Thursday, May 27, 2010

School is done

Tuesday night was kindergarten graduation and AE (Danielle's class) did graduation this morning during chapel.

It was fun watching the kids perform, and oh we have a little stage ham! The kids in Danielle's class were on risers, and for various songs and poems a few of them would be called down to perform in front of three microphones. There was a line of tape where the kids were to stand, about 3 feet behind the microphones. Every single time Danielle came to the front to perform, she would first walk up to the microphone, adjust it to her liking, then step back to the tape line.

Not one other child in her class adjusted the microphones. :) :) Danielle didn't play with them, simply adjusted them and then stepped back, ready to sing. It was hilarious. She did really well with the program once we were able to get her settled down a little bit. She knew all of the songs and stories they were doing and she definitely sings with gusto. :)

On Wednesday when I picked her up from school, I asked her teacher if there were specific things we should be working on this summer. I already knew most of what we needed to work on, but I wanted to know if there was anything I wasn't aware of. She asked about Danielle's speech and said "oh, but that's taken care of with her speech therapy, right?" I pointed out that Danielle isn't getting speech therapy, nor would she qualify as her language deficits are strictly related to ESL. Her teacher started to ask me about therapy for her ESL, and I gently pointed out that if she was in a public school she would be getting those services, but she does not get them at their current school. She seemed somewhat abashed, I think because she finally realized that in some ways our kids do not progress as fast as they could because we choose to send them to this school. But we feel that the delay in their language learning is well worth having them in an environment where they feel safe, loved, and accepted.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Loving the weather!

Saturday was a base ball game for Mark and it was a gorgeous day for it! The kids played all day and were so wiped out by the end.

Sunday was church and then Mark's work picnic. I completely forgot to take the camera (the kids actually reminded us after we were already there because they wanted pictures of their balloon animals) but it's probably just as well. There was a bounce house, balloon animals, sno-cones, and way too much barbecue to eat. :) The kids had a great time as did Mark and I. The bigger kids loved the bounce house but Emily was less-than-enthralled. She decided it was way more fun to watch from the outside than to be bumped into by her siblings (who, by the way, thought it was great that they could knock each other down and not get in trouble for it!).

I've been selling some of the kids' old clothes on Craigslist and finally got rid of the second tuxedo on Sunday. It feels so nice to get things out of the house, especially when it can bring some extra money in.

Thinking of money always makes me think of the dirty house. Mark is being way too modest in the pictures.

Every single piece of new wood you see in those pictures he has put in. By himself. In addition, several of the contractors have come through and praised him on his framing. I am so proud of him and how hard he has worked on this. Rough-in of all of the systems is now almost done (waiting on a couple of small things) and we expect to be able to start insulating this week. That tuxedo I just sold should provide enough to pay for all of the insulation supports for the ceilings! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

End of school

This week is the last week of school, which means the past couple of weeks have been crammed full of field trips, meetings, homework, etc.

I am wiped out. I slept for 9 hours Friday AND Saturday night. It felt great. :)

Things are hopefully going to start winding down and settling into a summer routine after this week, but we still have: a field trip (Emily), a trip to the dentist to replace two fillings (me), kindergarten graduation (Tim), AE graduation (Danielle), speech (Emily), and Shakespeare in the Park (all of us if I can make it work!). Plus normal school and work schedules for everybody.

One of the reasons I've been lax in posting is that I've wanted to post about Alex and haven't quite known what to post. We've really struggled with whether or not to send him to second grade next year. He is failing math but that is the only subject he is failing--everything else he has As and Bs. The bigger problem is that he does not seem to want to do the work a lot of the time, so we are working on helping him through some of that. A lot of his problems right now are stemming from some issues from the orphanage, we believe, so we are working on the best way to help him grow past this. Don't get me wrong--it will always be part of him, but there are some things he needs to work through right now in order to move forward.

