Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hooray for the Alphabet!

It only took forever (six months), but we finally finished working our way through the alphabet.  I tried to find something that began with each letter to use to cover an outline of each letter. I used many letter ideas from Hubbards Cupboard, but also changed several to make a better fit to materials we had on hand.  Joe made the ones you see hanging on the wall, but Dan and Kiki made their own as well.

Here's a rundown of what we used for each letter:
A - apples, B - beans, C - coffee, D - dots, E - eggs, F - feathers, G - glitter, H - foam hearts, I - ice cream, J - jeans, K - kittens, L - lentils, M - maps, N - numbers, O - o's, P - pink and purple pebbles, Q - Q-tips, R - ribbon, S - smiley sparkle stickers, T - toothpicks, U - umbrellas, V - vegetables, W - watercolors, X - (nothing, we just colored it with colored pencils and I showed them how to cross two colored pencils to make an X), Y - yarn, and Z - foam zoo animals.

I tried to give them the actual item to glue on as often as possible but had to resort to just pictures for a few letters.  (It's kind of hard to glue kittens to paper, you know.)  We also put the names and pictures of our immediate family members, pets, and Jesus under the appropriate letters.

Now the children would like to share with you their favorite letter and why.
Joe's favorite letter is W because . . ."Joe liked painting it."

Daniel's favorite letter is Z because . . . "It's my zoo animals."

Mikea's favorite letter is Q because . . . "I paint it."

I think we'll take a little break from the alphabet and concentrate on numbers for a while. But I'm super excited to start using this e-book I ordered from No Time for Flashcards, so we'll be back to the alphabet very soon!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Little Authors

Last night I was too wiped out to even move.  You know, when you need a vacation to recover from your vacation? (In my defense, two of the kids were still dealing with slight intestinal issues.) So for the second night in a row my husband got dinner for the kids and got them ready for bed without any help from me.  He even got them to clean up the swath of destruction they'd created throughout the house.

Instead of reading a bedtime story to them, though, my most awesome and creative husband helped the kiddos WRITE a bedtime story all about our trip to the beach. 

He asked them questions to spark their memories and then wrote down their responses.
Then on each page he drew pictures.
The kids were completely enthralled and just LOVED doing this.  I was surprised at how engaged they stayed through the whole process. Now all that's left is to bind the pages together.  Isn't this a great way to foster early literacy concepts AND preserve family memories?  Go Dad!

Monday, April 26, 2010

500 Babies Hit the Beach!

After weeks of waiting and days of packing, we finally had our greatly-anticipated weekend at the beach!  And let me tell you, no amount of stomach-sickness was going to slow us down, no sir.  Ok, so we did have to spend one morning at the laundromat and cut short one visit to the birding center, but looking back, it really wasn't as bad as it could have been.

We played at parks...
Flew kites...
Had picnics...
Visited birding sites...
And played on the beach, of course...
Was the trip relaxing?  Um, no.  But that's ok. That's just life with the 500 Babies.
Did we make great memories together as a family? Absolutely!  And that's what matters most.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

101 Uses for An Onion (Ok, Only 4)

Yesterday I loaded up the 500 Babies and drove over the hills (but not through any woods!) to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We spent a good part of the afternoon exploring the backyard, where we discovered giant onions gone wild:

They were seriously 2 and 3 feet tall! Daniel invented many uses for them. First was "The Onion Necklace".
This naturally led to "The Onion Belt".
Then Daniel used the onion for more manly pursuits, such as "The Onion Pulley".
And "The Onion Whip".
Mikea decided it was more fun to munch on the onions.  She chewed one up and then went back for more. Silly girl smelled very onion-y when all was said and done!
Afterwards, all 500 Babies (plus one extra!) gathered for a Diversity Summit.
Don't ask me what they discussed.  But they certainly had fun!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One More Thing...

...and that's to give a BIG HUG and a THANK YOU for all of you who left comments here and on Facebook yesterday in response to my last post.  I am overwhelmed by the love, support, and encouragement you all gave to me.  And what I realized is that while every situation is unique, so many of you have had to deal with similar issues and that it just helps to know we're not alone.  The outpouring of support you all showed me completely outweighed any negativity of the experience and proved once again that God does work all things for good. 

Thanks for bearing with me as I work through these issues here in "public".  Writing about them helps me process my thoughts and feelings and figure out how to better handle them in the future.  We're definitely learning as we go around here, so thanks for coming along for the ride!  You all are the best.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Little Sensitivity, Please

Sometimes I get a little weary of being a foster family.  We still have at least a few more months, and it's certainly easier having only one foster child instead of three, but I'm ready to be finished with paperwork, visits, and the various other obligations that are required of foster families. But we are and always will be an adoptive family, a fact that I am proud of and will always celebrate with our children.  However, because our beautiful children clearly did not grow in my Caucasian womb, we deal with a host of issues even many other adoptive families never have to.

Last Sunday as I was walking Joe up to church by myself, we passed a woman who smiled at us and asked how old Joe was.  I smiled back, answered, "3 1/2" and prepared to keep walking (we were late).  But then she asked, "Is he a foster child?"  This totally caught me off guard, annoyed me a little, and I replied, "No, he's all mine." There was a slightly awkward pause and I felt like I hadn't satisfied her curiosity so I added, "But he used to be a foster child."  Then I instantly wished I hadn't.  It's like I felt I had to explain why my son looks different from me and I shared information about him that was private.

