Friday, February 26, 2010

Let TV Teach The Children

Taking Jack and Aidan out of their preschool has been a great decision. I love having them around all the time. They love not being in a crazy school all the time. I know it was the right thing to do.

However, we have struggled a bit with the learning aspect. My philosophy is more in line with letting them explore things they are interested in. We have learned so much about trucks, trains, and the Civil War. We explore and explain all the time. It hasn't really bothered me that there are things they don't know- even basic things- like letters and numbers. I figured it would come when they were ready.

That being said, they *will* be starting Kindergarten in the fall, and I don't think it is fair to them or their teachers to send them totally unprepared for that experience. There is a knowledge base they are expected to have when they start school. I don't necessarily think the school *should* expect those things, but they do, and to have my kids be successful, they need to be able to adjust and learn at the same level (or close to) as the rest.

So, yes, it bothers me that they weren't learning their letters. I wasn't asking them to create complex sentences- I just wanted them to identify "A" from "Q". And it wasn't happening. After almost 3 months at home, they could identify about 7 letters. Ugh.

Many different people had recommended a video:

Letter Factory from Leapfrog. I had to be hit over the head several times before I realized we should try it.

Friend One: My kid learned letters and sounds by watching this video- you should try it.
Me: Yeah, sure (I don't need some stupid video to teach my kids! I can do it myself!)

[several months later]

Friend Two: My kids and my other friends kids learned their letters by watching this video- it might help you.
Me: Yeah, sure (I really don't want to spend the money on that stupid thing. I still think I can do it myself!)

[several months later]

Friend Three: My kids learned their letters and sounds from this video. I bet it would work for you too.
Me: Okay (seriously, they are only a month away from being FIVE, and still only know 2 letters. My way isn't working, and I will try just about anything at this point. Where is the nearest Target?)

We watched the video about 4 times a week for 2 weeks, and they know every letter and every sound. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. They now know every letter. AND every sound. I had given up on the sounds, people! I wasn't even trying to teach the sounds, just trying to get those letters in their heads! And now they know them all. ALL.

And they enjoyed it, which is more than I can say for my methods.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Appliance Slippery Slope

I admit it. I am starting to miss my oven. I find myself fantasizing about roasted chicken, baked potatoes, and cinnamon rolls.

It has been almost a month. I think I was just so busy the past few weeks that an inoperable oven almost seemed better, since I wasn't doing all that much baking anyway.

But, alas, I find that I am growing tired of pasta and rice. And my little toaster oven, although it works great, just doesn't hold enough to feed 5.

I want an oven. I really, really do.

The good news? We actually have the money to buy a new one. I'm not entirely sure how everything has come together, but it has, and the money is there.

The bad news? The slippery slope.
  • If you give a woman an oven, she might want a new dishwasher since her old one is broken.
  • If you buy her a dishwasher, she might ask for a new microwave to match the rest.
  • If you agree and get her all 3, she will need a place to put the oven, and will need to rip out the cabinet the current oven in built into.
  • If you rip out the cabinet, and put in an oven, she might ask you to replace the counter tops to get rid of the gaping hole where the stove used to be.
  • If you put in new countertops, and have all new appliances, she might insist that the hole in the flooring where the cabinet used to be get fixed.
  • If you have new appliances, new counter tops, removed the cabinet, and fixed the flooring, her kitchen remodel will be done!

(shamelessly stole the idea from the popular children's book "If you give a mouse a cookie")

And, while we do have the money for a new oven, we don't yet have the money for the entire kitchen. I guess it is time to do the oven fix, and just try to make it last until next spring, when hopefully we will be ready to remodel.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Unveiling

Yesterday was the big day- Abigail's haircut.

I don't know why I was so nervous! It turned out totally cute.

Although I was actually hoping for a little shorter, I think this turned out so cute!

I should have done this two years ago!
The top is still really straight, but at least it no longer looks stringy, and all the new growth is actually incorporated in instead of just looking messy.

Today after school we are going to buy a bunch of hair clips and headbands!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning

Why is it that Monday seems to have a much bigger 'to do' list than any other day?

This particular Monday list is compounded by the fact that I worked Thurs. and Friday, so I've basically been out of commission since Wed.