I think in a lot of ways he's coming to a breaking point for himself where he realizes he needs to let go of some of the "old" and he's really struggling with that. Some of his habits and survival skills he has had for a long time. He is starting to see that he needs to let go of them but I think he's very scared of doing that--of really opening up. I don't want to say this is not about attachment because I'm sure some of this affects his feelings and interactions with us as well, but this is really about Alex and his view of himself (which is quite often where attachment problems come from too). I think Alex is secure in his place in our family. He shows good attachment signs and we have no qualms about his attachment, although I personally believe it takes longer than a couple of years for a child with a background like his to be firmly and completely attached.

This really boils down to his self-esteem and self-worth.

In addition to helping him work through some of those issues, we are tackling the math too. :) I recently purchased the Alpha set of Math-U-See. Alex is a very visual learner so I'm hopeful that this may help him "get" math better than the curriculum they use at school. We will be starting this after school is out and doing a little bit each day. I'm actually going to do it with the three oldest (not sure about Emily yet) as I think it will be beneficial for all of them, too.

NB: I've turned off comments for this post, not because I don't like you. :) :) I would love some encouragement right now but I'm not up for discourses on what we should be doing for Alex. I have not posted the full situation here nor how we are handling it and that is intentional. So please trust that we are working towards the best solutions to help Alex and please be praying for him and us that we can help him heal from his past. Thanks! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Updated "Dirty House"

Updated pictures of the "Dirty House" Plumbing is in! HVAC is close. Electric should be done this week. 1st floor ceiling is dropped. New windows go in on Thursday, all 17 of them.

Basement - where the furnace was and will go again

First Floor - from kitchen through dining room to living room
(lowered ceiling here)

First Floor - from living room through dining room to kitchen and back door
(lowered ceiling here)

Second Floor - from second bedroom into bath with master bath beyond, then closet then master bedroom

Second Floor - from master bath, then second bath into second bedroom

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Date night

Last night Mark and I went on a real, live date.

I can hear the gasps of shock. :) :)

Mark had a drawing at work for some Cardinals tickets. He didn't win, but the girl who did gave him her tickets and insisted that we go on a date. We found a babysitter and went to the ballgame last night.

It was great!

The weather was perfect--the storms they were predicting never appeared and it was a perfect temperature. We were just to the left of home plate and only a few rows off of the field. I had fun getting to actually sit and talk to Mark instead of spending time fielding questions from the kids. Instead, I asked him lots of questions. I know baseball, but there's all of these little rules that make no sense to me whatsoever. Why should you have to wait to run if someone hits the ball? That's just silly. And why can't baseball players run fast?

Anyway...the Cardinals were down 9 to 5 at the top of the eighth (which was a great improvement over the 9 to 1 after the top of the sixth!), so I leaned over and suggested we sneak out and go get some ice cream. However, they did a quick up and down in the bottom of the eighth and then managed to pull in one more run in the bottom of the ninth so we stuck it out to the end (they still lost, obviously, but it was entertaining).

Then we went to Ted Drewes (on Grand, mind you). :) I had a hot fudge sundae with marshmallow creme. I'm sure you're very interested but it was absolutely delicious. ;)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Easter morning (I'm only a month late ;))

Playing at the playground over the weekend

A little bit tired on the drive home...

Mother's Day weekend

I had a post to write last week (about Alex specifically) but after some thought on my part I've decided I'm not ready to put it out there yet, which is why you haven't seen anything from me. :)

This weekend we split the kids and had a girls' weekend and a boys' weekend! I had a family baby shower to go to for a cousin and Mark had base ball so couldn't watch all of the kids, so we thought this would be a fun way to do the weekend. The girls and I drove down to my mom's house for the baby shower--which never happened. As it turned out, the mom-to-be had a car accident the morning of the shower. She and the baby are both fine, but they were in the hospital for the day for monitoring. So instead of a baby shower we had something more like a family reunion--with lots of girls. LOL

I did some special things with the girls this weekend that they hadn't yet experienced--their first blow-dry, their first happy meals, and their second nail-paintings. They loved getting to spend lots of time with me without having to compete with their brothers. In addition, they LOVED spending time with my youngest sister Brianna who is 13.

