Friday, August 29, 2008

Say AHHHHHH

My cute brown babies love to open their mouths when I take a picture of them.
I dunno why.
I usually let them do an open mouth picture before or after I ask them to make pretty smiles.


They'd make the dentist happy.
And speaking of dentist, don't these girls have lovely teeth!?


It may be hard to tell, but they are pretty and white and straight. Apparently beans and rice and good dental hygiene are the important parts of a Haitian orphanage.


Things are going well on our roller coaster adventure of adoption/transition. I started to tell my long-legged dancer friend as well as House of Homer about some of the challenges we're facing regarding sisterhood with Amy. That's a heavy topic filled with emotion (all over the scale) so I'll save it for another day.



Until then, enjoy this picture of my silly girls.

Oh how my heart is doing incredible things as it wraps itself around three girls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homeschool vs. Public School (not really)

The other day, my good friend and I were in an excellent conversation about school.


This friend of mine public schools her kids.
I homeschool mine.


We both value the pros of the other person's choice and each are respecting the fact that we're following what we honestly believe is best for our kids. Cheers!













This friend of mine also has really pretty legs because she is a dancer. Summers are good to her because she looks smokin' hot in her summer dresses and skirts.





One of the sub-topics in our discussion was about the pressure of comparison. In parents. It can show up in project assignments.


Some obviously are done by the kids only, others show signs of parental assistance while others obviously are done entirely by the parents.

I remember these three types of turn-in projects when I was in school.


So we got to talking and we both agreed that when an assignment is given in the public school setting, that it should be one that the student can accomplish all by himself.




I mean sure, "Mom, will you please buy me some construction paper?" or

"Dad, will you drive me to the library to check out a few books?"

Minimal involvement.

And the parents should feel more than welcome to help if they want to, but they should KEEP their involvement to a minimum.


"Hey, Son, wanna go down to the swampy area behind Grandma's house to collect tadpoles for your science experiment?" or

"Hey, daughter, why don't you read me your oral report while I cook dinner."


Being involved, keeping the kids interested in learning, encouraging a thorough and timely assignment but all the while allowing the children to complete it all by their onesies.


Otherwise Johnny gets an A++ for his homemade firework display that simultaneously pops popcorn and makes your grass green, while Suzy gets a B- for her flowers that turned a slight discoloration when she added food coloring to the water.


Johnny rode his bike while his dad took the day off work to do his homework for him, but Suzy did her assignment all by herself. But it isn't Suzy and Johnny who are comparing each others projects, it's the parents walking around looking at who's parents were heavily involved and how they did for their kids' grade.

Oh yeah. That happend. You all know it did.


I was thinking about how in the homeschool setting, the parent is, by nature of the schooling style, more involved in the kids' projects, but they still want the child to do it themselves. But there isn't really much of a pressure for the kid to do better than he normally would because you, as the parent, are giving the grade. So if I did Amy's homework for her, who would I show it to? Myself? My husband? "Look, honey! Look at how well I-uh, I mean, AMY did today on this project! She got an A."


But I was also thinking how there are plenty'o ways for we homeschoolers to compare ourselves with each other. And I mean, the parents...not the kids.




Do you have a homeschool room!? (all smiley and noddy) or do you just use your dining room table? (all downcast and bummer-like)


Did you buy a curriculum this year!?
or do you just buy workbooks at the dollar tree?


Did you buy a shmancy shiny new curriculum packet?
or do you go to the used curriculum fair?



Do you have a beautiful schedule that you follow to the minute?
or do you let your kids stay in their jammies till 2 and fit school whenever you can?

Even when asking if "your kid can read yet" isn't always showing an interest in the child's intelligence so much as it is gauging the homeschooling parent's dedication and focus for the year.



Now, I know that I'm being a smidgen extreme, but I'm not missing the mark when it comes to judging or comparing both in public school and homeschool. Parents do it. Why do we do it? Maybe because we want people to know that "we've got it" when it comes to our choices for our kids and what we provide for them and how well they'll do.


So we ask questions that will allow ourselves to feel good about our own answers. Maybe.

And of course, not everyone compares or is bothered by questions.

Like me! I don't ask them, I don't get bothered by them and I have never ever judged or compared anything or anyone ever in my life. Uh-huh. Yep. Never. Nope. Yep. Wait, what?


