Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Shining Star

Last night was a big night for Kyle! He sang his first ever solo in front of many people. He chose to sing A la Nanita Nana, a Spanish song, as a surprise for his Spanish speaking Grandpa. He did such a great job and we are so proud of him! We hope to see him do it many more times!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Where We Have Been....

I can't believe so much time has slipped by that I have not blogged! We've had many things going on~ both exciting and difficult (such is life). Since I'm so far behind I'll skip some of the photos and maybe try and find time later on to post them. In the last month or so, here are some of the highlights of what's been happening around here~

We finally got that home school day field trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium! The kids were so excited! It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach and the rest of the day exploring the Aquarium. It was a wonderfully memorable day for me and the kids.

Unfortunatley it ended on a very bad note. We stopped at McD's before our couple hour drive home to pick up dinner. As unbelievable as it seems... an employee slipped a roofies into my drink and then held up our meal a long time waiting for it to kick in. It was an awful, shady, creepy weirdness going on during that time that left me and my children in a very bad situation. What I believe is truly only by the grace of God we managed to get out of there. However, I was totally out of it from being drugged and had no idea really that I was out of it so I drove the remaining 1.5 hours home that way. Within 5 minutes of reaching home I passed out and didn't come to until 10 hours later. It was awful awful awful dealing with the medical field afterwards. Then dealing with the police investigation was equally as frustrating! Perhaps sometime I will blog about the experience. It was pretty scary stuff. This came at the end of other big family struggles and disappointments. Admittedly it was the breaking point that sent me into a real funk for a while (hence the lack of blogging). But God is good and doesn't allow us to pout for long. ;-) He knows when we need a "pick me up and dust me off" and then he sends it in bucketfulls!

Other unblogged excitements are~
*All the children are now home schooled. It was a tough adjustment for the first 6 weeks or so and I wondered if I were making a big mistake. Now that we have all fallen into the new routine I am thrilled to have them all home. They are all doing excellent. Luke has started 3rd grade so now all 4 boys are sitting at laptops to do their work.

*We got an adorable new kitten named Oreo. He is so cute, yet such a trouble maker, but we love him. The kids went bannanas when I went out for milk one night and came home with a kitten!

*Halloween was much fun this year. It started off the weekend before when we all went to a costume dance party for home school families. The kids had a blast dressing up and dancing the night away! Then on Halloween it was time to put the costumes back on and head out to dinner and then pounding on doors to score some candy.

*Kyle turned 11 on November 7th. Yet, it seems like he turned 13. We can't beleive how grown up he seems all the sudden. For his bday we hit the road and had a pizza party with my parents to celebrate Kyle's bday and theirs as my Mom's bday is on the 14th and my Dad's is on the 19th.

*Thanksgiving threw us for a bit of a loop. We were hosting it at our house this year and were expecting a few of Jim's siblings and families and my parents. However, the very day before Thanksgiving 4 of us ended up with a flu/cold! We felt so bad for everyone we had invited because we didn't want to get them sick and yet didn't want to make them have to make very last minute plans either. It all worked out well though as we were able to deliver half of the already purchased food to Jim's siblings and they met at a different house together. My parents decided to brave getting ill and came anyways to help with the cooking and cleaning. We spent it in PJ's, eating, and watching movies together.

*Jude turned 12 on November 27th. Can you believe it? We can hardly wrap our minds around it! He had a really nice celebration (even though half the family was still sick). The day of his bday was pretty mellow and included birthday cake and presents. The day after we took him to a roller skating rink for the very first time. We signed all the kids up for lessons before skating through a session. Jude caught on really fast and him and Kyle just loved it. Hopefully we'll be able to take them more often.

*Kyle and Jude both had their very first basketball game on Saturday. They are off to a great start with a win! I'm so thankful that they ended up on the same team. It's fun to watch them play at the same time. I've seen it build between them a teammate type attitude that is way better then what a competitive situation would have likely created. The two of them have struggled in their new relationship in the last year and it is so neat to watch that change.

*We are hiring a Mother's Helper! I'm thrilled about this. It has been a year of trials and joys unlike anything we could have imagined. Truth is... after all the excitement I am feeling a bit run down. So we will be having a Mother's Helper coming in twice a week to assist me with the cleaning, cooking, and childcare. We are planning on (Lord willing) doing this for the next 2 months or so in hopes that I'll have a chance to catch up and recharge a little!