And the house shows it. It also shows that I haven't mopped in far too long. And the kids had to do some serious scrounging for clothing to wear today. Time for laundry, once again!

But, first on the list, is to spend my last, last day (it better be the last) working at the old house. We listed it for sale over the weekend (, and I just need to finish up the last few final things- a little mopping, scrub the sink, sweep out the garage, and put down some pine straw.

And tomorrow will be busy- we have an appointment for The Haircut, a playdate with some friends we don't often see, and Abigail's first soccer practice. She is beyond excited- excited for the hair, excited for the playdate, excited for soccer, and excited that we have something to do after school besides just come home and "be boring".

Oh, and it's been 23 days since my oven died, and I still don't miss it. I do miss pizza and brownies, but we really don't need those anyway, right?

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm Scared

I think Abigail needs a haircut. Most of the time it looks stringy and a little weird, and I think a good haircut would help it look cleaner and not as wild.

She has a few quirks to her hair that make it a little difficult to work with.

#1. In 6 years, this is all she has grown:
Her hair grows VERY slowly. I've given her 2 trims, and cut about 2 inches when one of the trims went badly, but other than that, we have tried to just let it grow, and this is all she has after 6 years. So, I am very nervous to cut it, because if it turns out badly, it could well take 2 years to grow it back out!

#2. The hair on the crown of her head is straight. It has a tiny wave to it, but mostly just straight. However, the rest of her hair is curly. Corkscrew-like, and beautiful.

She is dirty in this picture, but it shows the two textures of hair pretty well.

The result of that combination is that the straight stuff lays on top, looking bedraggled and fly-away-ish. The curls are gorgeous, but you can only see them if I pull the top part up (which I often do). Also, since straight hair gets long faster than curly, the top layer is a little longer than the bottom. I used to layer it, cutting the top part shorter. That looked great, until I screwed it up and had to cut it all about 2 inches, and I've been afraid to touch it ever since.

#3. She has a ton of 'new growth'. Little baby hairs that I think are finally starting to grow in her hairline. The problem is that it ends up always looking stringy and unkempt- even when I put in really tight ponytails, it looks messy and almost as if she has bangs (these hairs started out tiny, and have been slowly growing in, so I think they will eventually get as long as her other hair).
You can see the new growth really well in this pictures- little short fly away hairs all over her head.

This shows how tight her ponytails were that day- I try to do them almost at the hairline to catch all that growth, but they still just go wherever they want.

So, the other day I asked her if she wanted her hair cut. I was a little nervous, because she has said many times that she wants long hair. Well, she very quickly agreed, then said she wanted it short- and pointed her hand higher than her ears! So now I'm thinking of one of those cute little head-shaping cuts- it could show off those cute curls, it would be super easy to take care of, and it would help hide the new growth.

This is the picture I have in my head:

Of course, she was a lot younger then... her hair was much more curly at that age, but would it curl up again if it was short?? There is just no way to know unless we just go for it!

I want to... but I'm scared!! I know for sure we would have to find someone good to do it... it seems like something that could be easily messed up! Emily... any advice? Can anyone recommend someone to do the cut? I'm not even thinking of trying this one!

Should I go for it, or just wimp out and cut some layers in the top and let it keep growing?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Everything Snow Related

It snows in Georgia about once a year (this year twice, which is really annoying to me. I mean once is fine, happy, snow love. Twice is enough already). Quite often it happens at night, or it is the really fine powdery snow that you really can't do anything with.

This time, it started snowing about 1:00 in the afternoon, the kids were already out for a teacher work day, and it came down hard and fast, and was the really wet, big flakes, perfect for playing in. We rounded up whatever kind of warm things we had (gardening gloves, anyone?), and went out to play.
Jack was so happy he just laid down and started rolling around in it! I knew he would soon be freezing, but he was laughing so hard I couldn't stop him!

Of course we made a snowman! The day after it snows you can always tell the houses with kids because all the snow is gone except for little mounds of used-to-be snowmen! It is a joy and an obligation- if it ever snows, the snowmen must be built!
Kydon was excited to build the biggest snowman he's ever built in Georgia. Yes, his winter gear was somewhat lacking, but he toughed it out!

