Friday, June 29, 2007

Kevin's New Word

Kevin has been hearing "No No!" quite a bit lately and has apparently decided that we need to hear it, too. I guess it's the age and his increasing mobility, but he seems to be getting into everything, lately. He's opening all the drawers and cabinets, pulling all the books out of the bottom of the book shelves, ripping the dust jackets of my favorite books, shredding napkins, and generally wreaking havoc and leaving a path of destruction in his wake all over the house.

Around the World (in our living room)

Aunt Toni sent the girls this awesome toy. It's an electronic globe that has an airplane that you fly around and answer geography questions. The girls were so excited! They even delayed eating cookies so they could run downstairs and play with it.

Danya came up to tell me all the neat information she was learning. I could hear them both downstairs yelling out "North America" and giggling. They've been taking turns with it and having a blast! This is so much more fun than just reading books and doing workbook pages for geography. Great idea, Toni!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Or maybe it's "Deprivation is the Mother of Improvisation"? The girls really wanted some cookies, but cookie mix is not in our new food budget. Gloria said, "Can't we make some anyways?" So I hunted through our various cookbooks and found a simple recipe for peanut butter cookies in a kids' cookbook.

So here's Danya enjoying the rare event of making cookies from scratch. "From scratch" is not normally heard in our kitchen. Right in the middle of mixing the ingredients together a salesman showed up at our door. So I invited him in while we finished baking. He sold us some great kids' science books written at Danya and Gloria's reading level. They just happened to be about the topics the girls are covering this year, so he had an easy sale. I'm glad we included a "homeschool" fund in our budget plan!

Mommy Makeover

I've been implementing some changes this week. I don't have a good photo, so this one will have to do. I'm attempting to become a better wife, mom, and homemaker. I figure I better get organized and work on better habits now before I become a mom of 6 or 7.

Currently I'm implementing ideas from several different plans and books. I'm getting up at 6 am (killer for a night owl like me) and making sure I'm in bed much earlier than I'm used to. I'm having a daily quiet time with the Lord, currently reading Proverbs 31 and trying to apply it to my life one verse at a time. I'm following the Fly Lady approach of getting up before my family and getting showered and dressed all the way to my lace up shoes so that I'll be prepared for the day and making my bed every morning.

The girls also have to get up, get dressed, brush their hair, make their beds, and straighten up their rooms before breakfast. They seem to enjoy it. I'm trying to apply the lessons I learned from the "meek and quiet spirit" book by having a good attitude, smiling, and handling every situation calmly. So this morning when Kevin's explosive diaper covered my new jeans right after I got dressed, I laughed and dealt with it. And this afternoon, after grocery shopping with all the kids by myself, when one of the cases of pop flew out of my hands and exploded all over the ground, I didn't even gripe, I just handled it cheerfully.

I'm exercising every morning, my house is cleaner, there are no dirty dishes waiting for me, and my whole family seems to be happier. I guess it's true that if the mom has a good attitude the whole house breathes easier. So far so good. Hopefully God will give me the strength to stick with all the changes!

Homemade Pizza

In an effort to live more frugally we tried making our pizza the other day. It was so delicious that we made it again the very next day! Daniel and I (in a moment of temporary insanity) bought an enormous package of pepperoni at Sam's Club. So far I've used it on these french bread pizzas, eaten them with the kids as snacks, and made mini pizza pockets with tortillas.

They aren't too spicy and the kids love munching on them. Kevin would eat an entire bag full if I'd let him. Then again, I call him half goat sometimes, because it seems like he'll eat anything. He even ate some of the paper wrapping on the girls' pretend food yesterday before I caught him and took it away. Today he ate the smiley face sticker that the door greeter at Wal-mart gave him.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


It's official. I take too many photos of my kids. I know that by the time they are 5 or so they start to do the "cheese" face every time you try to take their picture, but this is ridiculous. Kevin won't be a year old for another nine days!

