A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thanksgiving and December

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I keep meaning to share pictures from Thanksgiving, and here it is Christmas.  I think maybe my time as a blogger is fading away. 

The kids are doing well.  Katie likes school, and is thriving there.  She recently asked me if mommies were real, and I thought we were getting ready to have a conversation about adoption, until I realized she meant mummies, like cartoon creatures chasing people. 

This one has less than 6 months until boot camp!  I know I need to be mindful of the "lasts" or they will sneak up on me.  She's getting good grades, and surviving senior year. 

Boy's family took them on an adventure in the Bay Area recently, where she got to check "see the ocean again" off her Before I Leave bucket list. 

They're very cute together. 

Jack and I have been watching The Crown (although I've been warned it gets inappropriate in the second season) and stopping it often to check historical facts for context.  I love that my kids will have so much better an understanding of world history than what I grew up with.  We've had good conversations about responsibility and family and government and leadership and such. 

We recently celebrated 7 years with Miss Hannah in her family, and more good conversations have taken place with her.  She wants to visit China.  I'm hoping we can make that happen in the next couple of years. 

The younger kids' school had a Thanksgiving program. 

Which started with a potluck.

Paul has managed to really luck out and have to work for the last 3 programs they've had. 

There was singing involved.  This is Katie's class. 

And this is Hannah's class. 

Proof that you're never to old to learn new things.  I made cranberry sauce for the first time this year. 

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving is turkey enchilada casserole day. 

Speaking of making.  I thought it would be fun to make the girls an advent calendar.  Somehow, it sounded like a good idea in Hobby Lobby, but the execution turned out to be not so much fun. 

Next year, I'm totally filling it with candy.  I tried to be all cutesy creative this year and do experiences and crafts and trinkets.  I got about 10 days in and ran out of steam. 

Jack got the Lego advent calendar.

I did manage to make Katie some leggings.  The two pairs on the left are day wear, but the two pairs on the right are a super soft knit I got ages and ages ago at a fabric store in Reno, and those are PJ pants. 

Doing a bit of cleaning at decluttering (especially since we tend to bring in a lot of new stuff at this time of year).  It's hard to see the baby and toddler stuff go.  The books are a lot easier to part with, since I seem to have an endless stream trickling in with volunteering at the Book Den.  Paul and I recently attended a Foster Care orientation with our county, where we were told they do not need families who are only open to babies and toddlers.  I'm disappointed, because that's the age group that Paul felt we could handle right now.  So we're moving on. 

Speaking of volunteering, I got a chance to start on my parent participation hours at the younger kids' school.  I was asked to trace and cut from posterboard letters for the Christmas float.  For a parade which we did not attend, and I feel absolutely no guilt over.  For me, The Greatest Gift was being able to say YES! to a project I can do at home, and NO! to going to an extracurricular thing on the weekend. 

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a New Year full of love. 

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Sam's Visit

Sam came home for Thanksgiving.  Blogging fell by the wayside, of course, as we spent time enjoying having him here for almost 2 weeks. 

He surprised us by coming home 2 days before we were expecting him! 

His former football coach picked him up at the airport, and then Sam changed into his uniform at their house before showing up on our doorstep.  Doesn't he look great?  I'm so proud of him. 

Sam and Eli are pretty much tied in height right now, although Eli's hair is fluffier. 

Paul's trying to prove that he's taller than them.  I'm pretty sure only Zach is taller now. 

Jack is going to pass me up in the next year. 

It was fun to see my boys hanging out together. 

Sam's coach gave him a giant Snickers bar, and he polished it off in just a couple of days. 

Whenever I sat my phone down, I would find random selfies on it later. 

Not even all taken by Sam, actually.  I think I must have been making school lunches or something here. 

One day, Zach and Brayden came to hang out with us. 

We went out to lunch, and the boys told bidet stories.  :blink,blink:  Who knew?

Shockingly, we ended up with leftover pizza, which the school kids were happy to polish off when they got home. 

