Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Kindergarten Graduates....(Prepare to Smile)

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. My brother and his family came down from Minnesota, my parents were here from Mexico, and of course my sister and brother who are local were here as well. Opa and Oma are still here for a couple of more days. By the way they did a great job watching the kids while we were gone. My mom is the most efficient and capable person I know, and my dad was really helpful too. Thanks again Mom and Dad for being wonderful grandparents to my kids!

This is my new niece,  Carly. She was pretty much the star of the show this weekend. Can you blame anyone?

This was fun. My 96 year old Grandma joined us from her nursing home for the celebration. She ended up having a sleepover with us. All the kids greeted her with waving balloons at the end of the driveway. Grandma said she felt like she was being welcomed into heaven. :)

My brother in law Juan is a proud new daddy

Happy 96th Birthday, Nanny.

My brother Joel with my dad and grandma

Joseph loves Carly..

Ava was mesmerized....

My dining room table seated 27 people thanks to my Christmas benches!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mr. Bean, the kitten

We are all loving having a baby in the house! A baby kitten that is!
We finally agreed on a name for him; Mr. Bean.

A couple of weeks ago, our babysitter Emma (pictured below---is it obvious how popular she is around here!), who works in a vet office, sent me a text. She said a  2 week old (or so) motherless kitten had been brought in, and would we want him? Of course I'm always a sucker for abandoned kids and stray animals, and John said yes. Sooo.....

Here he is, Mr. Bean....Isn't he cute? He has a little chip missing from his ear. Who knows why. (I wanted to name him "Chip" but nobody else thought it was as clever as I did.)

So far he is getting along just fine. We have had to bottle feed him-Who knew they made teeny tiny little bottles--He is now lapping up milk from a saucer and eating solid foods. I had no idea how quickly cats pick up on litter box training! What a smart little cookie!

The dogs are warming up too. Luke seems to think he is the mama. Yesterday he licked him until he was sopping wet. So cute.

Yes, we are loving having a kitten in the house....

Try it out here: http://picasa.google.com/

Boy humor

I love boy humor!

The kids had end of year testing. After Jude was finished with his test and was waiting for everyone else to finish, he drew this picture....Crack me up.

"Battery DO NOT EAT"

1 Day later....

Mr. Smile: "Why did I eat that battery?".

Doctor: "Sorry, Sir but I need to put you to sleep"
Mr. Smile: "I can do that myself". (as in go to bed)
Doctor: "No, Sir, you know....." (put to sleep as in euthanize)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Here I sit in a beautiful resort in Orlando. My feet couldn't make it another day after walking for four days all around Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. John took the kids to Blizzard Beach this morning to go down some steep water slides and cool off from this humid Florida heat. What a wonderful time we are having!

We enjoyed visiting the birth place and childhood home of Hellen Keller in AL and getting our picture taken next to the famous well where she learned that everything has a name. Her first word in sign language: 'water'. We enjoyed seeing the dining room table where she had her temper tantrums before she learned to communicate, and the school room where Annie Sullivan dedicated her life to teaching her.

We stopped in Andersonville, GA, and toured the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp used during the Civil War. It was hard to imagine the suffering that was experienced there....for months, thousands of Union soldiers went without clean water, shelter, and even food. It was an unforgettable experience. We all came away from that place with a deep gratitude for what our service men, both past and present, have sacrificed for the sake of our country.

St. Augustine was beautiful. We got there too late to tour the castle but got some great photos walking around the outside. We signed up for a night tour, but soon learned that it was a haunted tour. Our tour guide started taking us around the city looking for orbs, spirits and ghosts. She told us of a little girl who was murdered 4oo years ago who can still be seen around town today, waving to welcome visitors. Hope's eyes got so big, and she immediately started looking for that little girl. My husband embarrassed us all by pointing towards a little girl in the distance and saying, "There she is!" Our tour guide didn't think he was very funny, I don't think. She told us that at night the cemetery comes alive with the spirit of one of the city's first leaders. He comes in the form of a green orb. Take a photo with flash, and see if you can see him, she said. If you can't see it now, wait until you download it onto your computer and you will see it. John leaned over to me and the kids and said, "Let's make like ghosts and disappear--what do you say?" So while our tour guide wasn't looking, we did! .....Awwwkkkwaaard. The kids found this so funny, and we later joked that we should go back through town on our way back and reappear, at the same point of the tour (the cemetery), wearing the same clothes as the night we all disappeared. That would sure be a ghost story to talk about for sure!

Disneyworld is truly the most amazing place I have ever seen. It is mind boggling to think of all the creativity, ingenuity, brains, organization, engineering......and of course money.....that makes this place work. Of course the rides and attractions are fabulous, but what interests me is how efficient everything is, and how clean. We did a little experiment with the kids. We sat on a shaded bench in the busiest and hottest part of the day, and did nothing but watch people walk by. See who are the happiest people here, John said. Lo and behold it was not the children with cotton candy and balloons, but the ones who were serving others. We watched a smiling janitor greeting everyone across his path. We watched a group of handicapped people with their caretakers. They were sure having a good time. At the same time we saw several families arguing, and children complaining....little kids throwing temper tantrums. It did not exactly seem like we were in happiest place on earth at times, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I have no pictures to share (yet), and I didn't intend to blog until I got back, but I spent two hours down at the pool, and came back to read in a quiet room only to find out my books are in the van, parked at Blizzard Beach. A mother of seven can only stand so much peace, quiet, and isolation, you know. So while I am waiting for four more hours for my family to get back, I thought I would post a little vacation update.