Today he was throwing a temper tantrum on the floor while we were making muffins. Since I was taking Danya's picture, I thought I'd get a photo of his "mad face". But every time I'd call his name to get him to look up he'd stop crying and smile a big cheesey grin at me. After the camera would flash he'd lay his head back down and continue his fit. If he's doing this already, what will he be doing in a few years? I'm afraid it will be the constant, silly, tongue out crazy face in every picture. I guess we'll see.

Muffins in the Morning

This morning Danya and I got up early and made blueberry muffins, yum! They turned out really good. Gloria was sleeping in, but when she heard Danya say "muffins" she flew out of bed and up the stairs. Daniel is working 12 hour shifts this week, so his were a little cold by the time he came home. That didn't stop Kevin from begging several bites of them. Kevin was a muffin monster today.

The title of this post "Muffins in the Morning" was inspired by the book we just finished reading to the girls, "Dinosaurs Before Dark ". We're giving the Magic Treehouse series a second chance. Today we're going to read "The Knight at Dawn".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tennis Champs in Training

We've been giving the girls tennis lessons this week and they love it! They're getting better at returning the ball, although Danya still tends to duck when it comes at her. They are both just so excited to play. They ask every day if we're going to play again.

They are also learning a lot just by watching Daniel and I play together. They are learning how to keep score and how to know who's winning by the way we call out the score. (The first number we call out is the score of the person whose turn it is to serve.) Gloria really likes running to "shag" the ball for us, which saves Daniel and I a lot of time. We only have two balls because we misplaced the others and can't afford to buy new ones right now. Thank goodness payday is in two more days, lol.

Both girls are interested in Venus and Serena Williams (homeschooled tennis stars). We told them that the reason those girls are so good is because they had each other to play against while they were growing up. We've told them that once they master the basics they can play against each other every day. With a tennis court in their front yard they could become the next famous tennis sisters!

Compliments to the Chefs!

Daniel and I were in our room working on planning out a budget the other day when lunch time rolled around. We were trying to figure out how much we needed in each of our funds to be able to feed, clothe, and generally provide for a family of 9. We also made out a meal plan so that we can lower our food budget while increasing the number of mouths we'll be feeding. As you can imagine, we were a little distracted.

That's why it was an especially nice surprise when the girls came in and told us that lunch was ready. They had made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips for all of us! They did such a good job! We were so proud of them!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Meek and Quiet Spirit

This is one of the best books I've ever read.

Seriously, and those of you who know me know that I read voraciously. I don't think I've ever read a book that encourages and challenges me as a mother, homeschooling mom, wife, and Christian more than this one does. I'm reading one chapter a day and I know I'll need to read it a few more times just to soak up all that I'm learning.

If you've struggled with having a good attitude, having enough energy, overcoming frustration or anger to respond calmly to any situation, managing your time and your home, or any of the myriad challenges a homeschooling wife and mother face daily, then you absolutely need this book. I wish I had read this book 10 years ago. Here's a link to the author's website: Titus 2 and I've also included the link on the side of this blog. If you click it and scroll down you'll see an entire selection of really good "Dad's and Mom's Corner" messages.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tennis, Anyone?

Wow! Today was such a scorcher! It reached 100 degrees by noon and it's still 91 outside at eleven o'clock at night! Despite the heat, though, we played outside almost all day. Daniel bought the girls and I new tennis rackets today. They got one to share since they are just learning how to hit the ball and won't be playing together for quite a while. I keep telling Danya that it is a tennis racket, not a fly swatter, but she still doesn't really understand why she needs to hold it a certain way.

Daniel and I got to play three different times today! By the third time we were both tired and our arms were sore, so we weren't as good, but it was still fun. We even met a man and his son who came onto the court while we were playing the third time. We had our old rackets with us, too, so we let Gloria and Leo (the boy) play on the other court. They were both 5 years old, so it was fun to watch them. Kevin loves to watch everyone run around hitting the ball. He didn't know which way to look with people playing on both sides of him. I suggested that Leo's dad toss the ball for the kids to hit, since they weren't having much luck hitting it to each other. They really liked that. Both of them managed to start hitting it over the net after a little while.

