Monday, June 12, 2006

Kevin's Shower

My friend, Betsy, made this delicious cookie for my baby shower this weekend. It really was a good party! Kevin got a lot of adorable clothes, some useful hand-me-downs, and quite a few handy little baby things like teethers, rattles, diapers, and toys.

I enjoyed talking to other pregnant moms and playing with the babies that were at the party. Daniel and I were able to get the last few things we needed the day after the party and now we feel fairly confident that we are as prepared as possible for Kevin's imminent arrival. I've been having so many contractions that it's hard to believe he's not due for another 3 weeks!

It was really a good feeling to see all the gifts and cards from ladies at church who couldn't make it to the shower but still wanted to send something special for our family. Looking at those and the women around me at the shower, I realized that I'm truly blessed with alot of good friends!

So Long, Sunshine!

We gave Danya a fish tank and 3 guppies for her birthday. She got to pick the fish out herself on Monday. We've never had a real fish tank before, so Daniel and I made a few novice mistakes. It took about a week before we figured out how to get the air tube installed correctly. Then we also had the optimal temperature wrong. We thought the lady at the pet store said that the fish preferred it to be about 75 degrees, so we thought they were fine at 74. She actually said 77 degrees, so apparently we were freezing the fish.

By Wednesday, one of the fish died. It was the yellow one that Danya had named Sunshine. Daniel got a new yellow fish that night and it died before morning. So we changed out the water again and decided to wait a few days before gettting a new fish. By Friday the blue fish, Bluebell, had died. It took a long time while his scales fell off until he had no tail left, poor little guy.

Now only the polka-dotted fish, Dottie, is left. He seems to be doing okay. We're going to change out the water again and see if he survives. We may eventually get him a buddy, but for now we aren't going to risk it. Gloria has been taking the whole thing kind of hard.

Art Camp

Our little budding artists started art camp a week ago at Upscale Artist in Tulsa. They had a blast sculpting clay masks, making clay mugs, painting ceramics and self portraits, and learning to paint landscapes with watercolors.

Gloria made me a ceramic jewelry box with a glass bottom made from melted marbles. They were both so proud of all their art work. I'm not sure where we will put it all, especially the large mosaic tablets. They also did a really good job on the day they practised digital photography. Eventually there will be pictures online of the girls' artwork on the Upscale Artist web site. I'll add a link to this post when they get the photos uploaded to their site.

Build-a-Bear Birthday!

For the actual day of Danya's 6th birthday we took her to Build-a-Bear workshop. She has been asking for this for a looong time! She skipped and ran all the way through the mall to get there.

She picked out a voice box that sings the happy birthday song, gave her bear two hearts, and lovingly brushed it's fur while it had a nice long air bath. Her favorite part was picking out clothing. Her bear got a denim skirt with ruffles, a t-shirt that reads "Beary Best Friends", two ear bows, and a pair of bear sized panties. We all laughed when we saw the hole in the back of the skirt and panties for the tail to poke through.

Danya let her bear, who she named Ally Springs, wear her birthday princess crown around the mall. Gloria is fascinated by Danya's bear. She definitely wants one for her birthday in October.

Spiritual Birthday!

Danya was baptized on Sunday night, June 4th! It was really special that her cousins, Aunt Robin, and her grandparents could all be there. She hardly smiled at all until it was over because she was so serious about this life changing event. Danya is a deep thinker, and it was obvious that she was focused and also concerned that she would do everything right.

I told her about my unfortunate experience when my mom had me baptized as a 12 yr old. Instead of thinking it was a little bit funny that I accidentally set the priest's robe on fire with the baptismal candle, she took it as a warning and was very very careful with her candle. Poor Danya, had her own unfortunate experience however, that I hope she can look back upon and laugh about one day. When the pastor tipped her back into the water she was so rigid that her feet flew up out of the water and into the air! When she came up and the whole congregation was laughing, you could just tell that she was on the brink of tears. Being a big girl, she maintained control, although her face looked even more serious than before. By the time service was over and it was time to go to her celebration party in the fellowship hall, she was smiling and having fun with her cousins.

