Friday, October 31, 2008

Our goofy costumes.....

The goal every year is to see how cheap we can make our costumes. I must say we did pretty good.

Here are the chinese acrobat brothers, Sim and Ju. Let me tell you we got quite a few looks on these.....All I had to buy was poster board and a couple of cans of spray paint. We found the boxes in dumpsters, used the foam trampoline covers (that we still haven't set up), for legs, and a pillow for the case you were wondering like some people we overheard: "How did they do that?"
Here is the Mona Lisa, or should I say "The Mona Liesel"? She was embarrassed because "everyone kept staring at her". I spent $5 on the enlarged print at Kinko's, the frame came from the attic. I cut out eye holes but in retrospect I wish I would have cut out the entire face. I think that would have been really cute.

Hope has been dreaming of having wings lately. So she got to be a butterfly.
And Little Miss Ukraine 2008.......complete with the beauty pageant wave.
The boys were chosen as finalists for the costume contest and won 3rd place. Here were some of the rest of the finalists....

And the first place prize went to........
Gene Simmons of KISS. I was shocked at the size of this kid's tongue, although I think Ava has him beat. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reflections of a homeschooling mom

I love being a homeschool mom because I get to witness things like this:

The other day we were in the car running errands listening to classical music and 4 yr. old Hope asked, "Mommy, is this Vivaldi?" Recently she pointed to Canada on the globe and said, "This is Iceland. This is where Santa Claus lives."

Here Jude is brushing Ava's hair in the style of William Shakespeare.
And here he is making her look like Beethoven. Seriously. This is not a lie.
We have no idea what the difference is between a preposition and a pronoun, but we know that William Shakespeare had a mullet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This guy cracks me up

As John was leaving for work this morning I said to him, "Honey, let me iron your clothes for you-they look really bad!"

His response: "That's OK. We have a Halloween party at work today and I'm going as the guy who doesn't like to iron."

I asked him to pose in his costume for a picture for my blog and he wasn't very cooperative. Gosh! I thought the kids were bad! So here is his best pose. Scary, huh?

IEP experience, anyone?

Here is a letter I wrote to Ava's school:

Thank you for the info you sent home about Ava. The kids and I have enjoyed singing her songs to her. I noticed she puts her hands on her shoulders sometimes on the "I am Special" song. :) cute.

A couple of questions....the OT wondered where pages 1 and 2 were on the IEP. Also, WHEN IS THE IEP meeting scheduled? Any idea yet? It seems like it is taking so long! Does it typically take so long or does only the squeaky wheel get the oil? I'm not a very squeaky wheel but I am anxious for her to get started on therapies. After all, that is the main reason I felt the need to put her in school for now. Hope to hear something soon!

Thank you,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This is my brother Jason and his son Von. Von is now undergoing cancer treatments. In these last couple of weeks I feel I have gotten to know my brother in a deeper and more intimate way. I have been amazed to see Jason's reaction to this family crisis, his faith, his spiritual insight, his ability to keep his sense of humor and trust in God, and his love for his boy. Thank God for blogs!! If you are interested in following Von's story (and it's gonna be a good one) it can be found at

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My week

Don't you love dressing all your family members in coordinating fall-colored outfits and going to the pumpkin patch for a photo shoot like this random family we saw today?
Neither do I. Instead I got this crazy picture of a barefoot, messy-haired girl with a dirty face pretending to fly off the hay stack.
And here's a cute little pumpkin........

I love this time of year! The geese and ducks have been stopping by our pond for a little break from their flying routine..... and some food.
We are studying early American History and the kids built this little Jamestown fort last week out of pretzel sticks, raisins, grass and toothpicks.

My cousin Caleb came over for dinner tonight. He is half jock and half cowboy......I love it when he wears his cowboy boots with shorts. It's great that he's single because he still makes time to come around and throw his cousins up in the air and wrestle on the floor with them and kick around the soccer ball. (Did I mention he's single?)
I spent about 3 hours yesterday trying to make Halloween costumes of these characters.....Stay tuned for the results...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can I vent?

Can I please vent and ask for some advice?

We decided about 3 years ago to try out cable. Apparently they were running some kind of special at the time where the service came with a "free" DVR player.We ended up cancelling after about 6 months. We just didn't use it that much. When John cancelled, he asked what we should do with the DVR player. They told him just to keep it. OK. Sounded strange to me too. We didn't really want to keep it but we didn't know what else to do with it.

So that DVR player sat on the top shelf of the guest room closet for two years, and we eventually sold it at a garage sale. We priced it at $5 and we took $1 for it.

So when we moved 2 months ago, we had to cancel our internet service too. Apparently this flagged the cable company that we still had their DVR player and we have received a couple of messages saying that if we don't return it ASAP or pay $350  they will turn us over to collections.

