Sunday, November 30, 2008
Ean is adorable! And, he happens to have Down Syndrome. I have thought so much about someday adopting a child with Down's. I'm excited for Ean to have found his forever family and can't wait to see him come home to them!
Their website has a "chip in" button allowing you to donate through Paypal.
Friday, November 28, 2008
This Thanksgiving saw us beginning a new fun tradition. My parents sent us an Elf on the Shelf set the other week. If you haven't seen this it's so cute! There is a book that describes the elf that comes to your house during the holidays to report your behavior to Santa. You can't talk to him or touch him. Each night he flies away to talk to Santa and returns in a new place the next morning where you need to find him.
I had set out the elf just before the kids woke up on Thanksgiving. We read the book and after the second page I asked them if they thought an elf like that would come to our house. They just shook their heads. I suggested they look around and Olivia started pointing and jumping up and down. They just stared at him. Braeden was our big skeptic saying there was no way that he would fly away at night. They named him Tom. Tom Maximilliar??? Too funny!
We had a great Thanksgiving. Olivia's morning was a little rough. She often doesn't sleep well the night before a holiday or something big and her body NEEDS sleep. After a nap time I said good morning Olivia, Happy Thanksgiving, and we started our day over. We watched some of the parade, I cleaned out the refrigerator while making dinner, got some vacuuming and laundry done, and the kids and I watched some of The Santa Clause. Olivia kept talking about "Tom" and where he would end up the next day. She hoped he didn't come on her bed because she was afraid of rolling over and squashing him! :)
That night Braeden was out of bed about 3 times in 30 minutes. I finally asked him why he was out of bed. He got this huge grin and said he was waiting for Tom to fly away! Oh too funny! I said he needed to get to bed and that Tom wouldn't move while he was up and watching. He just smiled and said that he needed to watch. I smiled back and said he needed to go to sleep. He finally did.
This morning, Braeden just stared at the place where Tom had been yesterday. Then Olivia, who didn't sleep much last night for the excitement of Tom moving, took his hand and showed him how Tom was now sitting at the top of the bathroom mirror. It was so funny!
This morning, we were out the door at 6 am! I haven't shopped black Friday since I've had kids. Mostly because I Christmas shop year round really. Whenever I find great clearance items I know the kids will love I grab them and keep them in rubbermaids in the storage room. Then at Christmas I don't have much to get. BUT, there were some great items I was hoping to snag for birthdays and such. The boys' day care was open and they said I could drop Olivia off there too since they don't get many kids today. So I was off to Target at 6am. I got just what I wanted and got in the longest line I've ever seen wrapped all the way around to the back of the store! But it moved quickly.
Then off to Walmart, only because they had a 20inch girls bike for $29 I was hoping to get Olivia. She outgrew hers and I had made her a deal. Since we've been working on bedwetting, I told her that she could earn 50 cents for each totally dry night where the alarm didn't wake her up, and when she earned half of a bike, I would match it. She easily has earned half of this bike! I put it in her room tonight before I picked them up and she screamed of excitement when she saw it. :)
I also got to finally see Twilight. Why is it that a silly Vampire book/movie has so many enthralled??? I don't know, but I LOVED the books! Read all 4 in 8 days! I have been so excited about seeing the movie! It was good! :)
After getting the kids we grabbed pizza and my friend J and her three came over for dinner. It was a fun evening!
On a final note/update. I'm trying Mountain Dew "therapy" with Braeden. :) I've been reading up on ADHD recently as I think we're headed in that direction with him. We lost our weekly babysitter recently. I think it was more that she didn't understand setting boundaries and keeping structure, which he needs, but she quit nonetheless. I have a new one who is interviewing Tues, but I see a need to try something with him at the same time. So, speaking with moms of ADHD kids and others, I have heard that for many Mountain Dew works to help "these" kids focus and gives them that "edge" on their behavior that can really help. He has been a different kids the past couple days. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect, not a robot, but not off the wall jittery and unable to sit still. He's had a few time outs and has taken them without issue, and without literally climbing up the walls of the stairway. It was a PJ and movie day today at day care and his regular teacher wasn't there, but even they said he had a really good day. I'm giving him a small cup in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon and will keep it up for a week. I want to especially see if they notice a difference at school. I'm hopeful that this can help and we can bypass medication, at least for now. I'm not a big proponent for medication, being a teacher and parent I've seen it overdiagnosed, but I've also seen it make a huge difference in some of my kiddos too. It's such a fine line. The funniest thing is that I've had to actually coerce him into drinking it a couple times! :) What 4 year old needs reminders to drink his Mountain Dew!?
