Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hawaiian Night at AWANA

You can't tell by looking at them, but Danya is supposed to be a pineapple and Gloria is a coconut. We never seem to plan these things in advance, so I never know what they're going to come upstairs dressed as when it's time to go on an AWANA "special night".

Surprisingly, Captain Kirk won the best costume prize for the first graders. He made a paper pig nose and stuck a real apple in his mouth. Apparently he was the only "roasted pig" who showed up that night. Gloria was excited because she was chosen to carry the AWANA flag during the opening ceremony.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sunday School Party

You know, there's got to be a better term for it than "adult Sunday school". But it's not the same thing as those week night bible studies, and it's definitely not the same as what we do with the little kids on Sundays. Anyway, our adult Sunday school class, the "Young and Married" group, had a party a while back at the pastor's house. His son, Dan, is the leader of our group. When inviting people to join the class, he always says, "Young is relative, married is not."

Anyway, Daniel and I couldn't stay long at the party because he still had to go to work, but we had a good time playing Outburst, or one of those kind of games with our friends. We also had a quick round of "why do YOU homeschool?" with a few of the moms there. That's always fun.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Double Date with Deanna

We planned a double date with our friends, Deanna and Chad, while Sarah babysat our kids and theirs at our house. Then we all drove over to their house and ate pizza and played a board game. I lost horribly. Apparently I'm no good at guessing anything about my friends. That's probably because I'm a talker and not very good at listening. It's a good thing I married Daniel who is the complete opposite. Good listening skills are also one of the traits I admire in my friend Deanna. Just for fun, I thought I'd list a few other...

Things I Admire about Deanna:
1. She has a passion for Jesus and growing in her faith, always seeking to know Him more and draw closer to Him.
2. Her gentle spirit which, although it lets her get easily hurt, also makes her slow to anger and quick to forgive.
3. Her compassionate heart which shows in the way she's always trying to help others.
4. Her patience and positive attitude which help her to put up with and still love those with poor people skills... like me.
5. Her powerful faith and commitment to her family through thick and thin.

Clearly that's not a complete list, but it covers some of my favorite attributes that she displays. I've heard it said that we admire in others what we wish we saw in ourselves. I could definitely benefit from imitating my friend in many areas.

Not Quite the Zoo

My friend, Deanna, called me up out of the blue on a beautiful March day and asked if we'd like to join her and the kids for a trip to the Denver zoo. Apparently every other Denverite in the area had the same idea, because the place was so packed that we drove almost a mile away from the zoo entrance searching for parking. There was none to be had.

So instead we decided to stop at the big beautiful wooden playground and park that did have a couple of parking spots left. The kids loved it and no one was too disappointed about the zoo, so it all worked out. I've blurred Deanna's kids' faces because she prefers not to have their pictures published online. Two of our foster kids were at school that day, but the oldest had the day off.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Girls Night

Trying to get caught up on my blog after a two month hiatus. Here's a photo from when I hosted a girls night for some of the teens in my life at the time. We went out to eat at Old Chicago pizza and then played a board game, ate too much junk food, laughed ourselves silly, and watched a chick flick. It was a really great opportunity to shuck the disciplinarian mom role and develop friendships with "my girls".

We included Danya in the event because she is about to join the ranks of "tweens" and Daniel and I thought it would be good to let her experience hanging out with older girls in a secure environment. A little positive role model influence, you might say.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy St. Pat's Day!

The Kitchen Table

We bought a new kitchen table today. I found it on Craig's List for $50. It's perfect for us. It has two extension leaves that make it around 80 inches long. It's almost the exact same size as our old table, although this one is oval instead of rectangular.

The main reasons I wanted it are to simplify things for us. The old one had 8 legs that criss crossed in groups of two down the length of the table. It was very difficult to sweep underneath the table. Also, the old one was pretty worn out, and the ends drooped, so things would roll off and you couldn't do anything on them that required a level surface.

This new one is made by Ethan Allen and is solid birch....or maple, according to the writing underneath it. That cracked us up that the manufacturer put an either/or on there. It's only got four legs, so tonight was a much easier clean up process. I like how sturdy it is... and level.

Pre-K Fun

I got a new CD full of fun pre-K printables for the boys at the book fair last weekend. It's perfect for Kevin, but Shane keeps saying, "Dat easy ford me!" It's funny how the boys are such opposites when it comes to ability.

Shane, at 5 1/2 years old, picks up anything physical fairly quickly. He doesn't have much trouble cutting things out or threading the string through the holes on these letters. He even figures out simple puzzles relatively quickly. Kevin is still struggling with a lot of physical skills because he's only three, but he tries hard.

