Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Amazing Backyard Nature!

This afternoon we went on a nature walk along a trail near our home. The girls each brought a bucket and collected things like different kinds of wild mushrooms, leaves, a flower from a Yucca plant, and some other odds and ends. It's a beautiful day, perfect weather, and nature just seemed to be showing off!

We saw several different types of trees, birds, and rocks. Even people's yards were interesting on the way to the trail. One house had a type of volcanic rock used as decoration in their front yard, while their neighbor's had sandstone rocks. Part of the trail passed beside some marshy areas, so we got to explore the kinds of plants that grow there. The marsh was full of different birds that would fly out when we startled them. It was awesome finding so many interesting things just a few minutes walk from our house!

"Physical Education" A.K.A. "Family Fun"

We're trying to start the new school year out on the right foot. We're attempting to follow a more set schedule of three hours of school in the morning from 9am to noon, and another hour in the afternoon. This morning after our seat work was finished we all went out for a little "P.E." at the park.

It's so great having a park, playgrounds, and a tennis court right outside our front door! We use the tennis courts like a school gym, for playing ball games and using the lines to define game areas. I want to eventually get some new "P.E. equipment". I want to get bigger jump ropes, bases for baseball/kickball, and some scooters, and also maybe a batting tee.

Hi, Mom!

No bars can hold this little escape artist! The other day he managed to wiggle out of the seat belt on his stroller and tried to dive over the side. I caught him just as he was heading face first towards the sidewalk!

He has almost figured out how to climb into the bath tub, so we have to keep an eye on him. Daniel just recently finished hanging the last two doors in the basement, so now we keep all the bedroom and bathroom doors shut. Otherwise, he'd be into everything.

A New Look!

Did anyone notice the new title of my blog? Same name, but much more interesting picture. When we noticed the new feature on blogger that allows you to edit the header, the girls and I each added a photo. So check out their blogs, too!

I did more of a "custom" header on mine, but playing with the font tool in Microsoft Paint. I love this photo of the girls! I laugh every time I see it. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments section!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nacho Night!

Daniel bought a huge tub of cheese for melting at Sam's a while ago. We are just now getting close to the bottom of it. Tonight he made a yummy nacho mix. All it consisted of was cheese, hamburger, and fresh diced tomatos, but it was delicioso!

Lunch today was also especially good. I made burgers on the electric grill. I cooked them with cheese and honey barbeque sauce. They were scrumptious, if I do say so myself.

Yesterday I organized my kitchen a little. We have two big drawers that we hadn't found a use for yet. So I cleaned them out and filled them with canned goods laying on their sides. That cleared up space in our pantry, which was over flowing previously. We also cleaned and organized the garage a few days ago, so now we can easily get to the extra fridge/freezer and the extra pantry shelves. I'm trying to imagine what it will be like to cook for 8 or 9 people instead of just four (or five if you count Kevin). I may end up feeling like I live in the kitchen. But then, I'll have alot of help, too!

Rainy Days and Fire Safety

I think it's Murphy's Law that says if you spend the morning washing all your windows inside and out, then it will rain all afternoon. We decided to clean the windows today after practising our fire drill. We posted our fire escape plans upstairs and down this morning. Then we showed the girls how to open the windows and had them practise climbing out through their bedroom windows. They thought that was great.

The bottom of their bedroom windows are exactly at ground level and face our neighbor, Marge's, house. After they climbed out they ran over to Marge's mailbox in her front yard and waited for us to meet them there. We also had them crawl on the ground and pretend their was smoke above them, and test their doors to see if they were hot. Next time we'll show them the classic "Stop, Drop, and Roll" routine.

Spelling in Spanish

The girls are learning to recognize and spell the written form of Spanish numbers one through ten. (Or should I say uno through diez?) Today we wrote the English and Spanish versions of each number on their dry erase cards and had the girls take turns matching them and putting them in numerical order.

Speaking of order, I find it strange that both the second grade and third grade workbooks have them start out learning alphabetical order. Do the writers of the third grade book assume they never learned it at the beginning of second grade or do they assume that they forgot it all over summer vacation? I'm glad we homeschool year round so that the girls continue to use the skills and information they've learned instead of turning off their brains for a few months during the summer every year.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Our Own Parking Lot

I've been wanting to buy the kids some Hot Wheels for a long time. Until today they only owned about five cars. Those things are about a buck a piece at Walmart. Today I finally hit the mother load.

