Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas

We had an unbelievably good, calm, happy Christmas. Their first Christmas was terrible and last year was better, but not great. This year was "normal"! They didn't get everything they wanted, but were happy. They shared. They played together and didn't argue or fight. They even let me take a nap on the couch! I haven't done that in 2+ years. It was wonderful! The weekend has been uneventful as well. Plus we got our first decent snow so of course they are very happy. We went out and played yesterday for awhile.

No school this week which makes for happy boys - and an easier week for Mom and Dad. We're off to Grandma's for Christmas this week with my family. Can't wait to see everyone.

Karen

Andrew

New PJ's.


Being silly in our new PJ's.











We did a quick "trying to calm them down and get ready for bed" activity Saturday night. I sat them all at the kitchen counter and gave them mini marshmallows and toothpicks to make things. They were more creative than I expected. Here they are with their creations.


Andrew - not sure what he was making.



Juan Pablo with his "human", house and a flower.














Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Week

Just a post of our week in pictures.

This is the "train" that Andrew and Juan Pablo constructed yesterday afternoon. It consisted of pillows, "Tigger", a power ranger helmet, an electric keyboard, a Bible, some pieces of wood and a few other miscelaneous items. They were so very proud of themselves and although I didn't quite understand how everything went together and formed a train I of course told them how creative they were and how hard they had worked.

The next two pictures are the result of "The Reward of the Day". In an effort to try to encourage them to work more diligently on their schoolwork we have instituted this reward program. Each day it is something different - a bag of chips for lunch, computer time, a craft, make playdough and such. This particular day it was face painting. I had bought some Halloween face paint on clearance and since they love this type of thing I thought it would make a good reward. Andrew is a Power Ranger and Juan Pablo is a pirate. I still have a way to go in my next career as a makeup artist, but they were happy with the results. :)






This week I almost felt like I got to meet myself. Phyllis and her husband adopted a sibling group of 3 boys from Russia last year and we "met" through our blogs. The similarities are amazing! We are essentially the same age, have two older children the same sex and age, our boys are nearly the same age, we both homeschool and it just seems to go on and on. It was wonderful to meet someone else who has/is dealing with many of the same things we have/are.
My boys had a great time playing and wish we lived closer. Here we are with our boys.





Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fall 2009

Wow - I have alot of territory to cover! Maicol in particular has been wanting to play football in the backyard. This primarily consists of me throwing the ball to he or Juan Pablo and then Maicol either runs with it or knocks Juan Pablo down if he happens to get the ball. Then Andrew comes and gets the ball and runs. They really have no idea about the rules (and neither do I), but it does provide for fun and burns off some energy. Unfortunately it's getting to cold now to get out and play.

We celebrated Juan Pablo's eighth birthday in November. We had a family dinner and then gifts, cake and ice cream. Hard to believe he's had 3 birthdays since he became our son. We still need to go to Chuck E Cheese's, but we are patiently (NOT) waiting on a time that we can all go with his big brother. I think Maicol asks about it more than he does. I do not particularly care to go there (seems like it always gives me a headache), but they all just love going and I guess I can tolerate it 3 times a year. :) One of his gifts was a Lite Brite and I think the older kids enjoyed it as much as he did. I even broke down and bought a cake. I'm cheap, but Dan reminded me it is just once a year.

I worked over Thanksgiving, so we went last weekend to my Mom's to celebrate. My sister and her family came so there were plenty of boys to play with. We got out twice to take a walk to the woods. I miss living in the country. They had a great time and since it was cold there was a little pond that was frozen over. Not thick enough ice to walk on, but enough to poke with sticks and get their feet wet. Lots of playing with sticks, looking at leaves and trees and trying to be quiet enough to see deer. They have slept for 12 hours the last three nights, so I think they are about "caught up" now. When they are gone and don't go to bed on time it is really hard on them and also hard on their Mom and Dad to tolerate them.

We are still waiting on our first real snow. We had flurries today and lots of wind. They were so full of energy (loud, pushing and fighting, disobedient) today that I took them for a walk before I even tried to get school started. We were out when it started to flurry and they thought that was very cool. By the time we got back home the temperature had definitely dropped! The time outside running seemed to help and we were able to get school done with minimal problems.

