Monday, April 28, 2008

Guy Time with Coach

Tonight was Coach's "special day" so he got to stay up an hour late and do anything he wanted to with Daniel. They went out and tossed the football back and forth in the dark for a while. Then they came in to try a new experience for Coach. It was the first time he had ever made chocolate milk.

Unfortunately this will also be his last "special day". We got a call this morning that the state of California has decided to fly all the kids back there. We should know tomorrow after their court hearing how soon they'll be leaving. They said it could be as early as Wednesday. We're going to miss them.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

End of Year Picnic

After the AWANA award ceremony there was a picnic. All the leaders brought snacks and the church provided hot dogs and chips. The kids brought the chocolate chip peanut butter cookies they made and we tossed in a few boxes of snacks that our kids don't like all that much; Yo-gos and fudge cookies.

It was nice to enjoy the good weather and let the kids run around a bit. We had a little trouble getting kids to stay out of the trees and stop running around using sticks as swords, but otherwise it went pretty well. Kevin is making me a bit nervous, though. He is just absolutely fearless. Some kids go through a stage where they must keep their mom in sight at all times. Not Kevin. He will take off and just make new friends where ever he ends up. I think it has to do with the confidence of being absolutely loved and protected at all times. What has he got to fear? It makes me think of our heavenly Father and I know there is a lesson in there somewhere...

AWANA Awards Night

Tonight was the awards ceremony for AWANA. This is Danya's last year as a Spark. Next year she'll be in T&T. No more vests, much harder verses to memorize. And after today it may be tougher to make friends, too.

For some reason Ma Bell is really obsessed with the idea of Danya and Gloria being homeschooled. I've already had to have a talk with her a couple of times. She seems upset that they are doing 3rd and 4th grade work when they are younger than she is. She comes up with all kinds of outrageous statements like "gangsters homeschool, don't they?" and "homeschooling makes you dumb."

Today she pushed it even further, though. She told all the kids in the 2nd/3rd grade group at church that Danya and Gloria shouldn't be allowed in the group because they aren't really in those grades. She did her best to embarrass the girls and make them feel like outsiders. Apparently talking and explaining isn't working and I'm going to have to come up with some consequences. I think she's just used to being the boss at her house where she had to be the parent, so maybe this is a way of asserting authority over the girls. She tries it with me, too, contradicting what I tell her and telling me why what I just said no to is really okay for her to do.

This is a new situation for all of us, but I'm hoping that it will work itself out over time. Since Danya and Ma Bell were giggling and whispering together in the back seat this evening, I'm not too terribly concerned about the long term impact on their budding friendship.

Exploring Buddy

Kevin loves Linus. He follows him around everywhere. He likes to get down and crawl on the floor with him just to see what the world looks like from down there. Today at church he even tried to get Linus to come back over to the rest of us when Linus started to crawl away. He also picks up anything Linus drops and hands it back to him. He's looking out for him like a good big brother should.

They love to explore new things together; the floor outlets at church, toys that could possibly work as teethers, other people's shoes. They are an inseparable duo. Not that Kevin isn't interested in the older two. He can already say their names and identify them in pictures. Then again, he's a pretty smart little guy.

New Faces at Church

Today was so much fun. At band practice before services started I ran up to my musician friends and said, "Ask me how many children I have!" It was amusing seeing people who know us watch as we go by with our troop and then do a double take. They start trying to figure out who's new and who's missing.

Daniel was holding "Linus" when Latte's Cubbies teacher came by to say hello. She started to talk to the little boy in Daniel's arms and then paused mid-sentence. She had thought it was Kevin and had just realized that it wasn't. The kids did really well and all of them enjoyed their classes. Just before first service started, though, we had an injury. Ma Bell and Coach were play-fighting over the door to the classroom bathroom when Coach got his hand caught in the door and ripped some of the skin off his finger. Daniel took Coach to the bathroom to get the blood cleaned up and flagged down the children's church leader, Pastor Mike, to ask for a band-aide.

One word that describes life with our new kiddos: Drama, drama, drama.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cookies and Snacks for All

We've got some events coming up in the near future that require us to bring food. Tomorrow night is the AWANA year end awards night. All the leaders are supposed to bring cookies or other treats for the picnic afterwards. The five oldest kids all worked together to follow the recipe for peanut butter bites which they added chocolate chips to.