I found a yard sale where they were selling two big boxes full of vehicles. I bought all of them for $15. We counted at home and there are just over 400 of them! So by my calculations I saved $385 plus tax. And Kevin can smash them, draw on them, lose them, or break them and I won't be upset because they aren't brand new and they only cost about 3 cents a piece.

The oldest car we found said 1941 on the bottom, although we don't know if that's the actual manufacturer date. We also have 4 General Lee's, 1 Boss Hog car, and Daisy Duke's jeep. Not to mention a Domino's Pizza car, 2 Transformers, a British double decker bus, the Ghost Busters car, some Micro Machines, and a bunch of other unique vehicles. Kevin's so cute when he makes his "vroom vroom" noise with them! Danya has already decided she's "collecting" all the race cars and Gloria likes the ambulances best.

Mechanically Dis-inclined

I bought this little table at a yard sale today. I had to reattach the legs. I was very frustrated because I thought they had not sold me the end caps to go on the corners. Then Daniel looked at it and laughed.

Apparently I put the legs on inside out. So here he and Kevin are fixing it for me. At times like these (and they are numerous) I tell Daniel, "See! I didn't just marry you because you're so pretty." Yep, he's pretty useful, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Long Day

Today has seemed incredibly long even though it wasn't terribly eventful. Shannon spent the weekend with us, in fact she's sleeping in the bottom bunk in Danya's room right this minute. Last night she watched the kids for us while Daniel and I went out for a quick dinner at a steak house. Then we picked up some new workbooks at Borders. Danya is starting the Daily Learning Drills for 3rd Grade (yes, she's a 2nd grader) and Gloria is starting the 2nd Grade one this year. We also got Danya a workbook titled The Complete Book of Our Solar System since she is studying astronomy and Earth Science this year.

Last night I stayed up late planning out our school work for the year. What I do is count up how many pages each workbook has, then divide it by the number of days (172) in our school year. Then I know how many pages a day they have to get done. For short books I can get an idea of when it will be completed during the year.

This morning Daniel took me to a few yard sales. I found a beautiful dresser with a mirror on one side and a row of drawers on the other. I still can't believe they sold it to me for $30! So now every bedroom has a dresser. It was like watching a comedy movie when Daniel and two guys (one of which didn't speak any English) tried to load the dresser into our van. We tried leaving it hanging out with the back doors tied partially shut with string, but it didn't work. They followed us home with the dresser in the back of their truck.

Shannon, the kids, and I walked a couple miles to return movies to the Red Box and to pick up some taco shells from Albertson's. On the way back my knee went out again. I've been having problems with my knee for a couple of months now. Every so often it just seems to slip out of alignment and swell up. It hurts like crazy! I'm thinking of having it x-rayed. I ended my very long day soaking my knee in the tub. Well...technically I guess I ended it just now blogging. Good night!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Fingerprints Finally!!

We've been waiting and waiting for our FBI background checks to come back approved so that we can move forward with the adoption process. They are finally here! We spoke to the Adams County person today and she said we are good to go! She should have the paperwork processed by Tuesday. Then we just have to wait for a call from the case worker to come inspect our house and interview us. Then they can officially start looking for a match for us.

We found some kids on the Adopt US Kids website that live in Colorado and seem like they'd be a good match, but they would have to live in Adams County. We don't know if they do or not. But the person I spoke to today said that they have lots of sibling groups available in Adams County so there won't be any problem finding us a match. Keep praying with us!

Suburban Life

Have I mentioned how much I love living here? From the age of 7 to adulthood I lived in a trailer out in the country. Until I was 11 we didn't even have a neighbor closer than a mile away. I absolutely love living in a real neighborhood. I LOVE being able to walk to a grocery store, fast food, or just to a neighbor's house.

Yesterday, on a whim, we decided to take a family walk to McDonald's for dinner. We have multiple walking trails near our house, multiple parks, lots of stores. And yet we're far enough away that I don't feel like I'm in the heart of the city. There's a hill near our house where we can stand and see the mountains and the city of Denver and all it's suburbs spread out around us as far as the eye can see. It's amazing to me. As a kid all I could see for miles was waving grass, some trees, and a whole lot of cows. I'd say the view has improved.

