Monday, November 30, 2009

Like a Fine Wine...

Like a fine wine that gets better with age, Daniel continues to show more each year how great he is as a husband and father. This year he doubled the number of children he claims as his own without batting an eye. He also managed to become a "Mr. Mom" taking care of the house, the kids, his job and everything in between during the time that I was laid up in the hospital. He's patched up our crumbling home numerous times, and propped up my faltering confidence when I've gotten overwhelmed at the prospect of teaching so many kids at different grade levels while dealing with a new baby. And in his spare time? He teaches children's Sunday school and AWANA classes and cleans the church. He's my super hero husband and I wouldn't trade with any woman in the world. Happy 33rd Birthday, Sweetie!

Overwhelmed by Food

Daniel and I decided after November that we're no longer going to get a double order of food from the foster family food co-op. When we had two extra older kids as part of our family it made sense, but we just can't seem to eat most of what we're getting fast enough. Our garage is starting to look like it's own food bank. It's especially difficult to deal with since it's the middle of winter here in Colorado and we can't drag stuff out of the garage to reorganize it all as easily as we do in other seasons. I hope next month we get more cereal, though, because that is one food that we never seem to have enough of with this many kids eating it. Even Katie eats Cheerios and other small cereals now.

Thankgiving Firsts

There were a lot of firsts for our family this past Thanksgiving. It was the first year that I stayed home and let my family travel to Oklahoma without me. My birthday fell directly on Thanksgiving this year, so as a gift I got to have about 5 solid days to myself to work on projects around the house that I haven't had time for. It was also the first time that Jennie, Daniel's little sister, got to meet Brianna, Shane, Katie, and Chloe, her newest nieces and nephew. And of course our kids got to meet their cousin Chloe for the first time. Finally, it was the first time that Brianna and Shane got to enjoy Thanksgiving with the Elliotts as official Elliotts themselves.

Two special additions to our crew visiting Oklahoma this year were our foster son, "Music Man", and our former foster daughter, "Molly", who asked if she could come. This was her second year to make the trip. I hope she comes again some time in the future since her family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, as most of them are from Cambodia or Laos.

Grandkids Galore

Daniel's parents have more grandkids than anyone I know. And this isn't even all of them! Now, technically Molly and Music Man aren't their grandkids, but we always say, "When you're here, you're family."

Robin, Daniel's big sister, just added the most recent grand kid to the herd this past fall. Baby Chloe displaced Katie as the youngest. She's Robin's eighth child. Katie, at nine months, managed to make little Chloe, who is a premie, look even tinier by comparison.

Play Rehearsal

Danya and I were both happily surprised to get parts in our church's Christmas play, "The Ornament". It was so much fun! Danya played the younger daughter, "Charlie", and I played her mom, "Cynthia". A real stretch, I know.

This is a picture that Gloria took during one of the first rehearsals for the play. Danya and the girl next to her both have the same part, but on different nights. So they were practicing together as the director, Deb, blocked out where we were supposed to be standing in different parts of each scene.

This was the first year our church has done a play in about a decade. For the past two years those of us in the band were expected to play background music. This year they canceled the band music and did the play instead. So a bunch of us from the band decided to try out for the play. Both trombonists, a guitarist, the flute player, a piano player and a back up singer all ended up either in the play or helping in some capacity. Some of the others joined the choir.

Christmas Photo Shoot

These are from the photo shoot I did with the kids just before Thanksgiving so that we could use them in our family Christmas card. All the kids except Katie wore Christmas colors. This was also the day after our most recent foster son arrived. I'm calling him "Music Man" because he loved to sing and could remember the words to a song after only hearing it once. He had a wonderful ear for music. In December, three days before Christmas, he moved in with his new potential adoptive family. The parents are really great people. Then again, I could be biased since they are both trombone players! They also had a son and daughter slightly older than him. Music Man only stayed with us about a month and a half, but he made a strong impact on our family. He's a great kid and was a lot of fun for all of us to have in our family for a while.


