Wednesday, December 28, 2005


The girls and I gave Daniel a new racquetball racquet and balls for Christmas, so he just had to try them out with his dad while we were visiting! We went to the Cushing Youth Center after saying goodbye to the Moffetts and the Maxwells in Stillwater.

We watched Daniel and Grandpa Wayne play for a while, and I even took a turn for a few minutes! Poor Wayne kept falling down and once even slammed his head into the glass wall! Then Daniel hit his dad in the back with a ball...OUCH! But despite Daniel's wild dives and Wayne's crashes, they both were having a blast! Once Daniel leapt backwards and the ball flew so close in front of his belly that if he hadn't just lost 30 lbs he definitely would have been hit! After they were done playing we went out to eat at a new deli in Cushing called Neipheh's.

Daniel, with his new gear, is set now for upcoming games with the two Mike's from our church. Hopefully he'll get lots of chances to play since it's such a great aerobic sport for him. He's set a goal to be at his target weight before his next birthday. I think he'll be there waaay before then!

Joe and Arlene Moffett

On Tuesday after lunch we went to visit Daniel's grandparents. They were a little overwhelmed with 9 great grandkids decending on their little room. They gave each of the kids a stuffed animal for Christmas.

We all went outside to give the kids a little room to run around. Then the kids sang songs for their great grandparents that they had practiced including a couple that Danya had just taught her cousins. They were incredibly cute and caught the attention of several people passing by.

Great-grandma Arlene's hair has grown very long lately and she was wearing a new headband that Jennie had sent her. She had a wild time trying to hold each of the babies, Jadon and Jordan, since they were being very wiggly! It was fun to think that next year Joe and Arlene will have 10 great grandkids visiting at Christmas time! (and 11 all together if Shalom were there) Well, fun for me to imagine, but maybe a little overwhelming for them. I think all the other residents were amazed at the number of children pouring out of the Moffetts' room!

Granny Jo and Family at Christmas

This year I got a wonderful gift. My family came over to Daniel's parents house while we were there on the day after Christmas. My Dad, Mom, Aunt Kathy, and cousin Melissa all showed up with gifts and hugs. I even managed to get a picture of each of them! I'm posting some of them here for my little sister Toni, who says I never post pictures of our family on my blog.

Everything went really well! They all arrived just as we were opening gifts with the Maxwells and Daniel's parents. It couldn't have been better timing! Dad spent time talking with Wayne about work stuff...oil rigs, depth measuring tools for concrete and asphalt, you know, guy stuff. The funniest part was when one of the little twins, Jordan I think, crawled over to "Grandpa Clint" and demanded to be picked up. My dad looked a little shocked, but he obeyed the little prince, lol.

Aunt Kathy and my mom really enjoyed getting to see each other. I was surprised Kathy was even home, since I thought she was visiting her son, Shane, in Enid. She brought a huge box of clothing for Robin and her girls, and cute little Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears dinnerware sets for Danya and Gloria. Here's a picture, left to right, of my Aunt Kathy, my mom "Granny Jo", me, and Danya.

Christmas in the "Hood"

Here are the 5 oldest Maxwells (with Gloria and Danya on either end of the girls) in their new Christmas hoodies from Aunt Jennie!

These came in extraordinarily handy the very next day when we went to visit their great grandparents and spent a little time outside. It was pretty windy and everyone ran for jackets.

Speaking of extremely cute and fashionable clothing, the Maxwell twins were looking pretty adorable in their matching OU Sooner outfits! All the Maxwell boys seemed to be wearing Sooner fan gear, but I never did learn whether they were new Christmas presents or not. I have to post this photo of the twins in their OU outfits. And I issue anyone reading this post a challenge: if you think you have a picture of a baby from Christmas this year that is cuter than this one of my nephews, please tell me about it in the comments and post a link so that I can see it and scoff...I mean admire it. Because, seriously, these are the most attractive babies ever!

Madam Fifi's Gift

This year there was a special surprise gift from Madam Fifi. The girls were surprised to see her name appear on one of the gifts under the tree a couple of weeks ago. They know that Madam Fifi is the name of the nice lady who looks just like mommy but talks with a (bad) British accent while playing beauty shop with them, but why would she give them a Christmas present?

On Christmas morning it was one of the first to be opened. Inside they found all sorts of beauty supplies like glitter lip gloss, fancy nail files, purple nail clippers, lotion and more! It was all inside a brand new pink and blue denim makeup kit.

I was glad that they finally got their looong toe nails clipped when Madam Fifi made an appearance later that afternoon. The girls enjoyed getting the whole "spa" treatment including lotion rubbed on their FEET which was a novel experience! The girls received even more beauty products from Granny Jo the next day, so they are definitely set for the new year.

On the right is a picture of Danya trying out the new fluffy blush brush on Gloria. They had broken their old one and were in need of a new one.

