awol since Brian was the youth pastor at church...he left it in the youth room...that was like 2 years ago or something. We recently tracked it down, and got it back. Brian was teaching Brooks how to use the controllers and play some simple games like Mario Kart (it's a modified xbox, it has TONS of games on it, ones not even for xbox, and old *awesome* ones from the 80's)
A dusty controller. It's been YEARS since Brian's played video games. Father & son bonding now. Brooks loved it, but was not very good at it. Still a little young!


Please excuse some of these posts. They are for archival and housekeeping purposes, I don't really expect you to read them:-) Just cleaning and organizing my blog for the new year! Love to all - Darla

Along the Road 2010

 Along the Road - posts from 2010

Corn syrup and peanut butter mixed together tastes amazing - from my Papie Kennedy/my Dad

Knowing how to use Excel well is a very necessary and useful skill - from my Dad

A beautiful centerpiece is essential for the proper presentation of a table at nice meal - from my Grandma Shantz

How to cut in butter without a pastry blender - from my Mom

Usually, it's just better to do things properly the first time - realized from my own do-overs, over the course of 30+ years

Washing windows with vinegar and newspaper cuts down on streaks - from my Mom

When people make mistakes that cost you money, count that as the cost of training them. Why turn over the responsibilities to a new person, who could also make that exact mistake. - from a former boss

A wife can throw more money out the back door with a teaspoon, than the husband can bring in the front door with a shovel. - from my Grandma Shantz/Great Grandma Shantz

Calling gross food by a special name and forbidding it will entice children to eat it happily - from my Grandpa Shantz

Learn wisdom when you are young. Others have paid a high price for it through their experiences, and they will give it away for free - from my parents

Expectations ruin a lot of life's potential joys. Learn to be grateful and content, whatever situation you encounter - from my parents

Milk in Campbell's tomato soup is way better than water - from Grandma Kennedy

Always keep a clear conscience - from Bill Gothard

Think about a subject and everything you know about it, and then consider this: you might be wrong - from my husband

Work harder, and more efficiently, than everybody else - from my Dad

Never use sour goats milk as a replacement for sour cows milk - from my Mom

Don't sit on the counter tops - from Grandma Shantz

Best Posts of 2010

Brooks' Stitches
The first REAL snow we've had in VA since we've lived here!
Kenna turns 4
Lleyton Gregory David is born
A little shower for Grey
Brooks turns 3
Going to Ontario to visit Grandma Shantz
Grandma Shantz passed away on Oct 1
Halloween's Fall Ball
Growing kids, Dr's statistics
Our Christmas Pictures - Video
Grey's Dedication
Christmas Letter & Picture 2010
Kenna's performance in the Christmas Play - Video
Quiet Christmas 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

We spent this year's Christmas quietly at home. I was blessed to be invited to go with a friend to the Lion King (Amazing!) on the 23rd. And then the holidays begin! Quiet, with just us, but fun! Brian had to work on the 24th, so we spent the day cleaning and getting ready for Christmas! We've had a really fun and relaxing day together.
Nothing says I'm ready for Christmas like a Mickey Mouse tattoo:-)
Lots of cards!
Lauren (Brian's sister), came over after her night shift to open gifts with the us. Here are a few pic with some of the spoils of the day.
Brooks' newsboy/poor boy hat was from Auntie Noni (Lauren). The kitchen set was given to them by a little girl from church who outgrew it and thought they would take good care of it for her. They love it!
First Christmas!
Hat, again:-), Calgary Flames jersey from Grandma K, and a beach ball globe (aka treasure map)
Playing with his toys:-)
A new outfit and boots!

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Comes Love

A big congrats to my little brother Logan, who is now engaged to his best friend, Kari. Aren't they a cute couple?
 Logan will be the 5th one of us 11 kids to get married, and the youngest (he'll be 20 when they wed...and I will be THIRTY TWO). crazy. CRAZY! I am in complete denial that my "little kids" are growing up. I still choose to think of him like this:
Logan Braden Trevor, 14 months old. Cute as button!
The little kids will always be little to me. No matter how old they are! Huge congrats to Logan & Kari. We love you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles - Recipe

 I found this recipe online, and HAD to try it. Cookie Dough is one of Brian's faves, so I thought it might make a nice holiday snack. Super easy! Let me help you out a little - 8 T equals 1/2C. I didn't have unsalted butter, only salted, and it tastes fine. I'm sure the super mini chocolate chips would be best, but I only had regular ones, and it works. No eggs, so the kids had a blast licking everything out when I was done mixing! I added a little milk to my melted chocolate to make it runnier and better for dipping for a "smooth" look finish. These have to be kept in the fridge or freezer. My PICTURES under the recipe! (forgive my horrible camera, I still don't have a new one. Some posts I have 'scheduled to post' in blogger, from long ago - when my camera worked! - that's why it jumps from good to bad pic quality everyday)

From Annie's Eats

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
Mini chocolate chips (for garnish)

Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture is firm enough to form balls.