Snow angels, of course...

Snow ball fights, naturally.

Abigail worked hard to find just the right accessories for the man.
Sledding on the hill in our yard. Using the trash can lid, of course.

Our neighbors came out and we threw some snow back and forth, then we got them to take a picture for us!

And, finally, thank goodness it is all gone by now!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I still don't miss it

It has been about 2.5 weeks since my oven bit the dust, and I still don't really miss it. I did realize that I had signed up to bring sugar cookies for Abigail's class to decorate, so I had to figure that out (I had several people offer to let me use theirs, but since I was spending all day every day at our old house fixing it up, I just took my dough over there and popped batches in and out while I was scrubbing the kitchen).

I also had to remember when making my menu list to make things that don't require the oven (or can fit in my toaster oven, which works amazingly well). So far, no sweat.

The other night Kydon came in after being on the computer and was telling me about a federal rebate plan for dishwashers... he then suggested that we buy a dishwasher. I just looked at him for a minute, and then said "uh... you know we don't have a functioning oven, right?"

He then reminded me that our dishwasher is, in fact broken. Which, yes, it is, but not as broken as the oven. All this makes me want to move into our old, fully functioning (with almost brand new appliances) old house. Even more than I did before!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day Party

Jack and Aidan pretty much love everything about homeschool. The relaxed schedule, the time at home, the ability to play with trains and monster trucks for hours on end, and the field trips. The only thing they don't like is missing out on parties.

So, when Abigail started talking about and getting ready for her Valentine's Day party, we decided to do a homeschool party. I was a little worried, because all the kids their age are in school, so we were inviting all the little ones- 2 and 3 year olds. But, luckily, it was enough for them to have a whole house full of kids, and I don't even think they noticed that the other kids were all a lot younger.
It turned out fantastic! We had somewhere around 16 (!) kids plus moms. We learned a little Valentines Day song (sort of like head-shoulders- knees- and toes, but it is "Toe-knee Chest-nut Nose I love you -Tony Chestnut knows), made a little heart craft, and then decorated sugar cookies and had some juice. The prep was really easy- just cut out some hearts out of construction paper, get the cookies and frosting and sprinkles, and that was it! Cleanup also wasn't bad, since we just stayed all in one room for the most part.
It was fun enough that I think we'll do it again sometime!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Taking the Circus to the Circus

We had a great Saturday! Thanks to some free tickets from Kydon's work, we were able to attend the Ringling Brothers Circus. We took all the kids, which means we had two 3-ring circuses (circi?) for the price of none.

We had free food, free drinks (Jack was in heaven), face painting, t-shirts, jelly beans, peanuts... oh, and a circus. Of course we didn't get many pictures because we were too busy trying to make the kids watch enjoying the show.

I was doing my best to get them interested, but they were highly distracted by all the food and chairs that flip up and down. Oh and the bathrooms. The bathrooms were a huge attraction. I was doing my best spin "LOOK- that man is going to jump through FIRE! REAL fire! He could get burned! Watch, gosh darn it!"

Of course, today, they were babbling non stop about all the cool things they saw, and they were telling everyone they met all about the great things, so maybe they liked it more than I realized!

My favorite moment was watching the tiger act with Jack. He is totally obsessed with tigers! As soon as he realized the next segment was tigers, he got really, really excited and pointed at his face (painted to look like a tiger), and said to me "Mom- I bet they got the idea for tigers from ME!" Yep, that must be it. Someone saw you guzzling your soda with your painted tiger face, and decided right then and there to add in a tiger act! Later during the show one of the tigers growled and swiped at the trainer. I asked Jack what he would do if a tiger did that to him, and he said "I would just pet him, and hug him, and show him my Auburn shirt"! I'm sure as soon as the tiger realized that he and Jack were rooting for the same team, there would be no more growling!

We did catch attitude all the way home because we didn't buy cotton candy, popcorn, or toys. Hey, you gotta give them something to be mad about!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wild Animals

Sometimes it feels like I am the mother of 3 wild animals.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Gift From A Secret Admirer

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, Kydon and I decided not to get each other gifts this year.

