Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Cool Kid

My baby is in preschool, my sweet, shy little baby girl.  She is truly a treasure.  She has gone from a chunky 25 lb. 9 month old little girl with a furrowed brow, to this smiley, confident, loving young lady.   
 Every day, I marvel at who she has become.  Now, she is starting school.  Last week we had her Meet and Greet.  She has the same teacher that Isaiah did.  That is a huge blessing and is making this transition so much more comfortable for her.  I know I took a picture of her with her teacher, but cannot find it on my camera.  I will have to take another one.
After delivering her supplies, she did a little scavenger hunt around the room to find each of the stations on her "map".  She did great!
 She left that day so excited for her upcoming first day of school.  On that day she was little Miss Sassy:
 Notice she has on 2 pairs of sunglasses.  
She said that was so she could be REALLY cool!
 Check out that Rapunzel backpack
 She had a great day of school.  She marched her little self right into that room without hesitation.  She did her little jobs and waved me out the door.  When I arrived to pick her up, she was in Circle Time singing and clapping.  She turned around, smiled and waved at me.  
 When she walked out to see me, I asked about her day.  She said, "It was great!"  As we were driving to pick up the other kids I asked her about her day.  She said she did snack time, yoga, recess, painting, and story time.  I asked her what the names of her classmates were.  She said, "Sascha, Sofian, Finn, Kenzie, Flynn Ryder, Justin Bieber."  That made me laugh so hard.  The first 4 names were real classmates.  She said, "I am just being silly."

On Sunday, Cody was setting up a soda stand.  One of the kids said, "You should have Laila stand out there with you and say to the people passing by, "Would you yike to buy a soya?"(Would you like to buy a soda)in her cute little voice.  Then we said, "No, what you should do is dress her up like a little soda mascot."  That is exactly what he did.  I am sure he sold more sodas with her help.
Dr. Pepper is her favorite soda!
She says two little things that just crack me up these days.  If one of the bigger kids says some questionable words like stupid, idiot, etc. or are fighting with each other, she will call out "yanguage"(language).  Also, if a not-so-nice song comes on the radio, she will yell out "appwopwiate" (appropriate), meaning "we shouldn't be listening to that song."  It is adorable.  We have deemed her our little language policeman.

I hate to see these days pass by, but I am also excited about the little lady she is becoming.  She has been exhausted each evening after going to school.  She loves it, but the little introvert in her can only take so much interaction.  When I went to drop her off today, she said, "Mommy, I miss you when I am at school.  School lasts 20 hundred seconds.  It is long."  She is looking forward to her long weekend(5 days off).

I am experiencing some freedom of my own.  I will share more about how I have spent my 2 1/2 hours each day this week in another post.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Painful Transitions

I am feeling a bit off today.

This week of getting the kids back to school has wiped me out completely.

I have taken naps 2 days this week with Laila and still slept well at night.  That is highly unusual for me.

We have had some very early mornings around here scurrying around to get everyone to their respective schools fully dressed in their uniforms, fully fed breakfast, and fully equipped for lunch and snacks throughout the day.

It is not an easy task.

Lauren and Sam are in full swing with soccer and football practices.

Lauren and Cody have started back up with youth activities at church.

I have spent A LOT of time in my truck this week.

Rick has been out of town since Wed., but as I type this, he is flying home!!

I wish I could say that my "feeling off" is just about the transitions of this week, but honestly, it isn't.

It has been a hard week for me emotionally.

Summer is over.  School has begun.  There is so much work that I need to do around this house.

I kind of thought the house would be neater once school started, but I guess I would have to actually do some housework for that to be the case.

But, it isn't even just that.

I have felt sad.  Sad about the losses I have experienced over the last couple of years.  Sad about relationships changing.

I want a fresh start, but with a fresh start, some things have to be discarded.

That is hard for me.  I don't fully know how to decide what to discard and what to keep(and I am not really referring to things right now).

I have this battle going on in me.

Where do I put my efforts?  What do I let go?

Who do I invest in?  Who do I let go?

What do I place my value in?

Hard questions that I don't know all the answers to.

I just know that right now, I feel yucky, because I desperately want to be doing ONLY what God has called me to.

I am not even sure why I felt the need to share this other than to show where I am and what is going on in my heart.  Maybe you are having a hard day, too and just need to know that you are not alone.