Ladies in Waiting

Lauren's 12 Dancing Princesses birthday party was so much fun! All the little girls looked so beautiful in their princess costumes. They went on a scavenger hunt to find things like crowns, jewels, bags of gold, and a shield. They got their faces painted. They whacked a pinata that was shaped like a ballet slipper.

They loved the two Barbie cakes. They were the kind that have an actual Barbie in them and the cake is the dress. We gave Lauren a pink Minnie Mouse shirt and I got Danya a matching one so that the two of them can be twinkies at church sometimes. Lauren's mom read the book The Princess and the Kiss to the girls. It's a fairy tale that teaches the concept of purity. Her mom also hand made the goody bags. She is a seamstress and the purses were amazing; silk inside with lace on the outside and a drawstring.

Lauren's whole family is just awesome. I really hope we become friends with them. It was funny how much her dad reminded me of Daniel. Her youngest brother is about 13 months old, and he and Kevin played together throughout the party.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Zoom! Zoom!

If you give your kids a box...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yup, I did that

Daniel is sleeping, so I've been cleaning the house and getting everything ready for the inspector tomorrow. Adams County is finally sending someone to inspect the house and interview us. After tomorrow there's one more interview here at the house and then they'll start trying to match us with a group of kids!

One of my projects today is recovering all the kitchen chairs. The one on the left is what they looked like originally when we got them from the yard sale. I'm giving them all new green covers, including the ones we recovered a few months ago. I want them all to match, so I got enough fabric to do them all.

We're still looking for a big pedestal table that all the chairs will fit around. It has to be small enough to fit in the kitchen, though.

When the Kids are Away...

Daniel and I have enjoyed filling up all this free time we've had in the evenings while the girls are at VBS. We've taken walks with Kevin in the stroller, gone shopping, and just recently played tennis. Kevin enjoyed watching us play from the sidelines.

Surprisingly, we weren't half bad. I was amazed that we could still serve and volley despite how rarely we've played in the past few years. Of course, when we started playing for points, Daniel beat me easily. I'm still claiming an injury, though. My right knee keeps buckling on me at unexpected moments, and I still don't know why.

On this day we went for a walk, rode our bikes, and played tennis. It was great weather, but we were exhausted by the end of the day.

Vacation Bible School

Here's a picture of the girls standing next to "Blade" the bible warrior at vacation bible school yesterday. They are having so much fun. They're learning lots of bible verses and talking about heroes in history like Queen Esther and David.

Danya had a water balloon toss with her group. Both of the girls are enjoying riding home with Lauren's family this week. Tomorrow is Lauren's 7th birthday party. Her mom called today to tell us that Gloria can come, too! Gloria is super excited. It's going to be a princess & knights party with a scavenger hunt and lots of fun games.

(My poor homeschooled kids, lacking in socialization, sigh.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mini Homeschoolers 6: The Trouble with Brothers

The girls describe having a baby brother involved in their homeschool. (Honestly he has never done some of the things they describe!)

The Mini Homeschoolers: It's All Greek to Me!

Danya and Gloria discussing what they've recently learned about ancient mythology.

Swing High, Sweet Elliotts

We stopped by a little park today since it was such nice weather. Daniel and the girls really liked this strange toy that rocked from side to side. Our girls have some seriously strong muscles. I could never do this! Danya has been trying to teach Gloria to swing on the monkey bars, but Gloria is still struggling with letting go and trusting all her weight to one arm so that she can grab the next bar.

This rocking monkey bars was perfect because all she had to do was hang on and swing her feet. Daniel showed them how to do it. Seeing him on the playground always makes me laugh. The first time I was ever introduced to him was at a park when I was 14. He and his best friend, Steven acted like monkeys, playing childishly on anything they could climb. He even took me to a playground to hang out after my senior prom. Things don't change much.

