Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Switching things up

This past weekend I decided to make some changes. Specifically, I decided to put the girls in the boys' room and the boys in the girls' room.

The girls' room is right in the middle of the hallway and has a pocket door. I don't like closing their door as I'm worried they will have trouble opening it in the middle of the night if they need to go to the bathroom. The hallway outside their door happens to be the squeakiest part of the hall so every time we walk by it is really loud and often wakes one or both girls up.

The boys' room is at the end of the hall, right across from our room, and has a regular door on it. By putting the girls in there I can hear them better at night and I can pull their door to and not have them hear as much noise. Plus, the floor in the boys' room is quieter so when I go in to one of the girls I don't wake the other one up.

We started the switch on Sunday night. Of course it decided to thunderstorm that night. But it worked out great because I stayed in our bedroom folding laundry and listened for the girls. I could peek in on them without waking them up. When Danielle got scared I was able to go in and comfort her without waking Emily up (Danielle was the only one who ever woke up).

Right now we're on trial for a week, so we haven't actually swapped any of their clothes or toys yet. I want to see how this works. But so far I am LOVING it and think it may be a permanent change.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten minutes ago

"What are we having for dinner?"

"Western casserole."


No joke. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two down, two to go

Sunday after church Tim was stung by a wasp. It was apparently building a nest underneath one of the handrails and it wasn't too happy when Tim put his hand on the handrail. He was stung twice on one hand and once on the other. Other than screaming like a girl (Mark's words ;)) he handled it very well. It didn't swell up much on Sunday, but he woke up Monday morning with both hands pretty swollen.

This afternoon I gave him some benadryl as his little hands were so swollen you couldn't see his knuckles. :( Poor baby. They don't seem to bother him though as he's busy building more houses out of blankets (the latest every-afternoon activity) and the couch.

Two of the kids have now been stung and not had severe reactions. The minimal-reaction part always makes me happy. Here's hoping the other two respond the same way!

Friday, June 25, 2010

No more school

Today when I picked the kids up, Tim informed me that he no longer wanted to go to school. He only wants to go to summer camp. Specifically...

"I don't want to go to school anymore. I only want to go to summer camp. I already know how to read. I don't need to go to school anymore."

Apparently being able to read 3 and 4 letter words with one or two vowels means you have maxed out your learning opportunities at school. Can't say I was surprised by this one. Tim would much rather be running and doing than sitting and learning! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I feel like a crummy mom

The boys have been attending summer camp at their school. Since it's a Christian school and the camp is held at the Baptist church/school, we weren't too concerned about content. They go swimming every Monday, on a field trip ever Tuesday (today was the City Museum--lucky boys!!), to a movie every Wednesday, have stations (cooking, arts and crafts, etc.) on Thursday, and go bowling on Fridays. The boys love it and they are definitely sleeping well. :)

But we've run into a small problem with the movies.

It started the first day of camp (a Tuesday) when they came home and said they had watched The Tooth Fairy. Not only is it rated PG, but the grand total of what they got out of it was "the kid got mad and smashed his guitar!"

Not really life lessons we want our kids to be learning.

So I'm thinking it's a fluke...and then they watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (PG) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (PG). They are slated to watch Where the Wild Things Are (PG) today and I finally put my foot down. I don't want my kids watching that, and for more reasons than just the rating. I talked to the director of the program who said "well those are just the movies they show so that's what we go see." Really? Because I'm thinking the church would not be so happy that you're taking kids to see movies with cuss words in them (d*** and hell for the movie today...ones later on this summer are worse), not to mention the content, especially since about half the kids in the program are 7 years old and under.

So I had the fun job of telling the boys that they would not be going to the movie with all of their friends. Instead, they would be sitting outside the movie with the camp director. So now they think they have done something wrong or are in trouble. :(

As it worked out, Mark is going to take the boys to work with him this morning and drop them back off at summer camp at lunchtime. We're still looking into our options for next week...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

And even more base ball...

We had another busy day of base ball. We drove a couple of hours into Illinois for the game. Early on, Mark was in left field and the kids and I were at the playground behind him. I yelled at him to check out Emily and me.

Emily was swinging, by herself, pumping and giving Danielle a run for her money as to who could swing higher.

I was sitting on a bench, in the shade. :) :)

The helicopters from Alex's birthday were a huge hit and the kids spent a lot of time flying them. Emily is not quite able to make them go (she pulls the string too slow) but the bigger kids were all able to get them into the air.

