Saturday, March 31, 2007

Boy in Motion!

Kevin is crawling! He can start in a sitting position, dive onto his belly, and do a military crawl across the room. He pushes with his feet and pulls with his elbows until he gets where he wants to go. Occasionally his tush will shoot up into the air and he'll do little thrusts forward.

The other day I set him in his room to play with some toys for just a moment while I went to grab something from the other room. Before I knew it he was all the way out in the hallway hollering his, "How DARE you leave me?!" yell.

Kevin has several different yells. There is the ever popular "outraged scream", the "I'm not going to sleep, so get me out of this playpen!" rhythmic yelling, and his excited babbling yells announcing to the world that he is in his stroller, wind in his hair, on his way to "swing swing" at the park, "whee!".

Taking it for a Spin

We decided to take the new van for a spin the first day after we got it home. I wanted to practice driving it, turning, parking, pulling out into traffic, all that good stuff. It's really not bad. The only major difference I've noticed is that I have to make wider turn and sometimes in high winds it feels like I'm getting pushed around a bit more.

Since we were already out we decided to also try out a new playground near our house that we found by accident the other day. The girls really liked it. Especially the "spinny thing" as they call it.

We've always liked visiting new parks ever since Danya was little. We've found several in our new neighborhood, and still have a few that we haven't had time to visit yet. I'm sure people around here will see our "Two Ton Tomato" parked next to quite a few parks as the weather starts warming up. (I'm really tired of these freak snow storms!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Fire Engine Red

This is the 2000 Chevrolet Express Van G3500 Ext Sport Van that we bought today. It's a 12 passenger van so we can fit all the new kids we hope to adopt in it! It was $9,000, but we traded our van in for $2,400, so it ended up actually being only about $7,600.

That's a pretty good trade in price for our old van considering that it was missing a hub cap, the hatch wouldn't open, and it was squealing like it needed new brakes. Kelly Blue Book listed our old van as only being worth $2,800 even if it had been in good condition.

The new van is great! It runs good, has a nice interior, and even has power windows, locks, and mirrors. Daniel likes the running boards on the sides since it's so tall. It's only about a foot and a half longer than our old van. The only thing I regret is that it doesn't have a sliding side door (or better yet, two sliding doors). We'll also miss having a compass and thermostat in the car.

Hopefully we'll have the house stuff done in another week or so. With this van, we should be set for the home study where they evaluate our home and us for the adoption. You're all welcome to join us in praying that we will become a larger family sometime in April!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

8 (and a half) Months old

I didn't have batteries for my camera when Kevin turned 8 months old on March 7th, so I never got around to taking his photo. We took this one today. I think it shows how active he's getting.

He can pull up on things and stands very well as long as he has something or someone to hold onto. He'll also hold one of my index fingers in each of his hands and take steps. He loves to practice walking lately. He's also pulling hair and biting, ouch! The other night he grabbed my arm with two hands and leaned over and tried to take a chunk out of my arm!

Kevin has started fighting being held sometimes. He'll thrash, arch his back, and throw himself backwards if he isn't getting what he wants. He can roll anywhere he wants to and can spin on his belly in multiple directions. If he's sitting up and wants something out of his reach he'll dive onto his belly and stretch to get it. Sometimes he sticks his tush into the air, but he just can't manage to crawl yet. We think he's close, though.

He talks constantly. It even sounds like he is saying, "Dada, Gloria, and Danya". I joke that he'll speak full sentences and say the contractor's names before he says mine. I clearly heard him say "Mama" one time, but I've never heard him say it again and had no witnesses, so I guess it doesn't really count.

He's been waking up happy every morning in his playpen since we moved. He still doesn't sleep through the night most nights. He can suck his toes. Once it sounded like he growled, "I love you, Dad" to Daniel. We think he's very smart, and he surprises us daily!

A Giant Wind!