Fear Not

You can see a definite difference between how high I push Kevin and how high Daniel will push him on the swing. Being a mom, I have all these silly fears that he will somehow go too high and slide backwards out of the swing. I also worry that he'll get scared. I forget whose son he is.

Daniel is teaching Kevin to be fearless, like him. He pushes higher, spins faster, plays rougher, and makes life generally more exciting for Kevin. He will sling Kevin over his shoulders and carry him upside down while our son laughs hysterically. He'll toss him high into the air, completely confident in his ability to catch him. He'll even let Kevin crawl or walk on the ground in spots where I would cringe and worry that he'll scuff up his sweet little feet. In short, he's making a man out of him. Thank goodness for Dads.

Map It!

We went for a walk today with a homeschooling twist. The girls both had to map our route. Every time they found something with an interesting texture, they had to use some tracing paper to make a rubbing of it. Then they labled the picture (A,B,C) and marked it's location on their map.

They had fun writing the street names and adding in little details like a picture of our house and the playground. We are going to transfer their sketches onto a bigger brown sheet of paper at home. That's Danya's idea "so that it will look like a real map." The top photo is of Danya making a rubbing of a stop sign pole. The bottom photo is of Gloria's map. They both did a good job.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mall Crawler

Here's Kevin having fun exploring at the mall. This was the first time he's ever gone down stairs. He just recently learned how to go up.

There's Something About Mary

Gloria has what we consider a semi-imaginary friend right now. There's a girl named Mary in her Sunday school class that Gloria likes to make up stories about. She knows exactly what Mary is doing at any given moment of the day and will tell us fascinating stories about Mary's whole family.

I've told Gloria that her stories are wonderful and we can start typing up some of her "Mary Stories" on her blog. After she gets enough of them we'll print them and make them into a little book. The important thing is that we all understand, including Gloria, that these stories are not true. Until just recently every time Gloria would see something or hear something she would think up a "what if" sort of situation and say, "I have a friend who..." and her friend always has or does these incredible things.

We talked to her about the importance of telling the truth and told her that instead she should say, "Wouldn't it be strange if I had a friend who...?" She tried that for a while but didn't like it. The Mary stories have now taken the place of all her imagined friends. We're just hoping that she will make a good real friend at church. By the way, I actually have met Mary once. She's pretty and sweet but doesn't say much.

Unexpected Blessing

Today I got a call from the mom of Danya's new best friend, Lauren. Apparently Vacation Bible School (VBS) started at our church last night and Lauren was extremely upset that Danya wasn't there. We explained that VBS gets out at the same time that Daniel leaves for work, so our girls can't go. Lauren's mom offered to take them home from VBS every night this week!

She also told us that VBS is free. That settled it! So we signed Gloria and Danya up tonight. They should be home any minute now. Daniel and I suddenly found ourselves with some unexpected time alone (well, us and Kevin) so we went to the Westminster Mall. It turns out they have removed the kids' play area they used to have. But another nice surprise was that when we walked in someone offered to pay me to take a five minute survey. So I did that and we used the money to buy an Orange Julius. They also gave us a free sample of a granola fruit yogurt snack that Kevin absolutely devoured.

I'm so thankful that Danya has made a friend finally. We've been praying for a friend her age from a Christian family. Lauren even lives somewhat near us! Danya is going to Lauren's "12 Dancing Princesses" birthday party this Saturday. Now we just need Gloria to find a friend.

Monday, June 18, 2007

11 Months (give or take)

We didn't manage to take Kevin's 11 month photos until he was 11 and a half, but at least we got it done. Most of them were blurry because he wanted to bounce, crawl, climb, and wiggle.

Kevin can climb the stairs now all the way to the top. We're going to get another baby gate to put at the bottom. He fell off the second step the other day and scared all of us, so that's a priority. He seems to be trying to say some new words like "up, down, that, car" and he can make new animal sounds. He used to just make a horse neighing sound. Now he can bark and pant like a dog when he sees one.

