Sunday, November 16, 2008

Older, Wiser, Busier

What a difference a year makes. Daniel turned 32 on Friday. A year ago the only foster child we had was Latte and we thought we'd be adopting her. Here we are a year later and Daniel is the father of seven planning to adopt two and Latte is back home with her mom.

For his birthday we got Daniel a lot of practical gifts. Since he owns all the video games and tools he needs, it's hard to find any non-practical gifts. So he received some new clothes, warm winter gloves and hat, and some silly PlayStation shorts that Danya and Gloria said he HAD to have. We also made him a pineapple upside down cake. Miss Lady especially enjoyed sprinkling the brown sugar into the pan. Her first attempt, though, ended up with an entire cup of it accidentally dumped in the middle of the melted butter.

We had Sarah lined up to babysit for us that night, but Kevin came down with strep throat, so we postponed our plans until the next day. Instead we stayed home and watched Kung Fu Panda with the kids. On Saturday Daniel and I went out for a birthday lunch at Lone Star steakhouse. They sang to Daniel and he even got a free desert. Then we went shopping together for a while. It was a good date and a good birthday for Daniel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Election Day

Well, it's finally over. I'm posting this photo of me at the voting center where Daniel and I went on election day about a week later because it's taken me this long to deal with the melancholy that hit when Obama won the Presidency. It's not that my candidate didn't win, because I've never been ecstatic about McCain (although I really like Palin), but rather that I feel like the election of Obama is a sign that the end times are fast approaching. I was really glad that Pastor Dan put things in perspective for all of us Sunday. He basically told us that God puts rulers in authority:

Romans 13:1-4a "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good."

He also said that we should ask ourselves whether we are really upset because we know that the changes that are coming will mess up our comfortable lifestyle. He reminded us all that we are not here on this Earth to live comfortable lives and that God never promised us that we would have it easy if we followed Him. Pastor Dan pointed out that what Jesus did promise us was that if we followed Him we would be persecuted. So, this is an opportunity for Christians to show our fellow Americans that we can respect the office and the authority even if we do not agree with the person who holds that position and furthermore, even when we end up suffering from the bad policies implemented.

1 Peter 2:13-17 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

We are going to have an unprecedented opportunity in the coming days to witness to unbelievers through our actions and words. I want to live with hopefulness about the coming days, not because they will be good, but because I know I can start watching for signs that my Lord is returning. My prayer is that my family members (sister, parents, brothers, etc.) will see the truth and come to know God as their savior before it's too late.

School, For Better or Worse

I'm torn about the benefits to Brother of attending pre-school. On the one hand, it's been really nice seeing him make some friends that he plays with at the bus stop. He's a little over the top when it comes to affection though, for instance running up to hug or kiss his friends. Today I watched his friend Corey push Brother away with his hands against Brother's face to keep him off. But Brother just smiles his adorable little smile and laughs as if it's all a game. He also loves to hold hands with a little girl named Nicole who's about a year younger than him.

I can also see that he really enjoys riding the bus and making crafts at school. So there are certain aspects that I see as being a positive. On the other hand, we've also seen a dramatic change in Brother's behavior since he started attending. I don't know if this is entirely due to school or if it's just that he's been at our home longer and isn't trying as hard to "be on his best behavior".

We've noticed him hitting and pushing now. He has started having lots of accidents in his pants, and not just at night. He didn't previously have a problem with it at all. We think maybe that the teacher at his school isn't understanding him when he tries to tell her that he needs to potty. So he's just giving up on it. He's started taking things without asking, like kid scissors which he is learning to use at school but isn't allowed free access to at home. In general we've just been noticing a really bad attitude that wasn't there before and he's been much rougher with Kevin. I think he may be reflecting the way he's being treated by other kids who can't understand him at school.

Raking It In

I finally got around to borrowing some leaf rakes from our neighbor, Marge. We've never owned a home with trees big enough to bury the yard in leaves before. It didn't take long to get it all raked up with everyone pitching in. The only annoying part was having to be the "turn police" as each kid wanted to know how soon their next turn using the rake would be.

Of course, when we finished and combined all the piles, we let each kid do the obligatory jump into the leaf pile. For some of the kids it was the first time they'd ever done that. It was funny watching the younger ones show Miss Lady how to do it since she was nervous about the idea.

