Friday, February 29, 2008

March Kit

These are the two kits that I made for my March class. I turned them in today, a bit late. Since it's for March I made one with a general St. Patrick's Day "lucky" theme and the other one based on the saying that "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."

The one on the left just says "In like a lion Out like a lamb" and can be used for kid or pet pictures. I tried to keep it fairly neutral while still incorporating some green since it's for March. It's hard to see in this photo, but under the picture of Kevin sleeping it says "Sweet Dreams" which was part of the patterned paper I focused on.

The kit on the right has a title that reads, "Lucky to be your mom" and a photo mat that reads, "Not just lucky but Blessed." The other piece has two pockets that hold tags. Each tag hides a photo of my kids on the bottom. I like that one kit has a more formal classic look and the other one is more bright and fun. Hopefully having options will draw more people to the class.


Thursday night Daniel and I called Shannon to babysit and were happily looking at movie listings online so that we could go out when Danya reminded us that her special time was going to start at 8pm, right in the middle of the movie. Oops. No problem, we could just bring her along, too. Then Penny started asking why she couldn't go. The next night would be her special time and she'd be happy to just skip that and go with us to the movies instead. Danya thought about it and decided she'd like to have another kid along. So our movie expenses instantly doubled.

We let Penny go contingent on getting her math homework done. That was a fantastic motivator! She went from crying that it was too hard and confusing, to amazingly suddenly being able to understand borrowing and carrying. Imagine that. Miracles do happen. The kids enjoyed the movie although they both ended up clinging to us during the scary parts. I'd say it's not a movie for younger kids. Danya and Penny were probably borderline old enough because the movie was very scary. I even yelped out loud at one part! It was a fun night overall.

Unexpected Library Day

Wednesday morning I took the kids out to the bus stop and we all stood around and waited... and waited. Finally I decided we couldn't wait any longer. There were no other kids out there. We must have missed the bus somehow.

So we ran back to the house, loaded up the van, and rushed off to Penny's school. It was deserted. No cars, no people, nothing. I called Daniel who looked at the school calendar they had given us the previous week and it had a little circle around Wednesday. It turns out that was one of their "late start" days. We had two hours to kill before school. So I drove home, grabbed Daniel and the rest of our ducklings and headed to the library to return books... where we were also early because it doesn't open until 9 am.

I ended up reading to them outside the door for about 20 minutes. While we were there we found a series of videos The Way Things Work. We grabbed the first 20 of them and have been letting the kids watch them as part of our homeschool day. They're cartoons that teach science concepts and explain things like gears, pulleys, electricity, musical instruments, etc. The kids love them! The librarian also told us about another library located at 105th & Huron. So after we dropped off Penny, we went to that one, too. I found several good books there that I'm currently working my way through. I may post about them later. It was a good day.

Penny's First Day of School

Penny had a rough first day. It's got to be hard moving from one school to another to another within a two week period. Danya, Gloria, and I went with her to find her new classroom, meet her teacher, and locate the cafeteria. We also waited with her on the spot where her class lines up just until the bell rang. I introduced her to the girls standing there in the hopes that it would help her break the ice a little.

She seemed so small and nervous as we walked away. When she met her teacher she hid behind me, which was a first. I'd never seen her act like that before. It was so hard to leave her there. All day long the other kids kept asking when she'd be back. Danya and Bunny missed her the most. When Penny got home I asked her how her day went. She said, "Terrible" and told us that a boy in her class gave the teacher a "bad finger" and later ran around on the playground grabbing all the girls' "booties and privates". She said that he wasn't punished. He was just told that doing that was a "violation" which seems to be the school's term for breaking a rule. I left the teacher a message to call me, but she never did.

Poor Penny. All week she's been crying all the way to the bus stop (she's never ridden a bus before). She says it's just not fair that she has to go to "the awful place" while the rest of the kids get to stay home. She hates getting up in the morning, too. Each night I've been going over her math homework with her. She says it isn't being explained in class, but it may be that she's just too upset and distracted by everything else to listen. She got really frustrated when Gloria tried to explain the subtraction story problems to her. I think it's a pride issue, of not wanting the younger kid to show her how to do it. Or maybe it's that Glory isn't willing to do it for her, like Danya did the first night. We had a talk about it, and now I'm the one who helps her with it, not the other girls. I hope things get better for her soon.

Last Supper

A week or so ago the group of Christian bikers from our church that feeds the homeless in downtown Denver twice a month provided their very last Sunday supper. Daniel stayed up late Saturday night working on special peanut butter cookies with candy Hershey Kiss centers.

