Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Polar Express

Two years ago we took Travis for his first ride on the Polar Express.  We had such a wonderful time. We didn't take Connor that year because we weren't sure what to expect and plus it was at a time where we needed some one on one time with Travis.  At that time Connor was a wild man and we didn't want to lose him! Fast forward to this year and not only did Connor get to go but so did all of the grandparents.  We drove up to Williams/Flagstaff right away after school. After checking into our hotel we had dinner, got the kids changed into their pajamas and then we were off to ride the train.  Here we are waiting to board the train. Connor looked at the girl and said, "Lady, I am going to sleep on your train!"  (He was being grumpy, he had no idea what was going on even though we tried to tell him this was going to be  FUN!) Well, let me tell you, he did NOT fall asleep on the train. In fact, he did not want to get off the train at all when it was time to leave!  We all had a super good time.
Mrs. Claus worked hard all day making these delicious snicker doodles.  We gobbled them all up!
 Time for hot choc-o-late! That sure brought a smile to the face of Mr. Grump-a-saurous!
 Here we all are enjoying our hot chocolate and cookies.  A little too much sugar for Connor??
 I tried and tried and to get a good picture of the boys... there was just too much activity going on to get them to both look at the camera at the same time.  This was the best I could get!
 FINALLY!!  SANTA!!  Can you believe he came right on our train? He gave all of the children a silver bell.  We could all hear it ring.... WE BELIEVE!!
 On his way out Santa stopped to talk to my dad.  He told him, "Sorry about all of that coal in your stocking!"
Just look at the sparkle in Grandpa's eyes. I don't know who had more fun!  (When Santa saw him, he pointed to him and said, "I know you!")
 Here are the boys with our chef for the night.  When asked what was his favorite part of the night, Travis said making a new friend!
 We found an elf! With real elf ears!  Travis had to check them out, up close and personal.  He was very intrigued....
 Wow, Mrs. Claus even made an appearance!  She asked us how we liked the snicker doodles that she had made earlier that day. We told her we loved them!
 After that, this is pretty much the look Connor gave me every time I asked him to smile for a picture.
 Here is a cute one of the boys with Grammy and Grandpa.
We had so much fun. I am so thankful for my family and the many blessings we have.  My children are so lucky to have so many grandparents who dote on them and love them so much.  Taking short road trips and making memories like this are what it's all about in my book.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Funny Answers

It's hard to believe that this is my 15th year teaching. It's a good thing I love it!  I was just grading some reading tests this afternoon and I started cracking up at some of the answers.  Keep in mind that I teach second graders.  This week we read a story about visiting a Firehouse so all week we have been talking about firefighters, etc.  The question on the test read, "Would you like to be a firefighter? Why or why not?"  Many of them said no because it was too hard. Here are some of the ones that grabbed my attention , some of them gave me a chuckle:

"Yes, because I would like to have a dog named Spot."
"Yes, because I would like to sleep in the firehouse."
"Yes, because I would like to save a little baby from the fire." 
"I would because it's a hard job so I think you will get paid more."
"No, because fighting in the war would be WAY harder."

The comment about the war brought a tear to my eye.  I can tell you one thing, when you teach every day is different. They really keep you on your toes.  It has been fun this year learning how to use the SmartBoard, Document camera, and responders.  It is a lot and can be overwhelming (for me, not the kids!) at times but in the long run it is really exciting.  I am so curious to see what this generation is able to invent because of the technology they are growing up with today.  I watch both of my kids with the iTouch and am shocked.  Connor can use it just as well as Travis, and he is only 3!  And both of them can use it better than me!  lol

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Milestone

It seemed like each time we brought our boys home they were reaching milestone after milestone on a regular basis.  Their first year home, especially, seemed to be full of "firsts".  When Travis was baptised it seemed as if the rest of his sacraments were far, far into the future.  Well, yesterday one of those days arrived. Travis made his first Reconciliation, or Confession.  He has been preparing for this day for the last month. We are so proud of him!  He memorized the Act of Contrition in record time. I was impressed. When he first brought the prayer home I thought to myself, oh no, what if he can't do this?? Silly me. I should never underestimate Travis. He worked so hard on it every day for weeks.  Pronouncing the word "penance" was tricky but he finally got it in the end.  Here he is on his special day in front of our church.