Danya's open house was great! You can see her in the blue dress and braids in this photo. Her homeschool charter school put on several plays. The 1st and 2nd grade class, Danya's group, performed a western called "A Giant Wind". At one point all the town folk are huddled together in hiding, when one by one they start noticing giant body parts...the giant's toe, his leg, his arm, his neck. Then Danya's big line comes. She stands up, points, and says, "I see a giant snout, and I hope I don't see what comes out!" The whole audience laughed!

She was great! All through the performance she was directing the other kids. Holding one back when he tried to jump up and speak his line too early, and pushing another kid forward when it was his turn and he forgot. During the dance at the end, she knew all the choreogaphy, so the other kids watched her to see what to do next. Later, her drama teacher told me that only Danya and one other girl knew all the dance moves! He said she has a gift for choreography. We were super proud of her!

After the performance we got to tour the classrooms and see Danya's art work, poetry, and other things displayed.

Moving Day, Hooray!

We moved to our new home in Thornton, CO on the 10th and 11th of March. We were actually sleeping in our new house on that Sunday, the 11th, but we didn't truly finish moving every last thing out and hand in the keys until Wednesday. It was a lot of work and I can't imagine doing it without Daniel's parents' help. Wayne and Daniel carried all the heavy furniture and boxes. They loaded the moving van while Nancy and I and the kids loaded our minivan. Our neighbors, Shannon and Sarah, helped by watching Kevin.

While we were in the process of moving out, Danya and Gloria were playing with all
the neighborhood kids one last time. Sadly, we learned that a new homeschooling family had just moved in next door to us with kids the same ages as our kids. I spoke to their mom a few times, and hope that there's still a chance our families might become friends. Our girls are really having a hard time saying goodbye to all the kids they used to play with almost daily. With a park nearby, I'm hoping that they will make lots of friends in our new home, too.


I don't know what we'd have done if Daniel's parents hadn't driven up from Oklahoma to help us move. They were amazing! Nancy single handedly packed my kitchen. We loved just having them here and already miss them terribly now that they've gone home. Most of our time together involved working on the move or the house, but we did get to spend some time together and go out to eat at our favorite steak house.

Our babysitter, Shannon, instantly liked Grandma Nancy. She said, "You know, Daniel's mom is really really nice." Yup, we know it! You can also see Kevin's strange obsession with Grandpa Wayne's hat in this photo. He would cry if we didn't bring him close enough to pull it off Grandpa's head again and again. The girls keep asking when they can go stay the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We think we'll visit around Kevin's birthday, maybe on the 4th of July.

By the way, you can also see my new hair color in the photo. Daniel helped me dye it a strawberry blonde color.

Envy of the Neighborhood

Toni, you would have been so proud seeing your nieces crusin' around the apartment complex in the car you gave them. They even picked up their first boy...okay so it was their baby brother.

When the other kids got home from school they swarmed around the car like flies to honey. Danya and Gloria took turns giving their friends short rides around the building. Yup, they were instantly the most popular girls on the block! The older kids were so disappointed when I said that there was an 80 lb weight limit. Once you subtract 40 pounds or so for whichever of the girls was driving, that meant that only kids 6 and under got to sit in the passenger seat. Technically even adding Kevin in was breaking the limit.

They drove that thing until the battery wore down. A couple of days later we still had kids asking if the car could come out (even if my girls weren't there). The girls haven't had a chance to drive it at our new house yet, but they've been asking about it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Moving: Part One

Wednesday we rented a truck and loaded it to the rafters. We wanted to try and get as much stuff moved as possible before this weekend. So we pretty much emptied our living room, half our basement, and alot of other little areas.

It's frustrating because our kitchen and bathrooms aren't finished at the new house so we can't move any of those things. Also, we are still waiting for a new door to be installed in the basement. Our contractor has to do some woodwork and wall patching around the door so there will be lots of dust in the air. If we put our things in the basement everything will get covered in dust. So in the meantime we are trying to cram all the basement stuff into an upstairs bedroom.

Today and tomorrow morning we have to finish packing everything in the house so that we can move in on Sunday. Originally we planned to move on Saturday, but there is just too much work that has to be done on the new house first.