Dan Ice, the guy using the belt sander in this photo, says that the location they've been using to serve the food is being torn down and the city of Denver won't renew their permit... until after the Democratic convention. Can't have t.v. cameras showing *gasp!* actual homeless people near the convention center. It might somehow reflect poorly on the lavish spending of the Democrats during their big event.

Daniel took the older girls with him on Sunday afternoon to hand out the cookies and help with the meal while I stayed home with the three little ones who had crashed directly after church. I wish I could have gone since it was our last chance for quite a long while. I hope those people will have somewhere else to get a meal. Dan and his group are so faithful. They serve the meal in rain, shine, or snow. I know their servants' hearts meant a lot to the people they helped.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Danya's been having a rough time lately. A lot of highs and lows mixed with your basic growing pains all contributed to her meltdown at the park the other day. It's tough being the oldest with your parents relying on your natural sense of responsibility.

She told me today, though, that since Penny arrived last week she's felt better. As if somehow having another kid her age in the house has just made everything seem easier, even though it hasn't changed her work load any. I'm so glad she's got a new best buddy sharing a room with her.

On a side note, the picture of her standing next to the swing looks just like me when I was that age. It's uncanny.

Kevin's Monk Cut

Cutting boy's hair without using electric clippers is a new thing for me. I'm trying to learn as quickly as possible, but in the meantime poor Kevin has to suffer through my first rough attempts. This time I managed the bowl cut look. It turned out to look more like an ancient monk hair style. All it's missing is the bald circle on top. He's a good kid though, sitting patiently on the bathroom counter while I wield sharp scissors next to his head. Sorry, buddy. Hopefully, some day you'll look back at this photo and laugh.

Not OSHA Standards

Saturday morning Daniel took the three oldest girls to church for the AWANA derby car build day. They had started working on their cars, but they needed help getting them to completion. The Ice brothers, Justin and Dan did the construction work. Justin, who is the director of the AWANA program at our church, was in charge of drilling a hole and filling it with liquid metal to help get the car to the proper weight. His brother, Dan, ran the belt sander to smooth out the curves on the cars.

Gloria is attempting to make her car look like a submarine sandwich, Danya is going for a classic race car look, and Penny is converting an old derby car of Danya's to make it look like a crouching cat. They enjoyed carving and spray painting their cars. Unfortunately, Danya's spoiler on the back of her car, which was it's coolest feature, was promptly broken by Bunny as soon as she brought it home.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Strange Humor

Why is this funny to them? Because they are little girls whose mom is out scrapbooking at a Friday night crop and they get to stay up late with dad. Because they found an entire basket of their mom's clean laundry. Because looking like mom doesn't become a horrible thought until you are a teenager. Because how often do you get to share a shirt with your sister...while she's still wearing it?!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Popcorn and Chocolate

Thursday night Danya decided to share her "special time" after the little ones were in bed. She, Penny, and Gloria had popcorn, milk, and chocolate while watching a "Hannah Montana" DVD. We had never seen HM before, but Penny assured us it was 'great'. I've heard of HM, but didn't realize it was Billy Ray Cyrus and his kids on the show. I remember the controversy when I was younger and he sang, "Achy Breaky Heart". Everyone was saying that he stole the song from his brother. I wonder if that was ever prove true or false?

Last night, Friday, Penny got to have her first ever "special time" and she chose to share it with Danya and Gloria. In our family you have to be five or older to get a night of the week where you can stay up an hour late and choose what activity you want to do. At least one parent is required to participate. I was at a crop that I'd signed up for over a week ago, so Daniel got to enjoy eating cookies with whipped cream, having a dress up fashion show (he was the photographer), and getting "monkey rides" to bed. That means that each kid gets a turn to wrap their arms around Daniel's arm and he carries them through the house to their beds one at a time while they swing like monkeys. Glory and Penny loved it, but Danya opted for an airplane ride instead.

School Registration

Life changing. That's what this will be. I know it's selfish, but I keep thinking how this simple act is going to be the beginning of a massive lifestyle change for the next few months.

We enrolled Penny in third grade at a local elementary school on Thursday. She was none too impressed with the school while we were there, but that's expected in a little girl who will be starting her third school within a two week period.

Our lives will now alter to revolve around her school schedule. We have to have her ready to walk to the bus stop by 7:30 and be home to pick her up at 3:20. Then there are all the other school events that we'll need to plan our lives around. Monday it starts when I'll have to call to change our other two foster daughter's appointments with their families so that they are either before or after that 3:20 window. I know the rest of the population faces these same scheduling issues for five days a week, 9 months a year, but it seems like such a loss to me. One of the reasons we love homeschooling is the freedom.

