Thursday, April 30, 2009

Phone Frenzy

Hello. My name is Jess and I have a 13 year old daughter who is a texting addict. I totally think there should be a 12 step program for this sort of thing. Miss Lady's parents recently gave her a cell phone with unlimited calling and texting. They've complained about having to pay child support to the county each month, but have money for this? Okay, that's a whole other thing...

Miss Lady has been following our ground rules which consist of not using her phone before 7 am or after 9 pm. Those are the hours that she's awake. We had a little problem when we discovered that she's got internet access on her phone. We allow the kids to use the internet for very specific things, but they must have another person in the room with them who can see what they are looking at. It's an accountability precaution. We've asked her not to use the internet option on the phone, and currently we're trusting her word on it since she's been very honest with us so far.

The real downsides that I've noticed so far are that Miss Lady is never really a part of family activities lately because she's always on the phone. She's also irritable when she gets interrupted. We had a talk with her about that and she's been working on her attitude. I've definitely learned from this experience that I don't want my own children to have cell phones until they are old enough to drive. Then they'd have a legitimate need for one. Meanwhile I will smile nicely and try to be "cool" about this little device that has stolen Miss Lady's presence from us even when she's in the same room. I'm not into texting, but maybe I can get a chance to talk with her for a few minutes if I call her?

Letting Them Go

Snow White and Brother recently had their final visit with their dad. I use the term "final" loosely because we still aren't sure if we'll allow a yearly visit so that they can stay in touch with their half brother who I've decided to nickname "Dodger".

I call him that because while we were at McDonald's he made quite an impression on us. While the kids were in the basketball area he said, "Let's play dodgeball!" and immediately threw a ball full force into Kevin's face so hard that he knocked him down and gave him his first black eye. He hit Kevin so hard that Kevin had pain in his eye for two days and we were debating taking him to the doctor to see if there was damage to his vision. I also chose the name because he reminds me a bit of "the artful Dodger" from Oliver Twist.

It's sort of scary for Daniel and I to consider how close we are to adopting Brother and Snow White. We are really trying to grasp what it means and wrap our brains around the idea that these two will be our children forever. I've been gathering curriculum and making time management plans for our upcoming homeschooling year. We're trying to decide if Snow White should take a nap like the boys or if Brother should stop taking naps so that he can play with Snow White while I'm working with the older girls.

We're also working to get Brother evaluated for possible FAE (fetal alcohol effects) to see if that's the explanation for some of his strange behaviors. The caseworker is helping us collect records from every medical and school related place he's ever been. My main concern is that if he actually has brain damage from fetal alcohol exposure, will I really be able to give him all the help he's going to need when we constantly have a house with eight kids in it with me trying to homeschool them? And will he ever be able to live independently? At this point it's difficult to tell if he's just going to be a little behind all his life or if he'll eventually catch up, or what. It's a tough call, but we want what's best for him.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nine Fine Planets

Thumbelina had her performance at school this week. It was called "Nine Fine Planets" and she had the role of "narrator number 2". She spoke her lines beautifully. She was also dressed beautifully. Some of the other kids showed up in outfits that either looked like some sort of costume (but weren't) or dressed in worn out t-shirts and outgrown clothes.

I'd like to be charitable and assume that they just didn't have anything else to wear, but in truth I think that our society is just getting to the point where no one cares anymore about things like manners, dressing appropriately for occasions, and consideration for others. Even the teachers showed up in tye dye and blue jeans. I hate that it's getting to where nothing is special anymore. My kids try to get away with wearing jeans with holes in the knees to church or mid-rif shirts to school, but we aren't allowing it. We get lots of complaints from our kids, but hopefully they will grow into adults who understand the basics.

Spring is...not quite here

My poor tulips. They're fighting hard to survive. Spring in Colorado is such an uncertain thing. We've had a few really nice warm days where the kids play outside for half the day. Then three days later it snows again. Friday we had five different appointments scheduled, so of course we had a mini blizzard. It wasn't pretty, me slip sliding all over the tiles on my crutches. I slipped so many times this weekend that this morning I decided not to go to church and to avoid going out if at all possible as long as the ground is still wet.

Two of the appointments were for Danya and Gloria to get their eyes checked. Danya is getting glasses. They say she is a little bit far sighted. Maybe she'll be able to see far enough out to know when Spring will arrive for good.

Fine Young Cannibals

My boys looked so handsome on Easter morning. Wearing their first ties made them look so grown up. The director of the Sunday school program, Kim, told me before class that Brother has been doing so well behaving in Sunday school that she wants him to move to the four year old class when they have "move up Sunday" in the next week or so. No more two year old class for him! Then after Sunday school was over the teacher informed us that Brother had disobeyed, slapped her on the bottom, and called her stupid. I'm thinking we may end up keeping him with Kevin's age group.