Mark and the boys...well, let's see if I can list it. Over to a base ball park to repair some holes--involved dirt, digging, and jumping on the newly placed dirt. To a second base ball park for the actual game--lots of playing with trucks, reading to friends, and all-around hanging out. To Cici's Pizza for dinner--chosen (by the boys) over White Castle because "it has more food and dessert." To Lowes and Home Depot for all kinds of building supplies for both houses. Sams--grocery shopping for the family. Church--where I didn't hear any reports of bad behavior, but they might have all been sleeping in the balcony. ;) I think they also added in some trips to the dirty house as well as doing some things around our house. Saturday night the boys were so excited because they got to stay up until 8pm. "Mama, it was past 8 o'clock!"

And Sunday we put everyone to bed at 6:30 and Mark had to wake them up at 7 the next morning. :) :)

Some highlights from my weekend: Sharing a morning snack with my girls at McDs--yogurt parfait for them and a Mocha Frappe for me. Emily headbanging to AM country-western music on the drive. Danielle falling in love with a little mirror she got in her Happy Meal, and trying to show it to every person in the restaurant before we left because she was so proud (we really did only stop at McDs twice). Talking to my mom for hours without interruption while Brianna and the girls played. Coming home to all of my boys (big and little) and the beautiful roses they got me for Mother's Day...

...realizing I've only been a mom for not even two and a half years. How incredibly blessed I am to celebrate this third Mother's Day when for many years I doubted I would celebrate one. I don't always feel like I'm meeting everyone's needs, but I'm trying and trusting God that He will keep molding me into the wife and mother He wants me to be! :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Alex had to write a story tonight about ladybugs. He came up with four sentences all by himself and I only had to do ONE grammar correction. For him that's HUGE!! Between the speech apraxia and being an ELL, English grammar is really hard for him. It's great to see his progress!

Here is his story:

"The Ladybugs"
"The ladybugs are living in the leaves. Ladybugs are crawling on the ground. Ladybugs have twenty-two spots. Ladybugs can fly." (My grammar correction was for "on the ground"--he said "in ground.")


At dinner we were talking about playing soccer next fall. Alex frowned when I asked if he wanted to play soccer. Shaking his head, he said no. I was so puzzled because Alex LOVES soccer, and I couldn't imagine what would make him not want to play.

He then paused and said, "I want to coach."

When we told him he couldn't coach, that that job was for grownups, he smiled and said, "Okay, I'll play."

I love being at home

Yesterday, due to forces out of my control, I had a day off of work. All of the big kids went to school and I went ahead and sent Emily to preschool as I knew she'd be very bored at home by herself. She loves her preschool classroom and is a friend to all. :)

Consequently, I got lots done. :) :) I painted the bathroom, went to Sams, painted the front fence (well, half of it), did laundry, went to the bank...and lots of little things that take about 10 times longer with "small" interruptions. ;)

It was very refreshing to be at home and we had a good evening at home, too. During dinner we were talking about Ukraine (actually a common topic for us--the boys never talked about it before we brought the girls home, but now they seem to understand that it's okay to talk about it) and Tim was asking me if I'd always live with him. In the middle of our discussion about how old he was going to be (and still living with me), Alex pipes up with "I'm going to get a pickup truck. A big one." Then proceeded to keep eating. I was giggling as I said "Oh, really?" "Yep, for $18." "Oh, you'll definitely still be living with me then!"

Today I'll be back at work. I still need to get the other half of the fence painted--I'm hopeful that can happen this evening!

Monday, May 03, 2010

We tried

We had today all mapped out...

Church in the morning. Back home for lunch and various tasks (playing for the kids, house stuff for Mark and I). Band concert at 3pm, after which (about 5pm) we would go to Sams to pick up a few things and eat dinner. Then home and bed for the kids.

Wouldn't you know? The band concert lasted until 5:30. Sams closes at 6pm so when we got there at 5:45 there was only one slice of pizza left and the woman would not put a whole one in the oven for us (we wanted to just buy the whole pizza). So we left, hit Little Caesars on the way home, ate pizza, and then put the kids to bed.

It all worked out but it was a little crazier than we would have liked. However, the band concert was GREAT and the kids loved it!