There is also the factor that it will be harder to spend one-on-one time getting to know Penny, bonding, helping her to feel like part of our family, when she will be gone for such a large chunk of the day and then working on school work for a portion of the evenings and weekends, too. I'm afraid she'll feel left out when she's shipped off to school while all the other kids get to spend the day with me. Already we've been receiving the same question from everyone, "Why aren't you going to homeschool her, too?" As if we are kicking her out because she's a foster kid and not worthy of my time. That is so far from the truth. She's already been sitting in with us when I homeschool Danya and Gloria and she loves it. She's such a bright little girl. She participates in the games and discussions about the subject. Right now it's George Washington and the American Revolution. We're learning about both ancient history (the Middle Ages) and American history concurrently.

I'm going to be praying for both Penny to do well in her new school and for our family, that this becomes an opportunity to "see how the other half lives" and make new friends and that it doesn't over stress us all. Please pray for peace and unity for all of us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Growing By 2 Feet

Our family grew today by two feet. We got a call this afternoon asking if we'd be interested and if we had room to take Bunny's big sister. We said, "YES!" We've had an extra bed ready in Danya's room since the begining just waiting to add an older girl to our group. As of about 4 o'clock today we have six kids!

It was a little chaotic for her first night since we were hurrying to get ready for AWANA and band practice. She did come just in time to enjoy the delicious dinner Daniel made for us, though: breaded chicken, corn, and peaches, yum! She did really well at church despite the fact that she was tired and wanting to just go home. She sang along during worship time, raised her hand and answered several questions during green meadow time, and got chosen quite a bit during game time. She was sort of instantly popular because she was visiting our class of first and second graders and she is a "big third grader".

Tomorrow we will go see about enrolling her in school. I'm glad we took the time to check out all the different area schools last summer so we know which one we'd like to enroll her in. She's almost exactly a year older than Danya and her birthday is about a week after Kevin's. She's happy that she gets to be with Bunny. They've both been holding hands and hugging a lot tonight. She even gave Bunny a bedtime hug and kiss after she was tucked in. I'm not sure if Bunny really remembers her since they haven't lived together in a long time, but she's loving having a sister.

Since I can't use her real name I've been thinking about a nickname for her. She is very much a "mother hen" to all the little kids. The first "hen" name I thought of was "Henny Penny" who did all the work to bake the bread but couldn't get anyone to help. So for her nickname, to protect her identity, I'm going to call her "Penny" on this blog.

Trumpeters in Training

Danya and Gloria have been enjoying playing on their borrowed trumpets lately. Since my friend, Mark, from our church praise band lent us a couple of his spare horns it's been really nice because I can show the girls how to hold their horns and position their fingers while doing the same thing on a third trumpet.

We've been watching the video that came with our beginning trumpet book and it's informative but funny. It was obviously made in an English speaking country meaning that they don't use American terminology for music. So we're learning not only "half note, quarter note" but also "quaver, semi-quaver". Danya seems much more excited about playing than Gloria. Then again, she has always seemed to enjoy learning other languages, and what is music but another language? I'm liking it, too, because I can already play tunes on the trumpet if they only use the notes C,D,E,F, and G.

Child Safety Hazzard

This is the bag that they sent Latte home with after her dental surgery. They gave this to her full of paperwork and little things. It has no warning label, but does have draw strings (safety hazzard #1) and no holes for air to escape (suffocation hazzard #2).

When Daniel and I took a look at this bag we were both surprised since it seems to break all the safety rules we are warned about. They even gave it to a three year old. So we've decided that when we take her back to The Children's Hospital tomorrow for her after care visit we're going to tell them about it and see if they do anything about it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

McD's Break

Today the kids were just wild so we decided to take a break and "put a smile on". We called Deanna and invited her and her boys along the way. The kids had a blast running around, climbing, making friends. Danya made an instant buddy, a girl her age named Amanda. Kevin, on the other hand, pushed someone down and took their ball.
It was a much needed break. Afterwords I was able to put the three little ones down and get a good chunk of homeschooling done with the girls. We're currently reading about the childhood of George Washington and studying different biomes. I'm thinking about making a trivia game to reinforce what they've learned about the different areas such as, grasslands, rainforests, deserts, and mountains. Today w played a game called "Popcorn." The way it works is one person starts reading. After at least to sentences the yell "popcorn!" and the next person has to take up where they left off even if it's mid-sentence. It helps keep the kids paying attention.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Locks of Love

For Valentine's Day this year Danya and Gloria gave a gift not just from the heart, but from the head...literally. It was a shocking amount of hair to cut off, but we had promised them that they could finally donate it on Valentine's Day. They were both excited that they looked so cute with their new shorter hairstyles. I'm so proud of both of them for the love that kept them fighting with the hassles of long hair for all these months. They decided they wanted to help other kids, and they stuck it out. They are so tender hearted and compassionate. We love them fiercely.

