Sunday, November 27, 2011

My 34th

34... not nearly enough years to have enjoyed this wonderful life yet.  Plenty of time to feel blessed and happy and thankful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Party

Okay, technically, it wasn't supposed to be a party.  But we invited two large families of our friends, there was food, and a pinata.  What would you call it?

My best friend from high school, Glenda, brought her crew of four (and a half if you count the one on the way) and later our former youth pastor and his wife brought their five (or was it six?).  Daniel and I became friends through that youth group when we were teens.  We didn't go to the same school.  Glenda and I also met there.  It's hard to believe that was about 18 years ago. 

CJ and Lisa were a really great youth group leadership team.  I find myself repeating a lot of the wisdom they taught us to my daughters.  I was also happy to see how quickly our son "Lego Man" made friends with their 8 year old son, Benjamin, and Glenda's two boys who are about the same age, also.  They were inseparable almost within minutes of meeting each other.  Glenda says that her sons have been asking when they'll see my son again.  The feeling is mutual.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big Crazy Happy Thanksgiving!

 Thanksgiving 2011 was quite the event.  I figured out that Daniel, all by himself, brought 15 people to his parents' house this year.  Then his sister, Robin, brought her crowd of 10, and his brother, Ben brought another 5, and then Daniel's parents' invited a friend from church.  We had quite the full house!

I had prepared my mom ahead of time, letting
her know that our soon to be adopted daughter is 9 years old, but she's as tall as a
preteen.  So, my mom walked in and saw
 Grandma Nancy's young African American guest.  She said, "Jessica said you were tall! I'm your new grandma!" and she gave her a big hug.  Whoops!  Oh well, everyone was laughing as they explained who was who.  "Hoops" instantly liked her new grandma and wanted to take pictures with her.  And my mom, known as "Granny Jo" to the kids, managed to get "Lego man" to let her give him bear hugs and sit on her lap on the couch while they got to know each other a bit.  My dad, a shy man in big group settings, grabbed some pie and went out back for a tour of
Grandpa Wayne's green house.

I have to say that it felt a bit like the miracle of the loaves and fishes where Jesus feeds a crowd of 500 with a little boy's lunch.  Somehow, what didn't look like nearly enough food, managed to stretch to feed everyone and still have some leftovers for dinner that night. I'm always amazed how that works out.  Guess I'll add it to my "Things I'm Thankful for" list this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We *heart* Oklahoma!

 There is just something magical about Oklahoma in the Fall.  It's my favorite season there.  And Grandma and Grandpa's house is the perfect place to be.  They're just far enough out in the country to enjoy the wide open spaces, and just close enough to town to be able to run to the convenience store.  Far enough away that you aren't tempted to pick up McDonald's, but close enough that there's a park to walk to.  We all especially love the horses that roam the neighbor's pasture!

One of the absolute best things about their house is the yard.  They have three acres that are beautifully maintained, including a mini forest that they keep mowed during the summer, so you can stroll among the trees and play in the leaves during the Fall.  Grandpa's new green house is interesting, as all his projects are.  They have a

 boat and playset and toys in the backyard and of course the obligatory tree swing.  The kids would live out there all week if we'd let them.

The very best thing, though, about their home, is the love and the welcome that's always waiting there.  I know that's why our former foster daughter, Molly, enjoys coming back with us each year.  She pointed out that Daniel's parents will be her baby's only living great grandparents... and what GREAT
great grandparents to have!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Off to Oklahoma!

 This year we made the 12 hour drive to Grandma's house in Oklahoma with 11 kids!  I fully expected it to be a nightmare.  We had two 2 year olds and one pregnant teenager with us.  I figured we'd be making bathroom stops about every 30 minutes.  Instead, everything went smoothly, there was almost zero complaining or fighting, everyone played nicely together and enjoyed the activities we brought along for the trip.

The only bad thing that happened was that, when we stopped for lunch at McDonald's, I left Danya to guard my phone while I took "Happy" to the bathroom.  She messed with it without permission and ended up accidentally putting a coded lock on it.  We couldn't figure it out.  We called the phone company who couldn't help us, either.  All they could do was tell me how to do a complete reboot of the system.

Everything was lost.  It wiped my sim card (which I forgot to take out first) and deleted all my apps and downloads.  I had just bought a new $13 e-book.  That was gone, too.  I almost cried.  Then I got over it.  And started the slow process of trying to get my friends' phone numbers again.  I'd like to point out that I've had a cell phone for over a decade... but I've never lost all my phone numbers until we decided to buy a phone that had games on it that my kids actually want to play. Thank you very much, evil technology monster.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Hair ART

 I didn't get to be there for my son's first hair cut.  I did, however, make sure I was the first one to take him to get some super cool "hair art".  You can see the before and after photos here.  I searched online and asked several hairdressers for recommendations.  The important thing was to find a place that really knew how to cut African American hair.  The place we found was "Freddy's Barber Shop" in Westminster.  They have a whole book of designs to choose from, or you can bring in your own drawing or clip art.  "Lego Man" was nervous at first, but he really liked it when it was done.  The sad part is that it only lasts about a week and a half before the hair grows out too much to see it.

We got this done the day before we were supposed to leave for our trip.  At the same time, Daniel took our big 15 passenger van to get new tires.  We knew it was going to cost about $600.  What we didn't know was that the shop was going to find a wobbly ball joint and say it would cost another $900 to replace it.  Eeek!

Daniel called our friend, James, who told Daniel to meet him at a different mechanic shop.  That place told us that the ball joint had been incorrectly installed originally.  They just reattached it and tightened it... for no charge! God is so good.  We're so thankful for the friends He's brought into our lives through our church who have helped us out in so many ways.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks in Kids' Church

Danya and "Hoops" were chosen to help with the weekly presentation during Kids' Church on Sunday.  The lesson was about giving thanks and honoring God in all circumstances whether we have a lot or a little.  They looked very cute up on stage.