Heat, Air, and Flooding

On Tuesday a couple of guys came out to install a new air conditioning and humidifier system and to replace the old furnace and hot water heater. It took all day, but by 7:30 pm it was finally done.

Two days later our painter noticed water coming through the bathroom wall. The hose connected to the humidifier wasn't attached properly, so every time the heat turned on it would trigger the humidifier which would spray water all over the walls. We called them to come fix it which they did yesterday. Now we're waiting for our general contractor to come look at the damaged bathroom wall and decide if it needs to be replaced (again) or if the water damage was minor enough not to worry about it.

Cookie Monster

Danya shared one of her little chocolate cookies out of a small package that Daniel gave her. Kevin managed to make a HUGE mess out of just one tiny little cookie.

He's becoming such a little boy. He's wearing 2 year old outfits because they fit in the torso. We still have to roll up the sleeves, though. He's also starting to turn up his nose at baby food and demand to eat whatever we're having. The other day he ate Daniel's sandwich!

Denver Orchestra

I took Danya and Gloria to the Denver Performing Arts Center with Danya's homeschool charter school to hear the Denver Symphony perform. There was an overwhelming number of school kids there!

Danya knew alot of the music they played because she's been studying composers in her charter school. We play a game at home where I say a composer's middle name or last name, and she has to say the rest of the name. She really likes the game. I'm hoping to find some sort of a trivia game about composers. I bet there's one online.


Yippee! The new carpet is installed! It looks wonderful! We can finally sit on the floor, Kevin can play on the floor, and we can walk barefoot around the house. Of course, we had to get over the newness of it quickly. Our contractor stopped by right after the carpet was installed. He worked on patching some holes with plaster, dripped some in the bathroom, stepped in it, and unknowingly tracked it through the whole basement.

It's also been difficult trying not to track mud in the house with all the contractors coming in and out. The air conditioning guys were polite and took off their shoes. It's been funny seeing all these strange men walking around my house in their socks.

The carpet completely transforms the house. It feels like a house finally.

Somewhat Helpful

We paid a guy to install our new floating floors. They look beautiful. I wish he hadn't taken a week to finish the job because he didn't have 8 nails. Daniel has decided to finish it himself. We were going to hire the guy to do some other work, including installing our kitchen cabinets, but he didn't show up the first day, didn't even call. We think he's unreliable and unlikely to finish the work, so we're going to wait and hopefully get Daniel's dad to help us out this weekend.

Have I mentioned how ecstatic we are that Daniel's parents are driving up to help us move and finish the house? Imagine us doing cartwheels and dancing on the ceiling...that's about halfway to explaining it. Every day for a week and a half we've been saying how badly we need them. Nancy, fast!

Shocking the Neighbors

Well, we warned the neighbors on either side of our new house that we would be painting it bright yellow. I wonder if they quite imagined THIS. The yellow we originally chose was much softer than this one. Unfortunately, that shade only comes in interior paint. So we had to settle for this much bolder yellow. It's growing on us.

I've checked and we can see our house from almost any spot in the huge park across the street. We can definitely tell people who need directions to look for the yellow house, because it's the only one for blocks. Yup, you could probably see this baby from space. I can hear the astronauts now: "There's the great wall of China, and there's the Elliott house!" It's like a great big "You are HERE" sign.

The changes we've made:
1. Brown roof became a new black roof
2. New garage door
3. New front door with a window in it
4. Yellow paint with green trim and shutters
5. New green gutters
6. Trimmed the trees and bushes

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Demolition, Gas, and Minor Miracles

This is a photo of Daniel attempting to tear down the back patio. Originally we were going to get it re-roofed and painted, but the roofer said it wasn't safe, so we needed to tear it down. Unfortunately, Daniel lost his hammer and had quite a time trying to remove the patio cover without damaging the house or the new gutters.

That odd pipe sticking up above the roof is part of our new radon mitigation system that was installed this week. It's sucking the radon gas out of our basement and blowing it out above the house.