Santa Wuz Here

Yes, Santa delivered on schedule this year. We knew the presents were from him because they were the only two wrapped in Santa Claus wrapping paper. The girls were ecstatic to see the two mystery gifts that appeared on Christmas morning and couldn't wait to open them! He gave Gloria a new keyboard with microphone and Danya got a blue Doodlebear just like she asked him for. Unfortunately, Gloria's requested trampoline didn't make an appearance.

Danya informed me upon waking that she was very disappointed that she didn't hear sleigh bells outside her bedroom window this year like she did last year. I guess the "elves" made a mistake this year and forgot to pick some up for the sleigh. We'll ask Santa to remedy that next year.

'Twas the Night before Christmas

This year on Christmas eve we let the girls open their stockings and one gift from under the tree. Gloria figured out the truth quickly and realized that if she just kept an eye on what Danya was opening, she would soon be getting the exact same thing, just in a different color. Smart kid.

So they both got hairbrushes, bows, fancy hair bands, lip gloss, mini flashlights, packs of cards, candy, and various other little items. You can also see their annual gift of new pajamas in this photo. This year they received "Hello Kitty" P.J.'s which they absolutely loved.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas Eve!

For Christmas Eve today we took silly Santa hat photos. The girls thought it was hilarious! I told them if they'd let me take one nice smiling photo of them each in the hat, then we'd take silly photos.

Daniel helped me wrap some little presents for their stockings and finish stuffing them this morning so that tonight, when he wakes up, we can open them. The girls are attempting to be on their best behaviour so that they can open their stockings, get their new pajamas, and each open one gift from under the tree tonight. Danya got to help stuff the stockings a little the other night. In her Awanas program they've been earning points all semester, which she got to use to buy Christmas presents at church. She came home with lots of little things like candy, coloring books, and toys to put into her families stockings. I told her to put a few in her own stocking, too. She had so much fun putting gifts in that she had earned and paid for all by herself!

Elliott's Amazing!

Daniel and I went to a movie, just the two of us, the other day in Tulsa. We saw "The Family Stone", which was pretty darn funny. Afterwards we stopped into a Barnes and Noble for a snack and to pick up a new workbook for Danya. At the snack counter we found these bottles of juice called "Elliott's Amazing" all natural juices. I managed to spill most of mine all across the table, but thankfully didn't get my Rice Krispy treats wet. We took a picture of the bottles because it's fun to find something with our last name on it!

We had to really search to find a comprehensive workbook for Danya. She has mastered all the Kindergarten and first grade work, so we got her a 2nd grade book. She's really enjoying it! I imagine she'll have it completed before the end of this school year. I told Daniel at this rate we'll have her graduating by the time she's 10! I don't want to hold her back, but this seems a little ridiculous! I think it did make him feel better to look through the Kindergarten and first grade work and realize that she already knows all of it. He seems worried sometimes that we're not doing enough, but the truth is that schoolwork/learning is accomplished so much faster in homeschool than in public school.

Yesterday, since Daniel and I weren't expecting them to do much school work two days before Christmas, the girls took matters into their own hands! Danya wrote and illustrated a beauty magazine, with articles about nail polish, hair color, lipstick, and more! It was awesome! Then they put on a play of the Christmas story complete with baby Jesus coming out from under Gloria's shirt. (Have I mentioned what a good little actress Danya is becoming?) We finished reading C. S. Lewis' "Prince Caspian" this week, too. Then Gloria read "I Can Do It, Myself" to Danya completely from memory. Oh, and they developed their own exercise program in the living room this week. It wears me out just watching them! Kids are amazing!

Aunt Jennie - We Love You!

It was so much fun getting a surprise package from Daniel's sister, Jennie! The girls were shocked and I was excited to see that I actually got the most presents!! She included some "baby gifts" which turned out to be maternity clothes for me. I've been wearing the purple Old Navy shirt everywhere, by the way, Jen! And the pants came just in time because I'm already expanding.

Daniel's shirt is too big because he shrunk lately, but he plans to get a duplicate in a medium after Christmas. His exact words when he saw the shirt were, "Jennie always hooks me up!" (referring to clothing) I about fell over laughing to hear him use a phrase like that!

Aunt Jennie truly is the best in the family at getting great gifts and remembering everyone's birthdays and anniversaries and such. Unfortunately for Jennie, her big brother Daniel is one of the worst. He admitted to me this morning that although he THOUGHT he'd mailed out all the Christmas cards like I asked him to, somehow he found the card for Jennie & Matt in our van today. So, Jennie, we're sorry, but yours will be a little late this year. Feel free to kick Daniel.

Friends at the Holidays!

