Monday, May 31, 2010

A fun afternoon





We always appreciate and enjoy when Chris is actually off for the weekend. And this weekend, was one of those times! He had no changes, no work that he needed to do, he was able to really relax and enjoy himself (and his family!) this weekend.

One of the things Ashley got for her birthday is a Buddy Bar Handle for her bike - she is learning to ride a 2 wheeler, and this is a wonderful little item to save a parent's back during this endeavor! Brianna got to try it out, too, but I was busy with the babies by then, so I didn't get any pictures of her!

Callie is making huge strides of progress using her walker...she has a great deal more control and support. She is able to really maneuver it well. She is working on being able to bring it through the grass (which is a real challenge for her balance with the uneven surface and the extra drag that is put on the walker itself).

Justice enjoys being outside...actually he really enjoys anywhere he is as long as his family is close by. He loves exploring new things, and now that he is cruising, it is a whole new world for him! (And his sisters are learning really quickly that they can not leave things on the table!)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The rest of Ashley's birthday




We had a wonderful time at Camano for the indoor picnic...weather didn't quite cooperate to have an actual BBQ, but did we really expect anything else on Memorial Day weekend in the NW?!

Then we came home, and made Ashley's favorite dinner, lazagna (she changed it on me after I really learned to make lasagna earlier this week - Ashley had 4 helpings!) Ashley got to invite 1 friend (and her family) to come to dinner. She chose Clara. We had a great time fellowshipping with their family (as well as MIL, who was able to bring Cameron and Madison). Ashley enjoyed playing with her friends and opening her presents! She got some wonderful presents that all the girls have been playing with all morning. I love hearing the creativity they have in playing pretend (which of course, is what Ashley got - lots of things to play pretend!)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Ashley!




Traditions are important to me. Probably because I had very few things that were even stable growing up, let alone things that were done at any certain time for any reason for traditions!

Birthdays are something I really like to make special for each child. When you are one of many, it seems to like it would be easy to be 'lost in the shuffle' so to speak.

After the birthday child goes to bed on the night before the birthday, I stay up and decorate the house with streamers and balloons. We get a bouquet of balloons (one for each birthday the child has had) to set up for the child to see. As soon as the child wakes up (or when we wake them child up - depending on what is going on that day), everyone goes in with the bouquet of balloons singing "Happy Birthday." They birthday person also gets to choose the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner on their special day. I make the birthday child a cake, and we look through their scrap book (which is ideally up to date...at least in theory! Ashley's scrapbook goes up to July of last year right now...).

The idea is to make the birthday person feel special. To let them know that we value them as a member of the family, and the individual that God created them to be!

Ashley has been talking about wanting a princess castle cake for MONTHS...I was hoping not to disappoint her! Here are a couple pictures of her cake. I think this is one of my best cake's yet!

In part because I make a big deal about birthdays, and another part because of who they are, my girls get in on the action...the twins and Brianna were busy making things for Ashley for her birthday, and were so excited to get to help decorate and make Ashley's day extra special for her! It is wonderful to see everyone rallying together to show how much we love each person as their special day comes around! My children are such a blessing to me!

The twins also made a list of things to buy Ashley for her birthday...and brought it shopping with us...thinking we would be full filling her every whim and desire. We talked about having all we need, and some of what we want, and contentment with where we are. We talked about it being hard sometimes, and the way the World always encourages us to want more, bigger and better. We talked about what God wants from us...

After deciding we wouldn't be getting everything on Ashley's wish list, I loved watching the twins' excitement about trying to find just the right thing for Ashley. I loved listening to them talk back and forth about what they thought Ashley would like the best...and then choosing the things to purchase for her that would bring her the most joy and excitement! I think some good lessons were learned and that Ashley will be thrilled! I will post more about what she got, and pictures tomorrow...for now, it is off to a BBQ, then back here for Ashley's birthday dinner, then present time! :)

God is so good, all the time! What a blessing He has given me in Ashley!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fun afternoon at the children's museum












We spent the morning getting school and chores done, Callie had physical therapy, and then after lunch, we went to the Children's Museum!