Shape the chilled cookie dough mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours.

When ready to dip the truffles, melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring frequently). Using a toothpick, dip each chilled truffle, one at a time, coating in chocolate and letting the excess drip off. (If the cookie dough balls become too soft, return them to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.) Transfer the dipped truffles to a wax-paper lined surface. If using mini chocolate chips for garnish, sprinkle on top quickly after dipping each truffle before the chocolate sets.

Store in the refrigerator and serve cold. These can also be frozen for longer storage. Makes about 5 dozen.
This is what I do with my free time (aka: Nap time)

It says, A little Yummy for your tummy! A cute little gift for Sonny's mom. Tomorrow is the first day of Christmas break. YES!!

My Favourite Things

My favourite things make me happy. And this definitely makes me happy. It's a butter dish that my younger sister Jillaine made me while she was with us for the summer (Janessa make salt & pepper shakers for someone else, as I recall). Anyway, my butter dish (plain and clear glass) had just broken. And she went to Potts & Paints and thought to make this for me - it matches my dishes. Every time I get butter, I hope it never breaks, I love it. It's so cute, and I love the little saying she wrote on it. If you can find a Potts & Paints (or similar pottery store) in your area, you can make a personalized treasure you'll love forever! You could make a mug, a special plate for celebrations...anything! The pottery is all there, and they show you how to paint it, then they fire it up (or whatever they do to 'set' it), and it's ready for pickup the next day. It's fun, it's's a favourite thing you'll love!

This is how butter comes in the USA. A strange thing for Canadians, I know. They sell butter in "sticks" here, which are 1/2C each. It took me awhile to get used to it, but now I like it (better? maybe...)

For those that are curious - Canadian butter. It comes in a solid block (=2 cups). Canadian dairy products in general are much different than in the US, but that's another post for another time. Gotta love Fruit Bottom yogurt, that's all I'm sayin'! (and, no, I don't really miss that one!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby Quote

You know me and my quotes! I have been 'collecting' them since I was a teenager...I have a word document that is about 70 pages long...all of quotes!

I came across a new one's so perfectly encapsulates that indescribable feeling of love we all have toward our children, doesn't it? The moment they are born, you can't even imagine life without them in it, as if they were always there. True Love.

Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here an hour, I would die for you.
This is the miracle of life.
Maureen Hawkins

Monday, December 20, 2010

Debut Performance - Video

Kenna had a little line in the children's portion of the Christmas play at church last night. She has been practicing constantly. We've been working specifically on enunciation and inflection. She sure does inflect-it-up! She took the very minor role in a very serious way. So cute. End result was a very clearly stated line:-) There weren't very many 4 year olds with lines, and I think she's likely the smallest of the 4 year olds anyway, she looked so small up there!

She delivered her line perfectly, and everyone laughed/cheered for her when she was done, just because it was so cute! Here's her 15 seconds of fame. "E is for the eastern star that shined so clear and bright"

The first thing she when she saw the video this morning was "That is not my voice! I don't sound like that!" I had to explain that our voices sound different to us than they do to others:-)
Here is some more of the skit...
And Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Look who pulled up all on his own! He wanted to come towards me, and his upper body was moving forward, but his feet wouldn't budge, and he toppled over. He'll figure out those feet move soon, I'm guessing!

Party week!

Brian and I had his work Christmas party on Wednesday night. We went to a Japanese Steakhouse, and it was yummy! We dropped the kids off at church and then friends brought them back to their house until we were done. I told them to pack their back with things they wanted to bring. I didn't realize what Brooks had packed, until I unpacked him on Thursday. Three essential items.
I always wonder what kids are thinking with their eclectic choice of play things
Last night I attended a work Christmas party with a friend, whose husband is on deployment with the navy. I set the gingerbread house up earlier in the day, and left it for Brian to decorate with the kids. They did a great job! Kenna is very perfectionistic and wanted it to be exactly like the picture (it was a from a kit). They had lots of fun with Daddy!
When I got home I added some "snow" to the edges of the roof, and it looked done!
They can't wait to eat it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow Day!

Well, when you grow up in Canada, there is almost no circumstance which should require schools to close. I remember VERY few snow days. I should have grown up here! A snow day was called, so we got an unexpected day off (both Sonny & Jack have 1 parent that is a teacher). I was able to finish off the last of the Christmas shopping, yay! At least it actually DID snow...sometimes they worry too much and cancel school and nothing happens!
In the snow yet, but still a little left from last week. Global warming? I think not.