Gloria actually managed to break the brush off in her hair. Some days I think that hair brushes are the bane of my existence. We buy at least one new brush every three months. The girls manage to lose every single one. Despite the copious amount of hair brushes we've purchased there never seems to be one when we are in a hurry to leave the house. Maybe that's because they often take the brushes with them into the van to brush their hair on the way. Then they forget to brush and their hair and leave the brush in the van. And why is it some brushes are completely worthless? Who designs adult size brushes with bristles so soft that they only gloss over the top of the hair leaving the underneath part full of tangles? I think someone with a sadistic sense of humor intentionally designs those kinds of brushes with bright colors so that kids will beg their parents to buy them.

Van Upgrade

Our old 12 passenger van developed a leak that would be rather expensive to fix, so we decided to sell it and buy a slighter newer used 15 passenger van. This one is a Ford, handles better, and looks much nicer on the inside. I do miss my CD player and extra trunk space, though. Daniel says the gas mileage isn't what it should be and he can't figure out why. It's only a few miles per gallon difference, but it matters. I love being able to get in without cutting myself on the door handle and knowing that if I open a door it will stay open and not swing shut, smashing me in the back while I try to take out kids or groceries.

Colors Concert

I once again got to play with the Thornton Community Band for their fall concert. The theme of the music was "Colors" since all the pieces had a color in the title. It was good to play at a more challenging level again and see friends that I hadn't seen in about a year since I broke my leg and gave birth to Katie. I'm looking forward to starting up again soon now that the Christmas break is over.

AWANA Learn About Jesus

I've been helping out in the 3 and 4 year old class at AWANA this year since Shane and Kevin are both in that group. We still haven't decided if Shane is capable of moving up to the Kindergarten age group, the Sparks class, next Fall. This year they are both enjoying the crafts and puppets and sing alongs. I got a kick out of doing the voice for Cubby Bear one night.

Meanwhile, Daniel is still teaching his crazy class full of 1st and 2nd graders. Brianna enjoys having him as her teacher. She's been surprising us with how much better she's doing this year on memorizing verses. Last year she could barely put three words in a row. This year she's saying the names of the books of the old and new testament in order. She can usually get several in a row. We're really proud of her.

Bodies Everywhere

Brianna had fun doing a unit study about the human body. She let Shane help her assemble our giant body puzzle as we learned about the different bones in their bodies. The book I use for teaching about the body is one of a set that I actually bought one day from a door to door salesman. We've gotten a lot of use out of it. This year the boys will do a simpler series on the body, focusing on the 5 senses and other very basic concepts. It's one that Danya and Gloria did years ago.

I'm glad that we're finally to the point where all the books we invested in almost five years ago are being re-used and therefore becoming a better bargain. So many companies get homeschoolers to buy their (over priced) materials by pointing out that if you have a large family, it's really not that much "per kid". Surely I'm not the only one who's fallen for that line before...

My Other Husband

For the month of October Daniel had been growing out his beard as part of his Halloween costume. The goal was to make him look like a real rugged cowboy. It was very successful, but I was extremely glad to have my normal husband back the first week of November. I had made him promise to shave it once Halloween was over.

But when the time came to take it off, we decided to let a friend take a quick photo of me kissing my "other husband", the hairier one. I have to admit, it was fun to see Daniel look so out of character, even a little "dangerous". After he shaved, though, I was glad to see my mild mannered, not a scary bone in his body, computer geek hubby again. After all, that's the one I fell in love with.

Look Out Below!

So, at the beginning of November the bathroom ceiling fell down. We never identified an actual leak, so we think that it was an accumulation of water running down from the upstairs bathroom. We suspect that it was caused by our recently acquired foster son. He's 7 years old and didn't understand the concept of a towel. He would just let the water run across the floor and drip dry after a shower.

Thankfully, since we really couldn't afford a plumber or repair man at the time, a friend from church volunteered to come help us fix our ceiling. Sometimes I don't know how we would get by without people from our church being so willing to help us. Gaping holes in our ceiling are the kinds of things that will get our foster care license suspended. So it was a definite blessing to have someone jump in to fix it for us so quickly.

Brianna Loves Chuck E.

For her 7th Birthday party in November Brianna wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese again. This time she got to invite 3 friends to join her. She chose a friend from school, Maggie, a friend from gymnastics, Taylor, and a friend from church, Kensy. She also got to make her own cake and pick out lots of fun Little Mermaid decorations.