In two weeks the Thornton Community Band will perform it's one and only concert at which time I've signed up to bring some finger foods, too. Since I have a large number of bags of trail mix from our last food bank shipment, I thought I'd put a bunch in a pretty bowl and bring that. We're actually trying to eat up the snacks from our last shipment so that there will be room for next month's items. Hopefully the next delivery will have more "real food" and less snacks and junk food. The kids are happy because our answer is "Yes" to every request for a snack lately.

Fair Play

It's been a new challenge figuring out how to share and divide up work and play among the older kids. All four of the biggest want to play a game on the computer at the same time. They have trouble agreeing on what movie to watch, what game to play, whose turn it is, who gets to be the "mom" when they play house. And of course who should help who with certain jobs around the house.

We did manage to divvy up the chores among them. Ma Bell does dishes, Coach has trash duty, Danya's got table, and Gloria is in charge of sweeping the floor. So the kitchen gets done in fairly short order after meals with just a bit of reminding. Typically we rotate chores each month. So now we have to decide if we're going to allow Danya and Gloria to take turns on dishes now. Previously I just kept that as my job because I wasn't sure if they were old enough yet.

Shannon took these pictures while she was at our house today. She brought the kids over to the tennis courts to play with Coach's football. She and Sarah were watching them while Daniel and I went to see "Expelled!: No Intelligence Allowed" which is a new documentary by Ben Stein. It was actually really good, well made, and occasionally surprising.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mother of Seven

Today was a wild day of unexpected surprises. We got a call this morning from CFS asking if we could take a new group of kids. They said they'd find a different respite home for the ones we were expecting to have for a few days next week. These three kids spent last night sleeping at the CFS office because there wasn't any other home that could take them right now. There are only 40 active foster homes in our whole county. The rest are fost-adopt homes or relative placement homes (which means they have a family member placed with them through CFS).

So as of today we have a new almost 9 month old baby boy. He's got blonde hair and brown eyes, isn't walking yet, but can crawl and pull himself up on things. He's a solid little guy and very strong. He's got three teeth on the bottom and will chew on anything. He loves to snuggle and grabs my shirt or finger while he's drinking his bottle. He likes to rub a soft cloth or blanket against his cheek. Since he seems to love anything soft I think I'll call him "Linus" like the little boy attached to his blanket in the Peanuts comics.

We also have a set of fraternal twins who will be turning 9 on Cinco de Mayo. They both have short brown hair and brown eyes and are tall and lanky. They're helpful, easy going, smart third graders who clearly adore their little brother. The boy loves sports and arrived with a glow-in-the-dark football. He's a real leader among our kids. I'm going to call him "Coach". His sister is a lot like him. She acts like the mom of her little sibling group. She hasn't shown a strong interest in anything so far, although she's given me quite a list of things she doesn't like. The one thing she was excited about was when the caseworker came back to our house to bring her cell phone to her. It doesn't have minutes, but it lights up and seems to make her happy. Because of that I've decided to call her "Ma Bell".

We spent today getting to know each other and buying some necessary items like under-things and shoes that fit. The kids seem to get along well, although "Ma Bell" and Danya are trying to establish a pecking order and Gloria is fascinated with "Coach". Kevin has a new best friend and rival in "Linus". At bedtime they both sat in their room in their beds seeing who could cry louder for us to come pick them up. It's going to be interesting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What I'm Reading Now: April 2008

I've been hunting for this book for several weeks and finally found it in the stacks at College Hill Library. It hadn't turned up on their computer catalog search, but it was on the shelf. My trombone player friend from church, Ron, recommended a couple of months ago that I get an "Idiot's Guide" kind of book on music theory. That's what he says he did, and it helped him a lot.

Hopefully, it will help me not have to ask so many dumb questions that all the music majors who sit next to me in the Thornton Community Band seem to know the answers to. I am learning quite a bit about music from them, but it's very humbling having to ask things like, "what does this symbol mean?" and "How do you know if there is supposed to be a second page to this piece?"

At the same time, I'm also reading a couple of books on teaching and tutoring, a book about the Suzuki method of teaching music to very young children, a book about whether actual miracles are theoretically possible by C.S. Lewis, a book using bible verses to get a grasp of what heaven will be like, and also two magazines; Scrapbooks, etc. and Shape fitness magazine. Today I also subscribed to the Sunday paper to help out a Junior in highschool who was very polite and well spoken when she showed up on my door step today. How do I find the time to read so much? Well, I've heard that some people actually sleep, but it's probably highly over rated. Just kidding. Actually, it's amazing the time you find when you turn off the t.v.