For those of you with biological children, imagine total strangers approaching you and asking if your child is yours or if you are their "real" parent.  There's a pretty good chance you'd be offended.  But then go one step further.  Imagine this question from your children's point of view.  How would they feel if people were always asking if they belonged to you? 

Another "innocent" question often asked about our boys is, "Are they brothers?"  Of course they are brothers, and Mikea is every bit their sister! Again, would this question be asked of a family of biological children?  All these questions do is highlight the fact that our family isn't like everyone else's, our children aren't like everyone else's, and creates a separation between our children and their real parents. (And yes, I do mean that their real parents are my husband and myself).

I know we can't pretend we're not different from most families.  Daniel and Mikea will be in the same grade when they enter school and I can only imagine what the other kids will say when they find out they are brother and sister.  But I expect that from kids.  I'd just like adults who don't already know our story to be a little more sensitive and think twice before asking personal questions about our children.  I do believe the vast majority of people who ask these questions aren't intending any harm and are truly just curious.  And if someone wants to know about the process of adopting children from foster care, I am more than happy to share our experience.  But if I don't know you, understand that I will do so without sharing personal details about my own children.  My husband and I have decided that we're not willing to compromise our children's privacy anymore in order to satisfy a stranger's curiosity.

Project 52 Catch-Up

Project 52: Date Nights logo
I haven't been posting regular updates on our progress with Project 52, so here's a quick rundown of our last several dates...

Date #6
Billy led a Bible Study outside on the patio.  Then we drank coffee, ate cookies, listened to country music, and reminisced about our dating days before we were married.  It was an evening very soothing to the soul, marred only by an unfortunate incident with a mosquito hawk.  Back on our fifth date we started the tradition of taking a picture of ourselves partially covering our faces (because I was HORRIFIED at how homely and haggard I appear at the end of the day).  We continued the tradition:

Date #7
We worked on priority list/goals for our family with the ultimate goal of writing a Family Mission Statement.  We used the resources here as the basis for our discussion.  We didn't have time to finish, though, and will take up where we left off on a future date.

Date #8
The day itself was absolutely horrible, including the discovery of some sort of blue ink all over a load of laundry.  But it was Date Night to the rescue! We began creating the Morrison Family Timeline: A Journey in Progress and ate homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. Yum yum yum! (There are some really great photos of this night, including one of the beautiful flowers my husband drew for me, but they are locked away inside my spare camera and for the moment they have no means of coming out.)

Date #9
It was my turn to plan again, but it didn't feel right to have a date on Good Friday.  The plan was to do it on Saturday, but then we had so much to do to get ready for Easter Sunday that I had to recruit Billy to help me make mini-carrot cake cupcakes (he drew the carrots on with icing) and bird's nests (chow mein noodles covered with chocolate and peanut butter with a robin's egg candy inside).  So it was just kinda-sorta a date, but still fun.

Date #10
Egg-drop contest!  I borrowed this idea from overtiredmum.  We made lemon squares together and while they were in the oven we had a challenge to construct a transport device that would carry an egg safely from our upstairs bedroom window to the ground below.  We had a time limit, plus we also had to name our creations.  I honestly don't remember what mine was called, but Billy's was "Over. Easy."  Clever, right? We don't really know who won because I didn't open up my container until after I had thrown it up in the air again a few more times. (Duh.)

So there you have it.  Project 52 is still going strong.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bluebonnets and Blessings

Nothing says "springtime" better than itchy, watery eyes and nonstop sneezing a field of Texas bluebonnets.
And everyone knows that a field of wildflowers + cute little kids = great photographs.
God blessed us with abundant rains last fall which led to these gorgeous flowers.
And God blessed our family with four beautiful children.
He also blessed me with an amazing husband.
We can't wait until we make our newest blessing a permanent member of our family.  (And I will finally be able to show his face!)
These beautiful moments remind me that God is so good!
"Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 106:1

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cuisenaire Rods

The other day while staring at the stacks of packed and half-unpacked boxes still in our garage, I noticed a box containing some of my old teaching supplies. There were all sorts of math manipulatives: counters, color tiles, pattern blocks, and Cuisenaire rods.  I brought them inside the house and quickly forgot all about the organizing I was supposed to do in the garage.

Today seemed like a good day to introduce the kids to the Cuisenaire rods because I'm still recovering from Easter and wasn't up for activities involving paint, glue, or anything else messy.  I really wasn't sure what the kids would do with the rods, but I wasn't too surprised when at first they built buildings and towers...

But then Daniel made see-saws:
And that sparked creativity in everyone else.  We had a train, boat, helicopter, airplane, scissors, and even the letter B.
The last picture is Daniel and his letter B.  It does kind of look like a lower-case B, even though he doesn't know what it is yet!  

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Blessed Easter Weekend

Two family gatherings and 3 church services in 4 days made for quite a busy weekend for the 500 Babies.  But it was all worth it as we spent time with extended family and our church family to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord!  The kids enjoyed playing with cousins, hunting eggs, and eating more candy than was probably necessary.
As you can see there was also sand, wagon rides, and bluebonnets...the perfect blend of springtime fun in Texas!