Monday, August 31, 2009

The freakishness of Facebook

My oldest child started school today--Kindergarten orientation actually. And our first "official" day of homeschooling starts tomorrow. I'll do a post, with pictures, about all that stuff soon. But for now, I'm blogging about the truly important things in life. Like Facebook.

While it's fun keeping up with friends and reconnecting, some (most?) of my fascination with this particular form of social networking stems from the social awkwardnesses that tend to arise. Like...what do you do if you don't want to be someone's friend? Do you click "confirm" anyway, throw tact to the wind and click "ignore", or take the coward's way out and just let it sit in your "friend request" section because you can't bring yourself to ignore someone, even if it's just in cyberspace?

I'm fascinated too by the people from the past who come out of the woodwork to add you. People you went to high school with but Weird.

OR the people you used to know who clearly are NOT adding you, even though they're aware of your Facebook presence. That's kinda weird too.

Throw in the awkward comments that people (oftentimes men, as I've observed on my husband's page a time or two) make when they're reconnecting with you after years of no contact.

Yes indeed, Facebook is a strange place. I have to admit there is something a little unnerving for this introvert about allowing all manner of people a glimpse into my life. And my husband's life. And our kids' lives. Especially people from the distant past.

And yet, I have a blog. Somehow that feels different. I like that you read it, and that we can stay in touch. I'm aware that lots of people lurk and anyone could be reading. Even the awkward Facebookers. But yeah, it's just different.

How about you? Are you fascinated by Facebook? Does your inner social psychologist enjoy analyzing the awkwardness and assorted dynamics at play? Have you had some strange experiences? Let's hear about it!

(On a side-note, I love when people add me on Facebook. I promise. If we're Facebook friends, I'm happy that we are. If we're not, feel free to add me and I'll do my best to hit "confirm"!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wonderful friends

We were so, so excited to have our dear friends Travis and Kate and their sweet girls Suzannah, Charlotte and Elizabeth come and spend the night with us in July on their way from California to Minnesota!!!! We had such a wonderful time, my kids were utterly CRUSHED when they left (we were too!), and I am reminded of what a blessing it is to have such sweet friends with such great hearts. We went out to pizza, ate ice cream, played cards, and talked long into the night. There's nothing like good, deep conversation!!! (Not to mention they brought a bag of goodies from Trader Joes!)

Anna fell in LOVE with Suzannah right when they got here. She's still talking about her!

The whole group!
Isn't Elizabeth precious??? (Biniam loves babies.)

Trampoline fun.

Sleepover time! (Sadly this didn't last, since no one was actually "sleeping"...but it makes for a cute picture nevertheless!)

Anna loved rocking Elizabeth (though Elizabeth was not so sure!)

What a treat it was to get to spend some good time with the Hassons. We felt so encouraged and I really do wish we lived closer!!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

33 and 1/2 weeks along!

This was me on August 4th, so at 30 weeks along. (Right before feasting on Ethiopian food for Kevin's birthday. I'm thinking we should have done an "after" shot--goodness knows the stomach would be bigger!)
Not sure when this was taken or by whom, but it sums up my life pretty well. On the laptop, eating Swedish Fish. (Which, after binging on all summer, do not appeal to me at all anymore.)

Pregnancy is such a magical time. It has its share of frustrating moments (I HATE being grumpy, and tired, and at this point bending over to pick anything up is quite a chore), but then, what doesn't? There's nothing like feeling my baby girl kicking and thrashing around, and having such a tangible reminder of God's goodness to me in blessing me with an amazing husband and now amazing baby. Motherhood is a gift, and while it can be a challenge to embrace that gift sometimes, it's a gift just the same.
Today I have my OB appointment. I've had lots (and I mean LOTS) of Braxton Hicks contractions the last few days, which I had with both my other girls, but some of these were painful, so I'll be asking about that today for sure.
I'm preregistered at the hospital I'll be delivering at and my mom bought her plane ticket for the week before my due date. We're (well, Kevin is really) bustin' a move trying to get a bunch of stuff done on our house before the baby comes as well. (Right now all 6 of us are sharing a bathroom. And you know what? Really not a big deal. Meanwhile we're redoing the downstairs bathroom--a rotting subfloor, rickety toilet and sink, ew.)
So yeah, pretty exciting. I cannot WAIT to meet and hold this sweet baby girl!!!! Less than 7 weeks to go!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School, curriculum, etc.