The Last Date Skate?

Last Saturday night may have been our final skating date night for a while. Daniel's bosses are changing his work week to Wednesday through Saturday nights. The reason the adult skate night worked so well was because it was from 9 to midnight on Saturdays, so our babysitters Sarah and Shannon could stay the night at our house while we went out, then go to church with us in the morning.

Until school is out for the summer they won't be able to sleep over on a weeknight. Besides which, Skate City doesn't have late night skates except on Friday and Saturday nights. Maybe we'll see about going to the Sunday afternoon family skate times. Meanwhile, we'll all be trying to adjust to the new schedule. Unfortunately, that means that Daniel will be working during the days that we'll be keeping two new foster children next week. I wish they could have postponed the schedule change just one more week.

Hired Help

Our city has a once a year "bulk item" pick up day. You can put almost anything out on the curb and the trash trucks will haul it away. We've seen the sides of the streets covered with water heaters, furniture, excercise equipment, and random junk for the past week or two.

People drive around and pick up anything they want. Guys with flatbed trailers hitched to their trucks go by with all kinds of broken lawn mowers, appliances, and what not. They fix them up for resale or sell them to scrap dealers. On a whim I stopped and picked up a beat up toy plastic kitchen and dishwasher for the kids. We also found another chair for the desks in our school room at a yard sale on Saturday. Danya and Gloria volunteered to help wash it all down. Latte helped wash the toy kitchen.

This week I also got an advertisment in the mail for a housekeeping service. They had a good coupon, and I've been toying with the idea for quite a while, so we decided to try it out. They'll come for the first time tomorrow. It will be an every other week thing where they come out and do the more time consuming parts of the house like the kitchen and bathrooms. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited about it. As somebody once said, "You don't ask the public school teachers to also be the school janitors." On top of foster parenting I'm trying to be a full time teacher to multiple grade levels and also work as the "bus" driver, head of the cafeteria, secretary, curriculum committee, school nurse, laundry service, janitor, and everything in between.

We're getting two kids ages 4 and 5 next week for a short term situation that may turn into something long term if we feel like these may be "the kids" for us. So we'll be back up to 6 again for a little while at least. Today I also met a 17 year old foster girl who lives up the street from us. Small world, huh?

New Directions in Education

We've been using our new Sonlight materials for a short time now and I'm slowly figuring out how to include the extra subjects that weren't on the main daily planner pages. I've even added one more.

So this past several days besides math, history, science, and grammar, I've started the spelling and handwriting books that were included with the curriculum package. We've never had a formal program for these subjects before. It's interesting. The spelling, although it sometimes feels a bit too beginner level for my girls, is actually pretty good. It teaches how to figure out the spelling of larger words by starting with a small word in the middle that you can already spell and working your way out in both directions. So for the word "beginning" you'd start with "in" and then add "ning" and then "be" and finally the "g". It's different, but it works.

For handwriting they are learning cursive this year. We touched on it briefly last year, so they can both write their names in cursive. With this book they are starting with the "c" curved lowercase letters. So far they've done "c,a,d,g" and "q". They're both doing really well with it.

On top of all the other subjects I recently purchased a reproducible book that teaches music theory. They are starting with the basics, drawing a staff, numbering the lines and spaces, drawing whole notes on the correct line or space, etc. I wish I had learned this stuff as a kid, too.

Accidental Entertainment

I had to drop some books off at the library on Saturday so we spent a fun morning stopping by yard sales as we headed that direction. Just by chance when we went in we saw that a puppet show was starting. Daniel and the kids watched it and said that it was very good. This photo shows a "baby chimpanzee" puppet.

Meanwhile I was off in the stacks searching for some grown up books. I found some books on tutoring that I think will be helpful with learning how to teach our future foster kids. I found out with Penny that it's a whole new ball game because A)It's different when you haven't worked with a child and known their learning style since they were tiny and B)It's more difficult explaining concepts based on homework that doesn't come with instructions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Seeing Spots!

Tonight was polka-dot night at AWANA. Our girls ended up being quite a bit late. We took them to the doctor at 4:30 this afternoon where we found out that Danya has an ear infection and Gloria has strep throat.

So Daniel dropped me off at band practice and took the kids to pick up prescriptions and dinner. He also had to get Latte and Glory new pants. We were in such a hurry to get out the door that no one noticed the horrible stained up pants that Latte was wearing. She has a pile of clothes that she brought with her from her last placement that we don't let her wear normally except as p.j.'s occasionally and this was one of them. Gloria had also ripped a huge hole in the knee of her pants.

