Saturday, November 29, 2008

All I Really Want For Christmas Music Video

As the Christmas celebrations begin, don't forget about those special kids who won't have anybody to celebrate with this year! I love the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree Project. For $35 you can sponsor an orphan with Down Syndrome and get his or her picture ornament to hang on your tree. The donations go towards adoption grants for these kids. We gave orphan ornaments for teacher gifts last year. Each of my kids picked an orphan to sponsor, and I know at least one of those orphans has a family committed this year! It's fun to imagine that our tiny gift of $35 might have played a part in helping a child find a family. :)

I believe our little Ava's  picture hung on someone's tree the Christmas before.......

Please check out Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree Project. (And I hope you're feeling generous when you do). Every penny goes to the child's adoption fund.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pilgrim Party

We wrapped up our Pilgrim study today by having a Thanksgiving feast with the Wright family, authentic Pilgrim style.
Delahne made succotash stew and scones. I made Indian corn pudding and bannock cakes, or pilgrim pancakes, as my kids now call them, complete with homemade cranberry jelly. Mmmmmm. Since the Pilgrims hated water we drank hot tea instead. We thought about pretending to drink beer like the Pilgrim children did, but then I remembered how Hope loves to tell her business to every stranger she meets, and decided I would just be setting myself up for another awkward moment.

Delahne found a game of Thanksgiving Bingo, or "Jingo", actually. I was impressed at how much the kids had learned.
My crafty friend Delahne led us all in making Thanksgiving crafts. Even 1 yr. old Caleb and Ava made foot prints and hand prints. It made me realize those cute little footprint crafts are definitely for the mother's enjoyment, and not for the baby's.
Here are some of the handprint turkeys the kids made. Hope is thankful for pianos, paper, Mom and Dad, Ava, and hands.
Jude is thankful for Jesus, Ava, friends, famle, and down singrom
Simeon is thankful for food, friends, house, family, and "My little Ava"
Liesel is thankful for Mom and Dad, dogs, brothers and sisters, her teacher, and of course......Ava.
And everyone contributed to Ava's thankful list. She is thankful for family, food, candy, and brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ava and licorice

Nobody in our family cares for the taste of black licorice (and if you are one of the few who likes it please leave a comment and tell me WHY).

After the girls decorated gingerbread houses with our babysitter over the weekend, we ended up with bags of peppermints, gum drops and red licorice. We discovered by accident that the purple gumdrops are black licorice in disguise, and they were about to go in the trash when we had the idea to give one to Ava to see what she would do. Let me just say this was not the response I was expecting......

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jude has been saving up his monthly allowance to buy himself a guitar. Here he is learning how to tune it. He had $28 left over and he wanted to give it to the Palmer family to bring little Sterling home. Aw. I was touched, and I think the Palmers were too.
Ava has a certain fondness for one particular sibling. Maybe because he is the only one who hasn't dropped her, bitten her, dressed her in princess clothes, fixed her hair like Beethoven, or dropped her out of the wagon.
We went to Kidsworld last weekend, where we learned a lot of neat things about different countries around the world. Notice the chinese kung fu headband, on these Russian folks.
Here is my little Ukrainian girl wearing Dutch shoes. Considering my Dutch heritage, I think this is a pretty sweet photo.
Ms. Leader is the lady we visit at the nursing home weekly. She has become like family to us, and as you can see Ava has become very fond of her too. I encourage anyone who does not have grandparents close, to adopt a grandparent! It has been a wonderful experience for our family.

Remember that old show, MacGyver? That has become a favorite with our kids and their friends. I have never seen a TV show hold the attention of so many kids of different ages and genders at the same time.

John enjoys watching Monday night football with my uncles and my brother-in-law. We got to host it this week. Since we only have one TV in our house, the kids and I drew pictures and played board games in the other room. I noticed that at halftime, the TV went mute and my uncles prayed for various family members and loved ones. I love that about my family.
I think I deserve some kind of reward for cooking every day in a triangle shaped kitchen with these little objects and bodies all around my feet. I am so popular around here.
I just started a "Wall of Art". As our art work is piling up, and drawers are filling up, I decided to take advantage of my long hall wall to display some of our masterpieces. Can you tell which is Hope's vase of flowers?
Moses is my nephew Von's dog. We are going to take care of him for awhile while Von is undergoing his chemotherapy treatments. He is a good dog and he is adjusting well to the Urban Country life. Jason told us not to spoil him too much, as he will have to go back to being an outside dog when he goes home. (For the record, I did not take this picture of Moses in bed with the girls).
Here he is talking to his boy, Von.
That's our week in a nutshell. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

After that last blog tag, I had so much fun going through old photos that I had forgotten about.

I remembered all over again why I love my husband so much. In almost every picture of him, he has a kid on his back, or slung over his shoulders, or sitting on his lap. I knew he would be a great dad on our second date when he pulled out the photos of his nieces and nephews out of his wallet. I am so glad he asked me to marry him.

The other night I overheard him putting Ava to bed. He was telling her, "I bet your mom was one beautiful lady." For a second I asked myself whether I should be offended but I quickly realized that I was not. How much that compliment will mean to her someday.

We found out that the public school will not treat Liesel with the speech therapy she needs because she is homeschooled. I was really upset and discouraged about it, so John did some research today. Tonight I overheard him in Liesel's bedroom at bedtime, practicing the "r" sound with her.

He helps the kids learn soccer skills, teaches them specific jobs around the house, how to handle money, and when it comes to math trouble.....I'm not sure what I'd do without him.

I'm posting just a few of the many photos I ran across yesterday in my folder search. What an amazing man I married.

