Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homeschool P.E.

I know what some of you are thinking from the last homeschool post...slackers!
But don't you worry. We're taking this homeschool thing seriously. We even did P.E. today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

We're goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

Today was back to school for the rest of us. We decided to take an academic break for the month of January because we had a couple things we needed to do...like move! However, I won't say that we weren't "in-school" because that's one thing I love about homeschool. Every day is still a learning experience, even when we're not sitting in front of our books. The kids learned a great deal about moving, packing and unpacking, finding their way around a new town, organizing a new home, and had time to serve others with donations and meals. So much in just a few short weeks! But...we also missed our routine. Over the weekend, we dug our books out of boxes, and I put together our plans for the next couple weeks. And wouldn't you know it...the weather turned out beautiful enough on day 1 to take a field trip??
How can we not get outside when the temperature is going to reach 60 degrees???

Off to the zoo we went! Bonus: free entry!
We started in Africa, and the lions were enjoying the sun, too. The male and female were hanging out on this rock.

Look how close this snake was to Jenna! Yes, he was behind glass, but still...these boas were HUGE and moving around a lot! We could hear someone working in a room next to their cage. Maybe it was close to feeding time because one boa climbed the tree, put his head very close to the door, and kept sticking out his tongue. I can't imagine having to feed those creatures!

Our Weekend

We had visitors this weekend! Both sets of grandparents drove down to see our new home and to celebrate Jenna's birthday. Can you tell the kids were thrilled they were here?

Our niece surprised us and visited, too! There were some intense Uno games. :)
We also heard "Coley, play with me! Coley, sit by me!" all weekend!
I think they like her! :)

Jenna loved opening her presents. I hope she knows that this is the end of the line for birthday presents this year!

Laura loved the ribbons. Always a favorite!

After they left on Sunday, Jacob made popsicles for us with this new handy-dandy popsicle maker. Just pour in juice, and watch them freeze in about 10 minutes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Beautiful earrings

Here they are...photos of Jenna getting her ears pierced on her birthday.

Last summer, she saw my stash of earrings and wanted to have earrings, too. I thought I'd delay it by telling her "how about when you're 5?" thinking she may forget. Ummm...no. She has been reminding everyone ever since then, that when she's 5, she's getting her ears pierced. Lesson learned...she doesn't forget!

Here she is, up in the big, tall chair, ready to go! I had taken her to the store a week earlier to show her what it was all about. The gal even pierced the bear's ear so she could see how it happened.

There was a brief moment of fear when both gals came up to her with their little machines, but then in an instant, it was done. It startled her, enough to almost tear-up, but I had gum in my pocket and it was all smiles from there! She chose pretty, pink flowers. She's actually smiling here...just with a mouth full of gum!

Feeling very special and even more like a princess!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Her First Birthday

Last year on Jenna's birthday, we were still in China.

We celebrated, but heaven knows there was so much going on that it probably didn't really mean a whole lot.

But this year...what a difference! She waited through all of our birthdays, friends' birthdays, cousins' birthdays, until finally it was her turn.

And she knew for months what she wanted.

But her first present was a surprise...a free meal from Bob Ev*ns restaurant...her favorite place aside from Chinese food.

This morning we woke Jenna up by singing Happy Birthday to her. This was her reaction, and that smile did not leave her face all day. She was just one big smiling, squealing, thankful girl today!

Of course, certain requests were made to make it the perfect birthday.
She had to choose her prilly dress...
have pancakes for breakfast...

wear her hair in one piggy tail, tucked behind her ears, with some hair hanging down in back.
Yeah, I know...she's only 5...

She was so excited to get a birthday card in the mail from a friend where we used to live.

And she has been excited for months to get her ears pierced. Those pictures will come later...not sure why I can't get them off my phone!

Then she requested Chinese food for dinner at a little take-out restaurant. Of course, the lady who helps run the place gave her a big hug, and a big bag of fortune cookies for her birthday.

Then it was home to open presents.

A huge hug for Char. He got her the best gift of all...pink gum!

She was also thrilled with the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book and box of pink tissues for her bedroom from her biggest brothers. The girl has a thing for tissues!

This picture is just plain funny...look at Laura! She's such a clown sometimes!