He sleeps from 7pm to 5:30 am most night, sometimes a little longer. He still takes a morning and afternoon nap, although they are usually less than an hour. We're thinking of going to one nap. He can move through the living room, walking and holding onto one object and then switch to another.

Mostly he's just a handful, demanding his own way, leaning his head on the floor and wailing if we say, "No no." The cute part is when we're holding him and he'll lean around to stick his face in ours until he gets our attention so that he can tell us something in baby talk. He talks constantly. He's definitely not a quiet boy.

Best Dad Ever!

Father's Day didn't go exactly as we would have liked. For one thing, Daniel hurt his back somehow and could barely sit, bend, or move for most of the weekend. Walking was about all he could manage.

Sunday morning we had a series of accidents. Danya was helping Kevin after his bath. She picked him up to go put on his diaper and Gloria accidentally tripped Danya while trying to help. Danya protected Kevin in the fall but hurt her own back.

I jumped out of the tub to scoop up Kevin and went into my room where, trying to open the curtains, the rod broke and fell on my head and Kevin's. So I set Kevin on the bed to get dressed while Gloria played with him. He smashed Gloria in the face with his pacifier and cut her lip. So now all three kids are crying. I get dressed, pick up Kevin who is still naked from his bath, and discover that he peed on my bed, managing to douse my comforter, sheets, and matress in a big circle.

We gave Daniel his Father's Day gift, a t-shirt that says "Dad - a Son's first Hero, a Daughter's first Love" then we went to church, late, with Daniel and Danya hobbling because their backs hurt. It was quite a day. We did force Daniel to take it easy. He wasn't allowed to pick up any of the kids or drive all day so that his back could get better. It's still hurting him today, though.

Happy 15th Birthday, Sarah!

Sarah is one of our babysitters (our other sitter, Shannon, Sarah's sister, is in this photo behind Sarah.) and we absolutely love her! Kevin thinks Sarah is his other mom. Even if he hasn't seen her for weeks he practically jumps into her arms.

Sarah turned 15 this weekend and invited us to her swimming party. This was Kevin's first time swimming. He wasn't sure what to think of the water at first, but when he sat in the shallow end he decided it was just like his bath tub. He splashed happily while Danya and Gloria played with Sarah's little sisters Anna and Shannon. (both in this photo)

We gave Sarah a book about creation vs. evolution since she has had alot of questions for us over the past several months. The book is Creation: Facts of Life - How Real Science Reveals the Hand of God and is written by a former atheist science teacher. Sarah is a book worm like me, so I knew she'd like it.

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Getting Answers

The special guest speaker at the CHEC conference was Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis. His foundation just built a huge creation museum in Kentucky. I would love to go there next year as a family!

Ken Ham talked about not thinking of the bible as just a religious book and then going somewhere else to learn about science, history, etc. He showed how the bible specifically discusses anthropology, archeology, astronomy, and lots of other sciences. It just all makes sense when he explains in it simple, easy to understand terms.

We also listened to a class he taught on Saturday about how the theory of evolution led directly to the promotion of racism. We bought the video of that class and also a video, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, about the amazing complexity of the womb and the process that an egg goes through to be fertilized and lead to birth. It shows that evolution couldn't possibly have developed this system because if even one part didn't perform it's amazing function life would not have been able to continue. Mammals, including humans, could never have produced off spring (not to mention the fact that males and females would have had to miraculously evolved their interworkings at the exact same time since men's "little guys" can't make it to the egg without the direct help of the womb.)

CHEC Homeschool Convention 2007

We went to the Christian Home Educators of Colorado convention in Denver on Friday and Saturday. We were able to attend a couple of classes and spent more than we planned of course. The biggest irritaton was that we had to pay $69 to get in even if we didn't want to attend the classes. The one day price wasn't even cheaper. I think they should call it the convention for wealthy homeschoolers. I felt like the Oklahoma convention was much more reasonable and worth the money.

