Friday, December 31, 2010

First Snow in December 2010

The winter weather kindly held off for a few days after Christmas so that the kids could enjoy their Christmas presents outside. But when it hit, boy was it a doozie! Daniel and the kids wasted no time running out to have fun with their snow shovels. Last year Daniel got them all kid sized shovels, so they get to "help" him clear the driveway and sidewalk. They had more fun burying Danya in the snow. Katie was fascinated by it all and kept walking into the deep drifts and then yelling out, "Ayuda me!" which is "help me" in Spanish (Thank you, Diego and Dora).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas on Wheels

This Christmas was all about wheeled gifts. Danya, Gloria, and Brianna all received roller blades. Shane got a Spiderman skateboard and gear, and Kevin got a Superman bike, his first two wheeler. Katie didn't exactly get anything to ride on, but she had a large collection of Little People that came with vehicles. She also got a kitchen that the kids play with pretty much every day.

We were also blessed with a snow-free Christmas, which meant that the kids all got to run out and try their new Christmas presents right away. After helping them for about half an hour, the girls seemed to be doing alright on their own. Danya and Gloria used to have shoes with wheels in them called Heelies, so they were pretty confident in their skating abilities. Maybe a little too confident.

A short while later Danya ran screaming into the house that Gloria fell and broke her arm. I ran out to find one of our new neighbors helping Gloria to take off her roller blades. She was cradling her left arm and crying hysterically. Nothing seemed to be broken, so we just gave her an ice pack and made her take it easy for the rest of that day and the next. Monday it was still hurting her, so we took her for x-rays at the hospital in Brighton. It turns out she buckled the bone near her wrist. It's not a true break, more like it's jammed and the bone has bumped out a little. She had to have a cast for several weeks, just to protect it while it healed, and she couldn't do any lifting with it. What a crazy end to Christmas this year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve PJs

Continuing our annual tradition, we all got new p.j.'s for Christmas Eve. Katie opened hers and yelled "cookie pants!" Shane and Kevin were excited to get Batman and Superman. Gloria of course had Bobby Jack monkey p.j.'s. For Danya, though, we were a bit stumped. She has informed us that she's too old for Tinkerbell now. So we took a gamble on Hello Kitty p.j.'s. They were a hit! She loved them.

Then Daniel surprised me with a set of super soft purple pajamas and we surprised him with two new pajama tops. One was Popeye and the other was Mighty Mouse. He loves them and wears them everywhere. I sort of wish he'd keep them just for sleepwear, but he does look adorable in them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WOW! Free Membership!

Our foster care family worker hooked us up with a free one year family pass to the WoW Museum in Lafayette. We'd been there once before a few years ago with friends, so we knew it was great. When the family pass arrived we invited our friends, Brandy and her kids, to come with us.

The kids all had a great time checking out the new centers that had been added and revisiting some of the classics like the bubble maker. It was especially fun enjoying the museum with friends. Daniel, the kids, and I all worked together to build a log cabin out of giant wooden connector pieces. But the most fun part, according to the kids, was the room with the balls that taught them about ramps and inclines.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homeschool Scavenger Hunt

After weeks of learning with workbooks, CDs, computer programs, and simple crafts, the kids were starting to get a bit bored. So to rekindle the excitement a little, while secretly testing their information retention, I created a homeschool scavenger hunt.

The kids followed a series of clues, each relating to something we recently studied. We covered math, weather, animal reproduction, etc. There were a few clues that had them temporarily stumped, but they all worked together, and eventually they found the prize. A bag of coins with just enough money, once they added it up, to buy them each a McDonald's icecream cone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Babysitter Gift Exchange

Sarah and Shannon are our favorite baby sitters. They've been taking care of our kids since 2007. They started when we only had 3 kids and have grown with us in the ability to handle a crowd.

We've known them since they were young teens, and we spend so much time with them that we consider them to be extended family, often referring to them as "our oldest daughters". It's become a tradition to exchange Christmas gifts with them a week or so before Christmas each year. They have fun finding little things for each of our kids and we usually get them something cute like Christmas ornaments with their names on them.

By far, though, the best gift we get each year from them is two coupons for free babysitting. At a time of year when we are especially broke due to buying Christmas gifts, it's something we've come to look forward to. Sarah and Shannon have said that they consider babysitting, for a very low hourly rate, for our large family to be a kind of ministry. They help us so that we can continue to be a strong foster family. Sarah and Shannon, we thank you, and our marriage thanks you!

Sunday School Teachers

Daniel and I teach the 3's and 4's class during second service on the second Sunday of every month. We have on average about 20 preschoolers in attendance. They are some of the wildest, loudest, kids I've ever met. Maybe it's something about the freedom of being in a mob of other kids their age who are also all yelling and running around grabbing and discarding toys at lightning speeds.

What I'd really like to know is why kids seem to lose the ability to sit and listen to a read aloud story in direct proportion to their increasing age. My almost 2 year old, Katie, can sit for half an hour handing me book after book, demanding that I continue reading. This class can make it about 20 minutes. But just try getting older kids to sit and listen to someone read out loud. Now, I don't lump my own kids into this category, because I've trained them to enjoy listening to me read from exciting adventure stories. But I've seen it with their friends and with foster kids who seem to have the attention span of a gnat.