It's a good feeling, watching our girls get older and developing friendships. I wonder, looking at them with their friends from church and our neighborhood, whether they will still all be friends as teenagers, having sleepovers and talking about boys more than dolls. I also wonder how much their friendships are based upon whether their parents are friends or not.

The other day Gloria went to a friend's birthday party all by herself. We dropped her off before the party and picked her up afterwards. Daniel arranged it all. He thought later that I was upset with him for making plans without checking with me...but that wasn't it at all. What had me on the brink of tears was that my baby was growing up! I'm not ready for her to be so independent! I'm not ready for their friends' opinions to matter more than their mom's. I'm not ready for their own fashion in clothing to be more important than Barbie's. I am sooo not ready for the Christmas that their wish list consists entirely of clothing and electronics, or the first birthday where they ask me to just give them cash.

Gloria asks me why I still call her "baby" sometimes. I've told her that she's stuck with it. She and Danya will be my babies for life. Although my grip will loosen, I'll never completely let go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reading Power!

After my doctor's visit we took the girls to the downtown Tulsa Central Library. We picked up some new books for this week in homeschool. We've chosen to learn about the ocean and it's creatures. While we were there at the library we read a book about whales.

Danya and Gloria also each picked out some regular reading books. Danya was excited to find an entire bookshelf full of beginning reader books that she can read! I recently re-read the Oklahoma Dept. of Education's list of skills a Kindergartner should have mastered by the end of the school year. It was pretty exciting to see how she was blowing their list out of the water!

As a matter of fact, Gloria has actually mastered almost all of the Kindergarten level skills! She's still working on alphabet letter recognition, so we'll continue to focus on that for the remainder of the school year. She can already read and write several small words like: love, daddy, mommy, go, I, and her own and her sister's names, but that's more memorization than actual phonics awareness.

Currently, her favorite thing is lists. She asks me to write a list of things for her to do and then she makes a box with a checkmark in it next to each task as she completes it. If I can't think of any jobs she gives me suggestions! Last night Daniel and the girls helped me get the whole house clean (amidst much grumping and tears), so today she was disappointed that I didn't have anything new to put on a list for her. So she suggested she clean her room a little more. You can bet I wasn't about to argue, lol!

Oh, Baby!

Here's a picture of me outside my doctor's office holding the first ultrasound photos of our little Elliott-in-progress. This appointment went much better than our last 5 hour ordeal. I got some more samples of those chewable prenatal vitamins. Mostly we were just relieved to see the baby alive and well.

The day before my appointment I had woken up with some light bleeding which, as you can imagine, scared me somewhat. Dr. Christy assured us everything looks good and we even got to hear the little heartbeat. Our next visit is scheduled for January 10th. Our doctor is nice enough to do an ultrasound at every visit usually, so we might be able to see by then whether we're having a girl or a boy. Either way, at least now we know it's only one baby. Dr. Christy said that I'm just showing sooner because this is my third child. So it's on to maternity pants for me!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Daniel Speaks Out

this is an audio post - click to play

Daniel's opinion on the new audio blogging feature. He's recorded this from his cell phone at work! I am sooo going to like having this option available!


this is an audio post - click to play

This is my first attempt at audio blogging! Hopefully there will be more of these in the future so that you can hear our family, LIVE, telling you about our daily happenings! In this audio post you'll hear about my first ultrasound with baby number 3! I am currently 12 weeks along and due on the 4th of July! Oh, and Daniel took this picture of me on my cell phone on my birthday this year. At the time I thought, "What will I ever do with this picture?"

At Home in the Galaxy

The past couple of weeks we've been working on learning about our solar system. We focused on a planet a day, and then also a few days for the sun, moon, and stars. We found a whole series of books at the library, one about each planet. They're part of the "Our Universe" series by Lerner Publications.

Danya chose this topic and really enjoyed it. I'm thinking about getting her a set of those glow-in-the-dark stars that you can stick all over the ceiling for her room.

Here's a link to show you what I'm talking about: Glow Stars

I drew the picture she's holding in the photo to show her the planets in order (although technically we learned that Pluto and Neptune sometimes swap places in the lineup) and taught her this sentence to remember their names in order: "My Very Early Mother Just Served Us Noodle Pizza." The first letter of each word is the same as the first letter of the planets in order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Danya picked it up quickly and had them memorized by the end of the day. Now she can say them forwards and backwards! She even knows the names of some of their moons!

Gloria thinks it's pretty funny that the sun is made of gas since her knowledge of "gas" is limited to the bodily kind. She can also now tell you what rotate and orbit mean. We finished up our unit study by borrowing some "Bill Nye, the Science Guy" videos from the library. Here's a link to his website:

Christmas Choir Surprise!