We got some awesome books and DVDs from the Answers in Genesis booth so we can teach the girls about dinosaurs this year from biblical authority and science instead of the atheistic view taught everywhere else. We are also trying out the Writing Strands level 3 book to help Danya improve her writing and make it more fun. For me, I got some books on organization and a meek and quiet spirit for homeschooling moms. Also, I found one for homeschool children with special needs so that I can plan ahead and be prepared for the children we plan to adopt. Here's a few of the books I'm reading now:

Painting Lizards

This week Danya and I read about lizards in her science encyclopedia. Then we worked together on drawing pictures of two lizards we learned about in the book.

This is Danya using her new paint set to paint her lizard picture. It's a "Basilisk Lizard" running across a pond. She didn't get to finish the water before bedtime. On the table you can also see two pink papers that Gloria wrote her four times tables on. The girls now write their own times lists to hang next to their beds. Danya has memorized all the way up to 7's and will be starting 8's tomorrow. Gloria is ready to move on to 6's. I'm really proud of them both!

Passing the Prairie Dogs

On the way home from the store on Sunday we took a little nature trail detour. The prairie dogs were out and barking. There were dozens of them on both sides of the trail yipping and popping in and out of their holes.

I've heard that a few of them will normally stay out of the hole until the last minute so that they can warn the others when predators are coming and sound the "all clear" when the danger has passed. These prairie dogs were almost fearless, waiting until we were practically standing beside them to disappear down their holes. A few even graciously posed for pictures.

Boys Like Pink, Too

Truthfully, we used to tease Daniel's sister Robin for letting her son Jason wear pink when he was little. We've grown up a little since then. Kevin won't be wearing pink but he's allowed to drive a pink butterfly car around the grocery store. We walked to the shopping center about a mile from our house on Sunday to return videos to the Red Box.

While we were there we also bought some pizza and ate outside of Albertson's grocery store. That was a little strange. The kids all enjoyed riding around in the pink car (or is it purple?) in between gobling down the "za".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Crazy Connecticut Schools

I was reading this article in the news today that said that about 2,000 students, mostly high schoolers, in Connecticut (out of a total student population of 18, 200 so that's alot) are going to be held back and forced to repeat a grade because of unexcused absenses. This is the part that got me:
"Although parents continue to submit end-of-year notes in an attempt to excuse students for months at a time, the notes are ineffective because the new policy only accepts doctors' notes if the doctor identifies a critical or chronic illness, and if the note is handed over immediately when the student returns to school."
So the schools are playing doctor now. They decide whether a student is sick enough to miss school. If I were a parent in Connecticut schools I wouldn't want sick, possibly contagious kids coming to school and infecting my kid. Furthermore, how can they expect sick kids to pay attention and learn anything if they are so sick that even their doctor says they should stay home. Not to mention the parents who will not take their kid to the doctor and just send them to school despite sickness because they don't want to risk the doctor telling them they just have the flu or a minor illness that doesn't "qualify" with the school for an excused absence. By the time you get in to see the doctor they've already missed school, so the parents would be taking a risk.

I remember going to school sick as a dog because my parents couldn't afford doctor's visit fees since we didn't have insurance. I guess Connecticut is just trying to level the playing field so that it isn't just the poor kids going to school sick.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Resources for Homeschooling

A few friends of mine have asked recently if I would email them links to my favorite homeschooling websites. I've also heard Daniel tell people that if you read back through our blog that you can find links to all the materials we use. This is not entirely true, of course, since we use some things that we found at yard sales and in various other places. But really, who wants to scroll through two years of posts to find what workbook someone recommends?

So for your convenience I've added a handy dandy list on the right hand side of this blog (that I will update occasionally) of all our favorite resources. I will not post anything I've tried only once or that I heard about but haven't ever used. It will only list our absolute tried and true favorites. Also included is a link to the Oklahoma State Department of Education website where you can read a detailed list of all the recommended skills and subjects your child should learn in each grade. We use it at the beginning of each year to get an overview of what to teach and at the end of the year to see if we missed anything along the way. If there is anything you'd like to know about that we've mentioned using, I'll be happy to add it to the list, just let me know!