So, in order to not be a total downer, I thought I would leave you with this picture of Isaiah and Laila taking an "air shower" in front of the air conditioner.  It brings a smile to my face every time!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School Extravaganza 2012

The last week has been a whirlwind of Back to School activities.  When you say the title above, you have to do jazz hands to fully express the meaning of "Extravaganza."  Since I was sick for about a week, we packed some back to school fun into that last couple of days before the kids returned to school.  It all started last Wednesday with Lauren, Abby, and Sam's "Meet and Greets".  This is where we take our school supplies to the classroom and meet the teachers.  They also get to find out who is in their classrooms.  This is an "open house" format, but it literally takes us the whole time to get everyones supplies to the appropriate places.  I didn't take a picture of ALL the school supplies this year.  Let's just say, "many shopping trips were made, hundreds of dollars were spent, and we had about18 bags of supplies to deliver!"  
Sam is excited to have his first ever locker
 His teacher, Mrs. Durck
 Abby's locker
 Her teacher, Mrs. Rogers
 Lauren at her desk
 Her teacher, Mrs. Peck
 One of the things on our summer fun list was Fargos Pizza.  This place has been in Colorado Springs for years.  We had never been as a family so we decided to make it a back to school celebration on Sunday night.  We filled a booth.
 The thing that makes this place unique is the the historic decor and design.  The workers dress in old style clothing.  Honestly, I didn't care for the place.  I know some people will be appalled by that.  I couldn't wait to get out of there.  I don't really ever need to go back.  The kids enjoyed, that is what matters.
 The famous player piano
 A final day before school starts breakfast
 On our last day off, we went to see Madagascar 3 in 3D at the dollar theater.  This was the first 3D movie for most of the kids.  They loved it!
 We ended our time using our online deal to Kozy Korner Frozen Yogurt.  
These kids sat in the actual kozy korner.
 Sam and Cody sat elsewhere
 Just a few snacks to go into the snack bucket for school.  
I have found if I package them, the kids can grab them quickly and they will get a proper serving size.  It makes the food last longer and not get wasted.  I will try every trick I can when I am feeding 6 hungry children on a budget!
 It is our family tradition for Rick and I to take the Kindergartener out for a special breakfast at Gunther Toody's on his first day of school.  On Monday, we did that with Isaiah.

 He loved his hot chocolate!
 Next up, Isaiah's Meet and Greet!

 His teacher, Mrs Hoyt
 The picture he drew of himself in his school uniform
 Our family.  That took a while to do.
 At his desk putting away his supplies
 Finally, Tuesday, August 21, the first day of school arrived.  It was a crazy morning.  Everyone was up bright and early.  I made smoothies for breakfast.  Sam found some containers of rotten food in his lunch box from last year.  That was lovely.  The kids have different school starting times so the photo shoots were staggered.
Cody was first.  This is the best I could get out of him.  He is going into 8th grade. He says this is the last year I get to take pictures.  We'll see about that.
I love that their uniforms now include grey shorts/pants and any color polo.
 Next up, Lauren, Abby, and Sam
 Isaiah and Laila didn't want to be left out.
 Lauren is in 6th grade(her last year in elementary0
 Abby is in 4th grade
 Sam is in 3rd grade
 Isaiah goes to afternoon Kindergarten
Laila begins school next week.  I felt so exhausted yesterday.  I think the sickness that I had and the work of shopping for school supplies and school uniforms caught up with me.  Laila and I dropped Isaiah off at school and came home to take a nap.  It was luxurious.  We both needed it.

Then, it was time to pick everyone up.  Let's just say everyone was exhausted.  It. was. not. pretty. on the ride home and throughout the evening.  It is hard to get back into the routine.  Hopefully each day will get a little easier!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family Camp 2012

I am way behind on sharing about Family Camp.  I have been sick since we got back.  Last night was the first full night of sleep that I have had in 8 nights.  It felt amazing.  I wanted to take the time to do this post well and really document our time.  I just didn't feel up to it until today.  

This weekend was special for so many reasons.  This was an opportunity that was provided for our family that we would not have been able to do otherwise.  We feel so grateful that we had this time together in a setting totally outside of our normal life.  There were 7 people at camp with us that made this week even more special.  Introducing the Elliott family:  (Carrie, Chris (the parents), Colin, Maddie, Mykah, Jackson, and Gracen) 
 We didn't really know each other as families before this time.  Carrie and I met in person for the first time and spent a weekend together last August.  You might remember reading about that here, and our cool water adventure here.  The cool little connection that we have and the thing that crossed our paths 2 1/2 years ago was our Swazi kids.  Both families have adopted 2 children from Swaziland.  There aren't many families that we have that connection with.  I was hopeful that our time would be good for the kids and our families as a whole.  I WAS. NOT. DISAPPOINTED.
Just look at these two
They are two peas in a pod and we are convinced after our time together that they have to be related.  They have the same passionate personalities.  They have the same high level of energy.  They have the same loud voices.(funny story:  at one point, Isaiah was talking to Jackson loudly.  Jackson said to him, "Dude, I am right in front of you.  Tone it down.")  They have the same mischievous personalities.  Isaiah couldn't stop talking about how much they are alike.  It really impacted his little heart to have a Swazi "brother" as his friend.  Everyone at the camp thought they were brothers.
Speaking of friends, these two(Sam and Colin) connected as well
Most of our family friends do not have a boy Sam's age.  It was such a treat for him to have a friend his age to hang out with all weekend.  We didn't see much of them.  They pretty much walked around together like they owned the place.