A big jacuzzi party in the bath tub
Father/son hiking and camping in Colorado
Meeting his daughter for the first time
Hope, one day old
Jude, wiped out from spending the day at Silver Dollar City
Taking his daughter to see The Nutcracker Suite

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homeschool field trips

I am thankful to have homeschooling friends who organize the field trips, or we would probably just be home all the time. Thanks Melissa.

Last week, we took 22 children, many of them toddlers and infants to the Philbrook Art Museum. Hope was giddy on the way, squealing, "I am so excited to go to the museum, mom!" I asked, "Why are you so excited?" She answered, "Because I love seeing the fishies!"

Apparently she thought we were going to the aquarium. Poor kid. We had a great time anyway, even though we were followed around by a few ladies, constantly repeating, "Please do not touch the paintings!" It was very educational and inspiring. Thanks Melissa.

Yesterday we went on a tour through a local bakery. The manager walked the kids through the process of planting the wheat, harvesting the wheat, then we "went to the miller" to have him grind the grain into flour. Then we "took the flour to the baker" to have him bake our bread. Through the tour she told the story of The Little Red Hen, pretending some of the parents were the dog, the cat and the mouse who did not want to help but then wanted to eat the fresh bread at the end. It was cute.

When the baker put the bread in the oven, she said, "Now we put the bread in the oven and shut it up until the bread is done."

I was mortified to find out that Hope, who was in the very front of the group, informed the baker that it was very bad to say "shut up", then proceeded to lift her middle finger towards her and say, "AND.....THIS is VERY BAD. You should NEVER do this!" I credit our former neighbor kids for giving my kids that nugget of wisdom. Thanks.

Nothing like leaving a good impression for the homeschool group, and nothing like having kids to keep you humble. Maybe that is why we dont get out much.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Under One Roof

I love this story. And I have told it so many times in recent days that I decided I need to blog about it.

The story is about our good friends, the Palmer family. The story began over 3 years ago, when as a family, they committed to adopt a little boy called Sterling, from an orphanage in Uganda. They encountered one problem after another, miscommunications, mistakes by officials, red tape, politics, you name it. Michelle spent several weeks in Uganda trying to bring her little boy home. She came home empty handed, promising Sterling that he was no longer an orphan, and that she would return to bring him home to his family. She returned to Uganda months later, again, hoping to bring her little African boy home. Again, she had to return home without him.

For three years they have been trying to bring Sterling home to his forever family. The short version is this: The Palmers are finally Sterling's legal guardians, but they are now required to be his foster parents for three more years until they can legally adopt him. However, despite multiple efforts, they have been unable to get a visa for him to come to the United States. They were told to let him go, there was nothing else that could be done.

I love their persistance though...... The Palmers decided that if Sterling can't come to them, they are going to Sterling!! They are selling their belongings, renting out their house, and raising money to go to live in Uganda for three years until his adoption can be complete. Talk about love and determination!

We had the Palmer kids over for a big sleepover a couple of weeks ago, and I had a chance to talk to them about moving to Africa. As expected, they are a little nervous about what is to come. But they all unanimously agree. The best part of moving to Africa is that they are getting a new brother.
LinkThat was the short and simple version. If you want to read the tearjerker version, visit their blog at . Perhaps you may feel led to help them get there, or follow along their journey through prayers and they get their family....finally.....under one roof.
P.S. This is the Christmas card Michelle sent me three years ago. The caption was something like "Hold the ones you love".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeling sentimental.....

I pulled my big black coat out of the attic a couple of days ago, and in the pocket I found my knitted Ukrainian stocking cap. Those two things, plus the cold weather and the smell of Blackberry Amber body lotion from Bath and Body Works, are all making me feel extremely nostalgic. I am missing Ukraine terribly! How about walking down memory lane with me.....

And here is a fond memory......

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Apparently I've been spending too much time on the phone chewing out Cox Cable Company, chatting with friends......Seems I have a little copycat, don't you think?

By the way, she is talking into a TV remote control. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I hardly ever have pictures of Simeon because he doesn't like to have his picture taken. Of course, he enjoys sneaking my camera while I'm not looking and taking goofy pictures of himself. Go figure.
Yesterday Hope was pulling Ava on the little wagon. Just as I yelled, "SLOW DOWN- AND MOVE TO THE GRASS!", Ava toppled out of the wagon smack-dab on her face onto the driveway. She cried for maybe 30 seconds at the most, and then when I picked her up she snuggled in so sweet to me and smiled, clearly comforted in mama's arms. It was a wonderful feeling. I am sure glad she has a high pain tolerance, with so many brothers and sisters who love to tote her around and give her rides on things. I did send a note with her to school explaining the bruise on her forehead, and scrapes on her nose, just in case there were questions.
Liesel is my emerging scientist, always looking for fossils, or wanting to look at something under the microscope. Here she is making a fossil stamp. Yesterday in her journal she wrote that she loves science and art. It's fun to think about what the future holds for each of my kids. Piano for the boys, maybe?
Trisha asked recently what the younger kids do while the older kids are doing school. Well, here is what Ava likes best: crawling around, looking for markers without lids to chew on and make marks on her clothes and carpet with.
Yesterday she removed the basket of Legos from the bottom shelf of the school room, and after flinging Lego's around for a little bit, she crawled up on the empty shelf just like this:
Hope thought it looked like so much fun that she removed the craft box right above the Lego shelf, and made her own little cubby to hide in.
Here is the inflatable slide from last weekend that Ava loved so much. We really need to get a slide for this girl!!!!
My friend Melanie recently had a baby girl. Her name is Mikaya. Isn't she beautiful? She graciously let Hope hold her. I got to hold her too. What a treat!
And guess what I've been doing all day today? Thank goodness for washing machines!