Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Bible History With Jenna

We went to church tonight (they had brisket, thank you very much), which meant that Jenna, my first grader, went to her bible class.  Jenna came running to me after class was over to show me her treasure:  a Nigerian coin given to her and the other children by a man who spoke to their class.  On the way home, I asked Jenna some questions.

"Was the man a missionary?"  I asked.

"Huh?"  This obviously stumped her.  "He was somewhere where they have houses made from mud and straw."

Since her coin was Nigerian I suggested perhaps it was Africa. She agreed that it might have been.  "What did he say?"  I asked.

"You know when Jesus sailed around on a boat with 11 guys and tested them?  Yeah, he was with them."

"The man was on a boat with Jesus?"

"Yeah, he was on a boat with Jesus and they sailed around for about a year and then Jesus told them to go heal people."

"Jenna, Jesus lived about 2000 years ago.  Did this guy look really old?"

"No, he looked kind of young."

"But he sailed around with Jesus?"

"Yeah, for a year with those 11 guys."

"What 11 guys?"

Jenna was becoming very frustrated with 20 questions.  "You know, the 11 guys."

"The apostles?"

"Yeah, them."

"And they were tested?  How were they tested?  Did they do math tests?  Spelling tests?"

"Mom!"  I had gone too far with that one.  "Don't you know this story?"

I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a story with Jesus testing 11 guys on a boat for a year.  Nothing came to mind.  I decided it might be better to let this one go and covertly call my sister-in-law Janne' in the morning to find out what my nephews told her.

"So this guy was with Jesus?"

"Yeah, but he's retired now."

"Who? Jesus?"

"No! The guy."

"Wow,"  I said. "I'd really like to meet somebody who sailed with Jesus for a year.  I'd like to shake his hand but I probably better not."

"Why not?"  Jenna asked.

"Well, if I shook his hand it might fall off considering he's over 2000 years old.  He's probably not in very good shape."

"Oh, Mom!"

I'll be lucky if she ever shares another bible lesson with me again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OCD at Work

All of my children have been messy slobs free spirited children who couldn't be bothered to clean up the messes creations they have made upon the path of life.  The consequence of this, of course, is that their rooms and the rest of the house are often in a state of chaos.  But then there came Ryan, little Ryan with his OCD tendencies.  After 5 children, I finally got a child with organizational skills.

I'm not complaining about Ryan's OCD traits.  If anything, I'm fascinated.  It's like looking into the mind of a savant.  Ryan doesn't like his food to touch on his plate and will direct where his food should be place.  Ryan needs extra time to get into his car seat in the car.  He likes to buckle himself, but there's an order and a process to it.  If there should happen to be any extra distractions, like his stuffed dog or his backpack, he thinks they need to be buckled too.  But lately, he's begun packing his own lunch.  Other mothers might be offended that their 3 year old taking over this job, because the way I pack it isn't the way he wants it.  But I just say go for it.

He usually packs it on the kitchen counter but this morning he decided to do it on the kitchen floor.  That's okay, I mopped it last week.

Notice how neatly he has everything placed.  His napkin is laying behind all his food and he's placed his cheese slice in the pocket on the lid.  His clear plastic spoon is laying against the side of the container.

This morning I only gave him half a sandwich so I put it in a plastic bag.  He knew this wasn't right and found his sandwich container. No problem, we'll just put the bag in the container.

Notice how carefully he pats his food to make sure it's in the correct position.

Proud of his work.

Then he found box of dehydrated apple chips and wanted those too.

The lunch box opens up and he found its correct placement.

All in a mornings work.  Now if I can just harness those organizational skills to tackle my house.  Just think what this house could look like.

Monday, October 26, 2009

They Grow Up Too Fast

 Meet Ben 10

Meet Emma

And here's where the two shall meet.

Earlier this morning I found Emma pulling down her pajama bottoms, putting Ben 10 in the crotch and then pulling her bottoms back up.  I thought I had a few more years before I had to worry about a guy in her pants.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Emma's Adoption Scrap Book

After my nightmare adoption with Emma and nightmare first month home, it should come as no surprise I never did anything with all the photos I had taken while in Vietnam. (For the record, I haven't done anything with Ryan's either.) When I want to see the photos, I have to hook up my external hard drive and search through my photo files.

My friend and travel mate Tommi didn't leave the photos of her daughter Anabelle on her laptop . Last year she learned how to digitally scrap book and made the most amazing photo book of her adoption journey to celebrate her one year Gotcha anniversary. And she didn't stop there. She made books for Christmas, Anabelle's birthday, and other memorable moments.  Then she moved on and made books for her friends and family, loving every minute of  helping people get their memories into something tangible.

A couple of weeks ago, Tommi took pity on me and offered to make an adoption book for Emma. She told me to send her the important and memorable photos from my adoption journey and any significant snippets from the emails I sent while I was gone (I didn't update my blog on Emma's adoption journey.) She asked if there was anything specific I wanted her to include, what color preferences I had and then she got to work, often showing me what she had along the way to make sure I was happy with what she was creating. About a week later Tommi had created this:

(This is a slide show of the actual book that Tommi created. You can check it out more here.)