When Daniel went to pick up the prescriptions there was a problem, too. They rang them both up and we didn't owe any co-pay which is very common with our insurance. Then they said they rang up the wrong size and did it again and suddenly we owed an $80 co-pay! They called our insurance which was completely unhelpful. We decided to pay it and just fight it out with our insurance later because by this point they were already late and Danya was in a lot of pain.

The girls still wanted to go to AWANA because it was also the night of the icecream party they earned tonight. The doctor said it was okay as long as we kept Gloria separated from the other kids. Unfortunately, the blue face paint polka dots we put all over them turned out to be an issue. Some of the other kids teased the girls and said they had chicken pox. I don't know how I missed all that, but it was also awards night in Latte's Cubby class so we were sort of distracted going back and forth between rooms. Danya was almost in tears over it by the time we got home tonight. It's been a long day and tomorrow is going to be even crazier.

Quest with Columbus

Today we finished the first one of the books we've been reading with our Sonlight Curriculum, Pedro's Journal. The girls really enjoyed the fictional story of a young boy named Pedro who sailed as a cabin boy on Columbus' journey to the "Indies".

Since Sonlight seems to be lacking in fun activities to spice up some of the reading, I've been adding a few projects of my own. We did the art project with the Om-Kas-Toe book and then today we made our own board game about the voyage with Columbus. We used a file folder, some scrapbooking supplies, and a pair of dice. Along the pathway the girls came up with events from the book to make the game interesting. If you click on the photo of the game I think you can read it. We had so much fun making this game!

Here's a fun website where you can read excerpts from Columbus' actual journal: Journal

Fazoli's with Friends

My homeschooling friend, Dawn, and her three girls enjoyed craft night at Fazoli's so much last week that they decided to come again this week. We love the company!

Typically we laugh off the socialization issue concerning homeschooling, but sometimes when we suddenly start seeing friends more often than usual it hits us again that we don't spend quite as much time with other kids as we would if our children were in public school. Some people might think that's a bad thing, but for us it's a positive. It really does seem to have a beneficial effect on kids when they don't spend the majority of every day in the constant company of other kids their age. I love the maturity that I'm seeing develop in my girls more each day.

Tonight I was thinking about this when I was walking past the desks in our church which is also a private Christian school. I saw the name tags on the desks... the names of the very same kids who have been constant discipline problems this year in AWANA on Wednesday nights. It reminded me that even if I had enrolled my kids in a Christian school I'd be dealing with the bad behaviors picked up from other kids on a daily basis. I'm thankful that we get to choose the friends that our kids spend most of their time with. Kids like Dawn's three girls who are really kind, compassionate, loving little cutie pies.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Embellished Quotes

I recently bought a new book that teaches how to turn quotes into beautiful borders and pages for my scrapbooks. I've seen these before a few times on ebay and online and loved them. Here are photos of two I made this week. You can click on them to see them larger.

I'm currently working on a new album that will have approximately three to five pages about each of the foster children who stay with us. So far I've done the pages for Latte and Bunny. Each child will have a sort of introductory title page for their section with one of these beautiful quotes. The book is called, "Embellished Emotions and is wonderful.

The process has been very theraputic for me because I've been able to look over all the photos of the things we did while the kids were here. It's helped to realize how much fun we had and all the special moments we packed into the short time they were here. Hopefully the kids will carry some great memories with them of their time in our home throughout their lives.

Story illustrations

As a fun little project I decided to let the girls recreate a scene from our homeschool book "Om-Kas-Toe". I used my Sizzix dies to make doll bodies, clothing, hair, "bushes" (leaves), and a bird that's supposed to be a Raven.

Danya and Gloria really enjoyed each making the scene where the Indian boy's pet Raven finds the missing baby in the bushes. I'd like to do more of these, but the most recent scene from one of our books, "Walk the World's Rim" is of a large black man vomiting after drinking a strange Indian tea. I'm not sure I'd want to hang that picture on our wall.

Recipe Testing

We've got the end of the year awards ceremony for AWANA coming up soon. All the leaders are supposed to bring some baked goods for the cookout. Fortunately, our most recent shipment from the food bank included a few bags of chocolate chips.

Using one of the recipes on the back of the bag we made this new creation tonight. They are peanut butter chocolate chip bars that we also added some butterscotch chips to. It's sweet and delicious, but possibly too messy to bring to the party. Oh well. I guess we'll have to force ourselves to try out more chocolately recipes until we find the perfect treat to bring. It's hard work, but somebody has to do it.