Maicol still has trouble controlling his mouth, but has good days also. The upside for me is that each time he gets into trouble he has to do a chore for me. I have been the recipient of a clean bathroom and mopped floors today. Juan Pablo vacuumed and straighted up the living room for me. Andrew even got to help put the dishes away and put toys away. But I did also play hide and seek with them so they didn't have to work all day. They are doing good as far as learning, but their attitude towards Mom still needs a great deal of work. We just keep working on it.

There is lots of talk of Christmas gifts and they now understand that nearly every day in the paper their is another new ad to be checked. They are more anxious than me to get the paper each morning! We are doing a simple advent book each night. A short version of a Bible story and then a picture to find hidden items in.

We are still doing "Family Night" each Tuesday. The counselor we went to suggested this and so each Tuesday we do something together. Sometimes it's an all day thing and sometimes it's a shorter activity. Maicol (being the stickler for rules that he is) is unhappy if we do a daytime activity instead of a nighttime activity. He makes me crazy sometimes! Isn't an all-day fun time better than just a one hour night time thing? We think so, but what do we know?!

Lots of pictures with this post. That's what everyone wants anyway, isn't it?

Until next time....

This is how their version of football always ends up - one on the ground and the other two trying to wrestle the ball away.



Juan Pablo - he's usually being pushed to the ground by Maicol.



Juan Pablo - the very happy birthday boy!


Juan Pablo - 8th birthday.



Opening his presents.


The "big kids" playing with Juan Pablo's new Lite Brite.



Playing on the trampoline with Dad. He doesn't jump or play on the trampoline very often, but when he does they love it!



Andrew



Maicol



Juan Pablo



Andrew, Juan Pablo and Maicol




Juan Pablo


Maicol and Andrew - listening to Dad read for Family Night.














Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall

The weather has been good for being almost November, so we have been trying to get out and take advantage of it. Two weeks ago we packed up a suitcase and went to a state park for a quick overnight trip. It took me three hours to get the boys around a 1.7 mile trail! I told Dan with the boys a trail is to be "experienced", it's not a matter of going from the beginning to the end with them! They have to stop a look at everything, pick up everything and ask about a thousand questions (most of which I don't know the answer to).

We went to a hayride/wiener roast at an old friends house. This is the third year they have gone and now that they know what's going to happen they are excited to go.

I took them to a park near our home that we had not investigated yet. It has a nature center, playground and trails. The trails were closed that day, so we spent a good bit of time in the nature center. Lots of aquariums with turtles, snakes and lizards. Animal puppets to put on shows for Mom and a bird watching area. We went again today to walk (experience) the trails.

School is going ok. Maicol still complains everyday about what he has to do. He still has to complete all of it, so I don't know why he hasn't given up complaining. Maybe someday. He is at the point where so much of his work involves reading and while he can read, there are still so many words that he doesn't know which frustrates him. Juan Pablo still prefers reading to math. He is starting to write sentences and doing well with that. Andrew is learning to read. He is able to blend consonants and short vowels. I think very soon he will be able to sound out words himself. He does well with numbers too.

We are quickly approaching another birthday. Juan Pablo will be 8 in two weeks. Now that Halloween is over this will be the topic of conversation. How long will it be til the event, when will we go to Chuck E Cheese, what will the gifts be, etc. Everyday, many times a day we will have to answer the same questions. Ahhhhhh!!

Here are a few pictures. Enjoy!

Karen

















Thursday, October 15, 2009

What did we do before?

What did we do before we had 3 boys? It must have been really boring around here! The past week they have:

1. Climbed on the computer desk and managed to tip it and send everything on it sliding, but fortunately just alot of noise and nothing really broken beyond repair.

2. Ran through the house and pulled the silverware drawer out onto the floor. The drawer glides are bent, but it does still work.

3. Spread styrofoam beads ALL over the living room, down the hall and into the bathroom. Took forever to suck them all up with the vacuum cleaner.

4. Covered themselves in sidewalk chalk. Hair and skin. Took their shirts off outside to really do the job thoroughly.

5. Emptied a bottle of bodywash into the bathtub because they wanted bubbles.

Illness is visiting our house today. Maicol and Juan Pablo started getting sick yesterday afternoon and Dan and I are getting it today. So far Andrew is fever free and has way too much energy. We're hoping this is short-lived. Maicol is already better, so that's a good sign.

Not much else going on. I'm home more now that I have quit my part-time job and Dan has been busier. They are going to school on Mondays and seem to be liking it. We've been able to play outside this week except for yesterday and today. That's always good.