I was really proud of her because she showed maturity every single step of the way. She is becoming quite an amazing young lady! She is very excited and proud that now she is our sister-in-Christ. We feel the same way!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Danya's Birthday Swim Party

Danya's 6th birthday party at Lake Oologah went really well. It was nice and hot out, the water was perfect, and Danya smiled the whole time. What more could we ask for?

She helped make her lemon cake with yellow frosting and green sprinkles (because "Tinker Bell wears green, Mommy!") and we decorated it with a birthday princess tiara. She opened her gifts while holding her purple star wand with ribbons (because Tinker Bell has a wand).

The kids loved climbing up onto the giant round yellow raft and having Daniel pull them out to the edge of the swimming area. There were about 16 kids all together running around squirting each other with water guns, playing with water toys, eating hot dogs and birthday cake, and generally having a great time. All the adults agreed that this party was pretty much perfect! Happy Birthday, Wookie!

10th Anniversary Trip

Yes, I know our actual anniversary isn't until the end of August, but we will have a one month old at that time. So we left the girls with Grandma Nancy for two days, and Daniel and I took a short trip to Wichita, KS. We wanted to go somewhere not too far away, but far enough to feel like we really took a trip. Daniel even bought me a new maternity swimsuit from Motherhood Maternity for the trip.

We drove down on Monday afternoon, got a nice hotel, and went out to dinner at a wonderful little pizza place called "Old Chicago". Then we spent time in the jacuzzi and playing with a beach ball in the pool. That might have been a mistake. We had a lot of fun, but our legs hurt the next day from jumping up and down in the water to hit the ball. The jacuzzi was wonderful, not too hot, and completely covered my belly which my bathtub at home never does.

On Tuesday we went to the Scrapbook Garden and then to a very inexpensive water park called Rock River Rapids. It was perfect weather, just a little overcast so the ground wasn't hot under our bare feet and the water felt wonderful. A storm rolled in after we had been there for a couple of hours, so we left early and drove back in time to surprise the girls at the Cushing movie theatre where we watched "Over the Hedge".

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hello and Good-bye

A couple of Sundays ago we drove down to the Ripley/Stillwater area to see friends. The happy part was getting to see my friend Claire, her husband Raymond, and their new baby boy, Drew. They live in south Texas and we are lucky if we get to see them once a year. Drew was so tiny and perfect. He made me long for Kevin to hurry up and get here!

The sad part was saying good-bye to Steven who is heading off to Iraq very soon. He's in the Navy and is seizing an opportunity to make combat pay and not have to pay taxes for several months. I wish we had some idea of how long he'll be gone. We will be praying for him constantly. I think his wife, Christina, is incredibly strong and brave to be willing to become a single parent to their two kids for the whole time while worrying about her husband's safety. But then, we knew they were amazing people when we asked them to be our girls' godparents.


We've been "rowing" Cranberry Thanksgiving as part of the "Five in a Row" reading program that we're experimenting with. It's a really good book and the girls asked me to read it to them again and again, which is a good sign.

One of the "FIAR" lesson suggestions was to study the silhouettes in the story book and then make our own. So each girl shined a flashlight on the wall with her sister casting a shadow against a piece of paper, and I traced their silhouttes. Then they colored them, I cut them out, and they glued them to a 12 x 12 piece of cardstock. I told them that they could color them any way they wanted, but they could not draw actual facial features likes eyes, nose, and mouth.

Park Party

Our Sunday school class had their monthly fellowship at the park. We had quite a turn out! The kids headed almost immediately for the toys, their favorite being the tire swings if they could get a dad to push them fast and high. I can't imagine how they avoid getting queasy on that thing. Daniel pushed me while I took a ride on the tire swing, but I about lost my lunch after only a couple of minutes. Then again, I was 8 months pregnant.

