Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Fabulous Year 2012

 Our first ever New Year's Eve party was a success.  We had two families join us (which is plenty when you add in all our kids) and we celebrated at 10pm which is when the New Year arrives in New York.

We played Minute to Win It games that came in a board game that Daniel got me for Christmas.  The kids had to do things like toss a shoe right side up onto the coffee table with their toes, balance an egg on their heads, and generally do funny moves that we all enjoyed laughing at.  Daniel did a few of them, too.

Then, at midnight, we used our computer to watch the ball drop online and then Daniel and another dad dumped balloons and confetti on the kids.  It was a really fun party, but I think the preparations were just as fun.  We blew up 75 balloons, decorated the house, took photos of each of the kids in a fun New Year hat and made silly appetizers.  The kids used mini cookie cutters to cut shapes out of bologna and I divided biscuit dough into thirds to make little sausages into mini pigs in a blanket.  It was the best New Years we've ever had.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Fun 2012

 We were so excited that our former foster daughters, Molly and Lina, got to join us for Christmas weekend.  Their family is Buddhist and does not celebrate Christmas, but they didn't mind if we included their girls.

On Christmas Eve we went to church about 4pm for a short service.  Or, I should say, Daniel and nine of the kids went.  I got stuck at a Supercuts waiting for Molly and Kevin to get hair cuts.  We came in ten minutes before three.  They said we could get done by 3:30.  They didn't START until 3:30.  So we missed most of the Christmas Eve service at church.

The part we did get to enjoy was very nice, though.  It was fun having all our kiddos there, although we were all missing our other two girls who left in August.  Afterwards, we went home and opened our traditional Christmas Eve gifts, which are always new PJs so the kids will all look nice on Christmas morning.  "Hoops" especially loved her Pink Panther PJs, jumping up and down, smiling and laughing.  She said it was the best Christmas ever... before it was even Christmas yet.

We also did a special family lunch.  I prefer to do the big meal on Christmas Eve so that we can all relax on Christmas day.  I spent most of the week leading up to it wrapping presents every night until midnight and then most of December 24th working on it, too.  Christmas was much more relaxing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Reason for the Season

So many people talk about remembering the Reason for the Season every Christmas.  They put up little manger scenes in their homes and yards and make sure they send out Christmas cards with some sort of Christian message.  And yes, Christ's birth is important.  But if He'd only been born and lived and died, there would be no "good news", no salvation from sin and death, no eternity in heaven with our Lord.  This year, I'm reminded even more of the importance of what Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection means.  Because this year, my son Kevin asked Jesus to be the Lord of his life.  This very night, my only begotten son has also become my brother in Christ.  And just like the night our savior was born, there are angels rejoicing in heaven this very night.

Fun with Friends

My friend, Deanna, called yesterday while Daniel and I were out Christmas shopping.  She invited our whole family over for a play date today.  Now, anyone who willingly and without nudging, invites a family of 11 to their home, is a good friend and should never be turned down.  It's not like we have droves of people asking us to descend with our horde upon their house.  Deanna's house is not overly large, either, which makes it interesting when we arrive.  Just getting in the door can be tough with that many kids trying to get out of snowy boots and coats.

The kids had fun playing dress up and Wii with their friends.  Katie and "Happy" had some difficulties sharing with two year old Elizabeth, but they worked it out.  Katie especially loved taking care of nine month old Braeden.  She held him and fed him some baby cereal.  She played with him in his walker.  She's going to be a very good mommy someday.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Braid Envy

 I've been spending so much time braiding "Hoop's" and "Happy's" hair these past couple of months, I think the other girls are starting to get a little envious.  It's true, their hair needs do mean that they get hours of one-on-one time with me weekly.  Just recently, Brianna and Danya asked if they could have their hair braided special, too.  I gave it a shot, although it's really not anything like braiding the other girls' hair.  What I'd really like to try is braiding all six of my girls' hair in the same style sometime.  Maybe I'll do it on a Saturday night, so they can match on Sunday morning.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tbone Talent

Danya, my little trombonist in training, had an end of year test of sorts.  She had to perform a piece, all by herself, in front of the class, accompanied only by a background CD.  She was nervous, but she did fine for a first year player.  I was very proud of her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Options Music Concert

 Danya's drum class performed a special for Christmas.  Danya played the drum that she designed and built herself.  She painted a bible verse, Matthew 4:9 "He who has ears, let him hear", on it along with suns that swirl around the base.  She stretched the hide across the top and wrapped the ropes herself.  The bottom is PVC pipe and the top is a flower pot.  Danya even had a solo during one of their pieces.