Since I don't have anything else exciting here are a few more pictures of our beach trip.

Karen












Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beach Vacation

We have been talking about going to the beach for 2 years now, and we finally made it! The boys had never been to a beach and this was one of the things we really watned to do. I don't think it would have been possible before now, but their ability to handle new things (and a van borrowed from some friends) have made it a pretty good trip so far. We spent most of Thursday driving and finally arrived on Friday afternoon. We did make a stop at a dinosaur museum, so that slowed progress, but everyone had a good time and it certainly burned off some energy running from one dinosaur to the next. We're staying at Laguna Beach at a Christian Retreat Center. We have a cottage - bedroom, living room/kitchen combo and bath. A pool right outside our door and a place to do laundry - all for about $55 a night. We just walk across the street and down a short path to the beach. What a deal! The weather has been great. We had a little rain last night, but otherwise dry and sunny. The sand is white, the waves are perfect and there is hardly anyone else on the beach. There is a motorcycle event of some kind this weekend, so there have been hundreds of them on the road making driving anywhere very slow, but the boys have enjoyed looking at all of them.

We have spent hours in the morning and late afternoon at the beach playing in the water, looking for shells, letting little fish nibble on our legs and looking for hermit crabs. The boys have all had a wonderful time. They weren't too sure about the waves at first, but very quickly found that they love them. The salt water was a surprise. I think Andrew has swallowed gallons of it. Maicol is looking for a shark tooth, but has had to settle for one purchased at the dollar store unless we find one in the next 2 days. Juan Pablo wants to bring home the hermit crabs but I think we've convinced him to leave them here so they won't die. Andrew is fearless in the water (and therefore scares me). He can't get enough of playing in the waves. It has been a good trip so far and we now think that it might be possible to do this again! The real test will be going home - a long trip with the goal at the end being back to the usual (work, school, chores, etc). For Dan and I that's a good thing (routine and sleeping in our own bed), but for them I don't think it's as appealing as a trip to the beach. :)

We have picked up lots of shells. Andrew will pick up anything and put it in his bucket. Juan Pablo isn't that interested in shells, but loves collecting the hermit crabs and chasing the birds on the beach. Maicol is looking for a shark tooth, but is content with interesting shells. I remember as kids we would go to state parks on summer camping trips and collect rocks. There is an entry in my baby book about bringing back "pockets full of rocks" from somewhere. I think we are going to be bringing back buckets full of shells.

Here are a few pictures of our trip thus far. I need to get some more of them at the beach and will add them later.

Karen

Of course we stopped at McDonld's on the way. Where else can you get a quick, cheap meal and let the kids play?!
At Dinosaur World.


Andrew being swallowed by a dinosaur.

Juan Pablo being swallowed by a dinosaur.




Maicol being swallowed by a dinosaur. You'll be glad to know we were able to save them all. :)



Watching the hermit crabs.

Playing in the ocean with Dad.


A hermit crab.






Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another Anniversary

Our two year anniversary has come and gone. We went from a family of four to a family of seven two years ago (really eight now because we have a wonderful daughter-in-law now too). We've all gotten older and boy do some of us really feel like it! :) Maicol has grown physically, but he is still afraid to believe that his Mom loves him and isn't going to go anywhere or do anything bad to him. He wants to so badly, but it's so hard for him. Juan Pablo I think finally believes that he is here to stay and it's ok to relax and love this new Mom, but he really, really wants to have his own way and do his own thing. This can make for some difficult moments for him (and the rest of us). Andrew is growing so much in every way. He has learned to love his new Mom, but I think he is still having some "terrible two/three" behaviors. And just this past week I think he has finally decided to stay dry at night, so no more diapers! They are all doing well academically. We have learned we didn't know as much about parenting older adopted children as we thought we did and that while we can still jump on a trampoline, we shouldn't do it too much at a time!

The boys have started going to a couple of classes on Mondays with other home-schooled kids. Andrew is going to 3 hours of preschool and the other two are taking a PE class and a writing/literature class. Last week was their first time and it went pretty well. At least well enough that they haven't refused to go back. Dan takes them and so he gets a break and they get to have someone else for a teacher and get to meet some other kids.

We celebrated our two year anniversary by going to Steak n Shake for half price milkshakes, to a park to walk on the trail (and play in the water) and then to KFC for $2 meals. We're big spenders! After the initial (typical) whining from Maicol about how it wouldn't be any fun we all had a great time.