Creative Dance

Daniel took these pictures on Wednesday when the girls dressed up and performed their self-choreographed dance. Danya is wearing the new outfit she got from a friend for her birthday. They both love to perform. They are constantly showing off their dances, songs, puppet shows, and whatever poem or other thing they've recently memorized. Today they were trying to show their friend, Shannon, which one of them could say the entire preamble to the U.S. constitution fastest. I'm also taping their times tables up next to their beds at night for them to memorize. Danya is up to the 4's and Gloria is working on 3's.

Final Performance of 2007

Danya's last day of the Homeschool Connection charter school was on Tuesday. That night they had a final performance. Danya got to read a poem, sing "This Land is My Land", dance and act in a short play. She got to be an octopus and an elephant. It was all very cute. The only part I didn't like was the play about a Colorado ghost story that the 11 yr olds did. It was disgusting and inappropriate. I took Gloria out of the auditorium until it was over. It just reminded me that I need to look for a Christian homeschool class next year if I want the girls involved in an extra curricular activity. I'm planning to let the director of the program know that we won't be coming back if they continue to do those kinds of plays. My small children do not need to hear gruesome details of a dead soldier's appearance.

They did a slide show at the end that was really cute. They requested pictures last weekend, so alot of the photos I took on field trips this year were in the presentation. They gave us all copies, which was nice. I'm looking into school choice options for next fall already since we'll have to enroll the kids we hope to adopt, at least for a semester. We're considering an online program where the public school provides materials, but the kids can learn at home. At least they wouldn't be dealing with the problems inherent in a new school on top of the situation of possibly being adopted as well.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Danya's Early Birthday Party

We celebrated Danya's 7th birthday about two weeks early this year so that her school friends could come. Tomorrow is her last day of school, so they'll all get to giggle and talk about her party together. She invited her friends from her Tuesday homeschool charter school and a couple of friends from church. This picture only shows half of her guests.

We had her party at Chuck E. Cheese. Each kid got almost 30 tokens and they all had a blast! They took lots of silly pictures together, pretended to surf in a 4x4 truck that lifted up and down and tilted side to side. Everywhere we could hear litte girl voices yelling, "Danya! Come ride this with me!" or "Come take a picture with me!" She was so excited!

The biggest blessing was that our two babysitters, Shannon and Sarah, came with us. They took turns playing with Kevin and taking him on rides and generally being helpful with everything. So Daniel and I were able to really enjoy the party and not stress out at all. I still can't believe my baby, my oldest, is 7 years old already.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Little Entrepreneurs

During our yard sale this weekend the girls wanted to have a little sale of their own. They wanted to sell drinks, but I didn't have any lemonade or anything for them. So I let them sell the candy that I bought for after school treats. They get a treat for getting their homeschool work done quickly and with a good attitude. They sold gum and Laffy Taffy for 10 cents a piece and made about four dollars.

Danya also decided to sell some of her old toys and she made $4.50 on them. They were both so excited! On Friday I let them use the dollar they made to buy icecream from the icecream truck that stopped by, but today I made them hold onto it. After our yard sale we took them to the Thornton Kids Fest. It's free so it was packed. We stood in one line for half an hour! It was very hot, so I asked a total stranger if we could borrow some sun screen. The kids got a bunch of free stuff: balloons, cowboy hat, candy, pencils, etc.

The only downside? I forgot my camera.

Yard Sale Day

Daniel and I have been talking about having a yard sale since we moved here in March. This weekend I finally threw one together. Literally.

I'm aware that there are women who carefully plan their yard sale for days or more. They set aside in a certain place all the things they plan to sell, collecting them over weeks. Then they carefully label everything and sort children's clothing by sizes. I'm not that lady. She wouldn't be friends with someone like me either.

No, I decide to have a yard sale Thursday night and Friday morning I get up and start tossing stuff out side. I frantically rummage through all our closets, tear the house apart as I shove things off the furniture I've suddenly decided to sell, and stick up one big sign with generic prices on it: All kids clothes 50 cents! All books a quarter! At our last yard sale in Oklahoma we put up a big sign that said "Everything 25 cents!".

