Saturday, July 31, 2010

Star Trekkin'!

Through Netflix I've been enjoying watching all the old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in order from the beginning. The kids have gotten interested in the show with me, so now they know a lot of the characters names and the basic ideas of the episodes.

I also recently found a play set of the bridge of the starship Enterprise from the show at a yard sale and got it for just a few bucks. We put it together and put all the stickers on. Then last week I looked on Craigslist and found a guy who was selling 80 of the action figures for $2 a piece! We rushed over there and bought about 30 of them. Now I'm wishing I'd grabbed about 10 more that I'd considered, but didn't get. The kids LOVE them! We've been playing together and it's so funny to hear them tossing out words like "warp drive" and "holodeck" and "plasma explosion". They even knew which episodes some of the aliens came from. I like these a lot better than some of the action figures I've seen from kids' shows these days. Daniel bought us the final season and we've been watching the episodes and playing along with the toys at the same time. Talk about a blast from my past!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Arrival of Mr. No

Our new foster son, Mr. No, arrived on Thursday night. He's 3 1/2 years old and quite a handful. We already like him quite a bit. We were told that he's delayed, but I haven't really seen it. For his age he's actually very smart. They said he's speech delayed, but if so, then it must be fairly mild. He talks up a storm and likes to sing. He's more advanced in every way compared to Shane who is two and a half years older. I think Mr. No will be just fine.

This is his second time at least in foster care and he will be leaving in about two weeks, they tell us, to be placed in a fost/adopt home with his baby sister. I'm glad they'll get to be together.

Today after church (where his Sunday school teachers say he was pretty wild) we ran into Mr. No's grandparents and his older half sister at McDonald's. I was afraid it was going to be awkward, but they were very nice and repeatedly said how glad they were that Mr. No was in our care. I think Shane and Kevin are enjoying having another boy their size to play with, but I can see that sharing is something that Mr. No has never been taught. By his name it should be obvious what his favorite word is. We're teaching him limits and he's testing them all day long, but we can tell that he's basically a good kid.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Batman Birthday

Our son, Shane, turned 6 this week. It's hard to believe he's been part of our family for almost two years now. He's grown and changed so much in that time. He came to us as a little boy that seemed to have attachment issues, no understanding of personal boundaries, and was completely unable to speak more than about 5 words "Yah,No, Boo (Blue), Bye, and Ma". Now he is capable of controlling himself better, knows who his family is, enjoys learning to be a "gentleman" from his daddy, and is slowly improving in speech and other educational goals.

There's no way to say for sure what Shane's future holds or how much more he's capable of, but we are optimistic. In the meantime we are very glad to get the opportunity and the blessing of being his mommy and daddy. One thing that is clearly limitless for Shane is his capacity for loving others.

He chose to have a Batman party this year (which is a nice change from the Spiderman obsession) at Chuck E. Cheese. Shane's grandparents, his friends Tanner and Harley, and even his former foster sisters Molly and Selina came to the party. We also got to have his best friend Samuel come to spend the whole day with us. They didn't stop grinning or bouncing the entire time!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Comedy Club

We went to a Comedy Club in Westminster with Daniel's parents on a whim while they were in town. Our church has had several events out there and we've always wanted to try it out. It's a bit expensive, but it was very funny. The two oldest actors were very good at improv while the younger two were almost funnier in their inability to think as quickly. It's something I think would be very fun to try someday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Brandy's Baby Shower

My friend, Brandy, recently had her 5th baby, a little girl. We, her friends, were all surprised to learn that she had never had a baby shower before. So Deanna thoughtfully took the opportunity to plan a baby shower, which she had also never done before. It was a success, but I must say I'll never understand games that involve melting chocolate bars into diapers and sniffing them to guess what kind it is. To me, that's just gross. If I ever get a chance to plan a baby shower I want it to be described as beautiful, adorable, fun, but not gross.

Anyway, we all chipped in to help them buy a chifforobe (yes, I checked, that's how it's spelled) for the baby to keep her clothes and things in. Daniel and I still have the one we bought for Danya when she was a baby. It was the first piece of nice furniture we ever bought. Today we use it as a t.v. cabinet. That chifforobe started my love of cherry wood furniture.

Baby Avigayl is beautiful and has a unique name and will be a sweet little blessing to her family, I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Broken Baby

The baby is broken. Katie climbed up Kevin's ladder to the top bunk and fell off breaking both bones in her left forearm. I think we may win the bad parents of the year award.