He wanted one with dad....
 and then with mom too!
 After he was done with his confession and penance he got to write his name on a little lamb and add it to this quilt that hangs in the church.  Every child that has made their first Reconciliation in our church has their name on here. I wonder how big it will be by the time Connor gets here??!
 I couldn't get the whole thing, but here is most of it. Pretty cool to see all of those names on there!
 I was finally able to get a close up of Travis' little lamb.
 All done!  He did such a great job, he really is growing up!
 Grammy and Grandpa came to support him too, which was so nice of them!
 In other happenings around here..... Blue continues to make himself at home.  Travis has been letting him play in his batman cave. Blue seems to like it!
 Travis likes to cuddle him up in a towel. It is actually easier to keep him still this way.
 Last night, just before bed, Blue made his first escape.  The story is that Travis was putting him back in  his cage, Blue scratched him, Travis dropped him, then Blue ran under Travis' dresser. After an hour of coaxing and prodding to get him out Daryle and Travis decided to go to bed.  Finally, this morning, they rescued him.  The fun of owning a guinea pig! Yesterday he had lots of fun though ... playing in the bat cave, flying on a fighter jet and cruising around in a garbage truck.  Maybe it was too much excitement?! 
Here is Blue waving good-bye!  Let's hope we don't have any more escaping for awhile now!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You got a what??!

You will never believe it. We got a guinea pig for Travis.  I never thought I would see the day when one of those were living in MY house!  (I must really love this kid. A lot.!!)  After much thought, conversation, and consideration we thought it would be good for Travis to have a little something to take care of. This plan started out being a hamster.  Then Daryle started talking to people and they pointed out that guinea pigs withstand handling from kids better and they live longer. (A rodent who lives long wasn't exactly what I had in mind... but I caved.)  First we went to the pet store to look at them.  While there we bought a book on guinea pigs (since mom and dad are clueless about these things) and Travis and I read it together.  A few days later we went back to the store and bought the guinea pig and all of the accessories.  Here are Daryle and Travis setting up the cage.  (Of course we had to get the deluxe set up...)  Travis gives it a "thumbs up!"
The little guy is in here.  Travis decided to name him "Blue" since his cage and accessories were blue.  The name grew on me pretty quick and seems to be fitting of the little guy.
 Our book mentioned that guinea pigs like carrots (among other fruits and veggies). I thought it was so cute that Travis put a little carrot in his pocket when we left for the pet store.  He wanted to put the carrot in the box for Blue to have on the ride home.  So at the checkout stand he did and off we went.  Here is Travis, so excited to show Blue his new home.
 Doesn't look like Blue was into that carrot.... I think he might have been a little nervous!
 Travis giving Blue a welcome home hug.
 TA-DA! Here is your new home castle.
 How is the view up there??
 We had to let him get used to the cage and his new surroundings before getting him out of his cage.  We made Travis wait until the following day to play with him.  When that magic moment happened we decided to let him run around in my  bathroom. I figured since I have tile floors in there (and a few doors to ensure no escaping) it was a good place to let him run around. 
 We also read that it is good to put down a towel on your lap when you hold and play with your pet.  We found out why!  He kept pooping, (a LOT) these two were in stitches about it!  (Mom was really grossed out but I kept on a happy face!)
 Look close and you will see Blue's little present!
 Travis and Kylee having fun with Blue.

After having this little pet around for a week now I think it has been good for Travis. He has some responsibility (and believe me, he is the one to take care of this little guy) for something other than himself.  They already love each other.  When Travis holds him Blue makes happy squeaky noises.  When Travis comes home from school he checks on Blue. Later, when he goes to bed he gives him a good night hug.  I am not an animal person, but this little guy really is pretty cute.  Now that I have figured out how to control the smell I think I am ok with the newest member of our family. Welcome to the family little Blue!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Adoption Awareness Month

In case you didn't know, November is National Adoption Month. It is a chance for families who have been touched by adoption to share their stories, answer questions and in general create an overall awareness of adoption.  After reading several adoption blogs I found out that tomorrow is Orphan Sunday. I don't know what it is, but the word "orphan" just doesn't sit well with me. It makes me sad. It makes me think of all of the children in Russia that still don't have families.  This leads me to remember that Russia is not alone.  Many countries all over the world have children without families. Including the United States.  147 MILLION  children right now don't have parents.  They don't have anybody to tuck them in at night, to read them a bedtime story or rock them to sleep if they have a nightmare.  I am always reminded of that cute little blonde girl with the blue bow in her hair that stood and stared at my husband while we were visiting with Travis on the playground in Blago.  (We were told her parents were adopting her the following week. I hope that was true.)  I also think of the little boy I saw in the hallway in Connor's baby home.  He was whisked away quickly when we entered the room.  I also think of little Matvei.... the little boy who we thought was going to be our son. What really happened to that sweet little boy? He is four years old now. His birthday was in October.  I can't let myself think about it too often because that mystery still haunts me.