Danya looked beautiful in her new dress at her choir performance last Sunday! She was positioned directly in front of the microphone, so we could hear her voice clearly singing out above the others. Daniel and I kept grinning at each other...okay, we were indulging in a little pridefulness, but she really was adorable! We always tell her to sing pretty, but to make sure that the grandmas and grandpas at the back of the church can hear her, and she sure does!

When we got to the church in time for the last practice right before the performance, we got a little surprise. It turned out to be a real blessing that we had acccidentally purchased a duplicate dress for Gloria because when we got there all her Sunday school friends were there and dressed up. We found out that Gloria was supposed to be singing too!! A friend told us that apparently a note was sent home in her Cubbies bag the Wednesday before, telling us about the performance. We didn't notice it among her other papers, so we were taken completely by surprise on Sunday! Even Gloria didn't know she was going to be singing!

So we left the girls with their classes and Daniel and I enjoyed a rare opportunity to slip off and have a quiet dinner together at McAlister's. Well, the performance started out a little rocky when one of the girls in the pre-K group broke down and started wailing for her mommy right into the microphone. Daniel and I were just relieved that for once it wasn't Danya. I'm so glad that she has finally grown more confident with public performances.

Gloria, of course, has always been a ham and a class clown, so she is fearless on stage. She's usually the one trying to get attention. That night, though, she seemed determined to sing all her songs with a scowl on her face. She finally lightened up when she saw her teacher making huge smiley gestures with her fingers by her mouth. I'm not sure if she knew her teacher was signaling her to smile, or if she was just grinning because her teacher looked so funny doing that. I'll just add one final picture here of the stage and you can play "Where's Waldo?" and try to find Gloria in the mass of kids. Merry Christmas!

Pre-K Party Pals

Daniel took Gloria and her friend, Sydney, to their Sunday school preschool Christmas party about a week and a half ago. They made crafts and watched a video that was taken of various preschool activities at the church all throughout the last year. It was really cute! There were pictures from the Easter egg hunt, water play day, and pumpkin decorating, to name a few.

Gloria made me a cute little pin with beads and a gingerbread man charm on it. I've been proudly wearing it. She really had a good time and was excited that it was a special day just for her. Danya and I stayed home and played card games together because she said it was only fair that we have special time since Gloria was getting special time with Daddy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

God's Candy Canes

Gloria is enjoying one of the many icicles she found while we were outside learning about winter. We explained how they are formed and I told her they were like "God's candy canes", lol. She loved them and kept hunting for more!

Danya found perfectly frozen grass inside of a chunk of ice. The girls were surprised when they finally understood that snow used to be water, and that when it melts it's just going back to what it was before. Daniel and the girls did experiments (or "experiences" as Danya calls them) with pouring salt and water onto the snow and watching the results after a minute and then several minutes later.

Oh, and you might think it's snowing in this picture of Gloria. You would be wrong. That white cloud above her head just came flying from her Daddy who thought it was funny to try and make the girls think it was snowing. It's hard to see, but he has a shovel in his hands and he's tossing huge heaps of snow at her. Yes, it IS like having a third child sometimes, lol.

Sitting with Santa

We went to Walmart yesterday to get Danya a new dress for her choir concert tonight. They were giving away a free picture with Santa! So each of the girls took an adorable photo with Mr. Claus and an hour later we picked up the results at the photo lab. Daniel took this picture of Gloria while she was having her picture taken.

We managed to find Danya a beautiful new dress that has black velvet at the top and the skirt part of it is a shiny dark green satin. The downside was that we grabbed two dresses when we were briefly considering getting Gloria one, too, and then we forgot to put one back before checking out. So we accidentally bought two dresses in the end. The checkout lady was very rude and told us to go fix it in customer service which had a line stretching out and down the aisle along the front of the store. Daniel had been awake for almost an entire day and was nodding off, so we just left. That'll teach me to pay more attention, I suppose.

Anyways, the girls told Santa that for Christmas they wanted: Danya- Doodlebear (gonna be a happy girl that day!) Gloria- trampoline (gonna be disappointed). I don't know where she came up with the trampoline idea. She'd never mentioned it before. We told her it wouldn't fit down the chimney. I was just glad that Danya didn't tell Santa she wanted a Barbie Jeep. She told me the other night that was ALL she wanted for Christmas (totally out of the blue!) and unfortunately, Santa won't be dropping off any Jeeps at our house this year. Here's a link to see what a Doodle Bear looks like: Doodle Bear

Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Snow of the Season

It snowed all last night! Daniel and the girls were out in it a little with our neighbor's two girls, Sara and Sydney, traveling to and from Awanas at church. I was pretty worried, but they made it safely. Last night, after Danya and Gloria were asleep, Daniel and I stood by the back doors, looking out through the glass at the falling snow. It was absolutely beautiful!

This morning we were all excited to get bundled up and go play outside! We all put on two or three layers of clothing and dug out our hats and gloves from last year. Our girls really need better gloves. They had to share a pair of actual snow gloves, each wearing one on one hand, and a pair of flimsy cotton gloves that are a little too small. Poor things!