Yes, Anna starts in less than a week. No, I cannot believe it. :)
As I've said, we'll be setting out on the journey that is homeschooling. Years ago when my oldest three kids were little, I loved the idea of homeschooling. Then after my youngest was born, and I had four kids that were ages 3 and under (hehehe), that idea seemed less appealing. I honestly didn't think I could (or wanted) to do it.
Last summer when I got Mono, I had lots of time on my hands. I began thinking about how in a year's time, my oldest would be starting school. I thought about how our life would change, how it would impact my other kids and our family in general. I thought about the current lifestyle my kids have and about how once they started school, there'd be so much less time for family, and siblings. I have four kids within three years of each other. They have a pretty sweet connection, and that would change with all of us running a million different directions every day. I also thought about how I'd be able to really, truly invest in their educations and lives with so many children so close in age, when they were gone all day long.
I read a few books that I really, really loved. The Well-Trained Mind: Classical Education at Home, A Thomas Jefferson Education, and the other was Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School. Two were about homeschooling, the other about public schooling. All were excellent.

In the end I discovered that the thought of homeschooling really excited me. It seemed like a really great fit for our particular family. My reasons for doing so have nothing--and I do mean nothing--to do with fear of or disdain for public education. It has everything to do with lifestyle, values and priorities, etc. I think it'll be good for my kids.

The great thing is, Anna does get to go to school on Mondays, so we got to do all the fun "back to school" stuff like shopping for a backpack, school supplies etc.

I'm keeping it really simple this year, curriculum-wise. Anna's reading at probably an early second grade level, and reads pretty much nonstop, so I'll just be supplying her with lots of books. This is the rest of what we'll be doing:

Handwriting: Zaner Bloser (Kindergarten level)

Math: Saxon (Kindergarten.) I chose it because it came with lots of manipulatives, and I just want to have a fun year learning how to tell time, count money, etc. And we'll be playing lots of GAMES!

Bible/Religion: The Illustrated Bible for Little Children by Ella Lindvalle, First Catechism by Great Commission Publications, I Believe in God: The Apostles' Creed by Father Lovasik, S.V.D. I actually got that Bible on my 5th birthday from my parents! It has short Bible stories, good comprehension questions, and then the reference to the passage in the Bible. I'm hoping to at some point this year have the kids memorize the Apostles' Creed (and this little booklet goes through the different phrases and explains them), and also go through this catechism.

Literature: Lots of reading classics aloud. We're going to start with AA Milne's original Winnie the Pooh series, and from there probably do the Little House on the Prairie series, the unabridged Wizard of Oz, etc.

Basically I think learning ought to take place in the context of real, natural life. I think kids learn at their own pace, to a degree, and that kids need the opportunity to both be challenged but also to just BE KIDS. To play and be creative, etc.
Something wer'e really pretty committed to as well is not spending a fortune on homeschooling. Curriculum is EXPENSIVE and we're quite fortunate to get a lot of the basics for free through
Anna's school program (also free through the Aurora Public School District). I only buy books at the thrift store (or off of and we'll be using the library a lot. I did purchase the handwriting workbook from the company however.
One of my all-time favorite parenting books, that actually speaks a lot to our personal philosophy behind homeschooling, is Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. It's excellent.
Anyway, we'll see how the year goes. Hoping to have some structure while maintaining flexibility. I'm so excited and as bittersweet as it is, I'm really looking forward to Kindergarten orientation next Monday!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's sorta like the beach...

There's no ocean in Colorado. (Sniff, sniff. I MISS THE BEACH!) But in July, we had the opportunity to go to the lake (well, technically a reservoir) with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their girls. It was so fun!!! (Even if it didn't smell like salt water...) Oh and my three oldest are all in the above picture.



Kaitlyn wading with Daddy.

Anna, right after she'd capsized. :)

We've had a lot of fun this summer. Lots of time at the park, the pool, a trip to the reservoir and lots of good times with friends and family, plus a quick camping trip coming up in a couple of weeks. I love Colorado summers!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fair time

A couple of weeks ago we made the trek down to the Douglas County Fair. The thing you have to know about me is, I love fairs. I grew up going every single summer to the California Mid-State Fair, and a perhaps little-known fact about me is that I was in 4-H and FFA. From the time I was 11 I always had a livestock project there (I had a dairy cow, sheep, and pigs. You may also not have known that I entered college as an Agricultural Business major. Ah, good times--it took me about half a quarter to realize I should have majored in Psychology like I'd always wanted to).