So, it must be a secret admirer that gave me this sweet little bruise...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sports Class

Welcome to Jack and Aidan's favorite 45 minutes of the whole week...

Sports class! They get a sampling of different sports- basketball, baseball, soccer and football.

They LOVE it. I get in a little computer time, since moms are required to be in the building but not in the gym. I don't mind a bit. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adoption: It Ain't Easy

Are there any fans of The Office out there? I'm going to describe one of my favorite Michael Scott quotes. I tried to find it on youtube, but it must not be one of the popular ones. I'm sure I found it extra funny because it had to do with adoption.

Michael walks in one day and tells Pam that he wants to adopt a baby from China, and would she please do whatever to get him one. Pam tells him that it might cost $1,000 just to apply, and he gets quite annoyed. Then she informs him that it might take a year to get the baby. And he says "A YEAR? I might not even want a baby in a year"!

I found that hilarious, and that quote has been rolling around in my head a lot lately. I realize that there is a large number of people who think adoption is easy (based on how many times I hear "oh, you got a baby the easy way" when people find out we adopted), but those comments do not annoy me. I just think that the person speaking either hasn't thought about it, or just doesn't realize. But lately, the people who think that adopting is just one big ball of fluff is starting to bug me. Based on some conversations I've had with some friends, as well as some blog posts I've read about adopting orphans from Haiti, I decided it was time for another "adoption rant" post!

Are ya ready? Here we go!

Adoption is not easy!!

Now, I don't want to scare anyone off, and if you are familiar with any of my other adoption posts, you will know that I love adoption. I would not have my family without it, and I usually spend my adoption efforts telling people how wonderful it is. However... it is not an easy thing to do.

If you want to adopt, you have to start with a homestudy. Most people take about 6-8 months to complete a homestudy. It can take a lot longer if you don't work at it constantly, or if you are adopting internationally. We did ours relatively fast- in 4 months. But I was very, very motivated, and we had no kids or anything but work to distract us. I set a goal to work on it every single day. I'm sure I missed a few here and there, but there were also days when I spent all or most of my day working on it. For the most part, I made progress every single day, and it took 4 months to get it done. If you can't even commit to the homestudy process, you probably are not going to be up for the process of adoption. I won't go into all the details of what comprises the homestudy, but it is extensive, and detailed, and there is a lot of *stuff* you have to do.

Okay, so once you make it through the homestudy, you now have to find a child. Do you want newborn? Infant? Older child? Adopt internationally? Domestic? Foster care? Do you have other children in your home to consider? Will you use an agency? A facilitator? Go independent? Are you open to different races? Birth defects? Drug exposure? There are positives and negatives and ramifications to every one of these choices. These decisions are not, nor should they be, easy. We struggled with each and every one of these choices. They each require thought, research, and discussion. Many people spend long periods of time just making the decision of what path they will take, let alone going that direction. Quite often this step comes before the homestudy, since the direction you go may change the details of your homestudy.

Once the homestudy is done comes the waiting. The wondering. The hoping and stressing. No matter what kind of adoption you are working toward, it is fraught with difficulty and quite often long periods of waiting. You generally have no control over anything at this point- you are at the mercy of potential birthparents, governments, caseworkers, and all sorts of people who may or may not care about helping you. Most people will wait for literally years before they are able to adopt. The ones who have shorter waits are the exception, not the rule. Adoption isn't an impulsive decision- you have plenty of time to sit around and question your every choice.

I also won't get into too many details about money, except to say that it is expensive. As in, the average adoption costs between $20,000 and $30,000. Of course, being an average, many people pay much less than that, but people also pay much more than that. Adoption requires a significant commitment of both time and money.

Let's pause and talk about Haiti for a moment. Their recent tragedy has brought the attention of the world to their plight. In no way do I want to downplay what they have been and continue to go through. There are so many people here in the US expressing desire to adopt from Haiti to help the children of that country. I understand the sentiment, I really do. The urge is there to gather those little ones and protect and shelter them from any of the horrible things going on. But adoption? It doesn't really work like that. Haiti has always had orphans, and people have adopted from there for many, many years. It can be done.