Tomorrow we are off to the Schaumburg area to see Bolt with friends of mine and their two little ones! I can't wait. Woo Hoo! :) And Sunday, back to church which we missed last week from being downtown. I missed it!
Finally, a random shot from when we were in Chicago last weekend... Love the architecture!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We'll talk about what we're thankful for of course. I can't wait to tell them why I'm thankful for each of them.
I have a special gift for them, but it hasn't come yet. It's supposed to be delivered on Friday so we'll look at that then. I made a book! I am in LOVE with Blurb.com!!! I made a book called Gratitude 2008. It shares pages of what I, and we as a family, are grateful for in our lives. The first 6 pages dedicate 2 each to each of the kids. I also have pages dedicated to family, grandparents, friends, our home, our church, and God. In addition, I asked each of the kids what they were thankful for and created a page for each. Olivia was thankful for our family, Braeden for going to Disney World :), and Liam didn't really answer, so we decided he was thankful at this point in his life for puppies! The book turned out SO GREAT! I ordered a hardcover copy and cannot WAIT to see it! The kids are going to be so shocked and surprised!!! :)
I am also grateful for each of you, for your support and kind words, for your listening ears and heartfelt prayers. May God bless each of you richly this Thanksgiving weekend!
These laptops are created especially for children in developing countries. They are sized for children's hands, have built in wireless, a screen that is visable even in bright sunlight - for children who are schooled outdoors - and are incredibly fun and motivating for children. They are NOT sold here. BUT, with this offer, you can purchase a laptop to send to a child in a developing country, and during this time you will then receive one of your own. Give one. Get one. Wow.
While we don't have the funding to do this yet, I hope to be able to next year if they again offer the opportunity. I hope you will check them out. Pass it on. Consider giving one yourself.
You can purchase them on Amazon.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Here is a wonderful way to help put some much needed shoes on feet this holiday season.
This is taken from the Red Letters Campaign blog.
Here’s a great way to “give thanks” to God this Thanksgiving - buy a pair of shoes for someone living in a third-world country. If you sign up for the Soles4Souls “50,000 Pairs in 50 Days” Campaign, you can share the Gospel of “good news to the poor” for just $5.
Here’s how it works:
Go to 50000shoes.com.A $5 donation buys two pairs of shoes. Everyone that’s reading this has $5, and everyone has 2 minutes. From start to finish, donating is literally three clicks. No fluff. No hassle. Anyone can donate.
Spread the word.Use the widget code on the landing page to post a link on your blog. Email everyone you know. Join the facebook group. Ask your friends to do the same!
Win a trip.
Besides the fact that the blogging world can literally impact 50,000 people before the end of the year, one person (and their guest) will be chosen at random to hand-deliver the shoes they purchased on a Soles4Souls trip to Mexico.
Imagine handing someone their first pair of shoes… ever.
Do the Math.
If 500 people influence 10 people to donate, and those people influence 5 more, that’s 50,000 pairs of shoes ($5 buys 2 pairs).
Get Started.Sign-up at http://www.50000shoes.com/, donate your $5, and start spreading the word.
For more on this campaign, read this article: Shoes, Social Media, and Justice
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We arrived at the hotel around 10:30. Never having been to quite a "posh" hotel, I didn't think through the whole, tip-the-porter-and-everyone-else thing. So when someone came out and loaded up a cart with our things, which I had planned so that it was manageable by myself, and then took us all up to a room which I didn't even know would be available yet, I only had 20's and tipped him with one! Can't really ask for change, can you!? :)
It was a nice hotel. The kids were in heaven. (There was even the stereotypical robes and slippers in the closet. I was cracking up. And an honor bar, with no lock although I received a key. Keeping the kids out didn't prove as hard as I thought.
I just love Chicago. I love the architecture, which always proves difficult when I'm driving and also trying to take in the wonderful buildings around me. I love the meld of modern and historic. I love the pace of it all. I love that you can wander down any given street and find an eclectic mix of people and activities. Love it!
After checking in and getting settled, we headed to the main stage area of the festivities. We did run into a snag on the way there. The street/area where we were staying was about a story below Michigan Avenue and the festival. I walked a couple blocks looking for a way "up" but it was only to be had by going up a large flight of stairs. With a double stroller. And three kiddos. Oh my. We got out of the stroller, and started up. Luckily a very nice gentleman helped us out by carrying the stroller for me so I could take Liam. We were on our way!