What you may not notice in this photo is the small cluster of musicians to the left of the photo.  That's where I'm supposed to be sitting, holding my trombone, and watching it all from behind the scenes.  But when my kids are picked to go up on stage I can't help myself.  I have to sneak off the side of the stage, grab my camera, and catch a quick photo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just a Pack of Cards

"Mommy! You're breaking them! We don't bend cards!"  These were the shocked cries of my children as I calmly brought out two brand new decks of playing cards and proceeded to fold all 52 cards (and jokers) from one deck.  But when they saw me begin making towers, they quickly joined in.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Highlight of My Day

 According to the hair dresser I have "virgin hair" which means that enough years have passed since I last dyed my hair that I basically have all new hair.  Therefore, I can honestly say that the "before" photo is my natural hair color.  I got my hair cut right before that photo and then had highlights put in just a couple of days later.  So, the style didn't change, just the color.

I really like it.  After all, I was blond my entire childhood until I entered my early 20's.  So this feels more like me when I look in the mirror.  Meanwhile, my former foster daughter, Molly, is asking us to take her to get her hair cut VERY short.

I've advised her not to, but it's up to her.  I told her that it's totally normal to have an irrational desire to do something drastic to your hair when you're pregnant.  It's because you are stuck in this condition for 9 months with no real control over the situation.  That makes a pregnant woman want some sort of change, any change, and therefore they make terrible hair style decisions.  Sometimes I think that pregnant women shouldn't be allowed to get hair cuts without first consulting a psychiatrist or pastor, lol.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Family Portraits Fall 2011

An amateur photographer employee at Daniel's work offered free family portraits to everyone at his office.  We jumped at the opportunity since we haven't had professional photos taken of our family since Kevin was born five years ago.  Usually it's just me hitting the timer button and running to dive in front of the camera.  We decided to go all out with new matching outfits that we had to search a few different stores to find.  We also wanted to avoid our usual red, white, or green colors so that the photos would be useful all year long.  The photographer gave us a whole CD full of the photos that she took and retouched.  I wish I knew how to do tricks like blurring the background when taking individual photos.  The photos came out nice, I got them printed as Christmas cards and addressed... now if I can just get some stamps.

35 and Lovin' Life!

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!  Danya's card is absolutely right.  You are very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very loved!  Now, let's go play your new LEGO Harry Potter 2 game.

Friday, November 11, 2011


This year, on November 11th, 2011 we decided to take a photo of our 11 year old.  Danya has the fun of being born in June of 2000, which means that she was 7 years old on 7-7-07 and 8 years old on 8-8-08 and so on up to this year.  Next year is the last time that the months will line up since there are only 12 months.  We originally planned to take a familly photo, too, since there are now 11 members of our family, but the timing didn't work out since two of our kids were at school in the morning and Daniel leaves for work before they get home.  Basically, four days a week, they only see their dad for a few minutes before leaving for school.  I'm looking forward to this school year being over.  Next year, our newest three will be adopted, and we can legally homeschool them all.  That means they'll have "daddy time" for the whole morning on his work days.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where in the World?

 Gloria and Brianna are taking a geography class at the Options program called "Where in the World?"  Gloria says, "We aren't learning anything, we're just making crafts from different countries."  Oh well.  We do our own history and geography program at home, so this was just supposed to be supplemental fun.

The whole Options experience seems to be a bit of a mixed bag.  It allows homeschooled kids to get a taste of the public school experience without as much of the hassle and it's only one day a week.  But every class comes with its own frustration.  For instance, all three of my homeschooled daughters are in a drama class.  But my oldest, who should have had a large part with lots of lines since she's one of the oldest in the class, ended up with just one line, while my youngest, who has speech
difficulties and a very bad memory, had multiple lines in two different plays.  The reason?  The teacher simply handed the plays to a third grade boy and told him to hand out the parts... which he did, randomly.  So, Danya has been sitting through class, week after week, doing basically nothing.

Some of my kids have art class with a very unusual teacher who comes up with complex projects that you would expect high schoolers to be doing.  But he's terrible at classroom management.  Which means my son, Shane, gets bullied in his class almost every week.

On the plus side, my kids are making lots of new friends, getting invited to birthday parties, participating in clubs, and generally enjoying the experience.  And for my peace of mind, the classes are taught by teachers who will not indoctrinate my children in evolutionism or require them to check their faith at the door.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Rainbow Birthday

 Brianna wanted to have a rainbow party for her 9th birthday.  Daniel and I found a bunch of rainbow things on sale at a craft store.  Daniel is so clever.  He thinks of ideas that are "outside the box" all the time.  He found this rainbow polka dot border strips that were designed for teachers to use on their bulletin boards.  He took one look at them and figured out they'd make great rainbow crowns.

Brianna and I made rainbow cupcakes together.  All the guests got a variety of rainbow things including glow sticks and candy jewelry.  They made some rainbow craft projects and then went outside to hit a colorful cupcake pinata.  The pinata was a last minute idea that came as a total surprise to Brianna.  Her face just lit up when she

saw it.  She was so happy the whole day, giggling like crazy and practically dancing every step she took.  It's hard to believe she's already nine years old.  She joined our family just before her sixth birthday.  She was such a wild little thing at five years old.  Her hair was down to her waist, all different lengths and completely untamed.  She had extreme mood swings and difficulty speaking.  She's grown and matured so much since then.  She's leaving her little girlhood behind and becoming a beautiful young lady.  Happy Birthday, Breezy!