Anyway, we had a blast. First we ate lunch (that we smuggled in) while we watched the rodeo. That was Biniam's favorite part--he said he wanted to be a cowboy.
Then we headed over to the carnival where the kids opted to ride the "Dragon Wagon." Anna loved it (it was her favorite part of the day), Yosef and Biniam weren't quite as sure, and Kaitlyn was a bit nervous. (Of course it was a year and a half ago that Anna rode the Mattherhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland and LOVED them, so the "Dragon Wagon" was nothing. She takes after her dad--I detest rollercoasters.)

After that the kids wanted to stand and watch the horses for awhile. This was Yosef's favorite part.

Then it was off to the barns to visit the animals. The kids loved getting to see and pet the sheep, a cow, and the pigs. They also saw chickens and turkeys.

We topped the day off with playing on the playground and sharing a funnelcake. I really do love the fair and while this one was quite a bit smaller than the CA Mid-State Fair, it was great just the same. Hoping someday my own kids get to enter something or other and win a prize!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Necessity is the mother of invention (alternately titled, Why it sometimes pays to own junk)

We have yet to really get into the whole bicycle thing for the kids. We've acquired some different stuff over the years--a tricycle, a plastic motorcycle, and then the bike in the above picture. We got it used from someone--"Hot Wheels" with training wheels. At some point Yosef took a real liking to it.

Recently it's been, uh, falling apart. A couple of weeks ago in fact a friend and I were cracking up because truly, it had all this stuff coming off of it. One of the training wheels (which is visible in this picture) is totally bent upward (so non-functional), the foam is coming out of the seat, and there was this huge decorative thing that was coming off the front, that actually resembled jagged metal (now it's completely off.)

And today was the day when the FUNCTIONAL training wheel decided to come off. But that didn't stop Yosef. Nope, instead he taught himself--in about ten minutes--how to ride a two-wheeled bike. No joke. I'm so proud of my boy!!! (And yeah that's him pedaling on our deck with no training wheels.)

Now we're definitely in the market for some bikes and helmets. Oh how I love Craigslist!!!

(Yes I just posted a photo. Which means I've uploaded a bunch. So now I can actually maybe get back to blogging.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Times they are a'changin'

So in case you didn't know, my oldest daughter is starting Kindergarten in less than 2 weeks. (I think I'm in serious denial.)

We're homeschooling, and she will additionally attend Kindergarten one full-day per week at a school for homeschooled kids.

So she needs a backpack.

At the three stores I had to scour to obtain the school supplies on the school's list (note to self: buy early next time because apparently there's a pink eraser shortage in Denver), we checked out the backpacks. And found lots of Hannah Montana. And High School Musical. Ugh.

What on earth ever happened to sweet, cute little-girl backpacks??? With pink on them, and withOUT commercialized characters that in my opinion aren't really for 5-year-olds? Whatever happened to Hello Kitty and the Popples?! Or, you know, just the color pink????

Maybe I'm getting grouchy in my old age (okay I'm TOTALLY getting grouchy in my old age), but I'm so not into all that. Kids need to be kids. So my daughter will be wearing a pastel pink backpack with an embroidered butterfly on it, that in my opinion was overpriced (like every other backpack for sale). But I guess at least it doesn't have some teenager's face plastered all over it! (In Target's defense, however, when I look online, they DO have a bunch of Dora and Hello Kitty and Disney princess backpacks for sale. The store didn't though, not to mention that I don't know how long my kid will like all that so I prefer something more plain. Don't these stores know they should be catering to ME?! :) )

I'll share more about what we'll be doing this year for school soon. I promise. But first I need to go procure those darn pink erasers!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hair thoughts

Nope, still haven't uploaded any pictures to my computer. Hence the lack of blogging. :)

The latest news I guess is that I got a bad haircut. Actually TWO bad haircuts. The second one was to fix the first one. And okay, the second one is a tad better, but I now look like a 5 year just lays flat in this horrible bob. Ugh. Both haircuts, which occurred Saturday, were at an inexpensive chain of salons, which makes it a LITTLE easier to take (because they didn't cost much).

Tomorrow night a friend who cuts hair is coming over to salvage my pride--she assures me she can make something cute out of this mop. Thank goodness!

Confession: I generally get about two haircuts a year. Yes, just two. And I never pay much for them either, even though I used to. I also used to spend a lot more on clothes and makeup. Then we adopted and went to Africa, and I honestly just can't do it anymore. Yes, I still spend money sometimes. No, I don't just automatically buy cheap stuff. I value how I look, I like nice things, and we aren't living hand-to-mouth. But really, it's God's money, not mine, and ultimately everything has an opportunity cost.