I can't tell you how exited I am to have this book!  I don't have to beat myself up anymore for neglecting our memories.

During the process, Tommi and I realized that I'm not the only person out there who doesn't have the time or talent to create a book like this. Other people need someone to help them get their memories out of their computer files and onto a book they can hold in hands and show off to their friends, family and their children. I'm so excited to tell you that Tommi created Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap Shoppe! She is now offering her services to others to create lasting memories in several different forms. From brag books, to memory pages and digital scrap books (like Tommi created for me) Tommi can come up with the best option for your needs and your budget.  Also, 5% of all her orders goes to Moms for Vietnam, a non profit group by a group of adoptive mothers who are currently focusing on the immediate need for tsunami relief.

Be sure to go check out her site and see what she can do for YOU!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

This week is the big week for Julia; it's a full week of dress rehearsals and performances for her school play Alice in Wonderland.  Julia's part is The Duchess.  In the book (which I've never read) The Duchess is hideously ugly and I was worried about how Julia,  aka "Miss Pretty Girl," would feel about that.  After her initial shock, she decided it was okay.  It was a part and it was a good one.  So it was icing on the cake when her drama director didn't make The Duchess ugly after all, in fact she's pretty and regal. Whew.  On the other hand, Julia has had to have her hair up and full makeup on for all 3 rehearsals and all 4 performances this week.  Mom's become a hair dresser.  I'm now taking appointments for updos.

On a positive note, I know where to skimp on the girl's future weddings so I can possibly afford those completely unaffordable wedding dresses without selling my kidneys and/or part of my liver.

It takes awhile to look like this, and it involves a mini curling iron, a half ton of bobby pins and a half can of hair spray.  Emma, ever the opportunist, took advantage of this situation a couple of nights ago.  While I was playing personal stylist, Emma decided to play Makeup Artist.

I looked over at her and in the matter of a couple of minutes, she had found Julia's makeup and an eyebrow brush out of my makeup drawer.

Just in case you're wondering how this brush is supposed to be used.

She looks a little drugged her but rest assured, that's merely the look of intense concentration.  This makeup stuff is tricky business.

I feel pretty.

Emma is now hiring out for makeovers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ryan Makes a Family

Ryan wanted strawberries with his breakfast, which is not unusual.  But this particular morning, he decided to personify them.  He named them Baby (no specific baby, just baby), Ross and Mommy-- because the mommy strawberry has a mouth.  Is he trying to tell me something?

The Sister Act Grows

Emma was over 24 months old and had a vocabulary of about 10 words, to say I was worried is an understatement. But about a month ago, she had a word explosion and her vocabulary grew to about 50-75 words and she even began starting to put together 2 word sentences last week, usually with the word "I" in front. So this morning it came as quite a shock what song my 27 month old chose for her "first song." Another performer in my midst?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch today.  While last year's trip was warm and sunny, today's trip was the opposite but it didn't seem to dampen any spirits.  The kids were excited because this year they got to go on a hayride!  But first things first. We went to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, KS which has a model  Kansas farm for kids to interact with.  The best part is that the children's farm is free.

As soon as you walk in you are greeted by a chicken pen.  Emma was fascinated with the chickens.  Ryan was scared.  We then moseyed on to the dairy barn which had real live cows. The girls were excited.  Ryan was scared.

It also had a saddle right out in the middle of the floor which Jenna and Ryan had to try.  Contrary to the evidence above, Ryan is having a good time.  He just doesn't believe in smiling for the camera anymore.  He's moved on from the wink to a more stoic look.  In fact, his preschool pictures were on Thursday and his teacher told me that she had to literally be attacked by Elmo to make him smile.  I'm not sure which should concern me more: the fact that they had to go to such lengths to make him smile or the fact that he found his teacher being mugged amusing.

We then checked out the Indian village, complete with tepees.  The girls quickly decided that they had no desire to live in a tepee.
Next was the baby goat pen, which Ryan was afraid of.  He was completely content to stay outside and watch while...

The girls feed the baby goats.  Emma wasn't frightened at all.  I was more concerned that the goats might eat Toodee, who was in her left hand.

Jenna and Julia both had their turn feeding the goats too.

While Gauge found a new friend.

Next up was the tractor races because what farm experience isn't complete without tractor races?  The farmstead had an oval track for the kids to race their tractor tricycles.

Finally, it was time for the main attraction:  The Hayride and the Pumpkin Patch.

The five of us on the hayride.  I never got a picture of the wagon.  The wagon was pulled by 2 horses which completely freaked Ryan out.  When I came time to climb onto the wagon I had 3 crying children which caused quite the spectacle.  (Good thing I'm used to causing spectacles so it didn't really bother me.)  Ryan was crying because of the horse.  Emma was crying because I put her down to load Ryan onto the wagon and Jenna was crying because she wanted to sit on my lap, which obviously wasn't going to happen.  Once the hayride started, all crying stopped and Ryan thought it was fun.

Cody and Gauge on the hayride.

