Friday, March 30, 2012

Homeschool Zoo Trip

 We went with a couple of other families from our church homeschool group to the Denver Zoo one beautiful Friday morning.  We invited one of our babysitters, Luke, along to help out.  With nine kids, it really is a blessing to have an extra adult along to help out.

We had a fun time.  We went ahead and got a new family membership to the zoo.  It was a different experience than our usual, because we allowed our friend, Brandy, to choose where we would go.  Normally, we spend a little more time visiting the buildings and looking at some of the indoor displays.  Brandy enjoys the outside more.  Katie and Karyie were a bit of a handful that day.  They kept taking off to climb on every rock, bench, wall, or other tall item they could find.

 We had to hurry a bit because Daniel still had to leave for work around lunch time.  We got a lot of funny looks because we had added synthetic hair extensions to Danya, Gloria and Jordan's hair that week.  We did Brianna's hair a day or two later.  It was definitely interesting seeing them all walk around with ridiculously long hair for a week or so.  The zoo animals didn't seem to care, though.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fish, Gold, and 3D Adventures

We went to the Denver Aquarium again.  This time we got our photo IDs made.  That was a crazy process.  Somehow, they had Jordan and Michael in their computer as one person.  At least we got to see their new 3D ride.  Karyie and Katie did good this time, even though bits of it were scary.  It was Yogi Bear themed this time.
 We also let the kids pan for gold and minerals.  The lady running it was very much overwhelmed by trying to have seven of our kids do it at the same time. The main problem was that we didn't want to buy one bag per kid.  Each bag had 5 rocks, so we wanted to split three bags between them.  In the end I think we got cheated, because we only went home with about nine rocks.  Oh well.  They had fun and drew quite an audience.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easter Prep Work

Daniel and I hired a babysitter so that we could go out to dinner and then start our Easter shopping.  With 9 kids (and a couple of former foster kids) to plan for, it's quite a task.  Unfortunately, most of the fun toys and things at stores only come in packs of 4.  We did manage to find enough different colored eggs this year, though.  We color code our kids, so for Easter they know which eggs to look for.  Then we threw in a few special patterned eggs that anyone could look for.  Those were the ones with money in them.

I know Easter is not about bunnies and candy.  Our kids know this, too.  We usually get some Christian themed items, decorate crosses, talk about Christ's resurrection, etc.  But enjoying the silly part doesn't negate the serious part.  And, as you can see, we very much enjoy being silly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

School Daze

 It's getting to be that time of year again.  Close to the end of the school year.  Boredom setting in.  When it becomes harder for the kids to continue their work because, after so many months of working in the same books, they are ready for something new.

That, to me, says it's time to whip out some fun stuff to liven things up a bit.  It's tempting to just get caught up in all the Spring book fairs and focus too much on the excitement of the new curriculum we're choosing for the upcoming year.

But with so many kids to keep focused, that's not really an option.  So, we've broken out the word games, the math board games, and even created a few silly sports like "reading baseball".  We set up bases around the family room carpet and to move to the next base a kid has to read or spell a word.  I keep a pack of sight words that Shane and Kevin are learning to read.  For the older girls I usually just come up with words that are right for their ability level.

Danya is the most fun because she is really hard to stump.  We've thought several times about enrolling her in a spelling bee, but it seems so impractical.  I like my kids to have a large vocabulary and be able to spell anything they are likely to encounter.  But those spelling words in the bees are highly unlikely to ever be in common usage.  On the upside, we have enough kids in our family that we can have our own spelling bee.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2012!

We all wore green, but totally forgot to take a group photo.  Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy Birthday, to my little brother... Patrick, of course.

South Platte River

 When Daniel and I were walking a new trail the other day, we discovered a spot that has easy access to the shore of the South Platte River.  We decided to take the kids on another day to wade and play in the river.  It's a good spot because the current isn't too strong right there.

We skipped stones, waded in the icy cold water, and the kids waded over to a sandbar in the middle of the river.  We even attempted our own version of Pooh sticks, which doesn't require a bridge.