Callie did such a great job walking all over for 2 hours. She did wear out by the end, and we had to carry her to the van, but otherwise, she walked the whole way! She is really getting to have a lot of control with her walker. I was able to talk about some of Callie's recent achievements, including the control she has with her walker...it is all coming because her overall balance is getting much better...we really are getting closer to Callie being able to walk independently! It is a very slow process for her that requires a great deal of work on her part...but she is making progress! I love watching the way Callie tries to help and explain things to Justice. She was trying to show him how the ball tower works, but each time she tried to get him to put one in, it would make him fall down, lol! (First of all, he isn't tall enough to reach, and second, he still needs to hold on when standing - he really just wanted to keep cruising around it!)

This was probably Justice's favorite trip to the Children's Museum! Now that he is really mobile, I let him out of the Ergo to explore a little bit on his own. He LOVED it!

The twins were excited to see the construction pieces back out. They built a car big enough for all 6 of them to ride in!

Ashley and Brianna are always thrilled with pretty much everything at the museum! They are at an age where they are very easy to please. So they loved the opportunity to run and play and explore! All of my girls have such a wonderful spirit of helping others. Brianna tries so hard to help and teach the babies to do things. She was thrilled when I let her push Justice around in a car someone made! Ashley can truly play pretend with ANYTHING...she was playing pretend with a map on the wall. Specifically, a penguin and a shark. She was pretending to sail around the world like Magellin did (we just studied this in history last week), and to be chased by a shark! It was pretty funny, and cute!

It was pretty cold, so while the rooftop was open, we decided to save it for another warmer day. Lots of cute pictures today - I couldn't decide which ones to post...so there are quite a few, lol!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interesting conversations lately...



While working on her sewing this morning, Bailey, out of the blue and said, "I guess when you have a little family, you can travel more."
I replied, "Travel where, and why do you think that?"
"Oh, travel to other places on vacation, and camping and things...Because Aunt April's family goes lots of places, but they have a very small family...they probably have more money for traveling."
"That is probably very true, but it still all depends on your income, some families are small, and still can not afford to travel, while other families are large and are able to travel quite a bit."
"I had a lot of fun on vacation...It would be fun to travel more, but we would still spend a lot of time at home, even if we traveled a lot, so I am glad I get my sisters and Justice to play with all the time instead of traveling more. And they all get to travel with me, making the trip even more fun and special!"

I was very happy with her logic and reasoning here! What a blessing to have a child, who values others!


I asked Ashley, "What would you like to have for dinner on your birthday?"
Ashley's response, "Cake!"
"Ok, you can have cake AFTER dinner, but what REAL food would you like to have...what is your favorite dinner?"
"Cake! Oh, wait, how about Princess Cake?!"
"What about something that is healthier to eat?"
"Um, I am not sure...could it be ice cream with the cake since it is a dairy product, so it has calcium?"
"How about something that we might actually HAVE for dinner? Try something that is a balanced meal."
She thought for a moment before saying, "Maybe wheat pasta, with lots of cheese and broccoli in it? But no spaghetti sauce. Would that be balanced? Oh, and applesauce!"
"Yes, it's a deal!"
"But can we still have cake?"
"Of course, what color do you want your princess cake to be?"
"Sleeping beauty colors! Pink and white with princesses on it! And I would like flowers on it, if you have time, if you don't that is ok. But can there be princesses? And what about making the trees around the castle? Can you do that? Could you put sleeping beauty on it? And can you put a little bird on the castle?"

Alright, so I might have to work a little more on what nutrition is with this girl, lol! She is certainly excited about her cake though! I just hope this cake doesn't disappoint...especially when she is building up so much anticipation around it! She is practically counting down the hours to her birthday! (Saturday is her big day.)

I prayse God for the opportunity to be home to experience all these little moments!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What do you do to homeschool?






This is a question that I have been asked many times lately, mostly in private emails from a message board...and it is one of the hardest questions I have ever answered! You can ask 10 homeschool families this question, and come up with 12 different responses (because some families will have changed what they do for homeschool, lol)! Some are asking because they are just curious, others are seeking information because they are interested in homeschooling themselves.