We're humans, we'll be comparing ourselves and our kids till the end of time, I'm sure. But we needn't. Easier said than done, I know. But it's the way we ought to live our lives.
Confident, secure and by the Lord's standards, not man's.
And what's right for our own kids and or own family.

And I know that whatever I do, I do it prayerfully and make decisions based on His reply.






Happy schooling!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

53 Day Geniuses

Human brains are amazing.
Well, human kids, that is.
Well, okay, MY human kids brains are amazing.


How are these girls, who've lived in a Creole speaking country for 4 years and 6 years, and have had virtually zero English spoken to them, understand a single word I say?

~shrug~ But they can!



We're working hard at encouraging English and writing down words and labeling things, having them repeat our words and praising their efforts, etc etc.

But I don't take much credit. I mean, sure, that stuff helps, but I am flabbergasted at the rate at which they pick it up! Way faster than I'm "teaching" them.



Immersion is the best way, they say. I believe it! They've been home for only 53 days and they're already bilingual. It's absolutely amazing.


Yolanta speaks almost only English now. I hear her now and then speaking Creole to her sis, or when she's upset and is having a hard time finding the right words to communicate her troubles to me. Now, she's not a huge conversationalist exactly, but when she DOES talk, it's in English. And, I've pretty much done away with sign-language and French or running to the Creole dictionary. She understands enough words and context to get what I'm saying.


Katie is still learning and I'm still doing hand motions and pointing at the things I'm talking about with her. She's so stinkin' cute. She mixes the two languages often.


M'aca please (help me please)
Pa broken (not broken)
Not kase (not broken)
Mete upstairs (put it upstairs)
Jete garbage (throw it in the garbage)





I hope that they' retain their language, but really, I don't see how that's really going to happen. I mean, there's soooooo few people who speak Creole in the world, and I know French, but it's so different. Use it or lose it.


Okay, I know this is an abrupt ending and there is so much more to say on the language aspect of the transition period, but I have to go and wanted you to have something to read for Monday morning.


Orevwa (good bye)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I hear Mary Poppins in the background

Helpful
Happy
Homey

My girls, all three of them, are delighted to help me work around the house. Usually.
We have a motto: You can have fun and get the job done!

I hate mopping. I reserve the word hate for: sin, the devil and mopping.

But I want to encourage my girls to be helpful around the house with happy attitudes, so I purpose to hide my disdain for mopping by whistling while I work.
I include the girls every chance I get (they love doing things with me) and then reward them with hugs and words of encouragement and praise on their helpfulness all along the way. They somehow think mopping is fun now.
Just like I'm trying to instill a love of learning for my girls through homeschooling, I also want to instill a love of helping and serving and working. They don't have to do cart-wheels over the idea of dusting, but hopefully they will find satisfaction and blessings about having a Christ-like attitude towards service.

I changed the look of my blog but will plan on changing it again soon because I don't really like the two tone page. However, instead of mopping, I'd rather be on a white sands beach resting in the sunshine.

Not that there's anything wrong with mopping, right girls!?



Aren't they all so cute in their pink skirts?


In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.
2 Chronicles 30:20-21

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Skirt.

I have this skirt that I forgot about. I unearthed it looking for something to wear to a party.
It's dressy, but yet, casual. Depending on the shoes, shirt and jewels that accompany it.

The reason I know it can work all ways is because I pretty much didn't take it off this past weekend.

First, on Friday night, I attended an Oscar's themed 21st birthday party in which I presented an award to the birthday girl for "Best Babysitter in the World" for being my daughter's very first babysitter. I looked hip and cool in this skirt.

Then on Saturday afternoon I attended a baby shower at a house that had no air and it was, quite literally, 102 degrees outside. I looked summery and pretty in this skirt.

Then, Sunday morning, I wore it to church. I felt wholesome and dressy in this skirt.

Lastly, Sunday night, I wore the skirt to The Phantom of the Opera live on stage. I felt quite classy in this skirt.

I didn't take pictures of myself all along the way, but know that I wore a different top, different shoes, different jewelry and a different hairstyle each and every time. I'm kind of laughing at myself that I could get away with wearing it so many times in just 3 days.

Though, my cover is slightly blown for the girl throwing the baby shower on Saturday afternoon just also happened to be at the Opera on Sunday night! We ran into each other at intermission! Small world. I have no idea if she realized I was wearing the same skirt. Probably.