CHEC Homeschool Day at the Capitol

Friday morning my friend, Dawn, called and reminded me that it was the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) Homeschool Day at the Capitol. So we picked Dawn and her girls up in our van and drove to downtown Denver.

We took a short tour of the capitol building from the side door to the only bathroom in the whole place, conveniently located in the basement. Then we stood outside and froze our tushes off for over an hour while several speakers talked about the importance of keeping our right to homeschool protected. They were especially glad to announce that our legislature passed a resolution that morning reaffirming their support of homeschooling rights in Colorado, in light of the recent terrible lower court ruling from California.

After the rally we let the kids play at McDonald's. Then Dawn offered to let our three girls play at her house with her three girls while Kevin, Daniel, and I went home to take a nap. It was a good distraction for our family on a day when we were likely to have stayed home feeling miserable and moping instead.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hole in My Heart

We are all in total shock. Yesterday morning while I was working on math with Danya and Gloria we got an unexpected phone call. Penny and Bunny's caseworker informed us that there was a permanancy planning court hearing for them that morning that had gone very badly. Although the DCFS caseworkers and the Guardian ad Litem all recommended that the girls stay where they are while their families continue to work on their plans, the judge didn't agree. So we had to get Penny from school, pack their things, and deliver them to DCFS by 3pm.

The older girls were all devastated. Penny just kept crying hysterically and begging us, "Please don't make me go!" She hasn't even met her grandparents in years, but she had to go home with them yesterday. I don't know what will happen to the girls, but I made sure that the caseworkers know that we are here if and when Penny and Bunny come back into the system. I can't imagine that in two months' time their grandparents have suddenly learned how to care for children in a safer manner.

We're all just stunned. I feel like someone took my own kids away. I'm trying to hang tough for my family. Hopefully, all the things I keep saying to Danya and Gloria about this being God's plan and a part of being a foster family that we just have to endure so that we can help kids, will eventually sink in for me, too, and help me through this feeling of grief. I want my girls back!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Starting with Sonlight

This is the third day of our first week using Sonlight curriculum. So far I'm not sure what to think. It's a lot more reading each day than we're used to. I like the stories, but it's hard getting it all done.

We knew going into this that the first few lessons in the 4th grade math book would be mostly review, but I didn't expect quite the result I'm seeing. Danya is bored stiff and Gloria is struggling over certain concepts that I thought she'd already mastered. The teacher's guide seems to be useless for the math. It's probably designed for classroom teachers since it has a huge chunk in the beginning devoted to things like diagrams of its "scope and sequence" for the year. Homeschoolers, unless required by the laws in their state, don't really need that sort of thing.

We're reading multiple books about different Indian tribes right now. Om-kas-toe is about twins in the Blackfeet tribe. Walk the World's Rim is about Native Americans on the border of Texas and Mexico. Then there is the history workbook that just today covered Iroquois, Pueblo, Eskimo, Aztec, and Maya peoples. We've already studied some of these last year, but I personally think that this is just too many similar stories and people to follow along with at once. I would have preferred if they read these books one at a time.

There are a lot (I mean a LOT) of worksheets every day. It's more writing than the girls are used to. I'm trying to limit it and allow them to answer many of the questions out loud. The same with the math workbook. Since they are sharing it and it's printed in color I'm having them each write their work and answers on a separate piece of paper. Much of it they're just doing in their heads and answering out loud.

I'm also having to edit certain things as I read aloud. For instance, the history book says that people from Asia crossed the land bridge to the Americas 40,000 years ago. Since according to the Bible's clear timeline the Earth isn't that old, I just say "a long time ago" when I get to things like that. It's annoying though, because I thought that Sonlight was billed as a Christian curriculum.

One thing they like is the markable map. I'm looking forward to trying out the first science experiment later this week, too. Something I really don't understand is why they didn't give me a lesson plan for the art and music materials they include in the Core 3+4 curriculum. I thought the idea was that I wouldn't have to do the planning. Oh well, it's still new. We'll get it all figured out eventually.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What We're Reading Now: Penguins and Plays

This month we've decided to draw book covers of every book we read and display them on our new big bulletin board. We started on the last day of March with some Dr. Seuss books because he was born in March.