The kids also took turns playing left field with Mark. That was highly entertaining for me, especially since none of them run after the ball. They all just stand there and watch Mark run and then tell him he did a good job when he gets back to where they are!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

He's 8!

I can't believe I'm now the mother of an 8-year-old. And that he was only 5 when he came home!

I made the slight mistake of asking Alex the night before his birthday what kind of cake he wanted. I was expecting "chocolate" or "vanilla" or "sprinkles" or something along those lines. No, I get

"Noah's Ark."

I started laughing and Mark asked if he should go find a Noah's ark cake, but I was pretty sure I could do it at home. So I baked a sheet cake while moderating an online chat for adoptive families. I then cut the cake in the shape of an ark, and frosted it the next day. It wasn't the best cake I've ever seen but not bad for a couple hours notice. Most importantly, Alex liked it. :)

Alex only asked for one thing for his birthday: "a helicopter that flies up in the air." I didn't think he was quite ready for a RC helicopter, so I went searching for one of those helicopters that sits on a trigger and shoots up in the air. After lots of searching, I finally found one on Amazon. Even better, it's made of foam so it can be flown inside!

Happy, happy birthday to my firstborn!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Very rarely do I wish that I had brought the camera somewhere, but that was definitely the case Friday night. The kids' school had a carnival--complete with rides!--as a fundraiser. The kids have been talking about it for weeks and were over-the-moon with excitement when they started putting the rides up in the parking lot on Wednesday.

Since Mark has base ball today and I have an out-of-town baby shower, we knew the only option was to go on Friday night. So after homemade pizza for dinner (thankfully they don't yet realize the yumminess of carnival food) we walked to the carnival. The tickets were $1 each and each ride was 2-3 tickets so we had to set a limit so we didn't go broke. :) We perused the rides and after a little discussion Mark and I decided they could each ride one ride (there weren't very many that they could ride because they are still so little). These are the first carnival rides any of them have been on. Emily and Tim chose a car ride that went around in a circle and Danielle and Alex chose a dragon mini-roller coaster. We bought extra tickets for me to go on the roller coaster with Alex and Danielle (we were a little afraid of someone having a panic attack) but as it turned out I was too tall to ride (first time that's ever happened!) so we sent Tim on instead.

Alex and Danielle were sitting in the very front seat with Tim right behind them. As soon as the ride started, you could see absolute terror on Danielle's face. One time around...I can see her trying to tell someone, anyone, to stop the ride. Second time around...boys are laughing and having a ball, Danielle is slightly less terrifed but still very unsure. Third time around...Danielle is smiling. :)

They had a great time and I now think we could go to an amusement park and all of them would enjoy it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Laughter is good for the soul

Tim: "Mama, why do you and Papa kiss?"

"Because we're married."



Emily, while we're driving down the highway: "Mama, it's broken!"

"What's broken?"

"The car!"

", it's a convertible."


They make me laugh a lot. :) :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dirty house update

Things are moving right along on the dirty house. Mark is in the process of putting insulation in which is a miserable job to have to do by yourself, but he's plugging away at it. After insulation is drywall (we're hiring someone for that) and then it will really start to feel like a house, although I will miss the new lumber smell of all the walls being open. :)

We've picked out lighting and are planning colors for painting so it feels (to me) like it's really getting closer to being done. I know for Mark it feels like it is neverending insulation!

Monday, June 07, 2010


The boys went swimming today for summer camp. They LOVE swimming but neither of them can swim independently yet. We're planning on swim lessons starting in July (for all four of them) but in the meantime we've been a little stressed about the idea of them going swimming every Monday without us.

We sent their arm floaties but we also talked to the teachers about only letting them stay in the wading pool. One of the teachers said "well, we can start in the wading pool and then work on helping them get comfortable with the water..." to which we said oh, no, they are already very comfortable with the water but they can't swim, which is a bad combination! They were not the only kids who stayed in the wading pool (from what we understand, this is a wading pool that's pretty big and a couple of feet deep, so plenty big for them to have lots of fun playing in) and they had a great time.

The girls start water play at the preschool this next week, one of them on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays. This means I get wet clothes and towels almost every day of the week. ;) Good thing I don't mind doing laundry!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Base ball, base ball, and more base ball

This weekend was one of Mark's vintage base ball festivals. They played pretty much all day on Saturday and then Sunday afternoon. The kids and I went and we tried out the new canopy that we bought at Walmart a couple of weeks ago. We have a few base ball fields without a lot of shade so now we have guaranteed shade with us wherever we go. The canopy worked great and the kids enjoyed helping set it up and take it down.

