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.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Catching Up

February is slipping away from me, so here's a "photo dump" post of what's been going on in our lives.

We survived the Dante's Circle that is Science Fair.  The night before found Paul helping Hannah and me helping Jack.

I believe Brianna did some proofreading and editing for both of them before we got to the display board part of the deal, too.  It was a family affair, and I feel like I earned part of that grade.

I know I already showed pictures from our recent photo shoot, but there were a couple more that were on my cell phone instead of the big camera.

They're adorable, and they really were good sports about the whole thing.

Brianna and Boy before the Sadie Hawkins dance.  (Miss Adorable was in Hawaii for a wedding, and Eli chose not to go without her.)

Another school project.  This one was Hannah's Arctic diorama.  White model magic, blue sand, various animal toobs, and spray adhesive inside a Walmart beauty box (affiliate links).

Milestone!  Eli is now taller than Paul.

After 14 years of PURPLE and GOLD as our school colors, it's kind of nice to have something different for the younger kids (although purple is my favorite color).

They had to dress in red, white, and blue for one of their recent spirit days.

After school snacks, instituted this year, have been immensely popular with everyone (and Sam is annoyed to have missed out on this particular institution!).  Mostly muffins, sometimes cupcakes or cookies.  Josiah has been baking chocolate chip cookies when I don't get around to making something, which is very helpful and appreciated.  This was using up the last of the candy canes on chocolate mint cupcakes.  They were ugly (but tasty) after baking.

Yes, my 16 year old is wielding a chain saw.

I actually love it when Paul teaches the boys real life skills.  Note he is wearing hearing protection, eye protection and "chaps."

Homework:  I have to admit, it's not as bad as it could have been.  I remember when Josiah and Sam went to kindergarten.  Paul and I hated the "homework packet" that came home every week.  Thursday nights when we tried to catch up on everything we hadn't finished really sucked.

Katie's teacher asks the kids to study their spelling words, but leaves it totally up to parental discretion HOW that takes place.  We've done spelling words on a white board, with letter tiles, with blocks, written in pencil on lined paper, written with markers on construction paper, sidewalk chalk, etc.  Probably the favorite, though, is making spelling words out of Trader Joe's letter cookies.

Eli even "helped" her find the letters, eliminating pesky extra Qs and Vs and such.

I belong to Facebook groups for families with kids from the provinces that Hannah and Katie were adopted from.  Recently Katie's province group put together a search video, hoping it would go viral in China, and that families who've given up a child would come forward for genetic testing so matches could be made and communication could be opened up.  The photo above is the one we submitted of Katie to be included in the video.  The finished video is below.

Because of this, we took another big step recently:

Spit testing with 23 and Me went better than I feared it might.  We are awaiting results (which usually take 6-8 weeks).

Speaking of genetics...  no denying a resemblance there.

Jack and I recently made a run to Toys R Us so he could spend his Christmas gift card from Grammy.  As you can see, he's still into Legos.

 Valentine's Day is a birthday in our house, but Someone did not want a fuss this year.

So no flaming cake picture of this guy, who is now a grown up, grown up.

The day after Valentine's day is also a birthday!  Brianna turned 18, and wanted a cake surrounded by Kit Kats and covered with peanut butter M&Ms.

If you notice the walls behind Josiah and Brianna, they're a different color now.  They used to be a nondescript beige.  I wanted a warm, soft yellow.  What we ended up with... well, Eli refers to it as Ramen Seasoning Packet Yellow.  It's like being in an inside out taxi.

I totally stole this photo off Class Dojo, which is an app the school uses to facilitate communication between parents and elementary teachers.  I went to the school to give a little lecture about Chinese New Year to Hannah and Katie's classes.  I brought along visual aids, a craft, and a coloring page.  It was fun!  I had a great time teaching again, even if it was only for an hour.  I also left a bunch of our China books at the school for the kids to enjoy during the 2 weeks of Chinese New Year, and I've enjoyed seeing pictures of the kids reading them.

These two went out to a fancy dinner celebrating both Brianna's birthday and their one year anniversary together.