Time for her birthday cake. Daddy lit the candles and then we waited to hear the big candle play Happy Birthday. We waited...and waited...until finally Jenna told us we were supposed to sing to her. Apparently we didn't twist the candle to the on position. We would have been waiting there all night!

Then it wouldn't stop playing. Every time Jenna took a big breath to blow out the candles, it started playing again. She was laughing and laughing!

Our littlest princess.

Blow! Notice how no one ever jumps at the chance to eat that piece of cake the kids spit, I mean, blow all over?

Her little cheeks must have been sore when she went to bed. She was smiles all day long!

Happy 5th birthday, Jenna Mei.

You are such a treasure!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Taking a breath

Dinner's in the crockpot and I'm veggin' on the sofa. I'm toast.

Let me recap the week.

Laura started school on Tuesday. We drove her each morning...meaning all of us were up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 7:15. She rode the bus home, and seemed to enjoy the whole school experience. Three different companies came out to give us their take on reverse osmosis systems for drinking water. We drink a lot of water, and I want it as pure as we can get it...without spending a crazy amount. Addresses had to be changed, new checks ordered, library cards requested, phone and internet services explored and chosen, medical exams completed for school, medications located for Laura (she needs a specific med. from a specific pharm. co.), groceries purchased at new stores, Jenna's Gotcha day celebrated, and...here's the biggie...

our household goods were delivered on Wednesday.

All day long, 5 guys were hauling boxes into the house and piling them everywhere. Thankfully, boxes were labeled and usually ended up in the right room...but what a mess. And really, if you want to know just how much stuff you have, move. You'll be more than happy to purge once you see how many boxes you now have to unpack and find homes for everything in them.

The kids worked so hard that day, unpacking their bedrooms and putting everything in order. We got the kitchen underway, too. I felt muscles the next morning that I had forgotten I had...ouch!

Oh, and did I mention that day the water company shut off our water to fix a broken main? Yes...5 men, 4 children, and me...with no water. That was fun.

And since Wednesday, we've been unpacking, organizing, cleaning, searching for missing pieces, and deciding how much we don't need. We've also cleaned out Jamie's apartment that he had for a few months. And since we've been so busy with unpacking and settling, my cooking has gone out the window. We are definitely helping the economy here with our frequent restaurant visits. Oh, and our new favorite...Ste*k & Shake!

Today was church, and then Jamie took the boys bowling. We need to rest a little before the week starts up again. Because there are more boxes to unpack, drivers' licences and plates to change, and life needs to get back to some kind of normal...including school. Just don't tell the kids.

Charlie, Charlie.

He was so excited to be sleeping in the bunk bed now, that he kept the moving guy company the whole time he was putting the bed together.

I overheard this conversation.

Char: Are you married?

man: Uh, no, not yet.

Char: How old are you?

man: Almost 30.


Char: So, do you obey the Bible?

man: Well, I try to.


Char: Mom! This guy's strong like Samson!

Paper, paper, everywhere!

The boys were helping me find a "lost" key that unlocked my china cabinet. Jamie found it later...labeled and in a special bag...in the cabinet drawer. Oops. Sorry, boys.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back to School...

for Laura, that is. We dropped her off Tuesday morning at 7:30 for her first big day at her new school. She had already met her teacher, (in photo), some of the aides and therapists, the principal, and the secretary. So, she was ready when we dropped her off. And since she was the first one in her classroom, she was able to start on the Ipad. I know she loved it. And her teacher wrote that she had a great first day, that she was very sweet, and that she was the errand-runner. So she got lots of PT walking to and from the office with notes.

And being the good mom that forgot her camera...twice...this is from my camera phone. Thank you to my hubby who knew I would need to upgrade my phone last year to one that does more than just call!

Jan. 17, 2011

Today is Jenna's Gotcha Day. One year with our family.

I woke up this morning with memories that actually made me feel stressed. Makes me wonder about the stress our kids feel for years after being handed over to strangers.

Nothing prepared us for how she transitioned that first night.

We had never experienced such utter anguish...for hours.

She wanted to go back to the orphanage. The only home and "family" she knew.

This was our fourth adoption, and you would have thought we'd have anticipated this.

But those rosy glasses were on again, and boy did they get thrown off in a hurry.

Survival 101 for all of us.