There is always a risk when you get together with people that you have never really met, especially with 15 different people that need to interact.  I can honestly say, once again, that it was truly enjoyable to be with the Elliotts.  We just jumped in with each others' kids and rolled with it.  We would get two tables at meals and just intermingle the crews.  The kids played well with each other.  The bigger kids helped the younger ones.  It was comfortable and easy.
One of our family's favorite activities at the camp was the Ridge Runners.  Cody and Lauren were both old enough to drive on their own.

Rick and I drove Isaiah, Laila and Abby 
Laila was so cute.  She kept saying "woohoo" every time we would go over a bump.  She also kept saying, "you are the best mommy in the world!"  She loved it way more than I ever expected.

The big adventure moments came at the High Ropes Course.  3 of us chose to take on this challenge.
Lauren and me before the big adventure.
Now, I am not afraid of heights, but this was pretty scary.  These boards were too far apart to go straight from one to the next.  We had to zigzag our way through.  It was hard!
This picture gives you a better idea of how high we were.  
Just looking at these pictures makes my toes tingle.
I thought this leg of the course was the hardest.
On the last section, we only had wires to walk across.
Lauren thought this section was the hardest.
I was so proud of her.  It was hard, but she did it!!
The reward at the end:  A zipline!!
I wanted to do a zipline through the rainforest for my 40th bday.  
This was not quite that spectacular, but was still a nice reward at the end of this challenge.
Even Sam did it!  
We were not there when he did because he did it with Colin and Chris.
When I asked him, how in the world he was able to make it through, he said,"Well I didn't really have much choice once I started.  I just toughed it out to get it over with."  Needless to say, he didn't want to do it again with Lauren and me.
The whole Elliott family and a dear friend did the course.  
That was quite impressive.  There were 5 members of our family that were having nothing to do with it!
The camp consisted of club times where the kids went to age-appropriate areas for their own activities while the adults had a speaker to listen to.  It was nice to have this break for the adults.  The food was amazing at this place.  Big all-you-can-eat meals served family style were provided at each meal.  My kids are not used to having unlimited servings.  There was a huge swimming pool, a hot tub that seats 150 people.  We enjoyed some time there.  They had a huge 3 person swing that was not for the faint of heart.  Lauren did that, too.  They had an inflatable velcro wall, basketball courts, whiffle ball field, horses, soccer field, game room with ping pong, shuffleboard, foosball, and pool.  They also had a cafe, snack bar, and some really challenging rock climbing walls.  Cody, Lauren, and Abby were old enough to pretty much go on their own.  They loved that freedom.

On the last night, there was a square dance.  We all dressed up in our western gear.
Let me introduce you to Mykah.  She and Laila were adorable together.
This little chick could climb those climbing walls and even ring the bell, something most adults can't do.
Howdy, Ya'll!
Going down to the Hoe Down

Mykah and Isaiah dancing.  He likes to call her his "beautiful new friend."
Laila and Jackson danced the night away, too!
They had the best "do si do" I have ever seen!
Laila has already asked when she gets to see Jackson again
This was our room.  8 bunk beds with a dorm style bathroom(3 showers, 3 sinks, 2 stalls) that we shared with the Elliotts
Maddie and Laila
Sneaking a kiss from my little girl
Cutest Cowboy Ever
Notice I don't have many pics of Cody or Abby.  They are not very fond of the camera right now.  I pretty much only get pics of them when they are required for a group pic.

On the way home from camp we stopped at some friends house for a cookout.  That is when Lauren broke her arm.  She was going to kick a soccer ball and slipped on it.  She caught all of her weight on her right wrist.  It snapped the bone in half.  We are praying that it will heal without surgery.  We go back in this Thursday to see how the healing process is going.  Who knew she could survive so many scary adventures and then get hurt kicking a soccer ball.  Thankfully, she is cleared to play soccer.  We just have to bubble wrap it so she doesn't knock anyone out.
We made memories this weekend that we will never forget.  Getting to be with a family that is like ours was very special for our family in so many ways.  My kids are already asking if we can go back next year.  It truly was a great experience all the way around.  Thanks, Elliotts, for sharing this amazing adventure with us.