It seems to work. We make good money and sell most of our stuff. I've been to yard sales where people price everything high. I know they would probably lower it a little if I'd haggle with them, but I prefer to just start with a low price and pay it. So if their stuff is high priced, I leave. As we were preparing to pack up today after our second and last day of the yard sale, a man came in and bought all our remaining kids' clothes. He resells them in Mexico apparently. Yesterday a lady bought two big trash bags full of my old clothes. I made $50 from that one sale! The only negative was today we didn't get many customers so we made less money. We found out later that all our signs had been stolen, so we were only getting customers who happened to drive by. Otherwise, everything went really well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Face It!

Like most people focused on losing weight (or worried they are gaining) I spend way too much time observing myself in the mirror to see if anything has changed. I think the biggest change is happening in my face.

It's very strange to suddenly recognize yourself. I'm hoping that at least someone at my upcoming high school reunion will think, "She looks just like the Jessica I remember." At least I'm starting to look like the Jess that I remember. These photos only show the difference between March of this year and today. It just goes to show that ten pounds really makes a difference! I'm going to look for a photo from when I started and add it to this post. I'm also going to post some "before and current" full body shots on my weight loss blog soon. (and I thought child birth was hard!)

What's missing from this picture?

I've lost something and hope I never find it again. Click here
to read about it on my other blog.
Gloria says she likes me better without it anyway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reserving Books

I like to go online to my public library's website to search for and reserve books for homeschool. Some we've reserved and checked out recently were a series about The Odyssey written by the author of the Magic Treehouse books. Last week I reserved some from a different library system and yesterday we went to pick them up.

They hadn't called to tell me they were ready, which was strange, but I thought nothing of it. It turned out that I only had one book sent to their branch. All the rest were sent to a different branch. So we drove across town and the kids got to enjoy two libraries in one day. Kevin liked the inside toys and the statues, also the miniature railroad display. More than that, he liked yelling to hear his voice echo loudly through the library while I tried to browse through the homeschool books.

The girls got to play on the playground outside the library. We also read a few books before we left. Some books I'm reading right now:
1. The Educated Child by William J. Bennett
2. Empire by Orson Scott Card
3. Federation by Judith Reeves-Stevens

Daniel has always thought it was strange that I like to read multiple books at once. I'm sure if I was a public school kid they'd call it a form of ADD or something. I just don't have any trouble tracking multiple stories or learning lots of different information at once. The first book I'm reading for knowledge, the second one I'm reading out loud to Daniel, and the third one is just for me, for pure enjoyment.

Casserole Mania

Do you know the best way to insure that you will cook at home more? Use up all your extra cash a week before payday. I've been getting more creative in what I serve the kids recently. For the first time ever I made (all by myself) Daniel's famous tater tot casserole that he learned from a friend of ours the week after Kevin was born. If you haven't tried this, you should.

We also made one of our all time faves that we hardly ever make lately. It's a recipe off the back of our Stove Top stuffing boxes, called their One Dish Chicken Bake. Both casseroles were delicious. Not as well received was our attempt at home made pork and beans. We've also made some interesting chicken tuna, cheese, and tomato mixtures that we served on Tollhouse crackers. Not bad, but I'm guessing the crackers killed me on weight watchers points. Thank goodness pay day is tomorrow!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Having a Ball!

Today we had a fun day in our homeschool! After the kids did some seat work and practised their times tables, we played some fun new games. I got the games out of a book called 365 After School Activities .

First we made a circle and tried to roll all different small balls as fast as possible while keeping them inside the circle. Then Daniel joined the game, setting Kevin in the middle, so we changed the game. We kept rolling them fast, but tried to keep them away from the "ball monster". Kevin filled his role very well, stealing balls and then rolling them at us.

Next we played "Penny Drop". We took turns scattering 10 pennies on the carpet, then picking them up and dropping them into a small cup. In order we tried it with just our right hand, left hand, right foot, then left foot. The girls kept a chart and Daniel timed us. Danya beat Gloria overall by just 7 seconds!