Once we got to the pumpkin patch there were many things for the kids to do.  There was a giant slide on top of hay bales.  While I got several videos of the kids on the slide, I didn't get any pictures.

The kids then went fishing in a kiddie pool for wooden pumpkins.

While Emma played in a watering trough full of corn.


We then moved onto search for the perfect pumpkins.  The entrance fee to the patch include a pumpkin for each person.  Ryan must have gone through about 20 pumpkins before he left with one.  Notice the happy little guy in this photo.

Compared to the scared little boy last year.  It's amazing the difference a year can make.

Here's the look I got from Jenna most of the day.  From complaining about her boots, to her whining that she was cold, Jenna wasn't a happy girl most of the day.

But she seemed pretty happy when she got her pumpkin.

Emma spent most of her time in the pumpkin patch picking up sticks.  She had no interest in pumpkins.  In fact, when given a pumpkin this was her response:

Some days I wish I could give a pumpkin a good spike too.


We knew it was time to go when spiking pumpkins wasn't fun any longer and Emma just wanted to be held.  Nevertheless, the pumpkin patch was a smashing success.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Bible According to Jenna

Over the last year we've been total slackers with church. First we had a hard time finding a church we felt comfortable with. Then there's the logistics of trying to get 4 kids to Sunday school and church as a single parent. But at the beginning of this school year, I vowed that we would be better.  And other than the Sunday's we've missed because we had the plague H1N1 flu, we've been pretty good.  In fact, we're so good we've been going on Wednesday nights.   Yeah, so they serve dinner on Wednesday nights.  That's not the only reason we go.

Yesterday after dealing with the aftermath of Emma's marker mural, I decided to calm myself down with a non fat, no whip Mocha from Starbucks.  (Hey, it beats buying crack on the corner.)  I picked Jenna up from school and we headed straight to Starbucks.  On the way, I told Jenna that we were going to church later.

"I don't want to go to church!"

"But we have to go so you can learn about God and Jesus."

"I already know all about God and Jesus."

I was impressed.   At 6 years of age Jenna has achieved what most theologists have strived  for their entire lives.  "Okay,"  I said.  "Tell me about Jesus."

Jenna seemed disgusted at the pop quiz but explained, "Mary didn't want Jesus so she put him in a basket and floated him in a river and a princess found him.  He grew living with the princess."

After giving myself a mental head slap, I questioned which was worse-- The Gospel according to Jenna or when Jenna came running up to me after Sunday school last spring very excited that she had discovered that she could pray anytime, not just at dinner and bedtime.  (My friend Heather, Jenna's Sunday school teacher at the time, still won't let me forget that one.)

"Actually," I said gently so that I wouldn't upset her, "that was Moses."

"Oh, yeah."  She seemed puzzled that she had got that one wrong.  I decided to try again.

"So tell me about Jesus."

After thinking for a moment, Jenna said, "Jesus had to travel to a city really far away because people could be counted, I can't remember what it's called..."

"A census?"  I volunteered.

"Yeah, he had to travel on a donkey to a census."

Great.  I had failed my daughter's Christian education, yet ever the cock-eyed optimist, and just like when Jesus asked Peter who he was 3 times, I tried for the third time to see if Jenna knew about Jesus.

"But what about Jesus and the cross?"

"Oh yeah... Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins so we can go to heaven."

So I wasn't a total bum.  Thank goodness.

"But I still don't want to go to church."  She added.

How could I make my daughter go to church and want to be there?  I pondered this as we waited in the Starbucks drive through lane.

"They're having fried chicken for dinner."  I told her.

"What kind is that?"

"You know, crispy chicken on the bone."

Her entire attitude changed.  "I love that kind of chicken.  I want to go to church."

That's my girl.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frustrated Artiste

Artists are often tortured souls, or at least that's what I've always heard.  They battle the demons that struggle to be released in an artistic medium.  If Emma could clearly articulate her thoughts, I'm sure that's the cockamamie bull she would tell me to justify her "creative urges."

Emma is drawn to writing instruments, particularly (but not limited to) markers.  At this stage of the game I pretty much have all markers under lock and key but when I heard Trace yell in a very exasperated voice "Em-ma!"  I knew it couldn't be good.

Weapon artistic medium of choice.

Oh that's sweet.  Emma drew a picture.

She then moved to the table.

Then the sofa.

The piano.

And a stool.  But these furniture pieces are getting rather old, don't you think?

Let's artistically express ourselves on the wall. (So her previous art work is there too, She just added to it.)

Let's take it around the corner too.  These pictures were taken after I used Mr Clean Magic Eraser.

And then she finally stopped here when she was caught in the act.  What did Emma think of her accomplishment?

It's pretty obvious she's quite pleased with herself.

Ya do the crime, you gotta do the time, only this wasn't punishment to her.  She was crying to help wipe the walls.

So what are my options here?  Mr Clean Magic Eraser hasn't taken it all off so I could repaint but then I'd have to paint--


And here.

And here.


You get the point.

So we're reverting back to caveman times, next thing you know she'll be hunting down the dogs and building a fire in her bedroom.  Wait, don't give her any ideas.