Daniel drug them on the sled down the driveway a few times and we ran around making tracks in the snow. Then we loaded up in the van and set out to find a big hill! We found a great one! Daniel took each of the girls down in turns a few times, and then Danya and Gloria gripped their courage tight and went down just the two of them!! I was so proud of them! Daniel and I were jumping up and down yelling encouragement to them as they whooshed down the steep snowy hillside! We also got to share our sled with another family whose inner tube wasn't suited to sledding in such a small amount of snow. We had a great time! Finally, when our noses were going numb in the freezing cold air, we headed home to have hot chocolate and marshmellows. What a perfect day!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Elliotts and the Maxwells! Here's the whole crew! I'm in the purple shirt for those of you who say I should be in more pictures, lol. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Daniel's parents house. It's the perfect location since it's within walking distance of everything in their town, but juuust over the town line so it's still considered country.

This year we played kickball, some of the guys played touch football, and we all enjoyed spending time outside together. Daniel and I even played cell phone hide and seek in the woods! He also whipped me at ping pong. We especially enjoyed getting to see Uncle Terry and little David who came all the way from Tennessee and Ben and Diana and little Shalom who drove up from Texas.

Daniel and the girls baked THREE pumpkin pies made with Splenda and I made deviled eggs for the first time ever! Nancy also made a whole pie for me for my birthday! It really was a great Thanksgiving!

Family Pride!

You would think that I'm adding this photo because it's such a nice photo of Daniel's family.

It is a good picture of Daniel's siblings, his mom, and two of his uncles, David and Terry, and Terry's son little David. But you see, I have an ulterior motive. I went through all my recent pictures and realized that THIS is the best full body shot of Daniel I have right now. The truth is that I'm publishing this photo to my blog to BRAG!

Just look at the HOTTIE I get to be married to!! Daniel is down to about 170 lbs now. He's within about 15 lbs of his goal weight. I can't get over it! Every now and then I'll be sitting down with the girls and then I'll look up and be struck all over again at how different he looks lately. In the last couple of months he has simply dissolved before my eyes! There's so much less of him to hug!

Lately I find myself making sure my hair looks good and walking a little differently when I think he's watching. Losing 20 lbs myself doesn't hurt either. It's a weird combination to be wondering if I'm catching my handsome husband's eye one minute, while trying to make my fatigue and nausea from pregnancy less obvious the next. I'm really looking forward to next year when the baby will be past the first few months of sleepless nights and I can compete with Daniel again to lose weight, keep active, and look goood. I'm confident that now that we understand the keys to weight loss and healthy living we will never go back to the old way. It's just too much fun being thinner!

Daniel Turns 29!

The end of an age, that's what this is. But don't think "poor Daniel, almost 30". Instead be happy with him that he's achieving his goal! My amazing wonderful husband determined that he would lose all the excess weight he's been slowly gaining over the last decade before his 30th birthday next year. The most incredible part is that he decided this in October and has already lost 27 lbs just a week after Thanksgiving!

Ignore the enormous dessert in the picture, because this isn't what he's been eating the last couple of months. He only had a couple of bites of this free dessert when his parents took us all out to Rib Crib in Stillwater for his birthday. The girls enjoyed most of it. No, Daniel has been eating very sensibly. At any given time you can also see him stretching and doing squats in the living room. He makes a regular habit of walking up and down several flights of stairs at work these days, too.

Daniel is on track to be celebrating his 30th birthday next year in style. He's already looking better and feeling better. Currently he's hoping to start playing raquetball with a friend from church. I can't begin to say how proud of him we all are! Go Daniel!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Babies, Birthdays, and Music

It's true. I've been slacking in my duties as family chronicler. Since I turned up pregnant again about 7 weeks ago, I find myself with zero energy and not the slightest ability to remember anything. So, this post is to catch up on some recent events that I not only failed to blog about, but also failed to take a single photograph of. In order of occurrence:

1. Baby Will: We were blessed with the opportunity to babysit my friend Lori's baby, Will on the 11th of November. He was an absolute joy! I loved every minute of holding him, playing with him, singing to him, and feeding him! The girls were totally absorbed with playing peek-a-boo and talking to him in the high squeaky falsetto voices that grownups think babies love.

2. KICK Choir rehearsal: Saturday morning, the 12th, Danya went to her 3 hour dress rehearsal at the church.

3. Alex's birthday: Gloria and I attended her friend Alex's 4th birthday party at Pizza Hut while Danya was at her rehearsal. She gave him a basketball and wanted to know when we could go to his house to play with it. While we were there I got to hold Alex's new baby sister, Katie. She is my friend Stephanie's 4th child and first daughter. She was so sweet! I was ecstatic when I managed to get her to stop fussing, suck on my pinkie, and fall asleep in my arms. I felt like I'd accomplished something huge, lol!

