Friday, December 19, 2008

Shields Kids 2008


I thought I'd write a little Christmas note here since I'm not sending a letter in a card this year. It seems like this year has gone by very quickly! We are glad to report that we are doing well.

Derek turned 12 in May and is now actively participating in Young Men's and Boy Scouts. He was able to attend the temple for the first time last month, which he loved. He is in 7th grade this year, and continues to excel at school. He plays the saxophone in the band and also played soccer on a city team. He has started getting taller and eating a lot more - I can feel the teenage years upon us!

Dustin is 10 and in the 5th grade. He switched schools this year, and has found everything to be quite a challenge. We are so proud of his determination and hard work. He spends many extra hours studying, and it is paying off. He has even started to enjoy reading more. He loves to play soccer and run. He started back with piano this year, also.

Kaylee is 7 going on 17. She loves playing with friends, pretending, and talking to herself! She is an avid reader and does very well in school. It is so nice to have another girl around the house - even if we both have our moody moments!

Brandon is 5 and has left Kaylee in the dust in the height and weight department. His speech is showing major improvements this year, and he is doing well in Kindergarten. He finds it hard to be the youngest child, and loves it when his brothers will include him in their play. My favorite thing is when he randomly whispers to us, "I love you." I will be so sad when he outgrows this last trace of "little boy."

Roger is still the Elders Quorum president in our ward and he continues to stay busy working for the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. He is a super husband and father. I am serving as the Cubmaster in addition to playing the organ & piano at church. I still teach several piano students and have started substitute teaching a little bit this year now that all of the kids are in school. I also serve as the treasurer for the PTSO (like PTA) at the middle/high school charter school where Derek attends. We always manage to stay extremely busy.

As we have watched so many of our friends and family struggle with major challenges this year, we are so thankful for our blessings. We have enjoyed relatively good health, we still have employment, and our home and cars haven't had any major problems (knock on wood)! Most especially, we are thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the birth and life of our Savior. We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanksgiving in South Carolina

I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures from our Thanksgiving trip to South Carolina. The weather was nice and chilly, and we had a great time visiting with family.
Abby & KayleeBrandon & Brian
Megan & Derek
Kaylee enjoying one of Grandpa Leckie's signature "seatbelt swings."
A rousing game of family football , organized by Justin.
A stop at Bald Rock near the NC state line. Some of the trees were still colorful, which was nice. (Table Rock in the background).
We hiked down the side of the rock. Kaylee got tired on the way back up. It was steep in places!
Grandma Leckie with most of the Grandkids near Hooker Falls.

We had such a nice Thanksgiving break. It was great to see Adam's family again. We're sad that Emily's family didn't make it this time, though (due to the fact that she was expecting her newest baby any day)!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I knew it was coming. I couldn't avoid being tagged forever! I just wish I had something more interesting to share. As I understand it, I'm supposed to look in my 4th picture folder at the 4th picture and share it. I had to laugh when I saw what it was. It's documentation from Derek's science fair project on evaporation. He was trying to determine if color had anything to do with how fast things evaporated.
Now, see if you can top that! I'm tagging Sarah, Leah, Crystal, Jodi, & Geri. If you haven't already done this (and if you dare), post your 4th picture from your 4th picture file. Have fun!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween pictures - a little late!!

This year we decided to carve only one family pumpkin rather than one for each child. To help ease the transition, the kids decorated their own construction paper jack-o-lanterns while they took turns helping with the carving.
The costumes for this year: Derek was a vampire, Dustin was Draco (complete with a Slytherin snake), Brandon was Obi Wan Kenobi, and Kaylee was a cowgirl. This was taken just before the trunk-or-treat at church.
For Halloween night, Dustin decided to be Mad-Eye Moody.
This is a water bottle that Brandon transformed into a bat one afternoon. Kaylee's class had done a similar project, turning theirs into pumpkins with orange colored water, and he wanted to have "a cool water bottle" too. I was pretty impressed with what he was able to do all on his own!
Emily and Dan were here for Halloween night and went trick-or-treating with us. This is Caitlyn as a ladybug.
Here is cousin Jeffrey as a very cute dog. We all had a nice and relaxed Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Red Ribbon Run

Yesterday was the “Red Ribbon Run” here (a race held primarily for Elementary school children in honor of drug free awareness – or something like that). All of the kids ran this year in their own age groups. It was raining off and on, so some of them got to run in the rain. Derek & Dustin ran a mile, while Kaylee & Brandon had half mile races. Dustin was elated that his time was about 15 seconds faster than Derek’s (7:31 vs 7:13). Kaylee did really well on her half mile, too, especially considering how out of shape they all are (she was 5 minutes even). Brandon either tripped or was tripped when he was finishing up his first lap and spent the 2nd lap in the first aid tent getting a bandage. He still managed to run into the home stretch with the stragglers, but we were a little bummed that we didn’t get to see how he would do for the entire distance.

Derek after his race - it was raining through most of it.
Brandon (in red) before his tumble. It wasn't as dark as it looks.
Kaylee coming into the home stretch.
Dustin sprinting to the finish line.

Building with cards

Derek and Dustin have both taken an interest in stacking cards lately. Last Christmas we got Derek a book and about 100 decks of cards. Every now and then they pull them out and practice. They are slowly getting better at it! It's a shame that they always have to tear down their work when they are finished, though.

A quiet moment

This is the kind of thing I just love to see. These three get along quite well together when they feel like it.