Long story short, after several phone conversations, and being unable to "prove" that the customer service guy told us to keep it, John finally paid the $350 yesterday. I was so upset. Not so much at John but more at the cable company, who would not back down. John is so very honest and has such integrity, he would rather pay the $350 that he doesn't feel he owes than to cause strife, be turned over to collections, have bad credit, etc. He has a good name and good credit and for good reason.

I have been so upset over this though. I can think of so many other places I would like to see $350 go than a cable company who clearly has a flawed process to wait over 2 years to collect their equipment that they told us to keep.

Since I've gotten great advice on this blog in the past, I hope somebody has some brilliant idea to help us out of this situation. It has already been charged to the credit card. Is there any getting out of it? Is there anything else we can do? Should we really have to pay this?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My favorite soccer players

After the soccer tournament on Sunday, Simeon insisted that he would carry Ava back to the car. I don't know too many 10 year old boys, but I have a feeling not every one of them would so proudly carry their handicapped sister in front of all "the guys". I especially love how he often sneaks over on his water breaks to wave or to kiss Ava on the cheek. Who cares if he lost every game in the tournament? I am really, really proud of this boy!
And here is another boy that I love, proudly loving on his sister in front of all his teammates. He too has lost every game this season but he is still a soccer star to me, not to mention to his little 4 yr. old sister...

And look who is finally getting up on her HANDS AND KNEES!! She still army crawls to get anywhere but this is such a huge step towards 4 point crawling and eventually pulling herself up....and someday walking.....We'll get there...I just know we will!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Funny roommates

This is Monica and Jennifer and me. This picture was taken in 1994, I think. The three of us roomed together after college, plus other girls that came and went. One by one we all got married and moved out. We had SO many laughs at that old house. They are both so fun. We all live in different states now, but every so often we are able to get together again. And every time we do, it is just like being silly roommates again. This past weekend was one of those rare occasions.

Here we are, 15 years later, eating out at an Italian restaurant. I'm not sure which one of them decided the best background scene for a group photo was the mural of the ancient Romans pointing the way to the mens' and ladies' rooms.
And we all agreed that after watching the info-mercial for this product too many times, we would never again be able to enjoy freshly grated parmesan cheese on our pasta or caesar salad. I think our waiter thought we were laughing at him but we were not. That's just what we do when we are together.

It was great fun, I hope we do it again soon!

Pictures from last week

My mom came to visit from Mexico last week after celebrating with her mom in Colorado my grandmother's 90th birthday. We tried and tried but never could get Ava to sign 'grandma'. :( Maybe next time, Mom. Sorry.
We took the whole week off of school and my sister's kids came over to spend the night. The doorbell rang and there were some "surprise" visitors on the porch to visit Ava, Hope and Sebastian. I'm quite sure they knew that it was really their siblings and cousins dressed up as clowns but they played along anyway for the show.
Introducing Checkers and Polka Dot, the Clown Cousins who sing and dance.......

Huffy the Firefigher Clown, I think Ava was quite amused, especially considering the clown looked an awful lot like her brother and was wearing her own hat.
This is "Nunny" the boy clown who wears my dress and slippers, I think he was doing an opera performance for us here.
The clowns said good-bye, then got into their go- cart and drove away. Shortly afterward, Simeon, Liesel, Jude and Evi came in, disappointed that they missed the clown show. So we all packed up and went to the zoo. Unfortunately we didn't check the weather forecast first, and we all got drenched. Oh, well, that is how memories are made.

And as I snapped this last picture, I found myself wondering: If you are having a sleepover and happen to forget your toothbrush, is it better to borrow a cousin's toothbrush or just not brush your teeth at all? Just curious whether any studies have ever been done......

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Buddy Walk

Today was the Buddy Walk. First of all, THANK YOU to those of you who donated!!! You helped us raise $100! Thank you, thank you! That means so much to me.