There are several typical questions that come up with one says they homeschool. The first is "Are you sure that is legal?" The answer is YES. It is absolutely legal in all 50 states. The next question is "Who oversees you?" The answer to this is different for each state, but overwhelmingly, no one. We are independent, and it is our responsibility to make sure our children are getting what we believe they need. The last common question that comes up is "What about socialization?" This is probably my favorite! Socialization is defined as putting an individual with a group in hopes the individual will emulate the group...overwhelmingly, what I see in public school, is NOT what I want my children to behave like - so why would I socialize them with there? The other issue I have with socialization in the government schools is the idea of only socializing with others of your own age...Instead, I choose to socialize my children with a wide variety of people, in many different places, young and old alike, with different ideas and beliefs...all while being with them, able to help them through (thus teaching them) how to respond to different situations.

For us, homeschooling means lots of different things. We do have some time for book work, reading, writing, math, history, science, sewing, Spelling, cooking, appreciation of the arts and music, gardening, Language Arts, PE, Bible, Occupational Education, Social Studies, Health, etc. But we also have lots of hands on projects, sensory activities, field trips and more!

Last week, we played a game to see if we could 'recreate' the same results that happened in history (we did), we also made a boat to float in our pool while studying Christopher Columbus and his journey to the Americas. We made a solar system out of balloons showing the relative size of each planet...then we went outside to show how far apart those planets would be based on the size of the planets! We also had a field trip to the Kangaroo Farm and horseback riding/hippo therapy last week.

Our most important subject at our house is bible. So we do that first, and talk about the importance of not missing it. Normally, during breakfast, we read the 1 Year Bible aloud while everyone is eating. This way, by the time everyone leaves our house, they will have heard the Bible from start to finish many times and hopefully have a good understanding of what it says. We also do a Bible class. Right now, I am waiting on a bible study for the twins on Biblical purity and courtship - I am really looking forward to that! In the meantime, they are helping me with the littles' bible lesson...this week we are talking about Noah. I try to make it relevant and fun. One of the activities we will be doing this week is measuring out just how big the ark was, then playing games in what would have been the inside to show how much work it would have been! (Things like having to bring a pail of water from one end to the other to give water to the animals, using a cup and doing it as a relay race! (BTW, this counts as one of the gross motor activity times - even though we are still doing school work, it is also engaging the gross motor skills.) They also tend to have worksheets and activities associated with the Bible lesson. I try to tie in what we do in Bible to all their other activities as well. We also work on a memorization passage. Right now, we are memorizing Ephesians Ch. 6. Children learn best through play, so we try to capitalize on this as much as possible. Since we will be setting up our sensory table with water this week, we will put in a boat and some animals so they can act out the story of Noah and the ark while playing there. One day this week, Ashley and Brianna will tell the story with the felt board to the rest of the group. Another day, we will talk about how tall the mountains are, and how much water it would take to fill all the earth...and how amazing God is that He could do that! We try to make and keep learning FUN, because THAT is how these things will be remembered.

Besides all of this, homeschooling for us includes time for Callie to do her physical therapy (if it wasn't on the schedule, it wouldn't actually get done!)...so while I have people working independently, I have time to work one on one with Callie. Later in the day, the twins work with her again.

After each 40 minutes or so of school (1-2 subjects, for the younger ones, I try to make one of them more fun...like playing with a preschool learning activity, at the bean table or with shaving cream on the table!), we have a time of gross motor play. I try to utilize the most current brain development research in our day - which means gross motor activities help reset concentration, build coordination, help to add more pathways joining the 2 hemispheres of the brain, making concentration and comprehension easier and increases blood flow and oxygen absorption to the brain. After we come back in from one of these gross motor activity sessions, I do something that requires more concentration...either a new concept in math, or reading lesson, or whatever needs more focus for that day. Today the twins are learning about division and working more on memorizing their multiplication facts after our next break. Right now they are reading before we go outside to play ball.

I also try to get as much school done as possible while Justice is napping - it is just easier to not have him in the classroom - especially now that he is crawling, pulling up to standing and cruising! He is always trying to get to the bean table now, lol! (Which means today is the last day of the bean table - fortunately, the weather is getting nice, so we will be emptying it today and bringing it outside to fill with water for the summer! By fall, when we fill it with rice or dry pasta, he will be able to refrain from eating it! And in the meantime, he can definitely play in the water!)