Mini Homeschoolers: Where They Go

Answering the ridiculous question "Do homeschoolers stay home all day?" from a kid's point of view.

Mini Homeschoolers: Better Relationships

This video is a little silly, but the best part is at the end where Danya discusses relationships.

Mini Homeschoolers: The Best Part

Here's the girls talking about their favorite thing about homeschooling.

The Mini Homeschoolers

The girls and I enjoyed watching two homeschooled young men named Jarod and David on Youtube in some short videos they made called "Ask the Homeschoolers". Danya and Gloria really wanted to try making a similar video, so we did that this afternoon. We made four videos that I'll post here on the blog. We had so much fun that we may eventually make some more!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spelling and Geography

I had to add on to my earlier post about the 2007 national spelling bee champion. I read this tonight:

This marks the first year that homeschoolers took first place in both the national geography bee and the national spelling bee!

National Spelling Bee Winners
1997: A 13-year-old, Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York, became the first homeschooler to win the National Spelling Bee sponsored by Scripps Howard. Out of 245 total contenders, 18 were homeschooled.

2000: George Abraham Thampy, as 12 year old homeschooled youth takes first place in the National Scripps Howard Spelling Bee. Homeschoolers also secured second and third place in this competition.

2001: Sean Conley, a homeschooled 12 year old from Minnesota wins the first prize spelling the word, "succedaneum."

2007: Homeschooled 13-year-old, Evan O'Dorney takes home first prize.

National Geography Bee Winners
1999: David Beihl of South Carolina became the first homeschooler to win the National Geography Bee at age 13.

2002: 10 year old homeschooler Calvin McCarter from Michigan became the youngest winner of the National Geographic Bee.

2003: 14 year old homeschoolers, James Williams from Vancouver, Washington also won the National Geographic Bee.

2005: The National Geographic Bee champion was homeschooler, Nathan Cornelius of Minnesota.

2007: This year's winner of the National Geographic Bee is 14-year-old Caitlin Snaring, 14, of Redmond, Washington. She is the second girl to win the contest in its 19-year run. Caitlin is a homeschooled 8th grader.

This information came from this website: Generations

Kevin's first cake!

This is a video of Kevin tasting his first cake at the birthday party we had last week for him, Danya, and Aunt Kathy. His reactions are so funny! It's a little, long, but worth watching.

Definition of a Friend

A good friend will remember to call you occasionally. A great friend will drive an hour and a half to a tiny town in the middle of no where to spend a couple of hours with you and then drive another hour and a half back home.

The Millers are great friends. They came to see us at Daniel's parents' house on Sunday after church. They said the strangest part of the long drive was the two places along the way where there is a lone stop sign with nothing else around and no warning that it's coming.

The girls had a great time. We handed them a camera and they ran off to take all kinds of silly pictures together. I miss my friend Betsy terribly. I keep hoping I'll find someone like her here in Colorado. (She's originally from Colorado so I know they make them here, lol) Her daughters are all growing up so fast! Visiting with the Millers made me the most home sick I'd been all week.

Young Grandparents

Granny Jo and Grandpa Clint Young, my parents, met us for lunch at Mazzio's after church on Sunday. Mom finally got a chance to look through the photos I brought to give away. I'd been meaning to give her photos since Wednesday but kept forgetting. Dad and Daniel talked about work and what my Dad is currently doing with his company. They clean up old oil drilling sites, making the land safe again. I think it's pretty cool.

Afterwords we visited the Moffett great grandparents again. Grandpa Joe had been in the hospital that morning and we wanted to see them again before we had to leave.


After the reunion dinner a few friends and I went out to Brannigan's in Stillwater to spend a little more time together. It was my first experience with karaoke. I can't say it was pretty, but at least we had fun. We were singing "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon at one point and I thought of a line from that movie "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" where the main characters are singing that same song. Their friend says, "Drunk and tone deaf... not a good combination."