And it started to come down around 10am or so! Good coverage everywhere.

Then it started raining, and so it's all heavy, wet, icy snow. But there was a bit of accumulation, as you can see. It's melting very rapidly today!

Guitars and Stockings

Brooks has an unparalleled zest for life! We love it. He is very obsessed with sports, music, hats, and a new one...dinosaurs. He's all about them. Crazy ones like a dromi-a-saurus and a stigi-mullosk. I have no idea how to spell those. He loves to discuss which ones were 'herba-voys' or 'carni-voys'. When eating lettuce last week, he declared himself to be a herba-voy, because he eats only plants:-) His enthusiasm is quite catching too. He makes an instrument out of anything that makes noise. Here's another rock star moment, with his bandmate, Jack. If Brooks likes music, you can bet everyone around him will too!
This is a fuzzy one, but you can see Brooks' tongue. He sticks it out in serious concentration when he is "playing" his guitar
Rock Stars!
 It's a Rein-dolph, as Kenna said in the store. We decided this rein-dolph was the cutest one of all. Perfect for little LG.
Grey's stocking!
Snowmen, Gingerbread men, and a reindeer!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kennedy Family Music

I'm finally doing this...because I just now took the time to figure out how. It's amazing what you can learn when you try (and when it's a snow day = day off!). Here's the backstory:

My family sings/plays music together. Always. My Dad was in a rockin' rock band when I was a baby, Orion. My mom has their 8-tracks. Yikes. It's doubtful I'll ever figure out how to get those online, haha!

We really have no recordings of ourselves, other than homemade videos. Cause we never did anything professionally, like paid a studio. After I got married, in the summer of 2003, we coerced a friend and sound guy at our church to record us from the mics. It worked! Never done it before or since, I'm sure our friend put some effort into making that work for us. It was a 'shotgun' type session. I was in town for the weekend, and we did 26 songs in only a few hours. No retakes, no practicing. Just what we've done a thousand times over the years.

The results were great! But not without their mistakes. I will post a few of my faves from the Kennedy Family recording session. If you beg me, I'll post more. I just don't want to force you to hear stuff you don't like. Instrumentation throughout is done by my Dad, and brothers, Brent & Jared.

This is the Doxology, by Lauryn and Darla. I need my sister, she makes me sound better. Sound balance is a little off, sorry. You get the idea. Lauryn does the harmony, I do the melody. It's gospel/regular church music.

Infamous Brian-foot-in-mouth incident. He comes home from work (we still lived in NY, so the CD was still new), this song is playing on my mp3 player. He walks in the door and immediately says, "What is this crap?, Shut it off". He's not the biggest country music fan ever to roam the planet, that's for sure. "uhh, honey, that's me" - ooooh was he ever sorry. His excuse was, it sounded SO GOOD, that he thought it was Faith Hill or some other *horrible* singer. A feeble attempt at redemption. I don't let him forget that one. (I really thought it was funny actually).

This is Thanks to You, originally by Emmylou Harris I believe. It's more blue-sy, or something. Darla, melody, Dave (Dad), and Lauryn on harmonies

This is He Stopped Loving Her Today, originally by George Jones. It's arguably the greatest country love song of all time, and my Dad does a great job with it. Lauryn and I were being silly with the ooo's and aaaa's in the background.

This is Through It All. Gospel/church sound to it I guess. Lauryn does the first verse, me the second, my Dad the third. It is sort of a testimony song - the words have a lot of meaning to them in light of my mom's brain aneurysm in 2001. We sang it a lot after that.

This is Traveling Soldier. Likely my fave we did that day, only because...we had NEVER done it before, ever. And it turned out. My bros, sis and I loved it (a Dixie Chicks song), my dad didn't know it, so we just said, "it goes like this" and we did it, and it worked. Me on melody, Lauryn with harmony. She is so good at harmonies y'all. Incredible, really.

Brian & Darla

Brian and Darla were both born in 1979.
Darla is 3 months and 8 days older than Brian.

Brian is 10 inches taller than Darla.
{these facts are very important to Kenna - Boys can be younger, but still taller, than girls}

Brian met Darla in 1998, in Indianapolis, Indiana, during a Christmas Conference for the Institute in Basic Life Principles (and the Advanced Training Institute).
{Darla doesn't remember this *incredible encounter*}

Darla met Brian in 1999, in Oak Brook, Illinois, at the IBLP/ATI headquarters.
{Brian reminds Darla of their previous introduction = blank stares}


Brian and Darla began dating in October 2002, and were engaged on December 28th, 2002.
Brian moved from Balston Spa, NY to Fairport, NY (Rochester area) in January 2003.