Then we experimented outside at the tennis courts with all different kinds of balls. We had a soccer ball, tennis ball, wiffle ball, football, beach ball, and a rubber playground ball. We used a bat to try hitting each one, then we kicked each one, then we tried dribbling some of them. We discussed why the design of each one is perfect for the game it's used in. Then we used the tennis court net as a soccer goal. Daniel was the goalie and the girls tried to work together to get the ball into the net. They actually scored about 6 times! We played a few other crazy games and then we went in because it was starting to rain. What a great day!

Backing Up

Kevin has mastered going backwards on his little fire truck. I'm more nervous than he is when he's on that thing. I'm always afraid he'll see something pretty on the ground and dive off to get it. He's happy, though, beeping the horn and making "vroom" noises.

The other day we were wrestling in my room on the bed when he practically jumped over his dad to get to me. He did a nose dive into the covers but he didn't cry or even pause. He just pushed back up and tackled me. That kid loves to wrestle. Maybe it's because the girls have let him climb all over them and tickled him like crazy ever since he was little. If they stop tickling his foot, he'll actually get mad and stick it in the air waving it for them to tickle some more!

Fun in a Box!

The kids watched me open all my Mother's Day gifts and of course they were the most excited about the boxes that they came in. In the background of this photo you can see the girls putting a propeller on their box to make it an airplane. Kevin was fascinated with the flaps and with the interesting taste of cardboard.

Later while Gloria was making a special dinner for me with Daniel (roast beef, cream of mushroom soup, carrots, and potatoes, YUM) Danya took a renewed interest in all the scrapbooking things I got. She came downstairs to help me quickly assemble a 6 x 6 mini album to document our homeschool year. Danya had given me stickers that said "First Grade and Second Grade". So now we have the album ready we can just start putting the pictures in.

If You Give a Kid a Camera...

The girls love having my old digital camera. They take pictures of the oddest thing; their feet, pictures on the wall, the floor, curtains, people's shirts, dirt. It's always a surprise when I download the photos off their camera to see what they found interesting.

This week I found this little gray dog in to speak. Sometimes I worry about Gloria. Other times I think, "Oh well. Maybe she's destined to be a famous photographer."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Moms Day X 3!

Happy Mother's Day! This is my first Mom's Day as a mother of 3. We were taking pictures of me sitting next to my presents with my girls on either side of me when all of a sudden it hit me over the head..."Oops! I have THREE kids!" So we quickly put Kevin on my lap and took more pictures. I'm sure you Mom's out there understand. It's like those times when you simply cannot remember your child's name. "Danya, uh Kev, uh Daniel, uh..whatever your name is. Come here!" Poor Gloria, I'm sure this will come up one day with a counselor when she's grown, lol.

We decided to celebrate Mother's Day yesterday since Sunday is the Lord's day. My family showered me with hugs and presents. I told the girls that I can't think of a single other scrapbooking related gift I would have liked, they got me some of everything. Daniel gave me a beautiful card and the DVD I was hoping for, "Music and Lyrics". I just love Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. I'll watch anything they're in.

Then the day just kept getting more fun! Daniel took me to some yard sales where a lady sold me her ENTIRE collection of Star Trek books for $2. There must have been 50 books! (Hello, my name is Jessica and I am a life long Trekkie. Yes, I even have a starfleet uniform.) Then Daniel and the kids took me to Applebees for lunch. Later, while Daniel was sleeping, the kids and I spent some time watching a movie together (that we got for 50 cents at a yard sale) and playing at the park. It was really a perfect Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Too Hot!

Today we were out checking out a couple of nearby garage sales when we decided to take a break at this cute little park we spotted. The kids loved the whale and frog that rocked. Kevin did not love trying to fit on the whale with his sisters for a cute picture. It was hot and his stomach was squished, so he promptly threw up on me as I was putting him in the van.

Meanwhile (back at the ranch), our brand new air conditioner was only managing to cool the house two degrees. Don't get me wrong, the basement was a veritable ice box, but the main floor was 76 degrees. Kevin has been fussy all day due in part to the heat. So after his afternoon nap and dinner I stuck him in the tub to splash his little heart out. Danya was icked out because tiny tomato seeds were floating in the water (Can you guess what we had for dinner? Home made fajitas, mmm!)