This sweet little face had many smiles in China. But we soon learned that many of those smiles were her way of searching out love...from anyone who would love her and give her what she needed. I think this picture captures what was in her heart and head not only in China, but for quite a while after she came home.

This is our little princess now. Smiling...because she knows she's truly loved (and because she knows she's adorable and has THE most captivating smile). Smiling...because she knows she's one of God's princesses and beautifully made.


It's not all fun and games, and sometimes it's just plain hard.

Thanking God today for the family He gave us, the grace He shows when we goof up, and His love that keeps us all seeking to be more like Him.

Happy 1st Gotcha Day, Mei Mei. We love you!
"Yet those who wait for the Lord

will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary."

Isaiah 40:31

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our first full week

We made it through our first week in our new hometown. Mostly, it has been very positive, though I'm wondering if we're on vacation-mode, and the move will really sink in once we're in our house. Being in the apartment is a tight squeeze, but makes it feel like a vacation condo...even with a little lake outside our windows. And we're not doing school this month, and we're eating out more than normal...yep...I think we're in vacation mode.

But that's about to change. We closed on our house last Friday and were handed the keys to our new home. Jamie picked it out all by himself, minus me seeing a few photos online. He did such a great job. Here's a photo of my new kitchen. I LOVE it!

Wednesday our furniture will be delivered. We've been measuring walls at the house so we know exactly where the movers should place everything. Some heavy pieces, like the piano, will not be relocated within the house by us later, so we want to be sure they're in the right place to begin with. Jamie had a cleaning lady come in and do a thorough cleaning for me so we could move right in. Yesterday, her husband and son came in and repainted the basement a neutral color. The previous owners had a weird "salmon" color down there. Like the painter said...definitely not a man-cave! They did an awesome job, and will definitely be on our list of callers when we need another paint job.

Yesterday, we visited another church. It was huge, and felt like we were at a performance. It was too big for our taste...good message and talented musicians...but we like the smaller, more intimate churches. But, we agreed that we would try several churches before settling into one...but I think I know where we'll end up already!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This is what happens...

when two growing boys are cooped up in a small apartment for hours on end.

People start getting hurt.

Don't believe their innocent faces.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Warm Welcome

I feel like we've been rather spoiled this past week by the "welcoming committee" here in our new hometown. Goodness, people have been so friendly and hospitable to us...total strangers!

Monday night we were invited to dinner at Pastor's house. And for those of you that have fed our family...7 is a big number to feed in addition to one's own family! But, we had a great time, the kids played well, the hostess and I chatted easily, and of course, it was great to not have to cook that night. Their diningroom table was just the right size to fit us all...all except the dads. They were MIA at work.

Tuesday brought a fun day of playing with other homeschool families. Prior to moving, I joined a yahoo group for homeschoolers in this area. One of the moms organized a playdate at a local Rainbow playsystem dealership. For a minimal price, the kids could play on their display models for 4 hours. And play they did. They ran and ran so hard...poor Jacob's legs are actually hurting today. And you can see by the pictures...no one stood still long enough for a good picture.

This is Charlie...

Jacob is in yellow, his buddy in green, and Amarin in red.

The girls were kind of still for me. This young lady took over as "mama" to my girls and took them all over the place!

All the families had so much fun that we decided to do this twice per month. Great outlet for the winter months!

Monday, January 9, 2012

In honor of a friend

Laura helped someone today. We won't know who, but it doesn't matter.

We've had friends in the past that battled childhood cancer, and know someone going through it right now. How simple can this be for us to give up a few locks of hair?

She cut off 8 inches of her hair so a child going through cancer treatments might have some.

We read about this in the local news when we arrived Friday night, and were thrilled that she had JUST 8 inches to donate!

Here she is with Amanda...the sweet, patient gal who cut the ponies off her wiggly, bobbing-all-over-the-place noggin!

Charlie and Jenna wanted an up-close look at what was going on with Laura's hair.


Time to try shaping her hair...this girl can give stylists such a challenge!

And a cuddle for Amanda at the end of it all. The gals here were so sweet, and showed us around the salon which includes a private room for clients experiencing hair loss. They showed the kids some wigs so they knew what would happen with Laura's hair.

And Laura does look adorable in her new little bob!