Like I said, I have no pics of me in my "uniform".
Would you like to see a picture of the famous skirt? It's getting ready to go to the dry cleaners.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Long Overdue Update and 18 Pictures

What? You guys want pictures of the kids? You want to know how it's going?

I know, I know, I've been a little delinquent when it comes to keeping you in-the-know about the transition period. It's been 43 days since the girls have been home and it's been a roller coaster ride of life. It really has. Some days are fun and happy and easy while others have been aggravating and sad and hard.

But I guess that's what it was like when I brought home a newborn, right? Some days she was an angel and cooed all day while other days she only cried and nursed and never slept. Roller coaster days.

English is coming along! Yolanta is a smartie girl and can understand just about everything we say. If she knows the English word, she says it. I'm very proud of her.
Katie is cute and tries her best to parrot our words. She's getting the hang of things but still prefers Creole.
Amy is learning Creole from these girls!

Yolanta: Here you go, Amy. (In perfect English)
Amy: Meci. (Thank you)
Yolanta: Amy, slide? outside? hot!
Amy: Oui. Moi restay ici. (Yes. Me stay right here)
Katie: Nice Kitty.

Routine is setting in and the girls can know what to expect from most days. Throw in a few appointments, play dates and errands, and we've got ourselves a regular week.

Schooling is going well. Still assessing their education level, trying out different types of learning styles to see how they each respond, experimenting with different levels... learning English and having fun has been our favorite schooling so far. Of course.

Boundaries and expectations are being set and, thankfully, really sinking in. Kids are kids no matter where they come from and even though they're all different, they're the same.I have a whole post in my head about boundaries and expectations to further explain my paradoxical statement about Different/Same but that's for another day.

Here are some long awaited pictures.
I love my girls.
Enjoy the pictures!

At the zoo with Cool Cuzin Mason. The girls loved the animals.
Striking a pose at the zoo concert. My saran-wrap baby (always clinging). Love it.
Sisters, cheek to cheek. Amy still doesn't have any teeth!
Sitting in a Haitian squat, making mud-pies. Sadly, mud-pies are also a Haitian meal. My girls did not eat dirt this day. But they all three got great SBO's! (Soil Based Organisms)
Katie's cute beaded hair after my friend Cheri spent the day with us.

Just look at this face! So cute.


All the girls with Crazy Cuzin Zoe. Much fun was had that day!


My BFF Angela after having spent three hours, literally, making Zulu Knots on Katie's head.
Close up of Zulu knots.
Here is pretty pretty pretty Yolanta after having her hair curled by Tiffany. Are you catching a drift here that other people do my girls' hair? Yeah. I'm still having issues. Homeschooling on the floor.

Amy jumping off the diving board in the pool in my backyard. I think I can hear her singing "Flying, Soaring" from High School Musical in this picture.


Yolanta LOVES the water. Her favorite thing is to get her head completely dunked.
Husband impressing the kids with his flip off the board!
Katie also loves the water but didn't venture too far off the steps unless she was attached to someone. I didn't mind.
Bathing Beauty. Yolanta dared the diving board but it scared her a smidgen and she spent the next 20 minutes in the saftey of the warm towel.
Husband teaching Amy how to dive. It turns out better than it looks like it's going to in this shot.

I like this shot because husband is wearing his Haiti T-shirt.
Okay, so the pool is not really in my backyard but I wish it was.

Have a great day wherever you are. Leave me a comment about how cute my girls are. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Totally Wii, Oui

A long time ago, back before the girls got here, we kept our eye on the Wii system.

Now, if you know me, you know that I am not a video game person. Well maybe you didn't know that about me. But now you do: I do not play video games.


Even when we were teenagers and Super Mario Brothers came out and Tetris...I watched my twin sister play these games on our Nintendo and would seriously have more fun watching her play than playing them myself.



I'm not even very good at electronic games nor do I find them enjoyable. I get totally bored (did I really say totally? As in like, totally man?).

The games now-a-days seem scary and complex. But then again, they also seem as if one just sits at a desk using arrow keys to blow up bad guys. Hm. fun.

I'd much rather be blogging. A-hem.

But have you heard of The X-Bus? This guy I know converted the inside of a real live city bus into a gaming bus. The inside seats 16 teenage boys equipped with their own screen, chair, remote control and whatever else one needs to play Halo or whatever and a vending machine. All inside an air conditioned bus. That's right, you rent it for your birthday party or youth group and he can DRIVE IT TO YOUR HOUSE. Because it's a bus! How cool is that!? If you like that sort of thing. Which apprently a lot of people do.