Once we got there, it was busy, but not horrible. We listened a while to Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, they were so fun! Remind me a lot of They Might be Giants and The Imagination Movers.
We wandered the stalls and got free vanilla sugar cookies from Whole Foods - yum! - bracelets advertising Chicago Olympics, saw a beautiful gingerbread house done up by Doubletree Hotels, and a few other things.
We listened a while longer to Justin R. and then waited for the Cheetah Girls. We were fairly close, and it was pretty sparse in the way of people. I kept telling Olivia that soon there would be tons of people packing us in, she was to stay by us and not move or they would just move her out of the way, and that we had to be careful. I don't think she really believed me until all the people started coming. :) We had to wait a while, but it was fun! Olivia ended up standing on the stroller and Braeden was on my shoulders. There were so many kids up on shoulders in front of us that they couldn't see otherwise. I got some great video of them to put on a disk for the kids. :)
After, we headed back to the hotel to warm up, eat, and meet up with a friend of mine who lives in Chicago. Some others helped with the stairs again! My friend and I reconnected recently on Facebook and he wasn't busy, so we made plans to see the parade together. We had some time to talk and catch up a bit before heading out to brave the cold and the crowds.
The kids were excited to meet Mr. "D". They love meeting my friends! It's too cute! Braeden however, was a bit overstimulated, and was quite a handful. But that's Braeden. You just never know.
Since we weren't out there real early to claim a spot, we had quite a few people in front of us for the parade. But we did the same as at Cheetah Girls, and I think they got to see quite a bit. My friend "D" got some GREAT pictures and I got a few too.
After the parade were fireworks. NOT Liam's favorite part of the evening! :) But it was fun to see!
We fought the crowds and made it back to the hotel for a short warm up and a few pictures, before D had to catch a cab back to his place.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I actually never really paid much attention to this before. BUT, a friend of mine was going to go with her two kiddos and had booked a hotel room for themselves. It was a prepay, and she ended up not able to go. Since she couldn't cancel without losing the money, she asked if we might like to go, and the room could be our Christmas gift. So I read up on it.
Here is the hotel: AMALFI
And here is the link about the festival: MAG MILE
I grew more and more excited as I read about the wonderful hotel, saw how close it was, and read about all the great activities and entertainment. Ummm... I can just imagine Olivia's face when she sees THE CHEETAH GIRLS! Hello!!! :) And there are tons of vendors and activities set up in a large area, including free Eli's cheesecake decorating! And Mickey and all his friends from DisneyWorld are going to be there to lead off the parade. Then fireworks at night! Oh how exciting!!!
God has really blessed us with so many things recently just like this. And our Mary Poppins tickets, paid by a couple wonderful family members! And... I could go on, but a couple have asked to remain anonymous and not mention them. OK, fine. :) But God knows, and He will be blessing you magnanimously!
I think since we're doing this tomorrow, we're probably going to bypass the parade on Thanksgiving, but that's just fine by me. That's quite a bit for one week! And the kids will miss a week of performing in church, but they will be performing on Dec 7 as well. Oh, I hope to have great pictures and memories to share come Sunday night! Take care!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
BUT, there are many in this world who aren't. Many we barely think of because they're not right in front of us. Many who NEED water. A basic need. Admit it, we get upset if we go somewhere and are charged 10 cents for a cup of water. But it's there. It's available. To many it's not. So I want water for Christmas. Check this out -
Water For Christmas
I have read about this on quite a few blogs recently and joined the cause on Facebook. We are getting involved.
Olivia gets an allowance each week. Part goes into a college savings jar. Part goes into a spending jar. And part goes into a giving jar. Usually we take this out, I match it, and we purchase items for a needy child in our school district at Christmas. (clothes, and maybe one toy) This year we're giving water as our joint project. Can you spare a little to give someone water this Christmas???
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Bears Adopt Duck
Once upon a time three bears found a duck in the pond. The three bears decided to adopt the duck. The three bears were happy. They lived happily ever after.