The Buddy Walk was a very emotional experience for me. I can't quite express it the way I would like to, but just seeing so many people with Down Syndrome in one place, their lives being celebrated.....was just a beautiful experience. It was especially meaningful that Ava was more than a picture pinned to our shirts this year. I couldn't help but think of all the other kids like her in Ukraine and other countries that would never see an opportunity such as this. Here she is getting her Buddy Walk t-shirt....
My good friend and former roommate got to be a part of it too. Thank you Jennifer for coming.
The whole fam.....
The walk....Jennifer (walking next to the stroller) never misses an opportunity to see the humor in a situation. She pointed out the comedy in the people passing out gatorades halfway around the track, as if we were running a marathon instead of walking once VERY SLOWLY around the track.
I wish I knew what was going through Jude's mind as I was taking this photo......
There was lots to do and each kid had their favorite. Here's a Corvette that I never would have noticed had it not been for my son pointing it out to me:
My animal lover enjoyed petting the ponies
My snake lover (Jude) enjoyed petting the snakes
My little nurturer enjoyed holding a baby kangaroo (and yes that kangaroo is wearing a diaper!)
Ava loved riding on her daddy's shoulders....Watch out for those sharp fingernails, Dad.
And my 2 personal favorites of the day: Ava signing "horsie" and having the opportunity to ride one in real life....
And all the mini Snickers and Hershey bars won for me by my kids while playing "toss the toilet paper roll in the toilet". Let's hope they don't get any ideas for home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fighting off the bad guys...

This is my 3-yr.-old nephew, Von "fighting the bad guy" (i.e. cousin Simeon). Normally you would see him dressed as Spiderman or Batman, but I don't think his mom packed his superhero suits for their visit to our house this past May when this picture was taken.
Yesterday we got some bad news. After several weeks of going from one doctor to another, getting questionable diagnoses, and suffering from weakness and high fever, he flew with his mother from Toluca, Mexico to a Minnesota hospital, was tested and evaluated, and finally diagnosed. The doctors say he has leukemia. "Leukemia". I have always hated that word. I hate it even more today.

My brother's family is faced with some real difficult decisions today regarding Von's treatment, their family's relocation, finances and the delicate emotional issues of 3 older sisters and many other loved ones who have many questions about what this all means. We all have a lot to learn. We are going to trust God for a full recovery for Von.

Meanwhile, please keep Von in your prayers as he does what he loves best..."fight the bad guys" (that would be the tiny little cancer cells, Von, not your sweet nurses!!). I just learned that he has pulled his IVs off twice and aimed them at the nurse, pretending to be Iron Man. :) Goofy kid. I love him so much.
We are pulling for you Von, and fighting right along with you!! You are loved......Be nice to those nurses, PLEASE.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15

How ironic it is that today is the National Day of Remembrance for pregnancy and infant loss. Today also would have been the day that we would be welcoming baby #6 into the world and into our family. Today I'll be taking a break from homeschooling, and just enjoying my sweet kids. Maybe I'll shed a tear or two. Oh wait, I already did that.

Today I'll be remembering those of you who lost little ones. I hope you're remembering me too. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Farewell, Jackson.....

My emotions have been split right down the middle on this dog. Yes, he's annoying but he has been a great watch dog and real good with the kids. Someone commented on my blog that he looks like he could be pit bull mix and I have been watching him real closely ever since. I googled pit bull at that time to compare, and honestly I didn't see it. That is until yesterday.

My mom came for a visit, and Jackson's personality changed. He got real protective of the house and wouldn't let her in the first night. I just thought he was being a good watch dog, but then yesterday something happened that freaked me out. We all went for a little walk, and He started jumping up on Hope, I assume it was an innocent puppy thing. But then when Hope started screaming and my mom picked her up, Jackson kept jumping and nipping at her. Again...a puppy thing or an aggressive dog? So then I took her, thinking he was protective against my mom, and he started jumping on me too! I had Ava in the sling in front, and Hope on my back, and he continued relentlessly to jump and nip at her. Imagine me, carrying 2 kids, trying to fight a dog off with my knee. It was so scary! My brave Simeon ended up pinning him down while me and my mom and the kids ran into the house.

So we made several phone calls. Turns out, since we live outside of the city limits, the animal shelter wouldn't come get him. They said we have to call our county sheriff. The county sheriff finally came out at 9pm, observed the dog, and said that if the animal isn't showing obvious signs of aggression (I guess that means growling and chomping on human flesh), they wouldn't remove him. But he left us some coloring books for the kids!!!

Finally this morning, animal control came and took the dog.

I had one very, very, very, very disappointed 10 yr. old boy who insisted that Jackson was just trying to play, and would never ever ever hurt anybody!!!

After spending some time getting all his tears out, here he is coloring to cheer himself up. What a great sport and sense of humor. I sure love that kid.

Hee hee, loved this page on the coloring book.....:)

Parenting is full of hard decisions. I hope I made the right one. Jackson, you will always hold a special place in our hearts......just not on our porch. I hope you find a wonderful home.

P.S. The great news is the shelter he is going to tries very hard to find families for the animals. The other great news is that according to animal control, he is probably not a pit bull after all, but possibly a lab/heeler mix (although I didn't see that either)...hopefully that will improve his adoptability. And the other great news, is that Simeon acknowledges that although he loved Jackson, he loves his little sisters more and prefers their safety over having a cool dog around. We really did love him and will miss him.