Meanwhile, it seems the kids back home are doing great with Opa and Oma (also thanks to a little help from Emma and Teri). My only regret is missing out on Ava's graduation from the Little Light House last night. On the other hand, space was limited, so I'm glad my parents got to experience it in our place. And thankfully we have Youtube and digital photos and Skype, so in a way we experienced it too.

I loved my dad's facebook post from last night: "Not a dry eye in the crowd, 19 graduates, some blind, some severely handicapped, all achievers, I love myself when I find myself in the company of stragglers, overcomers and fighters. Here is my granddaughter, a night of GREAT achievement."

Enjoy this video of nineteen great kindergartners marching to Pomp and Circumstance. And try not to cry like I did when Ava waves to her grandparents. (She comes in at the end). Love my sweet girl.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Going to Disneyworld....

When we made the decision to adopt our sixth (Joseph) and potentially seventh (Zoya) children, I vividly remember sitting down with and explaining to our children that adopting more special needs children meant sacrificing certain things, like sports activities, eating out, and fun vacations like Disneyworld. We wanted to make sure everyone was on board before we took the plunge. I was so proud when they all unanimously picked adoption over Disneyworld!

Eight months later, I want to say I am extremely proud of my children for embracing and loving three new siblings. There have been unexpected challenges, and some trying times these past few months. For the most part the kids have been patient and understanding.  I have spent many, many hours talking to and driving to and from doctor's offices, pharmacies. hospitals. I have spent countless hours fighting insurance battles, ordering medical supplies, and running up to the school to resolve behavior issues or forgotten lunch boxes. Many homeschooling days went out the window when we had to take someone to urgent care or to an emergency visit to Little Rock. My kids have given up social engagements and free time on more than a few occasions to help out with the little ones. And really, they have all been pretty great about it all.

So when my parents emailed a couple of months ago, and said they wanted to come up for a week or two to watch Ava, Joseph and Zoya, we did not refuse. They said they had spent time bonding with the other four while we were in Ukraine adopting J and Z, and now they wanted to bond with the three little ones while the rest of us took a little partial-family getaway. How could we say no!

Free childcare for the little ones by loving grandparents, coupled with a free time share in Orlando given to us by sweet friends.....

Where else would we go but the Most Magical Place on Earth...

We are going  to Disneyworld after all! 

(Of course I keep feeling a bit of Mom-guilt over not taking the whole family, but then I visualize the sensory overload behaviors, the sunburned bald head, the pants-wetting, the diaper changing, and I realize they will have way more fun with Opa and Oma, swimming in the baby pool at home anyway. I'm sure we'll be back someday when they can all appreciate and enjoy it.)

My dad has planned out our whole trip because that is what my dad does best. He's planned all kinds of cool and educational things along the way: Eating with old friends, seeing the birth place of Hellen Keller, visiting the famous Civil War POW camp in Andersonville, GA, seeing alligators, and experiencing the ancient Spanish city of St. Augustine, Fl.

Meanwhile, while we are galavanting all over America, my parents will be holding down the fort, changing diapers, toting children to school, giving tube feedings, administering medicine, collecting poop samples, and even caring for baby chicks and bottle feeding this little abandoned sweetie that was just given to us after losing our cat several weeks ago. They said they are up for the challenge. What awesome grandparents!

Mom and Dad, and Frikkie and Tina, we are so grateful and humbled by your kindness and generosity to our family. The kids can hardly wait to experience Disneyworld for the first time!  I guess I should be honest and say I'm pretty excited too! Thank you for making it possible!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I hope your Mother's Day was wonderful!

I woke up to a basket of freshly-picked wildflowers, and this little guy wishing me a Happy Mother's Day!

And then a delicious John Urban style breakfast complete with fresh strawberries. Yum!

Hope drew me a Mother's Day message on the board.

John got some honey-do's marked off my nag list to-do list, we called all the Grandmas, ordered pizza, played in the sprinkler, went to church.

....Poor Joseph came down with a fever of 105 by afternoon (glad we kept him in big service with us this morning!) He was absolutely miserable until we could get his fever down. Then he looked up at me, patted the pillow for me to lay down with him, then gave me the biggest kiss as if to say thank you for making me feel better!

Yep, I am pretty sure he is enjoying having a Mama!

Happy Mother's Day everybody!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Superman was Adopted...t-shirts for sale

A fellow blogging/adoption family is in the process of adopting a little boy with a heart defect. As you know, adoption is not cheap (international OR domestic). This family is selling these way-cool t-shirts as a creative way to raise the adoption expenses.

How cute is that???? You NEED one or two or three of these!

The t-shirts come in blue, red, black and pink, and are only available for the next ten days. So Hurry!!

These would make great gifts!

Please consider helping Camden come home by visiting his future mommy and daddy's blog. You can leave a comment on the Ritzmann's blog, or purchase via PayPal straight from the right sidebar on their blog. (Whether you order a t-shirt or not, you should really take a look at their gorgeous family, and enter to win an Amazon gift card while you are at it!)

Click here to visit the Ritzmann's blog. Please note when ordering that the shirts tend to run small.

Also, I wanted to direct you to another blog......This woman is hosting a quilt auction to benefit her friend's adoption. Anybody who has adopted knows how precious it is when friends chip in to help out. I remember people donating items to our garage sale, and what a blessing it was to know we weren't having to do it all alone. Please go visit Mindy's blog! Those are some beautiful quilts made with lots of love!