Update: Oops! Probably a good idea to share what my total was! :) $37.16 :)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
He is in a day care which I love! (Though there are so many pluses and minuses when it comes to day cares period.) Last year he went to the same one, but was also in our district's preschool program in the morning. I enrolleed him in the preschool program just hoping to get him into some structure to help him out. I think the program is probably a really good one for many kids. Especially kids who come from not having many educational experiences at home or need some extra support in different areas. It was not for him. He is so incredibly bright (and I don't think I'm being biased :) ), yet I don't think they truly got to know him. I think they didn't learn a whole lot that he didn't already know and that that on top of his already "busy" behavior made for him being labeled "trouble." If you know what I mean. In the meantime, his class at day care was doing preschool at the same time, and he missed out. I think he would have learned a lot more if I hadn't sent him.
BUT, last year is past... This year I did not sign him up for "preschool" and just day care, with their preschool program.
SO, he can now spell all his color words (black, brown, orange, red, yellow, green, blue, and purple) AND tonight he counted by tens - IN SPANISH!!! :) It was too cute!!!
I still worry about his "activity." I am afraid of him being labeled a troublemaker in school and not being challenged academically. I hope to find the teacher who can pull that out of him and push him to achieve within his focus "issues." But I know in my heart God has so many wonderful things planned for his life. I can't wait to see!!! :)
Monday, November 10, 2008
It went very well.
I was nervous, and she was too I think. We met with her and her boyfriend for about an hour at McDonalds. It was good to talk to her and share some information, get to know each other a little bit. She gave him a bear today. I was so glad for that, as silly as it sounds. She hasn't given him a gift since I've had him and I was touched she had brought it for him. She asked about sending a gift at Christmas (I have a PO box) and I suggested we get together again in January for Christmas and to celebrate his birthday. She was very happy about that, so we're planning a visit Jan 30 on his birthday as of now.
I think "we're" going to send her a box at Christmas. Possibly a framed picture of Liam and ??? Not sure, but I thought it would be nice. I also found out her birthday so that will be something we can celebrate together as well. I think we're off to a good start. There were a few things said that I'll watch to see if they continue and how I could help her with a "different" way of saying it, just some terms and such that I think will be hard for him to understand at this age.
I'm blessed to at least be able to share God with her (she does go to church I found out!) and allow Liam a relationship with his birth mom as he grows.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
So, I thought I'd do something a little different, after becoming inspired from some other blogs.
Welcome to my first ever giveaway!!!
It will work like this: I will show you pictures and describe what I bought, you make a guess as to how much I spent on the things I purchased, and the closest estimate will result in a $5 Starbucks card!!! Sound good??? :) Let's get started...
Next, pajamas for each of the kids! A satiny set for Olivia with reindeer and little Christmas trees. Footy pjs for Braeden with polar bears in size 4/5. And an adorable set from Carter's for Liam in size 2T that are striped in blue and are the lowest pile fleece I've ever seen - so soft!!
Then, a pair of size 5 brown Gymboree pants for Braeden. A like new Gap 2T spring jacket in a patchwork plaid (love it!) for Liam. And a Gymboree baby blanket with a horse on one side and horseshoes on the other (for that next little boy placement!).
Friday, November 07, 2008
Instead of sending Olivia to our school age "day care" place today which I usually have to do when we have teacher's institutes and such, I asked my principal if she could just come with me. I only had one "regular" conference and one phone conference scheduled today. I have six students, had three conferences yesterday, and one is waiting until next week when we have her daughter's annual review. He agreed and Olivia entertained herself watching The Little Princess (not the Shirley Temple version however :( ) for the first time, working in a "workbook" she has, helping a little at the book fair, and reading a new chapter book.
After conferences, we headed up to IKEA (love it!) so I could (finally) get a dresser for my bedroom, and then went to a thrift store. There are three of these that my friend J and I hit when we have time, and we get great buys. I sometimes also pick things up to sell on ebay or at our local consignment store. Last spring I found a pair of Keen sandals for 45 CENTS and sold them as a buy it now on ebay for $20!!! I had a few things I was looking for today, and did find two of them so that was a bonus. On the way back, we stopped at a McDonalds to use the restroom and get a drink for the road.
The thrift shops we visit are in some parts of Chicago which are a little scary for a single white woman to drive through. I wish I didn't feel that way. It makes me sad to see the beautiful old brick homes now run down, many with boarded windows, roofs falling apart, garbage lining fences and littering yards, and some people who look like they could be not so nice to put it one way. Some of the people at the thrift stores can be extremely rude, but some are wonderful and there is one cashier at a store I go to often after Olivia's U of C appointments who recognizes us and we talk as we are checking out. She always comments on how big Olivia's getting! :)
So the McDonalds we stopped at is a bit "scary" I guess. As we walked in to head to the restroom, there was an older woman sitting at a table just inside the door. She was African American, with black and gray hair done in Locs and pulled back into a ponytail with a rubber band that has seen better days. She had an older coat on over her clothes, a large bag for a purse that looked like it had many plastic store type bags inside. In front of her on the table was a water cup. In walking past her, she looked at my eyes and asked for a hamburger.