Minor Miracle:
Today Daniel called "Carpet Exchange" to check on the status of our carpet that is supposed to be installed this Monday. Our carpet salesman, Cory, called the manufacturer in Georgia, and found out that they had not even shipped it yet because "the truck wasn't full". So the carpet guy made it up to us. His manager said we could upgrade to a much much nicer carpet if we'd come in today to choose the color. Daniel and I had ordered the bottom of the line carpet in a color we didn't really like all that much because it was cheap and they could ship it quickly. Now we're getting a much more expensive carpet in a color we like that they have in stock at the store for the same rock bottom price! And it will still be installed on Monday.

Meeting the Neighbors

The girls have gotten to play at the park across from our new house several times over the past week. Danya has already made two new friends who are her age and live by the park! One of them is named Matea, and I met her mom, Julie, a couple of days ago.

They remind me alot of our neighbors, the Holady's, from back in Oklahoma. (Missy, I miss you so much! Come visit me!) Danya has already gone with Gloria and our babysitter to knock on Matea's door to ask her to come play at the park with them. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this neighborhood? I feel like we are in an episode of "Leave It To Beaver" sometimes.

We've also met three of our next door neighbors so far. The man to our right works nights like Daniel, and offered to help if we need him with remodeling the house. The neighbor next to him is a realtor who walks his dog around our block all the time. The lady who lives on our left is very nice and has offered a wealth of information on the previous owners of our home and actually warned us that our basement was prone to flooding the day before we discovered the flood in our basement. We called out a plumber who fixed the problem fairly easily and then recommended the awesome contractor that we now have helping us out with the many odd jobs we need done to finish the house in time.

Oh, Rats!

I finally got to paint my kitchen! It's a shockingly bright shade of yellow called "banana yellow" and I love it! The painter painted the basement bright yellow today also. Tomorrow he will paint both bathrooms the same color. Originally we were going to paint the upstairs bathroom light green, but there was a miscommunication with the painter, so we decided to use the light green we had for the 5th bedroom that we couldn't decide on a color for. I think it's neutral enough no matter if we end up adopting a boy or girl and they get that room.

During the process of painting the kitchen we were going to paint the cabinets a dark green and replace the handles. But when I unscrewed the old knobs we discovered the cabinets were falling apart and unsalvageable. So we bought new ones. When we ripped out the old ones we found an old rats' nest under the kitchen sink cabinet! Yuck! We made Daniel do the dirty work of cleaning it up. I wasn't going near it!

There was another miscommunication, this time with the guy who installed our new floating laminate floors. He was going to install our cabinets for $600 (not including the countertops or sinks), but Daniel and our main contractor decided to do it instead. The floor guy was pretty put out, but he finished our floors today and did a great job. It looks like I have dark cherry wood hardwood floors in my kitchen and it looks like marble tiles in the bathrooms and laundry room. The house is coming together fast!

Homeschooling Hands-On!

This past week the girls haven't done alot of formal schooling. They have, however, learned to use power tools, used measuring tape for meaningful jobs instead of just fake paper rulers for workbook problems, and gotten to be an invaluable part of our home remodeling project.

Daniel handed Gloria the cordless electric screwdriver and told her to remove the two banisters from the staircase so we could paint the walls. She did it all by herself! She even carried the long banisters down to the basement to get them out of the way when she was finished removing them. How many Kindergartners get to do that?!

Danya and Gloria both helped us unscrew the kitchen cabinets, including the counter top. Then they helped us rip them out. They've also helped paint the living room and kitchen. They even painted the lower half of their own bedrooms. I wish I had a picture of Danya using her Dad's big cordless drill!

When they aren't working in the house, they are out in the backyard using the pieces of wood and rocks that they find out there to build things. They made a birdbath, a table, and chairs all from found objects. At home the girls have been reading books for the "Book-It!" program to earn their little pizzas. Danya read a short story taken from Tom Sawyer. We also made our own town map, played a modified version of "Scruples" (a game of moral dilemas), and played a dice counting game called "Toss Up!" I guess, looking back over the past few days, it really has been a pretty full week for them educationally. Danya is also preparing for her upcoming open house musical at her homeschool charter school.