I try to get all my correcting and grading done right after each lesson - I want to know if they are understanding something, and if they are not, we stop and talk about it. If they do understand it, we are able to move on with confidence that they are ready for the next step.

After the 2nd gross motor break (and a kefir smoothie snack), we do History/Science/Geography/Music/Art/Etc, depending on the day. It is whatever school is being done together that day. Today is Tuesday, so we will have an art project. Today's project: painting with foam animals to tie into what we are doing in Bible. It gives me another opportunity to talk about all the animals God made, and also gives them a sensory project while doing their art! Then we will get in Language Arts (probably in part combined with the art project as most of it is oral stuff, and save the writing for a little later). This shouldn't take too long, so we plan to go downstairs after this for some Messianic Dance practice (our 3rd gross motor break - and a wonderful way to Worship our Lord together!). I will get the twins started with their writing which today is from their Language Arts. While they are doing their writing, I will play a game with the little girls, looks like Hi Ho Cherrio (again - we have played a lot of that lately!). Then the little girls get to choose a project of from the many school activities I have, while I play a game with the twins, looks like they have chosen Sorry for today to finish up their school day (this will be a nice change from Qwirkle!).

Then everyone will be ready for lunch! After lunch, Brianna has made a physical therapy obstacle course for Callie. We try to get her to move her body in, out, over, around, and under different things to challenger her physically. All the girls go through the obstacle course, which encourages Callie to stick with it. Brianna is excited to show the course she made to her sisters! After that, we are at nap time!

Coming up this week...we will be taking a field trip to The Imagine Children's Museum, Callie has physical therapy and we will be going for horse back riding and hippo therapy, more projects, and lots more fun! The pictures were from random things that I was able to capture today - most of our school time, is spent with me working with someone 1:1 or giving instructions...not much time for taking pictures!

I love that my children enjoy school and learning! I love that I get to be with them each and every day throughout all of their various activities and discoveries. I am so excited as I get to watch them grow and make new discoveries about the world around us and our Amazing Creator! I have such a blessed life!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Playing at the Park






After church today, we took everyone to the park. What a fun time we had!

Justice enjoyed the swing.
Callie loved walking up and down the stairs - couldn't have asked for a better therapy activity today! As well as being on the swing.
The older girls enjoyed swinging and playing tag...

It was a little wet to go down the slides, but we made the best of it - if you are not willing to go out and play in the pacific NW when it is a little wet, you would be stuck inside all the time!

I also realized today at this particular park, that we take up all the swings, lol!

Now we are back at home, the older 3 are playing outside, and the younger 3 are napping - time for me to get some rest, too!hb

Camp Fire




We had a wonderful evening last night sitting around the camp fire, roasting marshmallows and eating chili. Bailey has been wanting to do this for the last couple weeks. The weather was 'Pacific NW Perfect!' You know, a little sprinkle fell here and there, but otherwise, it was overcast and dry!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kangaroo Farm!








Wanted to post more about yesterday, on a totally different topic - something fun!

I am so glad I had this kind of a distraction after the meeting and while waiting for HSLDA to get back to me!

It was also so awesome that Mom was able to come - an extra set of adult hands was very helpful!

Everyone loved getting to hold the baby joey at the end.

We learned several things, like Ostriches are very agressive birds who live 100 years! And kangaroos can be agressive when a child, who is about their size scares them...fortunately no one was hurt!

It was such a fun field trip!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Options for Callie (Callie's week)


Monday - Callie went to see Dr. Epley (her eye surgeon) because of the way she is tipping her chin up to look at things. He said it is yet another alignment issue, and worst case scenario, we are looking at a 3rd eye surgery...but not for at least a year if at all, he thinks. Right now, we are going to chemically patch one eye with an eye drop to relax her muscles so she can hopefully keep her eyes focused together and keep control of the muscles better. Dr. Epley is not overly optimistic that this will work. I pray that it does though! We will know in the next month. If this doesn't work, we will move onto glasses for her, hopefully they will help to give her more control of the muscles...Dr. Epley has said that he has seen wonderful results with the glasses if we need to go there, to the point of even being able to avoid surgery with the use of the glasses! The catch here is that the glasses would be to worsen her vision to make the eye muscles work harder (thus strengthening them)...and it can be hard to keep glasses on a 2 year old! It was a lot of information to take in, but at the same time, it is really nice to know what we are potentially up against.