We rushed her to the Children's hospital in the hopes that she'd get treated faster there then at our local hospital. They wouldn't even give her Ibuprofen at first. Then they couldn't do the procedure she needed and put a cast on until around 7'oclock at night. This big "procedure" they did to help her? The doctor used his hands to finish snapping her bones all the way through. Who decides they want to be a bone specialist so they can snap baby bones with their bare hands?! It's sickening. I had to leave the room.

Poor Katie was a trooper through the whole thing. I couldn't believe the hospital didn't even decide to splint her arm until they thought we were leaving. We were really just taking her to play in the waiting area. They wanted us to sit in the exam room for several hours watching t.v. instead. Katie wouldn't have any of that idea.

Even with her cast now she is so full of energy. She's learned to stand up in a new way since she can't use both arms as easily and she can even pick up and drink her bottle by holding the tip in her teeth and then repositioning her hand. Katie is one amazing little 17 month old.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mr. Helpful...Sometimes

All the kids have jobs that they are expected to complete each day except for Kevin and Katie. Kevin is usually assigned as a "helper" but we don't really require him to do much. Most of the time he excitedly asks what his job is and then proceeds to ignore it.

Every once in a while, though, he manages to surprise us by jumping in to try something like washing the table. Now if he'd just learn to wait until Katie is finished eating first.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lake Thunderbird in a Thunderstorm

Daniel's parents wanted to take the kids camping. We ended up having the Maxwells join us at lake Thunderbird just South of Oklahoma City. It rained all day on and off, so the kids only got to swim briefly, but the rain conveniently held off long enough for us all to eat.

The plan was for Daniel and I to take our youngest three kids to a hotel for the night and come back to enjoy the lake the next day. Unfortunately it rained all day the next day. Instead Daniel and I decided to head back to Colorado with the three we had and let the oldest three stay another ten days in Oklahoma with their grandparents. It was the longest we've ever been apart from any of our children. I'm not sure I'd do it again for quite so long a time.

The girls, Danya, Gloria, and Brianna, really enjoyed getting to have sleepovers at their cousins' house and participate in silly girly makeovers and such. They also got to watch Toy Story 3 with their grandparents. Meanwhile, Daniel and I enjoyed feeling like a small family again for the first time since 2006 before Kevin was born. It seemed downright easy! But we were both really glad to have the rest of our chicks back in the nest by the time they came home.

Grandma's Monkeys

Daniel's sister, Robin's daughter, Chloe, is about 7 months younger than Katie. Grandma Nancy was enjoying every moment of having them both together while we were in Oklahoma. They'll be her two youngest grandbabies until Daniel's brother Ben's youngest is born next year. That will be their 17th grandchild. Some day I hope that we'll beat whatever record they end up with!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Burger King Buddies

We spent some silly time indoors at a Burger King playland in Stillwater with our friends, Glenda and Christina, and their kids. It's sad that we only get to see each other a few times a year. I wish our kids could all grow up together. Our kids don't seem to notice the difference, though. They're always happy and excited to see one another and run around being goofy as if they were old friends.

Gloria had the idea of telling the kids that the ones who took the nicest picture together would get a prize. These were some of the best photos she took of them.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Seven Girls, Three Boys

What a change a few years can make. When we moved from Oklahoma to Colorado back in 2006 my good friend Betsy had two girls and was pregnant with her third. I only had two girls and had just delivered Kevin a few weeks prior. We'd spent 2005 and 2006 scheduling weekly playdates where our kids would get together and complete homeschooling projects.

Now Betsy has 4 kids, 3 girls and a boy. I currently have 6 kids, 4 girls and 2 boys. When we got together to let the kids play it was a very different experience. We both just shook our heads and reminisced about how easy it used to be. I love that our kids play together so well even though they only see each other once or twice a year.

A short Holady

We drove back to our old neighborhood in Owasso to visit our former neighbor Missy and her kids. Daniel had already flown back to Denver, so I made the trip with the kids on my own. They got to swim and have pizza with their friends and I got to hang out and chat with Missy. It's hard not having a neighbor like Missy anymore. She's a good friend and easy to talk to.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Cousin Craziness

One of the best parts of going to Oklahoma is spending time with Daniel's sister Robin's kids. She actually has more kids than we do so it's quite a mad house when we go anywhere together. It's like we bring our own party.

While we were in Oklahoma this time we got to go to the Perkins splash pad and to a big wooden playground in Noble together. Afterwords we took a photo of all our kids in front of our two big 'ol white vans. In a funny coincidence right now our families both have a big white van and a black car.

His "Birt - Day"

Kevin got to celebrate his birthday in Oklahoma with friends and family, but nothing went as planned. He was supposed to have a water party at an outdoor water park, but it was raining so we moved it to an indoor rec center pool.