  Then I stop feeling sad and I realize how incredibly lucky I am. I am lucky to have two beautiful, loving, healthy boys that God entrusted to my husband and I to raise.  How awesome, incredible, and humbling is that?  I may not have physically given birth to them, but in every way they are my sons.  I bore them out of blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, and two mountains of paperwork. Literally. We are so blessed.

If you are interested in adopting or know of somebody who is please pray for them and give them all the support you can give.  It is an amazing feeling to know your life has been forever changed by adoption and to know you have changed the life of a child. I am a firm believer in destiny. I will leave you with some pictures of my children.  You can look at these faces and see first hand how the light in a child's eye changes once they know the unconditional love of a forever family.  
The first day we met Travis. August 2004 in Blagoveshchensk. 
First family photo in front of St. Basil's in Moscow. August 2004
An updated family photo at St. Basil's. June 2009
Connor's Gotcha Day. June 15, 2009
Look at these boys now!  They are brothers in every sense of the word. Do they fight and argue? Of course.  But do they also love each other unconditionally? Absolutely!  They get to be called "brother" and "son" and we get to be called "mom and dad".  It is hard to figure out who the lucky ones are.  It's a win win situation.

"Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change."  Amen to that!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Fun 2011

I can't really say that Halloween is my favorite holiday...but I can't say that for my husband! It is hands down his favorite.  He is the one who is in charge of most of the costumes and for sure he is the one who comes up with the ideas for outside decorations.  It is because of him that we are now proud owners of things like a strobe light, fog machine, giant tarp, creepy music, spider webs, bottle of blood and a black light bulb.  How do people live without these things?  Daryle also is the one who does the pumpkin carving.  He sits down with Travis and they draw out the face on paper then they carve it out.  I resigned a few years ago... I am not very artistic!  Here are the boys carving.  (Travis stands back until all of the guts are emptied... he has a history of gagging from the smell. It's ok with us if he passes on this part....)
 The big one has "dracula teeth" and I told them to make one cute one.  They did an awesome job!
 We did the pumpkins the night before.  So, here they are the night of Halloween getting ready. Travis wanted to be a Zombie. (**sigh** no more cute costumes for him ... he has crossed over to the other side!)  The next thing I knew Daryle was being a Zombie too.  So, they were twin Zombies.
 Here is Travis sporting his bucket of blood look.  (Daryle told him.. don't smile! Zombies don't smile!  Little good that did!  lol)
 Poor Connor just wasn't in the spirit of things.  He was supposed to wear his costume to school that day... he refused.... a teacher finally talked him into wearing it.... then they went trick-or-treating all around the high school.  From what I hear the costume went on, off, on, off, on, off... you get the picture.  So last night when it came time to get dressed guess who wanted NOTHING to do with it? Yep, Mr. Connor.  I was able to get him into costume at one point.  By the time I got the camera I found him in his room back in his regular clothes. All I wanted was a picture, it didn't matter if he went out or not. So, I put on my sad mommy face and begged and pleaded for him to at least put on his green shirt with his dinosaur costume so that I could at least get one picture.  Being the good little boy that he is he humored me and put it on... minus the green pants I bought him.  Lucky for me I was able to get more than one picture too.  As you can see though, he was not very happy about it!  (And he is still wearing his regular clothes underneath.   Can you say STUBBORN child??!!)  I guess this will have to do .... it's the memories, right??
 Grump-a -saurus instead of T-Rex.
 Creepy, scary Zombie.
 FINALLY!  Is that a smile??  (Unfortunately that lasted all of 0.001 seconds then he was back inside, costume off, ready to play Candyland with his grammy.  He was d.o.n.e done.)
 The pumpkin line up.
 Zombie twins.
All in all it was a good night.  We had perfect weather, lots of kids came by and my Zombie twins enjoyed scaring people when they came up to the house. I didn't get any pictures of them, but they enclosed our front porch, put up the strobe light, turned on the fog machine, turned on creepy music, and sat in our outdoor chairs.... they were completely motionless.  They had fun doing that, I had fun watching the kids and Connor enjoyed playing Candyland about 500+ times. Thanks to Grammy and the grandpas for keeping him entertained for awhile!  Having fun is what it's all about, right??  Happy Halloween!