Farewell to Houdini

This is the kind of scene you will no longer have to worry about encountering when you visit our house. Houdini has officially been adopted by a new family, so we are snake free for now!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random quote from Dustin

We were on the way home from a soccer game yesterday when Dustin said out of the blue, "Before you know it, I'll be able to drink out of two straws with my mouth closed."

There was silence as I tried to process what on earth he was talking about. Once it clicked, it really made me laugh.

He's about to lose another tooth, thus creating two symmetrical holes on either side of his mouth. Apparently this is a moment he's been waiting for.

Friday, October 17, 2008

7th Grade Field Trip

Derek went on a field trip this week to a local wildlife management area called Teneroc. He was able to hike, fish, and do water sampling. Roger and I went as chaperones. The kids had fun, and we saw some cool wildlife. As we were hiking, I was shocked to learn that several of the kids had never even been in the woods before!
This is Derek fishing, without much luck. Some of his friends were hauling in some pretty good sized fish, but he was happy to at least catch a 4" Seminole Killifish.
Roger made friends with a little toad.
This was one of several big spiders that we spotted while hiking.
I was the lucky one to come across this Cottonmouth (also called a water moccasin). It was my first encounter with a poisonous snake.

Off to dream land

It's becoming quite commonplace for multiple kids to end up in one bed lately, but I had to chuckle when I saw this arrangement. I'm starting to think we don't need so many beds.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wishing for Winter

It's October, but in central Florida that means nothing. Winter hasn't even taken a peek here yet. The kids aren't buying it. They requested hot chocolate Saturday morning and Brandon even put on his winter pajamas. It did get down to 75, after all.
Can I just say it makes me even hotter to watch them do this???

Kindergarten Career Day

Brandon wanted to be a chef for career day. We decided at the last minute that he had to have a hat, so we hastily put together a paper chef's hat and sent him off to school. The sad ending to the story is that he got sick right after he got to school and threw up (not into his chef's bowl - that would be too easy to clean up - try INTO HIS BACKPACK - yuck, yuck, yuck!). Even though he was feeling better, he was a little traumatized and wanted to come home. The school prefers that they go home if they throw up anyway. So, I checked the timer on the oven (still 45 minutes to go on the cake I was baking), and booked it down to the school (a 20 minute drive each way). We made it back in time - about 30 seconds before the cake timer went off - whew. He was excited to learn that I was doing some baking - he was a chef after all. All was well until Brandon realized that he would miss being in the career day parade at school. All of the sudden, he didn't want to be at home anymore. Lots of tears and wailing - from Brandon because he was stuck at home and from me because I got to clean out a nasty backpack. We're talking goop between the pages - stinky liquid inside the plastic covers of the binder - you get the picture. Overall, a dramatic end to career day! At least he started out really cute!!

Soccer Teams

Here are a couple of pictures I took of Derek & Dustin with their soccer teams. They are both really enjoying their season so far.
Derek's U14 team
Dustin's U12 team
(taken at 7:15 am - it wasn't quite light yet!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

My motivated daughter

Kaylee got a new coloring book over the weekend, and there was a form in the back of the coloring book asking children to write the company and give an opinion about the book. There were very detailed instructions about how to send the letter. Kaylee had the letter all prepared and the envelope addressed by the time I figured out what she was doing. She can be pretty independent when she wants to be. She's always very proud of her coloring, too.


We got a cat about a month ago, and I'm just now getting around to documenting it. It has been an interesting transition because she is so shy. The kids are occasionally able to get close to her, as long as they don't make any quick movements. Quite a change from the cat we used to have. This picture was actually taken by Fiona's previous owner, with whom she was more relaxed. She is finally starting to come out of her shell, though. Baby steps.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The China Gates

We have a set of French Doors at our house. For some reason, the kids can never remember what they are called. We laughed the other day when one child told another to "close the china gates!" So, now we jokingly refer to them as the China Gates.

First soccer games of the season

This past Saturday was the first day of games for the new soccer season. Here are a few pictures from our day at the fields.Dustin's game
Derek got kicked in the side while he was down, so he wasn't very happy after his game.
This is how Kaylee & Brandon prefer to spend their time.

A refreshing way to cool down after a hot day. I like it!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heart and Soul

I start teaching my children to play the piano when they are fairly young. Some have caught on quicker than others, but they are all making good progress. During their learning over the past 7 years, I have intentionally avoided teaching anyone the song, "Heart and Soul." It's fun to play and all, but it gets old when people repeat it, which they inevitably do. Sunday we had the missionaries over for dinner and you guessed it, one of them had the nerve to play "Heart and Soul." Derek and Dustin were hooked and I haven't heard much of anything else since. They practice relentlessly and beg me to teach them variations. I'm glad they're having fun, but I can't express adequately how sick I am getting of that song!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A visit from Emily & Dan

We have been so glad to have Emily and Dan visit us on a regular basis since they moved to Tallahassee. They come about once a month to visit the Orlando temple, so we provide them some babysitting and a place to stay. It's nice to see family members a little more frequently than we are used to.
Caitlyn is growing up so fast! She's lots of fun to have around.
Derek was so nice to play with Jeffrey on Saturday. If only he would play with his own little brother this well!!
Jeffrey and Brandon

This can only end in tears. At least he thought to put helmets on the little ones, too.
The whole clan.
Pregnant Emily - a little over halfway there. I'm sure she'll be happy with me for posting this! I'll spare Dan a photo...this time.