I love singing about being Jesus' hands and feet - at church, in the car, at home. I love teaching the kids about Jesus' love and forgiveness and understanding. But how often do I actually try to practice that? It's "easy" most of the time, with friends and family. But when it slaps you in the face like this, what do you do??? This is what Jesus did, he met people where they were, be it smelly, or sick, or poor, or full of sin, and he did what he could to meet their needs. I'll tell you what I did, I walked right by her and tried not to look in her eyes. "OK, Thank you," she said, and returned to looking at who could be coming in next.
As Olivia and I went to the restroom. I thought about the things I just posted. I took a good look at myself in the mirror. And a good look at Olivia. Who are we? What am I teaching Olivia by what I do or don't do in situations such as these? Who am I to deny someone of dinner when I have the money to provide it? Money given to me by God. She didn't want money, she wanted food. A basic need. She wanted love and acceptance and help.
We came out of the restroom, I leaned over to her, and said, "We'd like to buy you something to eat. What would you like?" She thanked me profusely, asked for a Cesar salad and a coffee, told the woman which dressings she wanted and how she wanted her chicken (I think she's done this a few times) :) and told the woman next to her that the devil has been on her all day, but that Jesus came through in us. Wow. We were Jesus to her. And she saw and acknowledged that. Wow.
She asked while we were waiting for the food if Olivia was my daughter. I smiled and said yes. She asked if her dad was black. I smiled and said yes. (He is!) lol and in my head I was thinking, and her birth mom is too! :) But I just accepted being her mom. :)
I will think of that woman often. And I will pray for her often.
Olivia asked me questions about her on the way home. She asked if she had money, a car, etc. I said probably not to both questions. She asked how she got to a bathroom if she didn't have a car. :) I said she probably walked or rode a bus or had one to use. She suggested the woman could walk the sidewalks and find "lots of money." Pennies are big time cash to Olivia. :) As we passed a car pull-a-part "field" she said maybe the woman could come there and get a car. :) She has a good heart. I hope I did my part today to help her think of others. I hope I continue on this journey of noticing ways to be Jesus.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Some friends I work with had an hour wait.
I had none.
I pulled up to vote at our local children's museum...
And the parking lot looked like this...
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
The kids had no clue where we were going, I just told them we were going somewhere special. I thought for sure they would see the coasters and especially the huge spiders on the side of the Eagle coaster as we passed right by them, but they were too interested in the movie and what they were doing in the car to notice the "scenery." When we turned into the parking lot and they saw where we were - I thought our windows could break from the high pitched screaming! :) Excited is an understatement!
The whole park was redone for Halloween, so we passed lots of fun scenery...
Olivia has tried to go on these swings every time we've gone to Great America, but she's always been too short. Today was her day! She was about a milimeter tall enough! And was she thrilled!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
I had a fellow teacher let me know that she was going to be calling in a sandwich order to pick up for herself on the way home and ask if she could get something for us for dinner. I thanked her profusely, how I would LOVE that!!! BUT, I had to tell her that on Halloween I work hard to be "cool mom." Two years ago I just didn't know how to fit dinner in with work and picking up from day care and getting ready and trick or treating, so I decided to just let them eat candy as we walked and that would be our dinner. You'd think they'd won the lottery (we don't do candy much!). It worked, they thought it was the coolest thing ever, and we did it again last year. And Olivia still talks about it. That is what she was most excited about this year! I figure it's one night a year, why not. :) So we passed on the sandwiches and went with the candy. :)And had so much fun!!
However, about three blocks or so into the trick or treating, we ran into 6 college agers dressed as witches, and Liam lost it! :) He was scared, poor buddy. He would NOT walk. And of course I didn't plan for this and had no stroller or wagon. Boy that kid can get heavy in a costume after walking a couple blocks! lol I got a very funny video piece of what he was like when I had to set him down for a minute to regain feeling in my arm. I'll try to post it if my dial up won't kick me off in uploading! :) All in all, a great Halloween. And after I threw out the remainder of the candy we still had from last Halloween, we had room for more in their Halloween candy jars. (And mom has her own stash in a bag in the cabinet!)
God is good... All the time!