We were looking through the song list and choosing which songs to sing. We wanted to pick songs from "our generation", but really what is our generation? We grew up in the 80s but we graduated in 96. It was actually difficult to remember when the songs we liked were written and then find ones that we all knew the words to. Daniel very kindly took lots of photos and short videos (which I've promised not to post on You Tube). It was a really fun night, but now I miss having girlfriends that live nearby even more.

P-T Class of 96!

My highschool reunion dinner was interesting. Friends who hadn't come to the picnic showed up for the dinner and everyone looked really good. I felt self conscious since I almost never wear dresses, but Daniel assured me that I looked fine. It seemed like half the women there were wearing polka dots, lol.

All the people I had most hoped would come were there, all my closest friends from high school. We had dinner, took pictures, and watched a video of old photos. My friend, Jenifer, even sent in a picture of Daniel and I from our senior prom! Mostly we just reconnected with each other and it felt almost like no time at all had passed. It felt like we could have been having lunch in the commons area at our high school. Like the past 11 years hadn't even gone by.

Reunion Picnic

At the reunion picnic I got to see old friends again and meet their families. Some of them looked exactly the same... and others had shaved their heads or grown beards. It was a little strange. Their kids were absolutely adorable!

My friend, Jenifer had a daughter who was like a little minature version of her except for hair color. She was trying to be surly and the usual pre-teen, but I thought she was funny and smart. I guess I liked in her all the same things I always liked in her mom. The prettiest little girl at the picnic had to be my friend, Crystal's daughter, Bella. She is just a tiny angel with a great big bow in her hair.

I also got to see my former band director, Mr. Taylor, and his wife. They were the only teachers that came (and honestly the only ones I was really hoping to see). And guess what? He said he read my blog! Crystal said she read it, too! I love hearing that people are reading about our family. It just encourages me to keep on blogging!

Girls Night!

I spent Friday night with my Aunt Kathy. We went out to dinner at Chili's and then went home to watch a movie. I gave her "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" for her birthday. She has a really big screen t.v. so it felt like watching it at the theater. We both laughed through the whole movie!

We also bought a bunch of fruit and chopped it up. So we ate strawberry shortcakes for dessert and had fruit salad for breakfast. Saturday morning we worked on reorganizing one of her extra bedrooms that was starting to become a storage room. She gave the girls some books and me some clothes. We were having so much fun together it was hard to leave. I had to fly out the door to get back to my family and get everyone ready for the picnic!

Invisible Men

Can you see them? Daniel and his dad went to the Cushing Rec Center to play raquetball on Friday afternoon. I asked Daniel to take a picture and this is what he came up with. He said the only way to get both of them in the photo was to take a picture of their reflection in the glass. I guess he forgot about the self-timer button.

Cousin Crazy!

After Danya's party the Maxwell cousins stayed the night and the kids got to play together on Thursday. We all loaded up in the van and went to our friend, Glenda's, house to play and have lunch. We had another cookout with the extra hamburger patties left over from the party and let the kids play outside on all Glenda's toys. Unfortunately, Glenda hadn't gotten her pool water balanced right yet, so we didn't get to swim.

All together we had 3 Elliott kids, 6 Maxwells, 3 of Glenda's kids, and 2 Aldridge's and that's not even including the adults! And all the kids are age 10 and under! It was a bit chaotic, but fun. Rhema also got to stay the rest of the week with us at Grandma Nancy's house, so our kids had someone to play with the whole time!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Birthday Excitement!

Danya was so excited over her gifts at her family party last night! This is a picture of her opening her gift from Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Wayne. It's a Tinkerbell costume. Danya LOVES Tinkerbell. She ran so fast to hug her grandparents that I didn't get a chance to catch a picture.

What surprised me was when she opened a game of "Spill and Spell", held it over her head with a gigantic smile on her face and yelled, "YES!!" Can you tell this kid is homeschooled, lol? Good choice, Tanti Glenda!