Tuesday - Callie's physical therapy evaluations so they can be prepared for Wednesday's meeting. Her verbal is testing at a 4 year old, her cognitive a as a 3 year old, her fine motor skills are at the 24-28 month level, her gross motor skills are testing as that of a 13-14 month old (She is currently 31 months old). I was a little surprised her fine motor was behind by that much, but otherwise, it was about what I expected!

Wednesday - Callie and I were supposed to go argue (I mean, meet) with a Sultan School District official, the developmental preschool teacher, the head of the special ed department, Callie's social worker (whom we have never met!), and a therapist from the district special ed program (whom no one seems to know if she is a occupational or physical therapist) to talk about Developmental preschool.

Now this may not seem like a big deal to many people out there, but to me, it really is! I am a HOMESCHOOL mom. I don't send ANY of my children away to be educated according to someone else's standard...least of all my disabled child who is not as able to 'keep up' or 'defend' herself! It should be an interesting meeting.

The reason for this meeting is that Callie is getting too old for the program she is currently in...it is called birth to three. When she turns 3 in Oct. she will no longer qualify for these services. Insurance stuff changes, too, as far as what they are willing to pay for. If we do not go with school district services, insurance will only cover about 6 physical therapy sessions a YEAR. She really does need more than that...quite a bit more.

God's provision for this meeting was absolutely incredible! God gave me the words to speak, and the understanding to know what it was these officials were saying. God also prepared the way before I even got there!
The district official - was sick and couldn't make it.
The special ed program director - mandatory continuing education seminars all week, couldn't make it.
The preschool teacher - in a car accident on her way to the meeting - couldn't make it.

It ended up being me, the occupational therapist (OT) and the social worker. The therapist asked if I wanted to reschedule, and I declined. She warned that she doesn't know how to run the meetings, she is just there to watch Callie and observe while the others run the meeting...the social worker took the opportunity to jump in...she went on for about 5 minutes (not letting me get a word in edge wise!) about how a mother with no college education and 6 children could not possibly have the time or energy needed to meet the special needs of a disabled child, especially when she is trying to home educate all of those children, who are different levels and have different abilities...Callie needs to have professionals who can give her every possible advantage to go as far as she can in life...Callie needs individualized attention in order to progress...Callie needs the therapies and education provided by the district...The older Callie gets the less effective any type of therapy will be for her, so these early years are so important for Callie to get in as much as she can...the decisions we make here today will effect Callie for the rest of her life.

I sat there, listening, horrified...it was basically my worst nightmare...at least the start of it. When she got done, she had not pulled her punches, but she had also laid all of her cards on the table. She had not only read our file, but highlighted many things she wanted to bring up throughout it! Such as homeschooling, mom of 6 children, mom only having a highschool education, no school invovlement wanted by the family, request for medical records denied...I remember feeling frozen by fear for just a moment, then praying that God would give me the words to speak - and He did just that! I was then able to come in with something like, "Callie is a disabled child with different needs than my others, but each of my children are individuals with needs that are different from eachother! I work with each child where they are, not where someone else says they should be. Specific for Callie, we have a 30-40 minute regime of physical therapy activities we complete with her each day, including stretches and activities designed to help her with pelvic dissociation and elongation of the trunk on the weight bearing side of her body and activities to help her with the little bit of asymmetry that she has developed. We also work on her fine motor skills with activities such as lacing beads, playing in sensory tables, coloring and building puzzles. Callie also has eye exercises that we complete each day as per her eye surgeon. Callie participates currently in hippo therapy and physical therapy. We have seen a great deal of improvement since she has started both of these programs. For Callie's diagnosis of spastic diplegia cp, average age for walking is 4-5 years old. Callie took her first independent steps at 4 days shy of 2 1/2 years old, we will be continuing these activities after she ages out of the birth to three program and expect to continue seeing this kind of progress for her. Besides the activities Callie is currently participating in, we are also looking into swim therapy and a robotics therapy program..."