My Loves

This was my first attempt to do that editing trick where you merge a black and white photo with a color photo. I think it came out cute. You may be wondering how I got the white background in these photos. I just had the kids stand in the middle of the aisle at Target (or sit) and then angled the camera so that the background was only the white tile floor. The camera focused on the kids and blanked out the rest!

Simply Danya

Happy Love Day!

We went to Target last night for our annual Valentine's Day photo shoot. The pictures came out beautifully! The kids got new movies as gifts. Latte and Bunny also got new matching dresses. Kevin got a new outfit, too, due to the fact that we somehow walked out the door with everyone in Valentine's colors except him. He was wearing orange and camo!

Twist and Shout!

Since the weather was perfect Wednesday I took the four older kids to the park during Kevin and Daniel's nap times. Latte wanted to try out this twisty pole for the first time, but she was scared. So Gloria and Danya showed her how to do it, I walked her through it step by step, and she did it! After the first hesitant time down with me holding a hand on her the whole time, she was ready to tackle it alone.

She kept rushing up to do it again and again yelling, "Mommy, look! I'm doing it!" She was so proud of herself. She encouraged Bunny to try it once, too. Bunny made it down, but wasn't interested in doing it again. She is just so petite that her tush falls right into the middle of the twisty loops. She did, however, master the pole that goes straight down. She's very strong for her small size.

Meanwhile, Glory asked me to help her swing on another toy that spins in a circle and I ended up accidentally spinning her too hard. She smashed her thigh into a pole and we had to cut our park time short so that I could carry her home. What a day. I hope we get more beautiful weather soon.

What We're Reading Now: Knights & Math

We've been reading several books about what it was like to be a knight and live in medieval times. We've also been watching movies like "A Kid in King Arthur's Court" not for any kind of historical reality, but just for fun and to see some knight costumes and jousts. One book we've recently read is You Wouldn't Want to be a Medieval Knight which talks about how hard it was from being sent away from your parents at the age of 7 or 8 and then all the difficulties along the way. The girls liked the comic book look of it.
Another book series that our kids really like is the Sir Cumference books. They are all about a knight named Sir Cumference and his mathmatically named family that help solve the King's math dilemas. So far we've read the Sword in the Cone which is about shapes and the one where Sir Cumference helps King Arthur design the round table after several other unsuccessful shapes are tried.

Sword and Shield

We're reading about the middle ages in history right now. We've been enjoying learning about knights and armor. We also read about the family crests used on shields and flags. So we decided to do a project. I cut shield shapes out of cardboard boxes (pizza boxes) and had the girls work on coming up with a simple design.

Then they each got to draw their designs with pencils onto the shields. Then they painted them, mostly using their fingers. It's hard to tell from these photos, but Gloria's design is a cross and Danya's is a lamb to represent the Lamb of God. I thought they both had great ideas and they did the whole thing themselves. Afterwords I surprised them with some gifts I bought a couple of months ago in anticipation of this lesson coming up. They are technically gladiator shields, gauntlets, and swords, but the girls don't mind. Even Kevin has gotten in on the act having sword fights with Glory around the house.

Space Chimps!

Last Saturday Daniel and I had an early Valentine's date. We went to the movies to see "Fool's Gold" which was very funny. I just wish they had left out one unneccessary 1/8th of a second scene at the beginning. On our way out of the theatre we were given free tickets to a movie screening for the next day. So we brought along some friends. 8 kids in all while our 3 youngest stayed home with Shannon and Sarah.

The movie was actually pretty cute. It was a cartoon about Chimps who get to be astronauts because the government isn't willing to send actual humans through the wormhole they've found. It wasn't entirely finished, a lot of the special effects weren't added yet. So you'd see the word "volcano" on the screen or "smoke" where those things were supposed to be. But for a free movie it wasn't bad. All we had to do was fill out a questionaire about it when it was over. It's a shame they were only allowing kids ages 6 to 12. I know Latte and Bunny would have liked it.

Brass is Class!