Brianna also performed with her Hands on Music class.  She did a little dance and played the hand bells.  The auditorium was dark, so it was hard to get good photos.  They both had a great time, though.

Occupational Tree Therapy

Every Tuesday, "Happy" has occupational therapy with Miss Christine.  She works on things like fine motor skills and sensory issues.  Last week, Christine tested "Happy" with finger paints.  Apparently, this is something that "Happy" used to have an extreme aversion to.  Now, although she doesn't smile while touching the paint, she does allow Christine to press her hand into it.

After "Happy" made a finger paint Christmas tree with sequins for decorations, Miss Christine allowed Katie to make one, too.  Katie gets so excited watching "Happy" during her therapy sessions.  It's hard for her not getting to participate most of the time.  During speech therapy we have to remind Katie not to tell "Happy" the answers to questions.  But during occupational therapy, Miss Christine often asks Katie to demonstrate how to do something.  Then "Happy" will follow her example.  I think Katie has been a very good influence on "Happy".  Miss Christine agrees.  She's only going to come every other week from now on, since "Happy" has improved so much.  She's amazed at "Happy's" progress.  We are, too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Yarn Extensions

I attempted a new style this month.  We put in extensions using black yarn.  Yup, that's yarn.  It's just your basic cheap soft Red Heart yarn from Hobby Lobby.  But when they wear it, it's hard to tell that it's not their real hair until you look up close.  You can tell my first attempt on "Hoop's" hair was a bit uneven.  About a week later we redid the short ones so that they're all more uniform in length.

Both girls really love the extensions, although, after three weeks, "Hoops" is ready for a change.  I still can't believe we got "Happy" to sit still for the hour and a half this style took to put in.  That's not even counting the time it took to take out her previous style, detangle and wash her hair first.  She swings her extensions and grins so big her face may split.  And she doesn't mess them up, either, which is nice.  This may be my new favorite hair style for "Happy".

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hair Bravery

 I'm trying to do slightly more interesting styles on "Happy" lately.  I feel guilty when I just leave it in poofs.  But it's intimidating.  She moves so much while I'm trying to do her hair and it just doesn't seem worth all the effort when she's going to ruin it the first day.

I'm also trying a few ideas of my own, rather than just copying straight off the internet.  This is a new style.  I did three flat rope twists on each side going back into double pony tails.  It took about 40 minutes to do.  We'll see how long it lasts this time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Drama Drama Drama

 So, I was informed on Tuesday that my three girls' drama performances were actually scheduled to begin at 4pm, not 4:30.  Which meant that there was no way I could be on time.  You see, normally, our babysitter Shannon comes to our house after school on Tuesdays so that I can pick 5 of our kids up at 3:30 from Options and she can be home with the two youngest when our other two kids arrive from the nearby public school at about 3:45.

That wouldn't work this time, because we wanted all the kids to get to come to the performances.  So I arrived about 10 minutes late (it's a 30 minute drive) and was immediately bombarded by a teacher coming to tell me that my son Shane had an accident and had a giant goose egg on his head from colliding with  another kid.

Then I went up to see the show.  But "Happy" was not so happy and kept fussing and climbing and squirming.  Kevin and "Lego Man" wouldn't stay sitting where I put them.  I couldn't get a good photo of the stage without getting in front of people.  Ugh.  It's so hard attending events without Daniel.

Then, as I was rounding up kids and costumes and clothes and accessories, I saw a strange man talking to some of my kids.  He was telling them that he'd taken lots of photos of them. ?!*?  I asked him how he knew them and he said he wasn't a parent or a teacher... but he had a nephew there.  Still didn't explain why he was taking pics of my kids...  But it turned out that the nephew was named Lucas and was in Shane and Kevin's class.  That's the name of a kid who has been bullying Shane since school started!  I had the man point out Lucas and his mom and went over to meet her and see if we could find a solution.