*We are going on a CRUISE!!! OKAY, I can still hardly believe it is happening!!! A couple months ago Jim and I saw an online ad for a cruise that lead us into looking at different cruises. We dreamed about how great it would be but discussed also how unlikely it would be that we would be able to get away like that until many many years from now~ when our kids are much older or even grown. During their stay over Thanksgiving my Mom dropped an unexpected and wonderful bomb on us! She offered to come and stay with all the kids and let us get away together for my birthday and our anniversary next month! I was stunned. Jim and I both knew right away what we wanted to do and it didn't take us long at all to purchase tickets for a cruise in the Bahamas!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

So there it is~ a sampling of just some of the many many many things going on around here. I'll try and update more often. ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spontaneous Adventures Strikes Again!

It was a Monday just like any other Monday (except maybe that it was also the first official day that Jude was beginning home schooling again). The usual plan for a Monday was in place.... Start the kids on school, take Lovenie to speech therapy, finish school, and then chores. However, at 9AM we got an email from someone that told us that they had 8 tickets for that day to the Monterey Aquarium and we could have them for FREE if we wanted them! Jim had just returned home from working a very long all night shift at work. He was kind enough to stay awake and drive the 40 min. drive each way to pick the tickets up for us while me and the kids SCRAMBLED around to pack for an outing. I had to leave in about 1 hour to have Lovenie at speech therapy. Because Jim had been working really long and awful hours we decided to stay overnight so that he would have a quiet house to sleep in when he was home. We worked as a team and had the car packed up and Lovenie to her appointment on time. Jim met us there with the tickets so that we could leave straight from there. It wasn't until then that we really looked at the tickets and had some concerns. Jim decided to call the Aquarium and just make sure there would be no problem. Sure enough... the tickets were in someone elses name and could not be transfered. :( We were so bummed to break the news to the kids knowing how very excited they were. We figured since we were all ready packed up we should come up with another fun plan and still head out on a trip. So only about an hour later Jim was at last asleep and the kids and I were on our way to the very gorgeous beach town, Half Moon Bay!

The plan was to take the kids to one of the many elaborate Pumpkin farms there. The prices for their attractions are really spendy~ especially times 6 people. So I had prepared the kids to pick out just one or two things and that would probably be all we would do. When we got there and mentioned that the kids were home schooled (obviously school age kids there during school hours) they decided to give us the rate they give schools for field trips. It was CRAZY cheap all day passes. We were thrilled!!! Not only did they get to do everything but they got to do it as much as they wanted. Our time together at the farm was nothing short of magical and we even took a moment to stop right in the middle of that pumpkin farm and pray a prayer of thanks to a God that constantly blesses us beyond what we would even think to ask for!

Gotta love a place with potty humor!

As usual Luke wants NOTHING to do with animals, so he just stands around looking cute while his siblings go crazy over feeding the goats.

The others had a blast with them. Lovenie used to be terrified of any animal a year ago, but got right in there with them until one of the goats mistook her hair for food and gave it a nibble. That was the end of her goat adventures.

Lovenie's very first time on a pony

Johnny was pretty much bored right away. I guess after more then 55 visits to Disneyland last year he has become accustomed to a bit more thrill factor.

Cowboy Jude LOVES any time on a horse.

Train ride~

Bouncy Fun~

Just chillin' on a snack break

A VERY exciting Hay ride. It was POURING rain outside while we were on this covered hay ride and then stopped when it was time for us to get out

This is Johnny BEGGING me for a slice of pumpkin pie. Not only is it nearly impossible to say no to his big blue eyes but Johnny is such an easy going kid that he almost never asks for anything, much less BEGS for something. I didn't give in and buy him a slice.... I bought him a WHOLE PIE. You woulda thought he won the lottery the way he wigged out!

Just being precious

Hours of outdoor fun had us all tired and hungry so, after checking into our hotel, we headed off to this quirky restaurant for a refill.

I LOVE eating out with our kids. It's as if they put on their absolute best manners. They were so quiet and funny. They were sharing with each other and just being so sweet.

Outside of the restaurant is this gutted out double decker bus which now serves only 1 purpose~ to be partied in. It was empty and the kids asked if they could go in it and play. I told them to go wild and OH BOY DID THEY EVER!

Swinging from the rafters? We've done it!

Once we were all officially worn out we headed back to the hotel. It was one of those days that everything just came together so perfectly and you could hardly wrap your mind around it all. Included in that was that we were able to get a 2 bedroom suite for only $15 more then a regular room, making 1 adult traveling with 5 kids no problem!