Engaged! In Central Park, NYC
Brian and Darla were married in June 2003 in the Toronto area, and lived in Fairport, NY where Brian worked as an inside salesman for Promark Electronics. Darla had to give up her job in accounting (in Toronto), when she moved to the USA.
In June 2004, Brian and Darla moved from NY to Virginia, and Brian traded in his white collar job for a blue collar one. There have been lots of jobs since then. {Details are boring}. In the end, the bills get paid and everyone loves what they currently do.

Brian has always had better hair and taken longer showers than Darla.

Lots of people say that Brian and Darla look alike.{Darla thinks she's just a liiiiiiiittle bit better looking though}

Brian is very sarcastic. Darla is very gullible. Darla is not sure how great this really is. Brian is not sure how smart Darla really is.

Brian and Darla will argue about music radio stations forever.

But they will love each other longer than that.

Brian and Darla are living their fairytale. Minus a few pesky details like a castle and a pizza restaurant {again, details are always so boring}.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Goodbye Indy!

All pictures are from the article in the Indy Star, HERE. 

Memories! It's amazing how one picture can bring in such a flood of them! Someone posted a link to the above article on facebook, all I noticed was the picture. It's Indy, informally. Or the Indianapolis Training Center. Brian and I met here in 1998. He lived there for over a year while going through a counselling program and working with juvenile delinquents, (I was just up from Chicago for a conference). We still love to tell the stories!
Red carpet. For some people, this would trigger a thought about the Oscars perhaps, or some other Hollywood event. Not me. The first thing that springs to mind is "Mr. Gothard". He has such a penchant for nice red carpet. It works for him. He even has it in his house (I used to take turns watching over his mother when she was in ill health. Seeing the red carpet in his childhood home made me laugh). It also reminds me of cleaning that red carpet. There were NO spots allowed. At one point that job was part of my secretarial duties, to be done just before 5pm. Hands, knees, a cleaning solution and a metal spoon was discovered to be the fastest way of getting those dark spots out!
The main hallway, just off the lobby
Everyone has something to say about IBLP or ATI or Mr Gothard. It seems to be quite polarizing, really. Most of it is negative, if you are doing an internet search. Even though not all our (Brian & I) collective experiences were perfect or perfectly handled, we have emerged better people, and therefore, have generally positive things to share. Most of the things that "people" pick on aren't what we would anyway. Once you are involved with an organization very closely, you see the flaws, because you see the people. But you can always see Jesus in it too, if you are willing to grow.
The main conference room. I didn't even live here or go to school here, and I've spent countless hours in this room. I can't imagine how many seminars Brian sat through in there!
Through the Basic Seminar, Advanced Training Institute and further work and education with this organization (along with good level headed parents/parenting) has had us come out on the other side "ahead". We were young children/teens, and learning things that many adults have never heard (as I'm an adult now, and coming to find out). So we entered our adult lives with deeper walks with the Lord, deeper understanding of how to search out Truth. Our emotional state, marriage, parenting/children...almost every aspect of life has been touched by something we learned, and so that makes it a positive experience, and one that I would do again (with minor changes:-).

On the 13th floor. Used to be a nice restaurant, when it was a hotel. I only ever used it as a hangout spot during the Christmas conference:-)
More 13th floor! - Beauty. Elvis stayed here, after he performed his very last live concert.
The pictures never do it justice. But this lobby definitely had a wow effect, the first time you saw it. Funny lobby story - circa 1998. I was in town for a Christmas conference, Brian lived there and was on security duty that night. Since I (and my friends) didn't live/belong there, the rules for us were somewhat lax (meaning, if we broke them, no one would notice). So we left the Training Center, and went out to eat at Steak & Shake, and played mafia...and we were out until 3am. We, not living there, never considered something...Indy was home to some serious juvenile delinquents (undergoing rehabilitation). They lock that place down like a jail. We couldn't even drive into the parking lot, it was all chained off. Then the horrible thought occured...what if Mr. Gothard was in his office? He was always up that late. Darn. We snuck up to the building, and tried the side door into the back of the lobby. Locked. So we went up to the front. Locked. But security (aka Brian) was at the front desk, and he let us in with a glare. Mr Gothard was not in his office, and we never suffered any consequence for our evening excursion and exceeding lights out by 5 hours or something...Whew!
The main lobby.
A year later, Brian came to work in Chicago. I remember being re-introduced in the dining area. Where he loudly announced, "I remember you two, aren't you the ones that went out at Indy and didn't come back until 3?" Infamy. Well, needless to say, there is no statute of limitation at places like that, and my friend Audra declared Brian to be bad news. What was he thinking even bringing that up (so loudly)? "He is going to be trouble", she said. How prophetic. He was!

Goodbye Indy. Thanks for the memories!