4. KICK Choir Performance: Danya's choir performed Sunday night at our church. She did a great job! She sang loudly and smiled, which at the age of 5 is tough to do. I was so proud of her! She made it through the whole performance without getting too nervous. She was like a little mother hen making the other kids near her stand up and behave.

I'm going to try to catch up on last week's events just as soon as I download the digital camera. But it's almost midnight now, I'm pregnant, and if I stay up any longer I'll start feeling hungry and pukey again, so that's it for tonight.

A New Path

We've discovered a new favorite location for family bike rides! The park where Danya won the costume contest has a great biking trail. Daniel and I knew this, because a year or two ago on our anniversary we rode our bikes all around it. At that time, though, it was still under construction so the trails were incomplete and we got very very muddy.

Daniel recently managed to fit all 4 of our bikes into the van, after removing the back seat, so now we can take our bikes anywhere!

The girls love this bike trail because:
1. There is no danger of cars.
2. They get to choose which paths and turns to take.
3. It's completely smooth, no potholes or speed bumps.

We've had so much fun riding here in the past few weeks on warmer days. There are gentle hills along the path that the girls love to ride down yelling, "Wheeee!" We pretend to race each other, but "somehow" the girls always win, lol. On the first day here Danya missed a turn and Daniel and I thought she was going to roll into the lake. Luckily, she just scared herself and a few ducks. We're hoping to get the Millers to ride out here with us on the next warm day!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Laundry and Learning

Laundry, laundry everywhere! My darling husband, upon realizing that the overwhelming amount of laundry that had taken over our home was stressing me out, agreed to a trip to the local laundry mat. So we loaded up the van with SEVEN, yes seven, loads of laundry and spent a few hours tackling the mountain of clothing.

The girls and I rode our bikes to the laundry mat, while Daniel packed his in the van with the laundry. While the clothes washed we got our homeschooling done. As part of "Plant Week" Daniel and the girls went outside and dug up weeds and other green leafy things. Then the girls identified the different parts of the plants. We also learned that only green leaves make food. So all the pretty colored Fall leaves are actually dying off and not creating food anymore.

Then we took a family bike ride to a local convenience store to get cash and a bottle of water. The girls each got a free sucker from the nice clerk. Then we folded all the laundry, packed it back up, and headed home. All in all, it was a really fun experience and a relief to have all the laundry done at once and not have to spend the entire day working on it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Being Neighborly

After the zoo, we went out that night with our neighbors, Shane and Missy. This was our first ever double date, and we had a really good time! We met at Applebee's after Shane got off work. I can't even remember what we talked about. I just remember laughing alot.

One funny thing, or not depending on your viewpoint, was that 3 of us ordered steaks, and they were all cooked wrong. We wound up passing them around the table until everyone had one they were happy with, and they remade Missy's entirely. For a minute it felt like we'd all gotten caught in the middle of a 3 stooges bit.

Daniel and I have been making an effort to spend some time hanging out with other couples and I'm really enjoying it. As you can imagine, being a SAHM and a homeschooler, alot of my days and conversation revolve around my kids, so it's really nice to get a chance to discuss grown up subjects and not have to explain everything I say to a Kindergarten level. Shane and Missy both have a great sense of humor and are just alot of fun to be around. We've got to plan another date night together soon!

Leafing Through the Zoo

We went to the Tulsa Zoo with our homeschooling friends, the Millers. Our girls and theirs were sooo excited! It was a perfect fall day, just warm enough to enjoy running through the deep piles of leaves without needing jackets. The girls covered each other in leaves and threw them into the air to watch them tumble back down.

We took family photos while we were there. Betsy took this one on the left. You can tell we didn't plan for pictures since our shirts don't match, but I still love this photo. We spent a majority of our time having lunch there, playing in the leaves, and letting the kids run around on the playground.

One particularly amazing moment was when we heard the loud coughing roar of the lion and realized that it was actually the lioness! We also saw the tigers rough housing. I got a short video clip of them both on their hind legs batting at each other with their front paws! We had such a great time! We'll definitely have to go again with the Millers. Maybe during the zoo's Christmas display in December.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Liliana May!