Dan finished their treehouse last weekend. It had been in the works for the past few weeks, but we were able to finish it last Sunday. It really is a treehouse. It is anchored by three trees and has a ladder to climb up and a slide to go down. He also built a wooden climbing wall. We're still working on getting a very long, very heavy pole for a "fireman's pole". There is even a hammock underneath for the Dad! They have had fun so far playing there and I think it will provide fun for many years. We had talked about this with them for a long time and we're glad to finally have it done.

We have had many fires in the firepit. Roasted many, many hotdogs and marshmallows. Dan and I have spent many evenings out there after the boys are in bed - enjoying the great weather and a chance to talk. Our firewood is split and stacked for the winter. The trampoline has been repaired and is being used daily. I have started going to MOPS. I am the oldest mom, but I have enjoyed it so far. We celebrated out 27th wedding anniversary. On September 10th Maicol, Juan Pablo and Andrew became Bakers and on September 11th I became a Baker.

October 7 will be my last day at my part-time job. I will still be working basically full-time, but will only be working 24 hours one week and 32 the next and that cycle will just keep repeating. We have known for a long time it would be good for me to be home more, and so I have finally decided to stop worrying and just do it.

Here are a few pictures. Enjoy.

Karen


"Charlie's Angels"?

Juan Pablo - they like to "do" their hair.


Andrew with his "'do".



He fell asleep like this - how do they do it?




Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Fun

We have been trying to get a little summer fun in. We managed a trip to Kings Island last week. It went pretty well, considering they don't like new things or riding in the truck for any distance. It turns out that Juan Pablo is the most adventurous. He went on the roller coasters with Dan and begged for more. Andrew had fun riding all of the "kid" rides. Maicol just wanted to be glued to my side all day, so he ended up riding with Andrew. My sister and two or her boys joined us, so I had a good time talking to her. All in all a good day.

The creek pictures are from a park we like to go to. It was pretty busy in the actual playground, so I took the boys to play in the water. I foolishly told them they could wade in the water, but not to get their clothes wet. What was I thinking? For some reason they suddenly had a terrible time standing up. We spent a little time on the playground in the sun drying them out before we went home.

They all went on their first overnight visit Friday. We have had them for almost two years and this is the first time they have stayed overnight without Mom or Dad - and the first night alone Mom and Dad have had. Jonathan and Kristin kept them overnight and then took them to a waterpark for the day (as a reward for doing their appointed tasks in their wedding). Everyone seemed to have a good time and we didn't get any calls, so I think it was successful. They were all a little anxious about being gone. Andrew was very quiet when he came home, but today he seems to be his old self. I think he wasn't quite sure if he was coming back.

We did some decorating in their room while they were gone. They all like animals and Maicol in particular likes cheetahs, so we went with that theme. We put some leopard print wallpaper on part of one wall and topped it with a border of elephants, tigers, lions, giraffes and zebras. I added some paw prints of cheetahs on the side rails of their bunk beds. We put a new curtain up and changed their lamp. I think it turned out neat. They all liked it, I think, but seeing as how they don't like anything to change, it will take some time for them to get accustomed to it. Andrew in particular didn't really like it and said he wants the white wall back. We realize more and more how much they really do not like things to change. They love routine and even if we prepare them ahead of time, there are a million questions and general unrest until they get used to the new thing. They notice if I wear a new clothing item or even change my earrings and want to know all about the item - where I got it, why I'm wearing it, did I wear it before, etc. I guess the good thing about this is they will certainly notice when their wives get a new hairdo or wear a new outfit. :)

They swimming season is winding down for us. They have all improved their swimming skills and still just love to go swimming. Maicol has become a much better diver. Juan Pablo has learned to do a front flip off of the diving board. Andrew has learned to swim well enough to jump off of the diving board. We have been trying to teach him to dive, but so far he's mostly a belly flopper. There's a video clip of each at the end of this entry.

Our next post will be our two year anniversary. We met them August 27, 2007 and none of our lives have been the same since.

Karen




This is what happens when you give two boys a bucket of sidewalk chalk and they begin to run out of sidewalk.


In front of the fountains at Kings Island.



Dan and Andrew on their way to the Eifel tower at Kings Island.













This is Maicol's favorite ride.




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