Saturday night after showers everyone went to bed and NO ONE MOVED from the spot they first laid down in. They crashed and crashed hard after all of the playing! :) Since they'd played so hard on Saturday and had a busy week coming up we only went to a couple of games on Sunday then went home to relax and calm down.

My mom came up briefly this weekend which worked great! The kids were so excited to see here and she was able to babysit while Mark and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. It's been eleven years, and while it hasn't always been easy, there is no one else I would rather be married to than Mark. :)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Update on Cathryn and Connor

As many of you know, several months ago I was advocating for Cathryn and Connor. They are siblings in Russian who were in need of a family. They also happened to be HIV positive.

Thankfully, the Scoda family came forward and committed to adopt Cathryn and Connor. They were due to travel for their first trip this month (most regions of Russia require two trips separated by a few months). Unfortunately, it was just determined that Cathryn and Connor are no longer available for adoption. It is unclear at this point if they have been moved into foster care or adopted by another family, but regardless the outcome is the same.

The Scodas have now committed to adopt Mindy, an adorable little girl in Ukraine who is also HIV positive. Please be in prayer for the Scodas and their new adoption procedure. We too have lost a referral before and while it seems like it wouldn't be a big deal--after all, they're not your child yet--it is very painful and there is a grieving process. I know I still wonder about the children we were not able to adopt and how they are doing.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Summer camp

This summer the boys are attending the summer camp at their school while both girls are in the preschool (Emily was already there and since Danielle hasn't started kindergarten she still qualifies for preschool).

We looked at putting Danielle in the summer camp but were pretty sure it would just be way too exhausting for her. As it was, she was coming home from school exhausted and that was after a day with lots of playing but also lots of sitting and down time.

Summer camp doesn't have any down time.

They do field trips almost every day, including swimming, the zoo, the botanic gardens, and the science center. However, at the preschool she gets rest time every day.

So far so good as to Danielle and the preschool! She loves it and it is a nice controlled environment. She gets to play a lot which I think is good for her development (they have stations so she does lots of cooking in the pretend kitchen) and she's learning to play games like bingo and dominoes with the other kids. She has been resting quietly and even sleeping in the afternoons and her behavior at home is so much better. She usually sleeps about 11 hours at night but that just isn't enough to keep up with her activity level so it's great for her to have some rest time during the day.

We're not quite as keen on the summer camp for the boys. So far they've had soda and watched PG movies, both things which we do not agree with at their age (and without parental guidance!!). But we are between a rock and a hard place at this point and it's the best option we have. Nothing there will kill them so we're tolerating it for now. They are having a good time so I know they will remember this as a really fun summer!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Insights into Alex

The Friday after school was out I started the math curriculum. I know, I'm a mean mom. ;)

We watched the video first and I had all of the kids sit down to watch it. They don't get to watch much TV so they thought it was a treat. LOL Alex wanted nothing to do with it, but I told him he could either watch it now or later by himself and he opted to watch with the rest of us. It was really funny watching Tim raise his hand to answer questions to the man on the video. At least I know he learned something in kindergarten! Alex, too, began to participate in calling out answers at times.

After the video, the three youngest wanted to play with the manipulatives while Alex chose to go outside to play. I let the three littles play with the blocks and just build and have fun. When they were done they went outside to play. As soon as I had put them away Alex came in and asked to "play with the same thing Tim and Danielle were playing with". And it clicked.

He's embarrassed.

He's embarrassed because he thinks he can't do math and he doesn't want to look stupid in front of his siblings. I got out the manipulatives for him and let him play a little bit while we talked about them, but we didn't do any actual "work".

I didn't have the kids do any work over the weekend (see?? I am a nice mom!) but started in again on Monday (Memorial Day). Mark had to work so it was just a day at home for the rest of us. I sat down one-on-one with Alex and we started doing the Math-U-See worksheets. As we worked through some counting and place value, I noticed a few things.

One, Alex was slowing down and actually counting. He's very bad about skimming over things and counting 6 when there are really 5 or 7 when there are really 9.

Two, he got excited. At one point he told me "Mama, I can do this! I'm smart!"

Which is what we've known all along. Now if we can just really convince him of that so that he believes it!