We recently took Brother and Snow White in for an evaluation to see if they could benefit from weekly play therapy. The evaluator said that it seemed like Brother is delayed emotionally and behaviorally and it's good if we treat him as being at the same level as Kevin or even slightly below that. They'll be calling us soon to tell us when their visits will start and who their therapist will be.

Meanwhile, Kevin has begun biting again. He got Brother pretty good on the cheek this week which I'm sure looked very bad to Brother's pre-K teacher. What we don't understand is why Brother, who is two years older, stronger, and heavier, just stands there and lets Kevin bite him. When they wrestle, Brother can knock Daniel over. So why can't he push a two year old away? Kevin has been the most difficult child we've had so far, bar none. But he manages to pull off all his obnoxiousness with such a cuteness layered in that it's hard to be mad at him for most of it. We're still searching for a good deterrent to make Kevin quit biting. I'm also praying fervently that the terrible two's will be over soon. And while we're at it, I wouldn't mind if Kevin would finally finish potty training!

Egg Trouble

We had some set backs with our Easter weekend. The kids had a great time decorating the eggs. Daniel and I had some miscommunications, however, with the boiling process. I thought he was leaving them to boil waaaay too long. So I kept insisting that he turn the heat off. What he failed to mention was that he decided to boil them...on low. Really they just got warmish. Which meant that when we tried to peel them to make egg salad the next day, we found out that we had around 50 ruined eggs in our fridge. But they were very pretty.

Easter morning we woke up very early to have our Easter egg hunt. We had to because Miss Lady and Thumbelina were leaving with their parents to go to a Buddhist temple to celebrate Cambodian New Year. They spent all day Saturday and Sunday there.

Daniel and I attempted to make the egg hunt more exciting by hiding special eggs that had Chuck E. Cheese coins inside. Unlike the rest of the eggs which just had regular coins in them, these coins entitled the finder to exchange them for a dollar. We also had one egg that contained a plastic coin with John 3:16 written on it. Gloria found that one and won an extra special day with Daniel. They are planning to go to Fazoli's kids' night, just the two of them. The only problem we had was that each kid was supposed to find 10 eggs, but Snow White only found 9. All the other kids helped her search, but it was no use. And it was one of the eggs that had a special coin in it. Overall, it was a fun time. The kids are still working on devouring the giant chocolate bunnies we got them. We also attempted to watch "The Gospel of John" but never got around to finishing it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happiest Place on Earth

Thought about it. Planned it out to see if we could swing it financially. Realized that this is the only time we'll ever have enough extra incoming funds to do this. Then found out that Daniel doesn't have enough extra vacation time to make it a two week cross country sight seeing tour to California.

So we looked at flights and the Disney "Good Neighbor" hotels that are within walking distance of the park since we won't have our van. Got a good price. Got a crazy good price on airfare. Decided to go for Danya's birthday in June. Got the "go ahead" from my ankle doctor yesterday. Bought our tickets last night.

Going to Disney with 8 kids! Woohoo!


My main computer crashed hard two nights ago. Luckily, most of it is saved on an external hard drive. But this means that I've lost access to the most recent pictures I had on there all ready to be used in updating my blog. Daniel is going to hopefully take a look at it today to see if it can be fixed. Meanwhile, I'm using his laptop. Now I just have to wait for new pictures to be taken so I can continue adding to this blog. Of course, I can always use online photos for certain things.

I'll let you know how the repair process goes.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Teaching Math with Cards

Recently we taught the kids how to play Rummy and Phase 10. They're both similar games and the kids caught on quickly. Snow White still needs help, so we let her be on someone's "team". The beauty of these games is that at the end of the game you have to count up your points to figure your score. So we've got the younger kids learning to count by 5's and 10's and we've got the older ones doing double digit addition and subtraction quickly in their heads.

Daniel and I really want to focus more especially on teaching the kids to do "mental math" calculating quickly without paper. When we were kids we had Facts Master competitions where we had to fill out a math chart in less than a minute, usually doing one problem per second. Our kids need more of that. We're trying to think of what a good reward would be if they can complete the math chart for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in under five minutes. Meanwhile, we're having a lot of fun playing cards games!

Scrapbooking and Homeschooling

This is the table that Daniel set up at the foot of my bed so that I could scrapbook while my leg is broken without having to go downstairs to my scrapbook room. I've been using it almost daily recently trying to work on Katie's baby album and also getting the albums I'm making for our foster kids caught up. Since two of them may possibly go home in the next couple of months, I want to make sure their album is up to date.

Another benefit to having this table in my room is that the girls can use it to do their homeschool work. This way I can supervise what their doing instead of sending them down to their desks to work. I've also been working with the younger kids on letters and numbers. Kevin comes in almost every day now (sometimes several times a day) asking if he can "do his letters".