Chick Fil-A Party

 Katie and Karyie's friend, Lauren, invited the girls to her birthday party at Chick Fil-A.  She's the brunette in the middle of the top photo.  Lauren's family is so much fun.  They are always inviting us to do fun stuff with them.  I like that many of our kids match up in age and gender.  While we were at the party Daniel took the other kids to the park near the College Hill library.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Girls Vs. Guys

Family Class Game Night was at Pastor Dan's house.  Daniel and I got Luke to babysit and managed to be the first couple to arrive.  We were 15 minutes late.  So Dan and Sarah tried to convince us to just go out and do "date night" stuff.  But we weren't leaving.  If you add the cost of a babysitter to the cost of dinner and a movie, it can easily cost a hundred bucks for a date night.  Fortunately, about 30 minutes later, more couples arrived.  We ended up playing Cranium.  We played with two teams, girls against guys, and the girls won!  I think it was because Trista and Sarah had some sort of freaky psychic connection.  They were figuring out answers with almost no info to base it on.  It was fun seeing some of the adults act out characters and words and learning which subjects no one had any clue about.

Celebrate Spring!

 To celebrate Spring we decided to do a fun flower art project.  Using tissue paper, cupcake liners, and construction paper, the kids made some very pretty flowers.

Reading Rewards

Kevin finally finished his reading chart!  Each one of those squares he colored in equals 3 books that he read all by himself.  He's only 5 years old, but he's really taking off as a reader.  His favorite stories are Amelia Bedelia books and lift-the-flap books.  Sometimes he gets grumpy about having to read (or write), but I've found that the trick is to lure him in with a funny picture.  Illustrations really make the book at this age.

On this reading chart there are several stops along the way including a school house, store, pond, etc.  At each stop he gets a different prize.  It really motivated him to continue reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fashion Art

Gloria and Brianna have been very much into fashion design lately.  They came up with all these designs.  Gloria got a kit that has the basic doll outline for Christmas.  She definitely has a future in some kind of creative field.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Backwards Night

The kids had a great time on Backward's Night at their AWANA club.  Shane had his pants, button up shirt, and tie on backwards.  The girls tied their hair in pony tails on their faces.  It was very strange to see them leaving the house looking like that.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Just Keep Walking

Daniel and I have tried to start a habit of walking more in order to lose weight.  When we walk together it's usually just around the block or the cul de sac next to our home.  Sometimes, though, we hire a babysitter and walk a few miles on a scenic trail.  Fortunately, Colorado has a wide selection of beautiful walking trails to choose from.  This one runs along the Platt River.

This past couple of weeks I've been taking a daily morning one mile walk, choosing one of the older girls to walk with me each time.  That way I have company and also get a chance to have some one on one girl talk time.  The girls really enjoy and count down the days until it's their turn.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Allowance Day

Every Saturday is allowance day at our house.  Kids under age 10 get a dollar.  10-11 year olds get $1.50.  At 13 you get $2.00.  We've never had a kid older than that, so we haven't set an official amount yet for older ages.  I'm kind of nervous about that.  Some day I'll have a lot of teens at once.  If we make a mistake in the price we set now, it could get very expensive to pay allowance.

We've made mistakes in this area before.  Years ago, when we only had one niece and one nephew, we made a commitment that we'd send birthday money to our nieces and nephews every year, a dollar per year old they are.  That's a fun idea when the kids are two and three.  Not so fun when you have more than ten nieces and nephews and the older ones are all in their teens.  We finally had to set a cap at ten bucks per kid.  And looking ahead, after their 18th birthday, they'll be adults and we won't continue sending birthday money.

When Danya and Gloria were little, we started the Elliott Bank.  Basically, they could deposit their money with their Dad and any money they saved from week to week earned 5% interest.  Eventually, the girls caught on to the concept of compound interest.  We had to quit when we owed them both a couple hundred dollars and younger siblings came along.  On the plus side, Danya has become a very good saver of money.  Gloria, not so much.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Air Pop Excitement!