We got a chance to get to know one of the newer couples in our class, Dani and Daniel. They have a daughter close to Gloria's age. She's the one in the purple shirt in this picture. They also have a little boy who is incredibly cute! Little Nathan always dresses in exactly the kind of outfits I want Kevin to wear when he gets here. It's the semi-prep look for boys.

May Fest Memories

We went to May Fest in Tulsa to see all the different varieties of art. We really enjoyed seeing the student artwork in the Performing Arts Center. The girls were able to see work done by kids their age and get some neat ideas for projects we could try at home.

One exhibit done by high schoolers had several full sized molds of people in different positions made out of saran wrap! There was also a five foot silver dragon made out of scrap metal found in a junk yard with a scrapbook showing how they did it step by step.

The girls enjoyed some of the 3-D artwork by various artists selling their work. They also liked the ornate metal wind chimes, the "brain teaser" kind of ink drawings, and anything with pictures of children in it. They got to try out several different types of art from foam painting to candle making. Although it was awfully hot, it was a great field trip!

Homeschoolers Get Together

The Millers hosted last months homeschool group fellowship at their home. We had hotdogs and chili, yum!

It was a nice evening and we all sat outside and watched the kids jump on the trampoline and play on the swingset. We had a couple of families in attendance who were there to ask questions about homeschooling to help them make the decision about whether to try it out. It was also unusual that we had so many younger children there. Many times the monthly group consists of a wide range of ages including lots of older kids. The average age this night was around 4 or 5.

One thing that I especially like about these monthly fellowships is seeing how many dads are happy to be a part of their children's homeschooling. They really understand how important it is to do this as a family and be involved in every aspect.

Awanas Grads

Gloria and Danya graduated from the Awanas program at our church on May 17th. They looked so cute, and we were very proud of them! Gloria was very mature this time and didn't act silly on stage. Daniel had gotten the last few patches sewed onto her vest just in time for the ceremony!

Danya received extra recognition as one of the few Sparks who not only completed the main book but also the entire review of every verse in the book and an additional book with harder verses.

The girls did an amazing job especially considering that Daniel and I were erratic at best in helping them to memorize the verses. On a few occasions we just read over the verses on the way TO their Wednesday night classes. Yet the girls still managed to excel! Next year we will try to be more diligent and prepared.

: )

Cold Water!

Since we decided to have Danya's 6th birthday at Lake Oologah, we just HAD to go test out the water and make sure it was a good location for the party. Unfortunately, in mid-May the water was still pretty cold. Too cold for me in fact. Daniel and the girls braved it for about 15 minutes, but in the end we all just played on the shore.

There was a huge pile of sand dumped at one end of the swimming area. So, of course, we had to climb to the top and dig down the sides so that we could make waterfalls. Danya seemed to enjoy this the most. Gloria preferred to dig a big hole close to the water's edge and fill it with lake water. We tried to make a castle, but that didn't go well. Daniel submitted to having his feet buried after setting me up nearby with a blanket on the sand hill to sit on and keep the spiders away.

The scary part of the experience was when a heavily tatooed man arrived with his very large Rottweiler not on a leash. The girls were scared. The man said, "Don't worry, he's friendly!" Uh huh. That made me feel SO much safer. We left shortly after that.

A Day with Emma

Danya's best friend, Emma, came for a playdate on May 16th. The girls had a great day, especially playing at the giant playground.

The only downside is that when Danya has a friend over, Gloria loses her best friend...her sister. Emma and Danya instantly become glued at the hip and Gloria becomes the annoying little sister doing everything possible to get attention including using "bathroom humor" to try to get a laugh out of the bigger girls.

Poor Gloria, really needs a friend her age to come visit. We've made a few trips to a friend of ours' house. Her son, Alex, is in Gloria's sunday school class. What Gloria really needs is a girl friend to play with. Another Sunday school friend, Ally Grace, may become more available this summer. We're hoping to plan some play dates for the two of them.

I'm realizing how difficult it is to keep up with Danya's social schedule, and now Gloria is moving into the "social arena". What on Earth will I do when Kevin gets to be that age??