Kevin will be graduating out of this classroom in July of 2011. We've asked the children's church director if we can move also to teach one of the classes that our kids are in. With 8 kids, we feel obligated to volunteer to teach, but I'm really looking forward to having an older, hopefully calmer, group.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good Behavior has it's rewards

We've been trying out a new good behavior reward system with the kids for the past few months. Each day that they manage to get their jobs done and have a good attitude, and we get a good report from teachers if we aren't there, they "win" for the day and get to stay up late to do something fun. One day in December all the kids had done particularly well. Since Daniel and I had to drive south of Denver to pick up some Christmas presents we found on Craig's List for the kids, we decided to reward them all. We found a Chuck E. Cheese that we had never been to before near our destination and surprised them when we pulled up in front of the building.

We used some internet coupons so the kids all had a ton of tokens and got to go nuts for about two hours. Katie, as usual, loved the rides. Gloria likes the Virtual Roller Coaster, and the boys just love putting tokens into the slots, no matter what the game is. Daniel and I liked the price, only about $30 bucks to entertain all 8 of us.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Options Christmas Party 2010

The Christmas party for our kids' one day a week Options program for homeschoolers was held at the Westminster Rec Center this year. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge my camera battery ahead of time, so I only got about 4 pictures before it died.

The kids really enjoyed swimming. I was too self conscious to wear a bathing suit among that many people I knew, so Daniel went in with the kids while I kept an eye on things from the sidelines. After they'd been swimming for an hour or so I noticed something strange in the water. That's when I spotted the feces on the side of the pool and alerted the life guard. They had to get everyone out and drain the pool. Luckily, our party was wrapping up, so we just headed out at that point.

We also received some coupons for free Chick Fila kids' meals. I read the coupons wrong, though, so I only got a box of nuggets for each of the kids. That's what I get, I guess, for always teasing Daniel about not reading things thoroughly.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Manger Scene Night

This year the AWANA club at our church came up with a new idea for a special night. All the kids got to dress up as something from the Nativity. Danya, Gloria, and Brianna went as a group costume. They were Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Can you spot Brianna and Shane in the big group photo? It's like a Where's Waldo game.

We also came up with a new idea this year for the kids to be able to exchange gifts with their church friends. We had pre-loved stuffed animal swap. All the kids chose some of their most gently used stuffed animals and then did something special like crochet a tiny scarf or make a friendship bracelet or tie a ribbon on it, then they swapped with their friends. So now instead of a random mountain of stuffed animals, they have special ones that are from their best friends. It turned out to be a fun, almost no cost, idea.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Holiday Play Date

Katie's best friend, Elizabeth, and her two brothers came over for a play date a few weeks before Christmas. Their mom had to go to a cookie baking party, so we got to enjoy them for a few hours. The boys quickly disappeared downstairs to play video games with Shane and Kevin.

Elizabeth and Katie explored the upper floors of our house. Elizabeth showed Katie how to squeeze behind the couch and how to take ornaments off the tree. Then they giggled up a storm while shaking the ornaments like jingle bells. Then Katie showed Elizabeth how to climb onto the entertainment shelf. At one point Katie got stuck behind the couch and scraped some of the skin off her cheek. It was quite an eventful afternoon. We're really looking forward to having them over again some time!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Anywhere but her Bed

Katie seems to have an aversion to sleeping in her own bed. She would rather put herself to sleep on the floor, the couch, or pretty much any location other than her bed. When I tell her it's time to go to bed she stomps her little foot and yells, "Idoh WANT to go to bed!"

When I'm putting the other kids to bed, singing lullabye and saying prayers, she sneaks into their beds and pulls the covers up to her chin. But if I start to leave and shut the door she pops back up and runs to the door yelling, "I NOT go nigh-nigh, Mommy!" She'll very sweetly give hugs and kisses to all the other kids and tell them that she loves them. But she refuses to do anything that even looks like it might mean she's going to bed. She fights me over getting p.j.'s on, denies that she needs a clean diaper, and won't even let me take out her rubber bands. Daniel and I have instituted a bedtime for her finally, but she screams and fights it for an hour. I'm hoping this isn't a precursor of things to come.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Last Year of Cubbies

Kevin has been a cubbie in the AWANA program for the past three years. It's hard to imagine that next year he will graduate to the Sparkies. My baby boy will no longer be considered a pre-schooler. He's been doing really well this year... when he wants to. He's very pig headed and stubborn, like his parents, so sometimes he refuses to participate.

In general, though, he's done much better this year. He can repeat the verses easily and has been acting more like a leader in his class. He also seems to be outgrowing the separation anxiety he was going through last year. This year he is more interested in knowing what each of the patches he earns is for and asks me to sew them on for him. Last year it didn't really matter to him. Last year I also attempted to be one of his Cubbies teachers, but that didn't work out very well. I think it's good for him to have to adjust to teachers other than his mom since he has me as his teacher all day long. I'm proud of him and sad at the same time to see him growing up into such a confident young boy.