I got to babysit for a friend of mine, and it was so fun to have a toddler in the house again!

I think I've figured out another part of why I'm not blogging as much any more.  Obviously, the biggest reason is that I don't have all the homeschooling stuff to talk about anymore.  But I used to spend a lot of time on my computer in the school room, while the kids were doing school work.  Now, I'm really only in there a couple times a week.  I keep thinking, "Maybe I'm done blogging."  But I guess it's just that my blogging has changed.  Again.  I have a trip planned next month, so I'm sure I'll have some vacation pictures to share later. 

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Fun Little Photo Shoot

I recently had the girls dress up in their new silks (Chinese New Year starts this week!) so I could get some pictures for a book review.

Our couch pillows went straight from Christmas to Chinese New Year.  I found these cute pillow covers on Amazon (affiliate link).  

While they were dressed up, we took a few more pictures.

Sister love!

They're getting so big.  Hannah will be 11 this spring!

Report cards came out recently.  Both girls made honor roll at school.

They're both good about getting started on their homework right after snack time.

I decided I'd try to get a few pictures that might work for their valentine cards this year.

The hearts are actually nesting cookie cutters I bought to do a clay project a few years back.

We used them to make conversation heart magnets.

I miss all the little projects we used to do while we were homeschooling.

Maybe we'll find something fun to do when they're off for Presidents Day.

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of the girls all dressed up.  I haven't heard of a local FCC event, so they may not get another chance to wear their silks this year.

This was what I ended up with for their Valentines to pass out at school and to send off to out of town family members.  I look at these and think, "How did I get so lucky?"

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Finding My Niche as a Volunteer

I started volunteering in May, and my grand total for 2017 was 180 hours for 9 organizations.  I mentioned in a prior post that I hadn't really figured out what I loved to do yet.  Over the last 4 months, I've settled into a routine.

First, some 2017 stats:

BloodSource - 29.25 hours
Book Den - 21 hours
Library - 7.5 hours
Zoo - 20.5 hours
SPCA - 85.83 hours
Sac Tree - 8.25 (Although they sent me a letter, thanking me for my 11 hours of service, so I may not have written down a day.  Either that, or they're really generous with hours.)

I also put in a couple hours making giant poster board letters for the Christmas parade float for the younger kids' school.  Then there was the time I took Jack and Hannah to pack meals for FMSC.  And I don't count hours for these, but I donated 3 blankets to Project Linus in 2017.

Now that I've been at it a while, I spend one day a week at SPCA, helping out with the vaccine clinic.  This is like the DMV for dogs.  Wait over here, pay, then wait over there.  I like to get there a little early so I can still get some cat petting time in before hand.

I also spend a couple of days per month helping out with SPCA's feral cat spay and neuter clinic.  Because let's face it:  cats on drugs are hilarious. 

Our local Friends of the Library is part of Book First, a way to get books into the hands of underprivileged first graders.  I spent a day helping to assemble bags of books to take into the classrooms, and I've gotten to go to one of the distribution days so far.  I'm scheduled for a few more of those, which should be fun.

I've been spending one morning a week washing the toys at my library branch.  It's not my favorite thing to do, but it needs doing, and it gets me into the library once a week.  I usually bring home a bag of books for the kids after I'm done.

I spend one day a week at the Book Den, run by Friends of the Library.  I started out doing "first sort" and now I maintain the $1 fiction section in the store and help shelve fiction out in the warehouse.  My problem is that I find all these books I want to read!  I've been reading a ton lately, and my "to read" pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I have donated a lot of books, though, so at least I'm getting some turnover in our personal library.

Volunteering has been a great experience for me.  It gets me out of the house.  I'm meeting new people and learning new things.  I feel like I'm "giving back" for all the years when I couldn't do anything because I had lots of little ones at home.  (Not that I wouldn't drop 75% of my commitments like a hot potato if the chance to have a little one in the house came up!) 

I may go "on leave" from a couple organizations during the summer so I can focus on the kids.  I'm really looking forward to them being out of school!  Although I've enjoyed the quiet house, I do miss them while they're gone. 

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