Sunday, January 08, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Just to let you all know, our computer at home seems to have a virus. It's moving at a snail's pace. Daniel is trying his best to fix it, but in the meantime I won't be posting to my blog. Thankfully, my friend Christina let me use her PC tonight to update my blog. I'll be collecting photos in the meantime so that when it's fixed, you can expect to see a huge flurry of posts. Until then, God bless!

Texas Road Trip

We're in Texas! I'm posting this from the home of our good friends, the Haleys. They are the girls godparents, meaning they will take our kids should anything happen to us. Christina and Danya are in this picture with my friend, Glenda's new baby girl, Liliana. She is about 2 months old now!

We've been friends with the Haleys and Glenda for the longest time...since high school! So we love each other's kids and make time to get together a few times a year. Today we exchanged gifts and went out to eat at The Olive Garden. That has to be the worst food I've eaten in quite some time. And for that priviledge they charged us each a mandatory 18% gratuity!

The kids had a great time playing together and exchanging Christmas presents. We are staying the night here at the Haleys along with Daniel's mom, Nancy, who has come along with us on this trip. Tomorrow we head to Del Rio, Texas to visit Daniel's little brother Ben and his family. We'll come back this way on Wednesday and be home by Thursday. Adios!

Pretty Pretty Princesses

Emma came to play at our house after morning Kindergarten on Friday. I took them all to McDonald's for lunch where we met our neighbors, the Holady's, and my friend, Michelle and her kids. We stayed for just over two hours while the kids played in the playland and the mom's sat and talked.

It's really nice to just have some mom time discussing grownup things!

At home the girls played "Pretty Pretty Princess" and Emma won. This photo is of them in all their beautiful jewelry with the Princess wearing her crown in the middle.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, New Homeschool Lessons

We went to this park in Tulsa after church on New Years day. It struck me, watching the girls, that so often schools teach kids about subjects in a vacuum. I remember learning about pulleys and levers and fulcrums sometimes near the end of elementary school. They showed us pictures and explained the ideas, but we never actually got to see an actual pulley, lever, or fulcrum in class.

Yet here were my girls, playing with these very tools at a park, figuring out how they worked and what they were good for. They worked as a team to get the sand scooped into the buckets, and then pull them up to the top. Then they poured the sand into tubes and watched it come out the other end and slide down a ramp and back to the ground. And later when we all got onto the giant teeter-totter together, they didn't hear the word "fulcrum" but they understood how it worked and enjoyed it.

So the first homeschool lesson of this year was actually learned by me, the mom, the teacher. I'm going to make my New Year's resolution be to keep my eyes open more for learning opportunities in the world around us, and to remember that learning can happen in play and in life, unplanned. Just because I haven't sat down with worksheets, a prepared craft activity, and a library book covering a certain topic, doesn't mean my girls aren't learning.

Happy New Year!

Kites in the Wind

On Saturday, New Year's Eve, the weather was in the 60's so we decided to go outside and enjoy it. Once again, Aunt Jennie's Christmas gift to the girls came in handy. (Thanks, Jen!) We made plans to meet our friends, the Millers, at the park. Unfortunately, Daniel couldn't stay. He walked home from the park to go get some shut-eye since it was a work day for him.

The Millers brought their beautiful kites! One was a butterfly, and the other was a Macaw. The girls were so excited to help fly them. They were maybe a little over-enthusiastic about helping launch the kites into the air, but they enjoyed every minute of it. Gloria's idea of "helping" launch a kite was to run up to it, grab it by one wing, and chuck it over her shoulder! I started out with the dubious "priviledge" of running back and forth between the two kites, re-launching them each time they crashed. The next day my shoulder muscles were complaining about it.

The girls got tired before the adults did, and went off to swing, play Duck, Duck, Goose and make sand castles at the park. It was pretty cute watching Gloria and Danya push Megan and Courtney on the swings. Danya was being a little "mother hen" the whole time we were at the park, holding little Megan's hand and making sure she didn't get left behind. The top left picture is of Danya flying a kite. The bottom right picture is of Megan flying one. I layed down on the ground behind them to catch the kite in the pictures.

Mailbox Vandalism?

What exactly happened to our mailbox over this New Year's weekend? How did the metal bracket snap off the wood? How did our large green mailbox end up several feet away in our driveway? We may never know.

It was fairly windy this weekend. By Sunday there were wind gusts up to 27 miles per hour. But it wasn't quite as strong on Friday night. Daniel thinks it may have been teenaged vandals playing mailbox baseball from a moving vehicle. If so, they have lousy aim, because the mailbox itself wasn't dented. Also, we didn't see any other nearby mailboxes with any signs of damage.

There's no reward being offered, but if you have any information leading to the...oh, never mind. Daniel was looking for a good excuse to use the new tools he got for Christmas anyway.


This is the log of the Elliott ship "Voyager" and it's continuing mission to...wait, wrong show. So we bought a new used van less than a week after Christmas. Our old one was having serious mechanical trouble. Sometimes it wouldn't start. Mostly, it would start, but only creep forward in "drive". We had to shift it into the "2" position to make it actually get up and go.

We think God had it all planned out. We were meaning to buy a new van in February since Daniel's company was supposed to be giving him a "thanks for sticking it out through the merger" bonus of a few thousand dollars. Instead, the money showed up in our bank account 3 days after Christmas...exactly when our van was in it's worst death throes. We priced vans online and then went out to look around. Most of the 1999-2000 year vans were in the $7,000 range according to Kelly Blue Book and other online sites, and we simply didn't have that much money. But, thanks be to God, the first dealership we checked, around the corner from our house, had just gotten a 1999 Plymouth Voyager and they were willing to sell it to us for just under $5,000 with our trade-ins.

Seriously, I love this vehicle. It's not only beautiful, and newer than our last van, but it's got all kinds of fun extra features and the mileage was less than 100,000 miles which is rare for a 6 year old van. We were able to pay all but a few hundred dollars of it in cash, which is very important to us since we are working hard to become debt free. (Thank you, Dave Ramsey! Now we also have a much safer vehicle to travel to Texas with next week to see Daniel's brother, Ben. Can you say, "relief"?