Strangely I'm more content today than I was five years ago, even though I spend less money on myself, have less free time, etc. Funny how that works. I feel like I'm more comfortable with who I am, and with where God has me. I'm conscious of the cues my kids will pick up from me, about what's important in life. I definitely still struggle with vanity, but I feel like God is working on me.

So I guess all in all, I'm not sorry I opted for a cheap haircut (as opposed to paying more at a nicer salon), even though it turned out poorly. (Incidentally, even after all three haircuts, it will cost less than I used to pay). Because for all the cheap cuts I've gotten, this was the first one (well, two) that was bad. It's a bummer, but hey, it happens.

And on a side-note, I am so that person who pretends to be happy when I leave the salon, even when I'm not. I know, lame. But what good will it do to say I don't like it, if the person's not competent enough to do a good job anyway????

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A little-known fact about me

So here it is: I seriously have obsessive compulsive tendencies. Okay not REALLY, I mean I don't think I actually have a psychological issue, but it is a common joke in our home that I am obsessive-compulsive.

I cannot go to bed at night if there are toys out. Or books that remain unorganized. Or if the kids' rooms aren't picked up. Or dishes laying around. Or a dining table that isn't cleaned, or swept under.

I'm also a procrastinator so I can allow some things to be messy or unorganized (our garage, the unfinished part of our basement, occasionally my closet), but once there's some semblance of order, I'm fanatical about maintaining it and keeping it clutter-free. I have to do certain housework stuff once per week, otherwise I feel like I can't relax or like I failed. I have to clean my fridge each time I do a big grocery shopping trip (before I put the new groceries in).

And here's the really creepy thing: I think this is somehow hereditary. My dad, for as long as I can remember, would zip around, picking things up, putting away cooking ingredients BEFORE MY MOM HAD THE CHANCE TO USE THEM, and putting your drinking glass in the dishwasher before you had the chance to get more. Whatever this trait is that I have, it comes from him. I always used to give him a bad time about it, but now I do the very.same.things.

Sometimes it's a virtue, but sometimes it's a vice. And I'm now passing it on to my own children...Anna likes to organize things, and Kevin and I joke that I'm raising my own OCD children.

So there you have it. An odd quirk about me. Do you have any quirks???

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

But I can't put it down

Okay so I started the book Come Be My Light last night. I have long been fascinated by Mother Teresa so I was really excited to learn more about her personal spiritual journey. My sons spent several months in one of her Missionaries of Charity orphanages in Ethiopia, so I also feel major gratitude for the work she did.

Has anyone else read this book? I seriously feel guilty about it, because all the correspondence included in it are letters she specifically told her superiors that she wanted burned, or wanted turned back over to her. Obviously things she never wanted PUBLISHED. They're thoughts she wrote to her confessors, and I kinda feel like I'm reading someone's diary! (They justified not honoring her wishes because they reasoned that her thoughts are beneficial for the Church, and wouldn't she want the Church to benefit from her life? Hmmm, doesn't seem quite right to me.)

Her heart for the Lord and willing sacrifice are truly challenging and inspiring. I look forward to reading more...but I should probably not stay up so late next time to do it. I have horrible self control when it comes to a good book!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Funny things kids say, etc.

Yes, it's come to that--I'm needing to upload pictures, and my brain can't seem to come up with much in the way of blogging topics, so I'm sharing random stuff my kids have said recently. :)

As I've mentioned, Anna's reading like crazy these days. And yesterday she casually asked me, "Mommy, do you know what baby pigs are called?" "What, Anna?" I asked. "Piglets!" she announced.

Um, okay, "Anna, where did you hear that?"

"Oh, I read it in a book last night" was her reply. Wow.

Then today at lunch, as we were discussing with the kids what they learned in Children's Church this morning, Biniam shared his version of the creation story:

"God made Adam out of dirt. Then He took one of Adam's ribbons, and made Eve." Who knew that Adam had ribbons???

Things around here are going well. Kevin was in Texas this past week and it's so good to have him home. I'm currently reading an excellent book about parenting and marriage (that you've probably never heard of) called Covenanted Happiness by Cormac Burke. It is so.extremely.insightful and pretty challenging too. And I'm so excited because once I'm finished I'll FINALLY be starting on Mother Teresa's Come Be My Light, which I've been dying to read ever since it came out, but haven't yet.

So that's all. Happy Sunday!

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