It just so happens that in the brass section of our little church band the trombone player, Ron, and the trumpet player, Mark, both just had birthdays within a couple of weeks of each other. So I made them both a birthday present. The outside of both CD cases is the same with a picture of the three of us taken during the Christmas concert last year. On the inside of the trumpet player, Mark's, gift I cut out a picture of our actual sheet music. The CDs have photos from the Christmas concert and videos from that and also Mark and Ron's recent brass duet.

Sweet Hearts

The girls used Valentine message hearts to make individual gifts for their friends at Sunday school. They wrapped about 30 hearts inside of some plastic wrap, tied them with ribbon, and hung tags on them. They came out really cute and were a hit with all their friends.

We gave an entire bag to Latte and Bunny's Sunday school teacher. In the first service they just handed some out at snack time. The second service teacher was very clever, though. He used them as part of the lesson plan and hid them all over the room for the kids to find. The lesson was about Ruth gleaning wheat from Boaz's fields, so the kids got to "glean" the hearts.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Too Much Stuff

Sometimes I start feeling guilty that I have way too much scrapbook stuff. I get determined that I'm going to use up what I have before I spend a single penny on anything else. That has occasionally lasted a whole month! At least, the not buying any more part. Using up my enormous stash of supplies seems to be an impossible goal. From now on, though, when I start feeling that way I'm going to go to this website and I'll instantly feel better knowing what too much stuff REALLY looks like. There's got to be a 12 step program for when it gets that bad!

Crafty Lady

I'm having fun getting back into scrapbooking more. I think knowing that someone thinks my work is good has really inspired and motivated me to really enjoy the artwork aspect of scrapbooking again. I had sort of gotten into a mode where I was just working to get caught up and not really enjoying the process anymore.

Today I made a "quote border" that turned out really pretty. I also drew sketches for a couple more that I plan to make soon. The layout pictured here was one I made last weekend at the scrapbook store. The store owner, Wendy, liked it so much she asked me to make her a duplicate for her daughter's album. She brought me all the materials, all I had to do was assemble it. In exchange she gave me five dollars off my next crop! While I was making it several customers in the store stopped by to tell me how much they liked the pages, which I consider a really nice compliment since I was just one of several women cropping in there at that time.

This afternoon the girls and I swung by the scrapbook store on our way to get groceries. I picked up the materials for my upcoming Tuesday night class. I'm still nervous about that, but I'm hoping that it will just be the beginning of developing a base of women who will start coming every month. Wish me luck!

When it Rains, It Pours!

While Daniel was with Latte at the Children's Hospital Thursday morning I was busy calling friends from church to get a referral to a good plumber. Our music minister, Les, told me to call Brother's Plumbing. They came out in under an hour and had the whole thing fixed before Daniel and Latte came home.

Danya and Gloria had noticed the wall bulging out the night before as water was clearly running down the inside of the wall of the downstairs bathroom. Daniel tried to find where it was coming from, but couldn't locate the source. We figured it was from the upstairs bathroom so we closed that room off and told the kids to just use the downstairs one. That didn't stop the leak, so the next morning we shut the water off entirely.

The plumber, after getting a ladder and contorting himself around the pipes inside the utility room behind the bathroom, was able to find a small pipe with a hole in it spraying water directly against the back of that wall. This is the same wall that we had to hire someone to patch for us when we were remodeling that bathroom. We pulled a large medicine cabinet out of the wall and had him patch the wall so that we could hang a much smaller cabinet. Now that section of wall will have to be replaced again right away. My friend, Tiffany, says that we need to get it done fast before mold starts to grow. The fun never stops around here.

Kevin's Latest Interests

Lately Kevin has developed an intense love for Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues. We don't get actual television at our house, but we do have some old recordings and videos of both shows that we bought or recorded when Danya was about this same age. When he sees a backpack he'll wave his arms back and forth while singing, "Packpack! Packpack!"

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Kevin is just 19 months old. He speaks so well, putting three and four words together to make a sentence or tell a story. He'll come up to us and say, "Ow!" while pointing to some part of his body. Then he'll say, "Nay-a, push, me" and fall down on his hands and knees to show us just how Bunny pushed him to the ground. Then he'll say, "No! No!" and take my hand to lead me to her so that I can ask her why she pushed Kevin and tell her to apologize. When it's Kevin who has done the injury to someone else he'll say, "Soddy" and give them a big hug.

He is so loving. Whenever one of the girls cries or is in time out he'll go over to them and start hugging them and patting them on the back. Sometimes he'll just stand next to them with his arm around their shoulders. It's the cutest thing. He takes his role as the only brother in the family very seriously.