We got an air popper so we can make popcorn at home.  No more microwaved popcorn for us!  The kids all wanted to see it.  I was a bit concerned about potential burns should any stray hot kernels of corn come flying out of this new contraption. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Self Indulgence and Pride

Life is funny.  Today my calendar appeared to be empty.  So, at 8am I began school with the kids after making sure they'd gotten their morning jobs done after breakfast, gotten dressed, and made sure their rooms were at a decent level of cleanliness.  We did U.S. history, watched some "minute physics" videos on Youtube, and were in the middle of bible lessons for the 5 to 9 yr olds and algebra for my 11 year old.  Then the doorbell rang.  It was the speech therapist who, I'd forgotten, had rescheduled her usual appt for today.  So I cleaned the top two floors of our home at lightening speeds while she did her therapy games with "Happy" (and Katie joining in).  Then I did math with the boys and Gloria, followed by a fun lunch where we made our own "lunchables" using tiny metal food shape cutters.

After lunch, I put the girls down for naptime and finished math with the kids.  Then we did our new science program downstairs.  The boys also had fun with their Pathway Readers "Learning Through Sounds" workbook and the white board games that go along with it.  The older girls did their workbooks on their own, asking me for help as we went along.  After that, "Hoops" and "Lego Man" came home from school and I helped them with their homework.  While helping "Lego Man" understand how to multiply fractions, I was also trying a new cookie recipe with my three year old, Katie.  Gloria helped, too.  Throughout the entire day I continuously tried to get Brianna to finish her job of cleaning the basement family room toys up.  She never did get completely done. 

While in the midst of all this, the phone rang.  It was "Lego Man's" teacher.  I'd forgotten that she rescheduled his parent teacher conference to be by phone this afternoon.  So I paused the cookie making and the fraction multiplying and everything else to talk to her about "Lego Man", his progress, and his difficulties slowing down to think things through.  Oh, and "Lego Man" also mentioned to me that he got in serious trouble at school today for putting a pencil in a girl's chair.  AND we got one of those automated calls telling us that the Daddy/Daughter dance for "Hoop's" school is THIS Friday night.  We thought it was next month.

Next, I finished the cookies with the girls, cleaned up the kitchen, had the kids get ready for AWANA, helped some of them with their verses and parent pages, and sent a text asking Daniel to please bring home dinner because there was no way I could deal with trying to cook and dirty the kitchen all over again on top of everything else.  He came home, we ate, he left with the kids for AWANA.  I chose to stay home since I'd already missed band practice.  After I finished a private bible study, reading the first three chapters of "The Excellent Wife" to learn what God expects of me in order to be a Godly wife, I folded and put away laundry and then cleaned our master bathroom and bedroom so that I could surprise Daniel with a candle lit bubble bath when he gets home.  Then the phone rang.

It was "Creating Keepsakes" magazine, wanting to know why I haven't renewed my scrapbooking subscription.  I informed him that I'd be adopting between three and five kids soon and our income is going down this month by $1,000, so I don't have money for my hobby right now.  I went back to cleaning the toilet when I got a text message from my sweetie, Daniel.  I'm assuming he was thoughtfully sharing the pastor's message at church since I'm not there to hear it.  It said, "Self indulgence is a form of pride."

Saturday, March 03, 2012

AWANA Derby Race 2012

 Once again the Elliott kids carefully designed, built, and painted derby cars for the annual AWANA derby races.  Once again we prayed the same prayer that we pray every year: Please please, God, let the cars make it down the track.  We were semi successful as usual.  I don't know what the trick is.

Last year we thought it was that we didn't buy our cars from Hobby Lobby.  This year one of the cars was from there.  It didn't make a bit of difference.  Our poor kids.  Their parents'
 lack of skill in this particular sport leaves them with nothing more than a sad hope that maybe we could win the prize for an interesting design.  Unfortunately, that was a futile hope this year, too.  On the upside, they got to spend time with their Dad working on a fun project and they enjoyed being at the races and buying junk from the snack bar.