But it isn't as simple as Earthquake = orphaned children = I will have a new child next month.

You would have to start your homestudy! Yes, even after an earthquake, you can't adopt without one. You would have to find an agency who knows Haitian law. Haiti will have to make sure the children are really orphaned and free for adoption. I imagine, with the chaos in that country, it will take a long, long time to determine which children have relatives able to care for them and which really don't.

Now, pretend that all that was taken care of... you would still have to parent the kid. It probably won't be an infant, so do you speak french? Are you willing to learn french and/or deal with the language barrier that will exist between you and your child until they learn English? Do you know anything about attachment therapy, since you are hoping to form a parent/child bond with a child who has been traumatized and orphaned? If you are Caucasian and the child is black, have you considered the ramifications of adopting transracially? Would you even know the basics of hair care to get you through the first few weeks? Adopting an older child can be extremely challenging. Don't get me wrong- it CAN be done. People do it all the time. But it isn't easy, and you have to know enough to know what could be involved with taking that step.

I guess my point is that if you feel that adoption is the right thing for your family, all of this is worth it. If I felt we had another child coming to our family, I would do it all over again, no question. But if you are just a little tired of morning sickness, or just don't want to gain the weight, adoption is not the easy way out. It is not something you just decide to do based on a whim. I don't think pregnancy is easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I would hope that more people would think through what they are saying when they say they want to adopt!

Purple Passion

A couple of the rooms in our rental house needed a complete overhaul- extensive spackle and all new paint. Well, with a new gallon of paint costing somewhere around $25, and the discount rack of pre-mixed paint costing a mere $5, the choice seems pretty obvious when you don't really care all that much about what color it turns out.

Which is how we ended up with a purple room...

And I kind of love it!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I don't even miss it... yet

One week ago my oven went out. Kydon's mom was taking care of the kids and tried to bake some cookies. She saw sparks and flames, and turned off the oven. When we examined it later, we saw that the element was completely severed in two.
I think we could just replace the element, and it would be fixed, but I don't want to. First, the oven is old, and our kitchen is in need of an entire overhaul, new appliances included. So I really don't want to put any money into the old one, not even the small amount it might take to get a new element.
Second, I think that if our oven doesn't work, that is much more motivation to get a new one. Once we fix it, that motivation will be gone, and who knows when I will get a new one.

So far, I haven't even missed it. Part of that is because we have all been working non stop fixing up our rental house, and we have been eating sandwiches, fast food, and my mom's cooking. But, obviously, I have a lot of alternatives. Stove, microwave, crockpot, grill, and toaster oven.

Tonight I even made biscuits....

Granted, I had to cook them 4 at a time, but they did turn out great! I put a count-up timer on the sidebar to see how long we can last before we either buy a new one or fix the old one.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mommy's Little Secret


Don't tell!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover

Abigail is the sweetest little girl. She loves to write little love notes. She writes them to me, to Daddy, to Grandma and Grandpa, everyone that she loves.

They are the sweetest little notes. "I love you Daddy". She quite often decorates them with hearts and flowers, and generally uses pink or purple markers and whatever cute paper she can find.

You read the note, and get all warm and fuzzy inside.

But beware! Lurking inside, or on the back of the sweet note, you will find something not so sweet... In fact, it might be downright stinky...

And as you read the real message of the note, you will hear hysterical giggling coming from not far away as the author rejoices in her triumph!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The List

Here to explain my absence from blogging, email, phone calls, laundry, dishes, and life in general, is....


The extensive list of all the things we need to do to get our rental home ready. The "X"s are finally starting to outnumber the "O"s, but not to worry- we keep finding more to add to it.
Needless to say, my life for the past two weeks has been consumed by trying to complete the tasks on this list! I am hoping to be done by the middle of next week, and then I can come back to the house I live in and try to reclaim it from the mess it is quickly becoming.
And maybe one of these days the kids will get a bath.
But don't hold your breath.

Monday, February 1, 2010

When Art Imitates Life

One of the kids favorite games is to play "family". Abigail is the big sister, Jack is the brother, Aidan is the brother, and they ask me to be the mom. We call each other 'brother', 'mom', and 'sister'.

It is crazy how much imagination they have!