6 Months and Counting

Here's a fairly recent photo of me taken when it occurred to us that we hadn't been doing a very good job of taking photos of my belly for each month of this pregnancy. The upside of a larger belly is that I don't get quite as many people saying, "Oh! Are you pregnant? I can't even tell!" The downside is that it feels like nothing fits anymore.

I'm desperately in need of maternity pants. The few pairs I have are almost all capris which means that the lower half of my legs are constantly freezing lately. Not today, though. Today it was supposed to be snowing, but instead it was so incredibly nice outside that we shut off the heat and opened all the windows in the house for the entire afternoon.

Going way off topic, it was really nice that we could air out the house since our pipes that travel outside to the main sewer line in the street got blocked and sewage was backing up into the basement. It flooded the laundry room and flowed up through the floor drain in the downstairs shower. Although we are very short on funds until Friday, God intervened again and sent someone who was able to recommend a plumber who could snake out the line for $125. That's about a third of what every other place was going to charge.

So, after picking up our food bank shipment this morning, Daniel got to spend time this afternoon scrubbing filth out of the downstairs bathroom and laundry room. He wouldn't let anyone else do it or even help after the plumber told him that the slightest cut on our hands could get infected and lead to serious disease or even paralysis. He's our hero.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Trick or Treat 2008

This was the nicest Halloween we've had in years. The weather was absolutely perfect. The kids looked adorable. We even had enough time to add a few finishing touches this year like glittery makeup for the girls. To encourage Miss Lady to dress up I decided to dress up a bit this year, too. Gloria was upset because the matching princess nightgowns she and Danya had planned to wear as costumes got changed when Danya decided to use her allowance money that she had saved to buy a new costume. She went as the Lady All in White from the lull-a-bye we sing to the kids every night. To make Gloria feel better I told her we could be Twinkies, wearing our matching feety pajamas and go as pajama girls.

Our Kids Costumes:
Miss Lady = Dorothy
Danya = The Lady All in White
Thumbelina = Tinkerbell
Gloria = Pajama Girl
Snow White = Snow White
Brother = Spiderman
Kevin = Indiana Jones

Daniel didn't dress up but I guess you could say he went as our beast of burden since he ended up carrying Kevin for half the night, being a source of warmth to huddle against between houses when Thumbelina got cold in her little outfit, and pulling the wagon full of kids for the second half of the evening after he decided he'd carried Kevin long enough.

While we were out we bumped into several people we knew in the neighborhood. One neighbor, Richard, scared the kids pretty badly when they were lured to his door by a bowl of candy sitting unattended on a table in front of his open garage with a dark black sheet as a back drop. He jumped out in an incredibly scary mask and Snow White gave him quite a scolding for scaring her. Later another neighbor stopped us to give us some of her daughter's outgrown clothing. One lady who said hello was the mother to a friend of Thumbelina's that we see at the bus stop every day. Then another one recognized us from the time we let her son play tennis with our family. Then another, when I recognized his dog by name, introduced us to his wife as "the family with all the kids". They asked if we were a foster family and then said that they were about to get approved through Adams' County to foster as well!

To top it all off, we even got stopped by the police! The kids were all nervous that the police officer who pulled his patrol car to a stop and headed towards us was going to give us a lecture about jay walking, but it turns out he just wanted to give them all candy and stickers. They were so excited... and relieved. What a night.

Our First Corn Maze

The kid and I have never been in a real corn maze before. We decided to try it this year since Brother and Kevin are still young enough to get in free. We took a picture of the map before we went in to help us find our way back out again. There was also a sort of treasure hunt game to play. They gave us cards numbered one through ten. As you travel through the maze you find numbered wooden posts with unique hole punches dangling from them.

The girls and I found all ten so they earned free mini pumpkins. The boys explored separately from us. Since they didn't have the handy map with them (I had the camera) and Kevin fell asleep half way through, they only found about half of the punches. It was a fun experience. I wish I'd remembered to use my camera to take more pictures instead of just using it to look at the map.

Pumpkin Patch Play

We had such a good time at the pumpkin patch this year. Some of our kids got to have school Halloween parties. Our other ones got to come with us to the pumpkin patch. Brother lucked out and got to do both because he doesn't have pre-school on Fridays.