Enjoying the begged for pumpkin pie while staying up late to watch a movie.
The hotel gave us a late check out so we were able to finish school and have lunch before leaving.

Next stop was to a different pumpkin farm to check out it's monstrous hay maze. We had heard legends of it but... WOW! It was so cool!!!!

It was fun and maddening at the same time. Nearly every way you turn looked the same as the last place you had been. Yet, it went on and on and often circled you right back to where you started.

The kids and I were determined as we laughed, played, ran, and took turns deciding which way to try next.

Every now and then we would come to these huge clearings and the kids would run around in circles

We came to many dead ends.

Around 45 minutes into our search most of us rested.

Except Jude who rolled around in the hay

and entertained us with flips and hand stands

After almost an hour and a half of searching for a way out Luke (6) and Lovenie (5) had decided they had reached their limit. I had also discovered allergies to Hay and was a bit miserable. The older boys were so very disappointed because they were determined to find the end. I agreed to let them continue if they stayed together and promised to leave out an emergency exit (which were everywhere) if they needed to come out.

Luke and Lovenie stay out of the wind while snacking in a hut.

About 20 minutes later the boys exitted out an emergency exit. Only one of the boys wanted to give up so they all came out with him but the other two were so disappointed. While waiting on the boys I had watched many families giving up and leaving the maze out of the emergency exits also. There was just one group of kids that I watched run in and out of the maze again and again exitting out of the actual exit. Before leaving I went to them and asked them to take us through and show us how. No joke... we were out in 5 minutes!!! Turns out there was a trap door that you had to know to look for and it is the only way to get to the path that gets you out. We just took the maze at face value and tried to work through it. I was so glad for the boys that really wanted to complete it that we were able to get it done.

We couldn't very well go and stay in a beach town without any beach time so despite the sun setting and the cold we hit the beach before leaving.

Lovenie really really does not like being "coooowwwd"

Me and my carribean sweethearts bundled up and watched the waves while the native California boys played in the waves and came back wet and happy.

What wonderful memories!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Summer Staycation Part 2

The second child to choose our staycation outing was Johnny. He chose to go to Ripleys Believe It Or Not in San Francisco at Fisherman's Warf. The weather was just lovely and we made a lot of wonderful memories!

Is that an escape convict from Alcatraz behind them? No wonder why they're scared!

Jude with the king of Pop

Kyle with the king

Can you make this face? (Johnny)



After our many fun Believe It Or Not adventures we finished off the outing with lunch at Fisherman's Warf where you can find THE MOST delicious fish and chips and shrimp and crab cocktail. Then we walked the short distance to sit ocean side in the sun while enjoying our feast. We sat right near a Jamaican band and totally enjoyed the music while Lovenie danced for everyone.

Videos posted below~

Video 1~ Lovenie dances to the live music at Fisherman's Warf

Video 2~ Do you DARE reach in the mouth?

Video 3~ Jude takes the shocking Hot Seat

Video 4~ Johnny takes the challenge in the Hot Seat too

Video 5~ Jim shows them how it's done and holds on to the Max of the Hot Seat!!

Video 6~ Our family in a life sized kaleidoscope (was so beautiful)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Summer Staycation Part 1

Summer break flew by so quick this year. It seemed like it was nearly over the moment it started! For the first half of summer break we were super busy in taking care of things regarding Jacques' adoption. It was so worthwhile and we thank God that it worked out so great! However, it also was not a very fun time for the kids as we spent long days running from one medical appointment to another and other not-so-fun-for-kids errands. We were so proud of them though for how good they were for us. They had great attitudes about it and were willing to do whatever it takes to bring home their brother!

The second half of summer we decided to try and make it really special for the kids. We allowed each of the four boys to choose anywhere within driving distance to go for a vacation day. They each were assigned a week and they got to choose that weeks outing. The weeks went from youngest to oldest so Luke got to choose the first place and he chose SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK!!!! Which just happens to be a place I love going to! (Oh no... I didn't encourage him to choose it at all) wink wink

We also had some visitors staying with us so it was a real party at the boardwalk! We started out on the beach. It was a gorgeous day for the beach and the views were breathtaking!

Then we hit the rides on the boardwalk~
Jude and Lovenie had their first ever rides on a Ferris wheel!

Jude and Kyle on top of the world! Or, at least on top of the boardwalk

Jim and Luke enjoy the view from the top

Lovenie (on the right) is so brave and will ride almost anything without fear!!

End result was some happy happy kids (and a happy Mom and Dad too!)