On the other side of the spectrum, Kevin instantly mastered the concept of rhyming words, beginning sounds of words, counting, and basic math. He's already sounding out three letter words and can count to twenty. Meanwhile, Shane has trouble counting to ten and remembering a word even when we've repeated it together over and over day after day. He has trouble putting even simple sentences together and simple concepts and instructions get lost or jumbled in his head somehow.

We're planning to have Shane repeat Kindergarten at the Options program for homeschoolers this Fall while teaching Kevin as a Kindergartner at home. I expect they'll both be able to start first grade together the following year, although Kevin will probably surpass Shane as he gets older and his physical skills catch up. Luckily, since we homeschool, we don't have to teach everything at a certain grade level, so both Shane and Kevin can advance or go slower in any subject area they need to.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Computers in the Classroom

We've always had educational software for our kids. We've allowed them to use the computer from a very young age. Last year we tried out Switched On School house and thought it was okay. The year before that we bought Academic Advantage software which had lots of fun programs.

This year we bought "Teaching Textbooks" math program for grades 5 through 7. We also set up our old laptops downstairs at desks near the main kids' computer. So three kids at once can use the computer. They tried out the new math software today and both Gloria and Danya really like it. We think Danya will be ready for us to buy her the Algebra software next year.

Having this many computers is cutting down somewhat on the arguments over whose turn it is. I like that one kid can play games on pbskids while another one does her Rosetta Stone Spanish homework and another one works on math all at the same time. We upgrade to a bigger better computer every couple of years it seems like. So maybe someday each of our six kids will have their own computer for school. I wonder if, by then, all their school work will be on the computer? Our children are definitely growing up in a more technologically advanced world than we did.

Talent Show Skit

Our four oldest kids (not counting fosters) did a skit at the Options school on Friday. It was one that Daniel used to do with his youth group when they were younger. Danya played the farmer who was surprised by a group of kids running around acting like different things; cars, airplanes, chickens, and Christians.

The kids explain that they believe they've become these things by doing certain things, for instance, living in a hen house and sitting on eggs to become a chicken, and carrying a big bible and going to church to become Christians. Danya has to explain that the only one who can truly change you is Jesus Christ. They did a great job!

Options Discovery Days

Last Friday, before the talent show, the kids at the Options school for homeschoolers enjoyed something called "Discovery Days" in the morning. Shane liked the roller coaster simulation, where they raced cars through tracks that looked like bike tires. Danya liked the 3-D art. I managed to get a picture of each kid. Brianna enjoyed the tangram puzzles.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Shane performed with his Kindergarten class full of other home schooled kids at Options on Friday. They sang and attempted to use sign language to the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Shane was about 2 moves behind everyone else, but he had a good time. Due to lighting difficulties, he got to do his show twice.

Student/babysitter by Day, Haitian goddess by Night

So it turns out that our babysitter is secretly moon lighting as the Haitian goddess of love. She's really good at it, too. I took Gloria, Queen Bee, and our former foster daughter, Molly, with me to watch Sarah perform in her senior play "Once Upon an Island" at Westy High School.

It was much better than I had expected for a high school drama. Gloria was crying at the end when the main character died. Sarah sang beautifully. She told us later that we got to hear her best performance since her voice started to go out the next night.

A Brief Relationship with a Stroller

Katie loves her stroller. She's been soaking up all these recent lovely warm days. I've been letting Danya and Gloria push Katie up and down the sidewalk and around the tennis courts in her stroller. They even walked a couple houses down to the bus stop to pick up Captain Kirk and Valentine after school.

When Sarah was here this week she took Katie and the kids out for an evening stroll around the park. The next night she scooted over to the stroller that we had folded up and put behind the arm chair next to the front door. She patted it and looked at me to let me know she wanted to go for a ride. At least she's a girl who knows what she wants.

Unfortunately we're expecting it to snow tonight, possibly as much as six inches. That's going to put an end to her brief obsession with her stroller because it's no fun to stroll when it's freezing cold outside.

Not that Different

I bought dark reddish brown hair dye and got almost 3 inches cut off my hair. And no one could really tell. Everyone says it looks pretty much the same. Daniel says he can see the reddish high lights sometimes in the sunshine. Oh well. At least I'm more comfortable with it short again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet Ride

Thanks to tax returns we were able to get our first nice four door car in almost a decade. It's a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix and we absolutely love it. It's a novelty for Kevin, too. We've never owned a four door car since he was born. The first day we had it he played with all the buttons. We caught him sticking his hands out the window, trying to open the door while I was driving, and figuring out how to lock Shane out of the car. I love that it has a window lock out button in the driver's door so that the kids can't play with it. We've also discovered the child locks in the doors. Hooray for technology. The kids think the sun roof is the coolest thing ever. We were also able to donate our old car (the $700 2-door that we've been driving the last couple of years) to a family who really needed it.

Yippee for tax returns!