The OT was pretty impressed with our regiment for Callie. She read excerpts from a letter written by Callie's current physical therapist (Linda), which was a glowing review of how well our family works together to both challenge and encourage Callie, how well we are able to intuitively see other things we could do for therapy between sessions, and how Callie is thriving and learning new things each week because of this...it was a long, very positive letter!

The social worker re-voiced her concerns...adding in that it will be necessary for her to follow up with us on a semi-annual basis to make sure Callie is actually progressing and getting what she needs to thrive in such a family with semi annual home visits...(I remember feeling really flush at this point!)

The OT jumped in and said she knows we are not interested in the preschool program, and gave their alternative therapy offer...a 20 minute session of occupational therapy once a week at the school, and I can not bring any other children with me...

I asked the OT what in her words was the difference between OT and PT...she said OT focuses on fine more skills, mostly the use and function of the hands...but they do work some on trunk control and they do not completely ignore gait.

Trunk control and gait are the FOCUSES with Callie. I asked why when she only shows a few months delay in fine motor, but a year and a half delay in gross motor they would focus on the fine motor...the answer was a shock to me!

The school wants Callie to be able to write so she is ready to be in kindergarten...but there are wheel chairs the district can make available to her should she need it when she is kindergarten age.

I asked if therapy would be any different in the preschool program (not because I was interested in it, but because I was curious!)...I was told it is not. The OT sitting before me IS the only therapist in the district. She sees 42 kids in 2 days. Each of them get 20 minutes.

Brain research tells us that gross motor skills need to be organized in the brain before fine motor skills can be honed. Brain research tells us that gross motor activities that cross mid line (something we work on a lot for Callie!) help with reading and math reasoning skills later. It lays a foundation of synoptic pathways in our brains that we use for the rest of our life...and they just want to SKIP this?!

We will be making a formal with drawl of Callie from the school program. What they are offering will not even help Callie with what she needs help with!

Directly following our meeting, I called HSLDA. I talked to them about the social worker wanting to make home visits and asked about the legality of it. They said they would check into it and get back to me...they called about 1 pm, saying that NO it is not legal for the social worker to MANDATE herself as Callie's advocate unless there are SUBSTANTIATED cases of abuse/neglect on the parts of the parents...not just an accusation, but something that is proven. They will be writing a letter to the school district and to the social worker on our behalf!

I am so glad that much of this is over Callie's head. I am glad she doesn't have to deal with the stress and strain or the weight of these decisions. She doesn't have to feel the pressure from the social worker. She gets to play, happy and carefree as any child should get to do...I on the other hand feel the weight of the choices we are making for her right now. The older she gets, the less her brain will be able to adapt - so the more we are able to do for her now, the better off she will be for the rest of her life...I understand this concept and am making the choices I feel are best for her. I have nothing but the best interest of my little girl in mind as I weigh in the cost/time/benefit of all the options I can find for her.

What a week! I am so glad to get to stay home today, and that Callie doesn't have therapy (she had the evaluation instead this week)...tomorrow we are off for hippo therapy for her and riding lessons for Anna...

On a much happier note, everyone seems to be over this illness, kefir smoothies have been started again, and we hope to build everyone's systems back up! We even let Justice have the smoothie today (I didn't put honey in it), and he really liked it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My amazing family


I know I am a little late at getting to a post about Mother's Day, but it has been pretty busy at our house with all the illness...which at this point seems absolutely never ending!

I was not feeling well at all on Mother's Day, and spent most of the day in bed. Chris, Mom and the girls took over everything...the girls also made a cake for both me and their grandma. Chris got me a lovely bunch of potted tulips that have brightened up our table all week.