Speaking of homeschooling with young kids, Daniel and I have been discussing how I'll be able to homeschool the older girls for 4th and 5th grade while also working with Snow White as a 1st grader and the boys as preK/Kindergartners. We're looking into trying Switched on Schoolhouse for Danya and Gloria this coming year. They're having a 20% off sale on their products right now. We're thinking about buying an extra laptop and having each of the girls work on a laptop while I work with the younger kids. They could take the laptops with them to whatever room I'm in or even take them in the van when we go somewhere. School wouldn't need to be interrupted if we needed to go to the doctor's office or wherever.

Danya just finished taking the required 3rd grade test to satisfy Colorado's homeschooling standards this week. She thinks she did well and she had a lot of fun getting to see her church friends at the Christian school where she was tested. Meanwhile, we had Gloria do the online placement tests for Switched on Schoolhouse to see if she was ready for their 4th grade curriculum. She did very well, scoring 90-100% on everything in math and language arts. They tested her third grade knowledge and skills. She's pretty proud since she'd only be a first grader in public school right now. I'm looking forward to seeing how Danya did on her tests.

Home Made Mancala

Miss Lady has been playing Mancala at school quite a bit lately. She likes it so much that she decided to teach it to the girls. They used the rocks they bought at Seven Falls and an inverted muffin pan to play. Since they all enjoyed it so much, Daniel bought the actual game for them. It was very inexpensive at Kmart. Now Miss Lady has even taught Daniel and I to play. We'd seen the game lots of times at the store, but never tried it. It's a good game for teaching simple strategy.

Bedtime Stories

We went to the cheap theater in Arvada to watch the movie "Bedtime Stories". The kids loved it. This week we also rented the same movie from RedBox and watched it multiple times. I think we'll probably end up buying it since it was so popular with everyone. I wish Adam Sandler would make more kid friendly movies or at least tone down the movies he makes for older viewers.

Daniel and I also recently went to the movies on a date night to see "Ink Heart" which I hadn't heard about until Daniel suggested we go see it. We wanted to preview it before letting the kids watch it. I was worried that the scary main bad guy would be too scary for the younger ones, but it turned out to be just fine. When it comes out on DVD we'll be renting it for them. Speaking of movies, I can't wait until the new "Night at the Museum 2" comes out! We loved the first one and this one looks great, too.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

About Our Economy

This is a great video that I found a link to on the Michelle Malkin website. I think, for so many of us, it's hard to express exactly how we feel about the outrageous amounts of our tax dollars (and our children's future tax dollars) our government is throwing around like it grows on trees. I wonder if Obama and his disciples have any real grasp of economics or if this is all intentional. This video does a good job of expressing the helpless fear, sadness for our country, and restrained anger that is boiling up in our country at this overthrow of the American way of life. I think the Russians were right back in the 80's when they said that they did not need to fight us...we'd destroy ourselves from within.

In spite of everything, I'm grateful for the peace that comes from knowing that this is all part of God's plan. He is in control. Having so recently experienced child birth again, I can say that all of this is like the dread of knowing that the pain is only going to increase, but once it reaches critical mass there is something wonderful on the other side. Come soon, Lord Jesus, we pray.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pierced Ears

Danya: Before, During, and After
Danya and Gloria decided to finally take the big step of getting their ears pierced while we were at the mall in Colorado Springs. Danya had been nervously considering the idea for over a year. She was going to go first, but her fear got the best of her. So, Gloria gamely climbed up onto the tall chair and showed Danya how to take the pain like a champ.

Gloria: Before, During, and After

There was only one employee working at Claire's so she had to endure having one ear at a time done. Danya went next, but almost ended up going home with one ear pierced after getting overwhelmed with the shock and pain of the first ear. We managed to convince her to tough it out and get the other ear done finally. They both are really enjoying their earrings now, and are keeping them clean. We also let them pick out a pretty pair that they'll get to switch to when the eight weeks are up.

Seven Falls

When Tanti Glenda and her family came to visit recently we joined them for a trip down to Colorado Springs to visit Seven Falls. They had an elevator inside the smaller mountain so that Glenda's father-in-law and I were able to see the view from the top. The older kids went with Glenda and her crew to the top of the larger mountain. It was a long climb up a steep stairway which meant there was no way I could go up there. We took some fun photos and the kids all had a nice time. We gave Miss Lady a camera to take photos on the way up the mountain and she did a great job.

After the kids were finished mountain climbing and sight seeing, we let them all pick out a bag full of interesting polished rocks in the gift shop at the top of the smaller mountain. Danya sorted her rocks by color and then designed and created an entire board game based on rocks. It's sort of like trivial pursuit. I thought it was a neat idea. She's been working on it during her weekly special time on Thursday nights.