Turns out, it was the wrong kid.  There are two boys named Lucas in the class.  Okay, not a problem.  So, I talked to the mom a few minutes.  She told me about another kid in the class who has been fighting with her son and asked what was going on with Shane and the other Lucas.  We laughed about something my 2 year olds were doing.  Then I left.  No big deal, right?  Apparently, though, the lady and her husband told the director of the school a very different story.  I got a stern email saying she hoped "none of the other students had witnessed" what happened and that she expected parents to set an example.  HUH?!? I have no idea what the mom must have said, but I do know the uncle had jokingly said that for a minute there, when I'd gone to talk to the mom, he thought I was going over to hit her.  Who even thinks that way?!  What kind of adults do they normally associate with?  I'm baffled.  I explained the situation to the director who apologized for pre-judging and I let her know she could give my email and phone # to the correct Lucas' mom so we can set up my plan of play dates or something so the boys can become friends outside of class.  I'm starting to miss the old Options program.  Much less drama.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Unexpected Christmas Surprises

Good surprise?  We really wanted a bigger better Christmas tree but couldn't afford a new one.  Then we found out some friends were selling theirs for $50!

Bad surprise? We found this lovely little note on our front door.  He smashed in the grill on our 15 passenger van. But on the plus side, we took it in for an estimate and the guy said we could go to a parts place and replace it ourselves for under fifty bucks. At least our next door neighbor was nice enough to tell us he did it.  He wrote on the back of his business card so we can get in touch with him... because walking over and knocking would be awkward?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

On the Nice List

The kids have been bringing me their Christmas Wish Lists written on 3x5 cards so I can easily carry them in my purse. Clever idea. The not so smart part? Putting things on the list that we can't possibly afford. Try explaining to a five year old that he's got a $100 total gift budget. This year we're including our former foster daughters, Molly and Lina, so we're looking at a minimum $1,400 bill. There is no room for a new Nintendo DS because your old one has a cracked screen. And you're not getting a puppy or a pony. Why do I suddenly feel like the Grinch?

Cancelled Cookie Party

 I got up before six am on a Saturday morning to start getting ready for the mother/daughter cookie swap at church.  The girls and I spent hours mixing, rolling, cutting, baking, and decorating three dozen cookies.  It was my first time ever making these, and we had several unfortunate failed attempts.  I learned that you need extra flour to make them solid enough and that you shouldn't lay wax paper under the rolled dough.

I also learned that if you try to add candy cane hooks so that they can double as ornaments, you must make sure the candy canes are in the oven for less than a minute or they will melt and harden onto the pan so that you need a jackhammer to remove them.  Kind of frightening to

think what they do inside your stomach after you eat
them.  Anyway, after all our work, Daniel pointed out that it had been steadily snowing all morning.  He took the van out for a test drive around the neighborhood and declared the roads to be too dangerous to drive.  We were literally bundled up, carrying our containers of cookies, ready to walk out the door, when he came in and made this announcement.  It was quite a disappointment.  But then we thought about it... and realized that we would get to eat all three dozen of the cookies we'd made and not have to give them away.  Ah, sweet disappointment.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Home Made Ornaments

 We baked our own ornaments this year out of flour, salt, and water.  The kids enjoyed rolling out the dough and cutting out designs.  We had so much fun that we decided to make sugar cookies the next day.  They painted them and then waited anxiously for them to dry.

Conveniently, their Wednesday night church AWANA club was having an ornament contest the following week.  Danya entered her angel.  Gloria decided, instead, to crochet an ornament.  It was a neat little red and green ball.  She filled it with coins so that it would jingle.  I'm constantly impressed by the things she makes.

Poor "Hoops".  Her ornament broke before she even got
to paint it.  "Happy" dropped it on the table.

Snow, Right on Time

I was really hoping we wouldn't get snow for Thanksgiving.  My wish was granted and we had absolutely perfect Fall weather.  It didn't even rain until the drive home.  Then, a week later, we got a perfect snow.  The kids were able to make snow men and throw snowballs, but it wasn't so bitterly cold that they didn't enjoy being outside.  It's days like these when they really enjoy being homeschooled.  We can put the books aside for an hour or two in the middle of the day when the sun's nice and warm and just go play.  I'm looking forward to next year when all our kids will be home.  "Hoops" and "Lego Man" missed out on some serious snow fun.  But "Happy" and Katie had a blast.  The kids favorite activity?  Eating snow, of course.