What a blessing to have such amazing children! God has given me so many blessings and so much to be thankful for! Even on a week with people taking turns being sick and needy and the many sleepless nights I have had, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I love being home with my children, with the opportunity to teach them, learn with them, watch them grow, change and develop...today is a special day, tomorrow all of my children will be older, and able to do more...so I try to take advantage of each day as it comes. I know there will be a time when I do not have any diapers to change, or stories to read to anyone, and I will be sad when it is all over! So even during these hard times, I try to keep the perspective of just how short this time really is an enjoy every moment with my family!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Elephants vs Horses





In history this week, we learned that Babur the Tiger (w/12,000 horses), conquered the Sultan of Delhi (w/100,000 war elephants) for control of India. We played a game to demonstrate how the faster, more agile horses could defeat the war elephants that outnumbered them by so many.

We had 2 teams...which changed each of the 3 times we played! The horses were able to run and use 2 hands because they were fast and agile. The elephants had to take giant steps, and had to keep one hand on the opposing shoulder, leaving only one hand to play because they were less agile and slower..but there were twice as many elephants as there were horses. To win the game, you get all the flags from the opposing team. Here are some pictures from our game.

I love it when we get to play games like this and call it school!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Illness in bigger families...

My family is sick. It has been going on for over a week. We have not had the stomach flu here for at least 3-4 years. I do not believe it is a coincidence that this has been a hard winter for us, and I have not kept up with kefir (a fermented milk drink filled with lots of probiotics). It started with a cold, then Breezy getting so sick she was hospitalized overnight at Children's hospital in November...the girls have had another round of colds in the meantime...and now THIS.

I have noticed big changes though between last time we had the flu and this time. The first thing is that before, everything pretty much came to a halt when 1/2 the family was sick at a time...which meant everyone else was kind of finding what they could for lunches/dinner/etc. Dishes were left undone, and laundry was circulated as frequently as possible (to try to keep up with the workload). This time around, there are enough healthy people at any given time to keep things running as smoothly as we can. Dinner is made as usual, and those who are able to eat, do. Dishes are being kept up on (with thanks to my MIL who has been doing the dinner dishes!). But when there are 3-5 healthy children at any given time, there is still laughter and playing and school lessons, and reading, the sprinkler has been going this week...it has just been a very different experience.

I am ready for this to be DONE though. I pray that God would touch this family with His healing hands letting it come to an end...and soon!

Once everyone is well, we are going to make some serious changes to boost our health physically, emotionally and spiritually! (More on those changes later!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The girls' choir concert

What a blessing that my girls get to be in a choir where they learn to glorify God more through song! This has been a wonderful experience for all 3 of my girls. They have learned many things, such as the start of reading music, scales, rhythm and timing.

I am going to refrain from putting any video of them on here as I can't get it to show only my girls.

Pics from the rest of vacation!








Our last day at Sea World. It was so much fun! The older 4 wanted to sit in the soak zone at the Shamu show...Chris said it was fine with him, so he went with them. I told them I would rather keep the camera, babies, and myself dry above the soak zone!

After the show, I asked them if they liked it with a thumb up or down...here is their response.

What we didn't know before the show is that the salt water in Ashley and Brianna's eczema rashes would HURT like you wouldn't believe! (Hence they are the ones who didn't have fun in the soak zone!)

Most of Sea World has a very strong message of 'believe' and '2 worlds uniting' and 'hope'...then you get to the Sea Lion Shows. that is where you find the sarcasm and humor! They made fun of several different tv shows, and the Sea World shows. They used a walrus to make fun of the shamu show, it was so funny!



Justice made some big progress on vacation! He learned to get himself very consistently from all fours to sitting up. He also learned how to crawl and even got himself up to his feet a few times! It won't be long before he is all over the place!

While we were in San Diego, we had cable television...something we do not normally enjoy...we got to watch the Duggars tv series, which was so fun and encouraging! (Having cable also reminded us of why we DON'T have television available!) One of the 3 Duggar episodes we got to see they took a road trip. It talked about how many of them had motion sickness. At the time, I praised God and thanked him that no one in my family had any motion sickness...then we started for home. Let's just say we had a very long 2 days coming home...

To end on a positive note, I was so proud of how well the road in the car, how well they played together, how patient they were with the hours and hours of sitting, etc.

I am so blessed by my family! What an amazing gift God has blessed me with!