Yesterday we finished reading Mr. Popper's Penguins which is a classic that I've loved ever since I was a kid. I still think the ending is sad, even though it isn't intended to be. We also read our 25th book in the Magic Tree House series. It's hard to believe we've read so many of them!

Currently we are on a one week Spring Break for our homeschool. Next week we'll be beginning a new year! I'm looking forward to getting into all the wonderful books that arrived with our first ever Sonlight Curriculum. It's funny to me that the girls chose to take a one week break instead of jumping straight into the new year, but they don't realize how much they've been learning and doing this week. Besides reading these two books we also watched a movie about Beatrix Potter and learned more about her. We've done several art projects just for fun. They played Monopoly among other games. They've helped Penny understand some of her math homework. They've been memorizing scripture like crazy for this final week of their AWANA's contest. Danya had her regular guitar lesson, and they all wrote Thank You letters to Anna (the guitar teacher) for the bags full of clothes she passed down to them. Boy, good thing they didn't do any "school work" this week. (hee hee)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Girls in Curls

Tonight was Gloria's "special night" of the week. She decided to share it with Danya and Penny. She wanted to do a beauty night. They especially requested that "Madame Sonja" and "Madame Fifi" be there. Instead of Fifi, we had her daughter, "Madamoiselle Sophie" in attendance. Unfortunately, I learned tonight that after doing a bad Russian accent while painting finger nails, it's very hard to switch over into a bad French accent while doing hair. I end up sounding like a German who says "oui, oui" and "tres bien" a lot. I was planning on doing a bad Irish accent for a new character, "Mrs. O'Malley" who would do makeup, but we ran out of time. The girls looked beautiful with their rainbow colored nails and curly hair. We took pictures since they had to go to bed and would probably squish their curls.

House District Meeting

Tonight was the first "meet and greet" semi-official get together for HD32, our congressional district. We were able to get Shannon to babysit at the last minute, so we dropped in for a little while. We only meant to stay an hour, but the official business started right about that time. So Daniel called in to work and ended up being about two hours late. Good thing he got some overtime this morning.

While we were there we divided up some of the districts and voted to fill some empty spots. I and another person (John) are going to be the district captains for our area. Daniel and I also volunteered to help canvas neighborhoods and get registered Republicans from our district to sign a petition to elect Jack Knight as our nominee for House Representative. We got to meet him tonight, and he seems to sincerely want to do his best to represent our core values. We also got to meet another John who is running for Senate. He was a very good speaker, and I'd love to hear more about his specific plans if he gets elected.

We're planning to get the older girls to help us with going door to door after we get the petition paper work. I think it will be an excellent introduction to politics for them. We already discuss the issues with them, and of course they ask lots of questions while we're listening to Rush and Hannity in the car. We're also hoping to attend Homeschool Day at the Capitol this month. Danya is old enough to join the political classes for the day which will help her understand government better. I'd like to schedule a meeting with one of our Representatives to talk about allowing foster parents to homeschool their foster kids.

Finally Four!

It's been agonizing for poor Latte waiting these past few days to turn four. Bunny has been constantly reminding her and rubbing it in that she is a big four year old and Latte isn't yet. But today was finally Latte's big day!

When she first woke up I gave her a baby doll which was her big present. It comes with a "magic" bottle of milk and is big enough to wear real premie clothing. Then she went to her mom's house for her four hour visit. Her mom threw a birthday party for her with all the neighbor kids and her big sister.

Later, when Latte got home we had icecream and she got to open the rest of her gifts. She was most excited about her Dora movie and her green "flute". Each of the girls has a plastic recorder now that they call "flutes". Latte spent all afternoon marching around the house playing hers. The fun thing is that we were able to find ones in "their" colors, green for Latte and orange for Bunny. Latte is so happy to finally be four, finally a "big kid".

Double Birthday!

We had a double birthday party for Latte and Bunny at Chuck E. Cheese since they both turned four a week apart. We invited my friend Dawn and her 3 little girls and also our babysitters' little sister, Anna. This is the second time Anna has been with us for a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. When we first moved to Colorado Gloria was turning 5 and Anna was our neighbor.

The kids all had so much fun riding rides, opening presents, and eating cake and pizza. The only disappointment was that Chuck E. didn't come out until after we left. It started snowing while we were there. Kevin loved the tunnels and the games, especially throwing ping pong balls, but he threw a temper tantrum every time I tried to sit him on any ride. He was fascinated by a game where you jump up and down on a mat to jump rope virtually. The little girls seemed to love the giant mechanical pony and the stationary virtual roller coaster.