My best friend, Glenda, has a new baby girl! I got to see her for the first time recently and she is soooo beautiful. She has the most gorgeous chocolate brown eyes and full head of hair! She was so alert, looking all around and trying to understand her strange new world. Danya and Gloria talked in silly little voices and made faces at her trying to get her to smile at them. They also had a blast playing with Liliana's two big brothers outside. They played on the toys and the neighbor's swingset, and even tried to dig a hole in the garden all the way to the other side of the world! I really enjoyed having a chance to catch up with Glenda. We don't get to see each other much since we live 3 hours apart. We even got to see her husband, Eric, briefly when he stopped home to pick up some paperwork. Eric and Glenda's family is growing so quickly!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Family Birthday Party

Gloria celebrated her birthday with family members in OKC at Chuck E. Cheese. Thanks to my sister, Toni, (pictured at left) my brothers and sister were able to come to the party. She called everyone and made sure they were coming. I got to meet my new baby niece, Riley, and Toni's fiancee, Clayton. The picture on the left is of Gloria with her aunt Toni and uncle Shane. Daniel's sister, Robin, and her family arrived later in the evening, so Gloria got to play with 9 cousins in all! She had a great time! We could hardly get her to leave. The only down side was that somehow we forgot to let Gloria use the tickets she won to pick out a prize at the counter. So, we'll have to plan another trip, I guess! I was also sad to learn that my little brother, Ricky, has joined the Army National Guard and will be leaving for basic training soon. But I'm proud of him for supporting our country!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Flag Football

Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for a 3 class Sunday school picnic and flag football. It was a nice temperature and slightly overcast. Our class combined with the other 20-somethings classes (a misnomer if there ever was one!) for chili, hotdogs, and football. You might notice the "flags" were socks stuck into back pockets.

We held it at the new playground/park. I love that the play area is fenced in. The kids went in and played while the women chatted and the men (except Leslie, the one girl playing) played flag football. I designated myself "class photographer" and ran around getting photos of everyone. When I got home I burned the photos onto CDs to hand out next Sunday in class. In this picture our friend, Corey, is mid air catching the football! Daniel is on the left in a blue shirt and blue jeans. It was pretty funny watching all these normally sedentary adults turn into NFL wannabes. They were throwing themselves into the air, making dives, rolling across the grass, all in an attempt to rip socks off each other's bottoms or snag the (often fumbled) ball. Most of the folks in these "20-somethings" classes are between about 28 and 40 years old. You wouldn't know it from the determination and antics on the field this day, though!

Face Painting

Here are the pictures of some of the face painting the girls had done last Saturday at the mini-mall. Aren't they great! I wish the photos could really capture the shimmer from the glitter. Of course, that same glitter got in their eyes when they rubbed them. The girls really felt pretty going to their friends' birthday party and the costume contest later on. Everywhere we went people noticed their pretty faces. Then again, that happens even without the face paint!

Double Birthday Bash!

Here's Danya sitting next to the two birthday girls, Kayleigh and Hope. These are actually girls from Gloria's Sunday school class. They had a joint party last Saturday at a new party place. The building used to be an All American Fitness and Raquetball, but now each room and racquetball court has climb on toys, jupiter jumps, or other fun stuff like scooters in it.

We all had fun! I even played air hockey with Gloria and shot some hoops on the basketball game. Then the girls and I rode on the little scooters together. You sit down on them and then wiggle the handlebars to make them go. It's based on the same principle as roller skates.

Danya buddied up with Kayleigh and they held hands and helped each other climb on alot of the different rides. I can't believe how much energy those kids had! It made me tired just to watch! The birthday girls got a TON of presents and I have no idea how their mom's managed to keep them all separated since they opened them side by side. Their moms are nurses together at a local hospital, so they're probably used to working together. After they had cupcakes and juice and opened gifts all the kids ran back and played some more until the end of the party.

Danya Goes Pumpkin Caroling

Danya is a member of the KICK Choir at our church. They practice on Sunday nights and Saturday morning was their first performance of the season. K.I.C.K. stands for Kids in Christ's Kingdom. They were the opening performance at a newly built mini-mall in town and then later they did a show for the Baptist Retirement Village.

Danya was so cute! She's been singing these songs all around the house for weeks. Before the performance started at the mini-mall, the DJ played some good music and some of the kids broke into spontaneous dancing. Danya played it cool...she just kind of swayed a little and tapped one foot, lol. After her choir left to go to the next event, we stuck around and let Gloria jump in the jupiter jump and get her face painted. Later that day we brought Danya back to get hers painted too. They had a professional artist doing the painting and she did a beautiful job!

We also bought a kit for a whole set of weather experiments at a new store there. We're planning to use them this week during homeschooling. It was really cold outside at the mini-mall. Danya was so sweet, sitting next to her older friend in the choir, Mylyssia and putting her arm around her to help her stay warm. You can see Mylyssia in the orange shirt standing behind Danya in the photo. She's got a broken arm. We also got to watch a karate demonstration and some dancers perform. It was a fun event. Gloria even sweet talked a worker into giving her a balloon that was supposed to just be for decoration!