We swung by Walmart to pick up some cupcakes, and their entire bakery department had been ripped out. They were remodeling. They had exactly one box of cupcakes that Kevin liked and two he didn't. So we grabbed the good ones and one of the others and hurried to check out. Kevin tried to help put his cupcakes on the check out counter just as my cell phone rang with Daniel asking me what was taking so long. I was distracted and had my hands full so I wasn't able to catch the cupcakes as Kevin tipped up one end and they all tumbled down making a big mess. The cashier just glared at me.

So I moved our cart out of the way and hurried with Kevin as fast as I could to the back of the store to get the last box of cupcakes when some neanderthal talking on his cell phone slammed into Kevin knocking him backwards. I just gave him the "stink eye" as I rushed off with Kevin again, but I thought the man was saying something rude to me. Turns out he was saying that Kevin had lost a shoe. We had to go back to find his flip flop and then get the cupcakes. Finally we got back to the check out and went through an open line nearby where the cashier proceeded to mock us. Apparently all the cashiers had been laughing about our spilled cupcakes. Gotta love that wonderful customer service.

We had Kevin's cake and presents at McDonald's because when we spoke to the rec center they said that they'd charge us about $50 for a party if we brought presents into the rec center. When we got to the rec center they said the pool was closed because the building is basically a huge metal shed and it conducts electricity into the pool so they automatically shut it down when it rains. Somehow they couldn't tell us that any of the times that we called them to ask questions about their pool hours and birthday rules all day long.

Eventually we ended up back at the Elliott Grandparents' house with 20 kids and 7 adults. It was loud and crazy, but I was so relieved that Kevin never once complained or even acted sad about all the disappointments he was dealt. The next day we let him play with his cousins at a small splash pad in Perkins. I feel guilty that we botched his birthday so badly. We'll have to make it up to him next year.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How They Think

Teaching Shane and Kevin a mixture of pre-K and Kindergarten work is a strange experience. Kevin is able to make amazing leaps of logic to get the correct answer on things, almost instinctively it seems like, but he can't always explain how he knows what he knows.

Shane, on the other hand, seems to understand the "category" of the answer but not the specifics. When working on his ABC's we tried singing the first four letters of the song over and over. After a few minutes I had them try filling in the next letter when I paused. I sang, "A B C ...." and waited for Shane to say the next letter. He thought really hard until his eyes were watering with stress that he'd get it wrong and then hesitantly guessed, "N?"

I guess we'll celebrate the little victories, that Shane knows that N is a letter.

Today we overheard Kevin playing an imaginary game with Gloria. I didn't follow the whole plot line but I did catch Gloria saying, "Uh oh. That tentacle might be attached to something." And Kevin saying, "Just don't fall on your head. Cuz' then you won't get your money back." I decided not to ask for an explanation. The way their minds work is a mystery to me.

Monday, July 05, 2010

First S'mores

Brianna and Shane got their first taste ever of s'mores while we were in Oklahoma. Grandpa and Daniel made a fire in an old wagon and we all enjoyed roasting marshmallows. It was sticky and there were lots of mosquitoes, but it was a nice time just the same.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Not So Indpendent

We had a fun, wet, Independence Day in Oklahoma with Daniel's family. Thinking about "independence" though, makes me realize that we are not very independent. We depend on each other, on our family, on our church, on our friends and neighbors, and even on our government to work with us. In this day and age I'd say we couldn't have achieved so well our goal of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" without many other people. I just pray that our government leaders will realize soon that they depend on "we the people" just as much if not more than we depend on them.

Happy InterDependence Day!

Now That's Family!

It cracks me up whenever we get the chance to eat out somewhere with the entire Maxwell clan. Daniel's sister has 8 kids and when we combine them with our 6 it's a full house indeed. The looks on other diners' faces are priceless.

Also, it feels like being part of one of those families in the Olive Garden commercials where the table is packed full of relatives and everyone is talking and reaching for food and laughing. I love it! Growing up I lived with just two siblings and my family spent as much time in separate rooms as possible. We didn't eat together, play together, or even talk to each other much. It's so great having a big loving family that actually enjoys being with each other.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

at The White House

No, not in Washington, D.C., the one in Kansas. Our kids' godmother's parents' home. Clear as mud, right? We stopped here on our way to Oklahoma for the 4th of July. They were lighting fireworks and shooting a canon in the rain. We showed up pretty late, but they were still kind enough to feed us all spaghetti and let the kids play with smoke bombs in the back yard.

When the canon went off Katie just laughed and pointed telling me excitedly, "It go BOOM!" I'm still surprised at how many short phrases she can say and how calm she is when loud noises occur near her. She's not a typical baby.