We played in the corn box having corn fights and giggled up a storm as Danya decided to make herself look pregnant by stuffing her shirt full of corn. Then, of course, the other three had to try it. Brother ended up looking like a little round pumpkin. They took turns burying each other in the corn. Then we checked out the pumpkins and other gourds. The kids thought that the pumpkins made a great train, so they sat on them and yelled, "choo choo!" for a while. The other kids were a bit jealous when they came home, but I think it balanced out.

Book-It Buddies!

Some homeschool friends of ours asked us this year if we could make plans together to celebrate the kids reading success each month. Our kids and theirs are part of the Pizza Hut Book-It program. We set monthly reading goals for them. Then, when they meet their goals, they earn a certificate for a free Personal Pan Pizza. I think now that they've had their first pizza party together they will all be even more motivated to get their reading done faster for next month.

We're requiring a little more of the girls this year, especially Danya, because we feel like they should be reading much more difficult books. Danya exceeded my expectations by tackling a thick chapter book that I was afraid might be too difficult for her. She surprised me. We even timed her to find out how fast she reads each page. Her average is close to a page per minute. Which is my average, too! Not only that, but I tested her on some of the bigger words in the book. Not only does she comprehend their meanings, but she can spell them, too. We're encouraging Gloria to read more difficult books that are a bit longer. She's doing really well so far. Of course, I wouldn't expect her to be at Danya's level yet, but she's definitely far beyond the required reading level for a first grader, which is what she'd be if she were in public school. We're proud of them both for doing their best.

Because she's Aunt Jennie

The kids had been excited about our possible upcoming trip to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, but disappointed that they probably wouldn't get to meet Aunt Jennie, Daniel's little sister. Whenever we talk about her it's always in glowing terms since she is considered among the top two coolest relatives we have. Our four newest kids were treated to a little bit of Aunt Jennie's greatness recently.

You see, she is the one family member that is absolutely guaranteed not only to remember every single birthday, holiday, and anniversary for every person she is related to or has ever known, but to also know their exact size, personal style, and usually even their favorite color. I'm thinking she missed her calling as a Personal Shopper. Anyway, the other day we received a large package in the mail from Aunt Jennie that had the kids so excited that I thought there might be bloodshed over who got to open it. We designated Gloria as the official opener and gift distributor since it was closest to her birthday.

Inside was a gift for every single kid in our house. Even baby Katie got her first gift before she's even born. We haven't been able to pry the new books out of Kevin and Brother's hands yet. Brother sleeps with his. They demand we read the books to them several times a day. All the kids enjoyed their gifts, but Miss Lady was the most impressed and surprised by hers. She was shocked that it was not only a very cool t-shirt, and fit perfectly, but that it was even purple which is her favorite color. All I can say is, "Yup. That's Aunt Jennie."

The Big Cheese

The younger kids were all pretty excited to get a chance to meet the "big cheese" himself and paused for a photo op. We went to a different Chuck E. Cheese location this time so that Snow White's 6th birthday would seem a little different from Thumbelina's.

She was a little sad that her best friend from church, Cole, came down with a case of strep the night before her party. Poor kid, he didn't even get to go trick or treating the night before. Snow White surprised me by turning into a bit of a social butterfly during her party. Every time I found her in the chaos so that I could take another picture, she was riding something or playing a game with another kid I'd never seen before.

For her birthday she got a Play Dough picnic set, arts and craft things, a princess puzzle, and new earrings among other things. She also got to stay up late and share Miss Lady's special time that night. Since then we've switched Miss Lady's day to Wednesdays. Tonight Daniel and I will be taking advantage of our suddenly free Saturday nights to bring our babysitter, Sarah, over so that we can go out on a much needed date.

Snow White's Cake

Snow White originally was so impressed by Gloria's castle cake that she wanted the exact same thing. Unfortunately, we needed a cake that was easier to transport since we were taking it with us to Chuck E. Cheese. So we looked up easy cake ideas again on line and found out how to make a heart shaped cake by combining a square cake pan and a round one.

We also received "birthday boxes" from Children and Family Services made by the Girl Scouts. In Snow White's box was a tiny fairy doll and a whole lot of Tinker Bell party items. Danya was quite jealous. Snow White was ecstatic to have a fairy party. The cake turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself. Snow White was in charge of adding sprinkles.