On Thanksgiving, we went out front for a quick family picture.  We're missing Annaliese, who is still in New Zealand, and Heather, who had to work.

Brayden was being silly during pictures, but I got one that was okay for a Christmas card. 

After the big meal, we played games. 

A fellow Marine friend that Sam met in tech school drove up from Camp Pendleton to spend Thanksgiving here. 

That seemed kinda grown up ish to me...  until I found them eating crayons. 

Not. Even. Kidding.

"Who me?" 

But it was a really good visit.  Sam got to go out with his local friends.  We went grocery shopping together (which is one of our favorite things to do together), and Christmas shopping.  We had some good conversations, and just hung out. 

The tree went up the day after Thanksgiving.  I wanted to do it before Sam left, since he wouldn't be home for Christmas. 

My boy.  My Sammers.  My Marine. 

My fourth child.  The one who taught me that no two kids were ever going to be the same.  My athletic, class clown, fearless (except for glitter) son. 


The days passed quickly, and soon it was time to say goodbye. 

We said our goodbyes at bedtime because Paul and Sam would be leaving for the airport super early.  I secretly thought I'd wake up and get one more hug in before he left, but I missed it. 

Vaya con Dios, my son.  Your mama is super proud of you. 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Books Books Books

Today, I want to talk about books.  Naturally, I will be including affiliate links for your convenience, and a tiny potential profit for me.  Thanks for your support.  

I've always enjoyed the Jane Austen movies, but I'd never taken the time to actually read the books.  

A few months back, Paul and I were at Costco and we spied Pride & Prejudice, which came home with us.  I started reading it aloud in the car on the way home, and we ended up reading the whole book together.

After finishing P&P, I picked up Persuasion from the library.  I hope to make my way through the rest of the Austen books next year.

Recently I talked about how much I've been enjoying volunteering at the SPCA.  Well, SPCA holds a huge fall book sale every year.  Paul and I went last month and brought home some new-to-us books.

You can probably guess which pile is whose.  Yes, my pile is full of "mental fluff."  I'm okay with that.  I've got Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre in there, too, so it's not all junk food.

The nice thing is, as I read them, I can either take them to SPCA with me, or take them to the Book Den which is another place I've been volunteering.  The Book Den is a pretty amazing offshoot of the Friends of the Library here.  It's part warehouse, part book shop.  And volunteers get paid in books.  This makes me very happy.

I've been going to volunteer about once a week, and I've brought home some treats, including this book for Paul.

One of the things I do at the Book Den is what's called "first sort" out in the warehouse.  This is really fun because it's sorting through boxes of donated books, and you literally never know what you're going to get.  I've seen books that were in my grandmother's collection, and books that came out this year.  Books that I've read, books that I'd like to read, and books that I'd never cross paths with, ordinarily.

Brianna read The Things They Carried for school, and a couple weeks after she was telling me about it, not one, but two different copies showed up in the boxes I was sorting.

Last week, I brought home this Christmas book, since I've read some of Rita Mae Brown's other books before.  It was a quick read, and I'll be taking it back to the Book Den tomorrow.  There's a Christmas section up right now, so hopefully someone else will enjoy it this season, too.

In other book-related news, Paul finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia to the children.  He's started reading them the Little House books now.

I helped out at a Friends of the Library event at my local branch recently.  Book First is a program that gives a free book to every first grader in local schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  This event was in preparation for Book First season.  We stickered books with reading levels to make it easier to get the right levels into the kids' hands during a distribution day.

Then we walked around the room, compiling classroom packs.

Each pack contained 30 books, in 5 reading levels.  Then we placed labels inside the books and bagged them up.

This was about a third of the bags we created.  I hope to be able to help out at at least one of the distribution days, where we're actually helping kids choose their own books to take home.  For many of those children, it will be their first book of their very own.

Not really book related, but I've also started washing the story time toys at my local library once a week.  I like being able to volunteer at the branch that the kids and I patronize. 

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