Office Homeschool

Wednesday afternoon, after the Bass Pro shop trip, Daniel had a meeting at work to attend. So the girls and I packed up our homeschool materials for the day and went with him. His meeting was an hour, and in that time we got alot done. We were in the break room of his company's downtown office. It was great! We had a wonderful view of the city through the large glass windows that covered two walls of the room.

We got some strange looks from employees who came through there, but mostly they were just amused by the girls. We played "Donde es..." with Spanish flashcards. I would name something in Spanish and show them the picture and then they'd run around the room or to the giant windows and point out the object yelling "Aqui!" I even threw in a few tough ones like instead of just saying, "Donde es la mesa?" I added, "Donde es la mesa circulo?" and Danya paused for a moment and then ran straight to the circular table over by the television! Gloria even got one or two before Danya did!

At one point we had to be extra quiet while doing addition flashcards because someone was getting interviewed for a job at the next table. I was just happy that the girls managed to stay focused and get so much accomplished despite being in a strange location. It might have had something to do with my bribing them. They got to have some candy out of the snack machine when their work was finished. We got done just in time as Daniel came back downstairs from his meeting and we went off to dinner in the city and then on to church for the girls Awanas classes. I LOVE the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Impromptu Contests and Learning

Saturday evening the girls and I walked to Mazzio's for dinner. While we were there Danya bumped into a friend from church (that kid has friends everywhere!) The girl's mom told us about a neighborhood costume party with a jupiter jump, music, and face painting. She said they had a fire truck, ambulance, and police out there for the kids to explore. When she said it was starting in less than an hour I decided to take the girls.

So we walked home and got the girls into their costumes. Daniel was sleeping still. The girls and I had a good time. It was from 6 to 9 pm, so it was dark, but they had the area lit well enough to see. They played, got their hands painted, since their faces were already painted, and walked around looking at all the emergency vehicles. We even got to go on a hayride in the dark along the pathways around the park.

The best part was when they decided to climb into the back of the ambulance. They started asking the EMT all kinds of questions. They wanted to know what every single item and piece of machinery was for. He was an excellent teacher! He patiently explained everything to them, some things twice. I learned alot just listening! We found out that even though the gurney says it can hold up to 500 lbs, they really can't put more than about a 350 lb person on it. Instead they remove the rail it sits on, and then slide the person onto the floor of the ambulance.

As we were getting ready to head home at about 8pm, they announced the start of the costume contest. The girls really really wanted to do it, so I told them they could be in it only if they promised not to get upset if they lost. But guess what? Danya won first prize!! She got a $15 gift card for Wal-mart. They also gave out items donated from the new YMCA being built nearby. Gloria got the first basketball because her birthday was the closest (the day before)! Then they threw t-shirts to the crowd and I caught one! When we got home we woke Daniel up a few minutes early to tell him all about it before he left for work. I gave him the t-shirt and the girls practically jumped up and down in their excitement to tell him everything.

I told Daniel that with all the things we had learned about the ambulance, and the other things we'd done that day, I was going to count it as a homeschooling day. It's amazing how learning happens so often when it's unplanned, unexpected, and still surprisingly fun!

Bass Pro Field Trip

We took the girls to the newly built Bass Pro shop in Broken Arrow, OK last Wednesday. Daniel was excited about the idea, but I had never been to one before so didn't know how fun it could be. The girls were in awe from the moment we arrived.

The crosswalk in front of the store was painted with little white fish instead of normal lines. They were overwhelmed by the giant two story waterfall pouring into a real fish tank. After seeing their enjoyment here, Daniel and I both agreed we have to take them to a real aquarium. Daniel pointed out all of the different fish in the tank that can each be found in Oklahoma lakes and rivers. The girls discussed why some fish might need super long noses and why others had whiskers.

We walked around and upstairs looking at all the different stuffed animals (and I don't mean teddy bears). They stroked the fur on a deer, buffalo, mountain lion, bear, raccoon, and a few others. We showed them the foam deer that hunters use for target practice and how they outline where the heart and lungs and liver were. Daniel played a giant target shooting game. Finally, we followed the various animal tracks in the floor. The girls played like they were hunters tracking paw prints around the store. When one trail ended they'd just pick up the next nearest one and follow it.

There was also a mini NASCAR that the girls sat in for a picture and pretended to drive. We talked about the tree stands for hunters and why it was important to be where an animal couldn't see you or smell you and to be silent. We talked about the importance of good aim, so that you didn't just hurt an animal and let it run off and die in pain. We saw a display of a mountain lion about to sneak attack a big buck.

Daniel and I saw the giant buffalo and smiled, remembering how the first giant statue of a buffalo I ever saw was painted white and far off in the distance. Daniel and I were teenagers, and we argued about whether it was a large sheep or a buffalo as we drove closer to it in the church van. He still teases me over that, but I don't mind. This was a really fun activity as a family. Daniel and I agreed that this is where we're going to get our Dad's Christmas gifts from this year!