On a happier note, the girls finally got their Mother's Day gifts finished, so we can mail them out tomorrow to their great-grandmas. I apologize in advance, Mom and Nancy, that they won't arrive on time. I did get a sweet card from my mom-in-law and some adorable photos of my nieces, thank you! (I am so blessed with a wonderful m-in-law!) And the girls also got to try out a fun new kids web site that we found today. It's the Magic Schoolbus website. We already tried one of their earth science tours which ties in neatly with what Danya is studying right now.


Kevin was giving his famous "eat your face" kisses today. It's so funny how he comes at people like a pirahna (how DO you spell pirahna?). He loves it when, after a big Kevin kiss, we tell him, "Thank you!" Then he laughs and bounces up and down and goes in for another chomping kiss.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Danya was reading about earthquakes in science today in her Usborne Children's Encyclopedia. For a fun "experiment" we built block towers on the "fault line" between two books. We pushed the books up against each other then built right on top of the line.

Next we tried different methods of creating our "quakes". We shook the two books, pulled them apart, shoved them together, slid them opposite directions. We observed how they affected our towers and tried to build towers that would withstand the "quakes".

Then we got off on a tangent (some of the best learning opportunities come from being willing to be side tracked) about architecture and wind. We tried building towers that couldn't be toppled when Danya, Gloria, and I would all blow on them. They eventually determined that low rectangular buildings were the toughest. It was so much fun I don't think they even considered it school work!

City Dollars at Work

They have had signs up ever since we bought our new home that said there would be construction and renovations going on at the park this spring and summer. They said they were going to do something to improve "irrigation".

As far as we can tell they are tearing up the park, ripping up the sidewalk, and making alot of noise just to install an unnecessary sprinkler system throughout the park. It already has beautiful green grass throughout. So I'm not understanding why they are going to all the expense and trouble.

On the plus side, Kevin loves watching the big machines working. The girls like hopping over and looking inside the deep trenches all around the park. I guess they avoid liability from leaving these gaping safety hazzards everywhere by putting in those tiny little colored flags everywhere. The neighborhood kids have been pulling up the flags and playing games with them. So at least all this construction is providing some amusement.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Scrapbooking Room Organization

Here's some photos of my newly organized scrapbooking room. I've labled the different storage units alphabetically in the pictures. I thought you might be interested to know what's tucked neatly away in all those closed doors and drawers.

A: Cardstock, solid colored paper organized by size (8 1/2 x 11 or 12 x 12) and color
B: Drawers for small items divided into 6x6 paper, buttons, adhesives, ribbons/thread, metal, small stamps, etc.
C: Drawers for pages in progress, completed pages not yet in albums, give-away items
D: Top drawers for alphabet thumb punches, bottom drawers for duplicate photos and items from swaps
E: Sizzix dies (yellow), there are more of these drawers units for Sizzix (green and blue size) out of sight on the shelf in the top left of the photo
F: Scrapbooking magazine racks
G: Medium and large punches, these shelves also hold various medium sized tools and our playing card collection
H: Idea books, Albums, page protectors, and some homeschool books
I: Large tools like my light box, sizzix machine, templates, etc. and albums
J: Large Sizzix dies (red)
K: Photos organized by person and event
L: Alphabet stamps conveniently located next to my scrapbooking table
M: Patterned paper in coordinated packs
N: Scrap paper not yet filed away
O: Patterned paper organized by theme and kits organized by theme
P: Stickers organized by theme

That's most of it. I also have a travel bag for going to crops that I keep back up tools and supplies in so that I don't have to pack and unpack for a crop and I have a blue file folder that I keep scrap paper larger than my hand organized in by color. On my desk I keep a pretty bucket full of my pens and a metal tin with my most used tools (scissors, paper piercer, knives, eyelet setter, etc.) in it.

One last photo for an overview of the whole area. Notice the bookshelf that I painted yellow this week to blend in with the basement walls!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


We say the girls look like "twinkies" when they match. Since we were taking pictures of Kevin we decided to do a photo shoot of the girls while we were at it. They put on matching outfits and asked me to fix their hair the same way. Then they hammed it up and I didn't get a single serious photo of them. Oh well. This was our first outdoor photo shoot.