Here is a pic of it on the inside. He and his wife go to my church and it seems to be a big hit. They're like syncing up with the city and stuff. Good luck, John!



Back to me and my non-computer gaming lifestyle.




So when my cute husband suggested getting a Wii, I said Wha?
Blink. Blink.
For who?
For what?
Huh?
He started telling me all the cool things about it. The remote, the bowling, the tennis, easy to use.
~Hm. Okay.
He reminded me that there are totally safe, G-rated, athleticy type games.
~Yeah, yeah, that's good.
He also reminded me that it could really be an opportunity for the girls to play something that didn't require everyone speaking the same language.
~Okay, keep talking.

Plus, he could play with the girls as a bonding event. You know, dad and his daughters.
~Speakin' my language, bonding=good.

It might give me a break during the day while they're occupied on the Wii.
~Done.

So with his ever-watchful-techy-eye he bought one for a good price.
We locked it up and didn't mention it to Amy.


Now the girls are here so using our anniversary last week as an excuse to bring out a gift, we unveiled The Wii.

Do you hear angels singing?
Me either. But it seemed like an angelic moment.

You know what? It's really fun! We have two remotes so two people can play with or against each other, we've created Mii's for everyone, the girls can figure out how to 'make it go' without any help from me (who are these kids now-a-days that they can do such computery stuff at such a young age!?) and, the best part, I'm gonna beat my husband in a tennis match. Yeah, that's right, hun. You're going down.

Now when I ask the girls if they want to play the Wii, they all (yes all) reply in French (or Creole to be exact) Oui!

"Oui Wii"

And they have a blast. Baseball is universally fun and it's adorable to watch Amy and Yolanta swing away at 'the ball'.

I've evolved
or progressed
or caved.

Baseball outside is, of course, better. And we do that, too. We really do! But sometimes, inside is where the fun is gonna be. And having the Wii helps bring on the fun.

I'm totally glad we got one. Yeah, I said it again. Totally.

Let's hope your blogging is better than mine

Sorry to have been gone from blogging for a while...and what a boring post with which to leave you!



Well, this one isn't all that exciting either. I've just been pretty busy lately and haven't had too many extra moments to write out the exciting adventures of my life as a mother of three.



I'd like to send you over to Transforme, though, she's got a great post for today about communicating with children. Very good.


Yes, I know. She has three children, too, and still has time to write excellent posts. I'm still learning, okay!?



So, I think I'm getting old. When I get out of bed I walk to the bathroom like an old lady. This morning I did some yoga stretches and I do indeed feel better after getting the kinks out. Then I had a cup of coffee and probably should have had a glass of water instead.





Well, I call it yoga but really it was just a 30sumthin lady on the floor contorting her body till her muscles felt funky. Oh, and with three children falling on and off me laughing all the while.





Along with my desire for early morning devotions, I should get up even earlier for proper stretching. I hear it's really good for you.





Okay, I promise next post will not be about how old and boring I am.

Oh, but I did read this scripture today and would like to share it.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
1 Peter 3:15

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Julie Needs

I'm copying this idea from several Bloggers as of late.



Google your first name and the word 'needs' and give us the top ten things that come up.



Speaking of google, aren't you enjoying the little pictures that are being added to the home page during the Olympics? So creative!



Oh, and I went to http://www.images.com/ and typed in Julie to see what kind of images popped up for my name and here is the first picture I got. Maybe I'm to be in politics and move to DC some day! Or a firework setter-offer.




Every picture was of the 4th of July. Either images.com attempts to auto-correct my need for a picture of Julie for a picture of July, or maybe we've been pronouncing it wrong all this time and it's really The 4th of Julie!

Well, here is my Julie Needs list:


  1. Julie needs to go with cotton styles with a bit of structure rather than anything too flimsy like chiffon... Really? The first one is about underwear!?

  2. Julie needs an early start... Wow, yes, I've been convicted to get up earlier in the morning to devote my early mornings to God.

  3. Julie needs your help! So maybe call me in the morning to get me out of bed.

  4. Julie needs coffee. Ha...coffee is my middle name. I actually need to GIVE UP coffee!

  5. Julie needs Julie needs... apparently I'm not the only Blogger named Julie making this google list!

  6. Julie needs a good home and she needs it ASAP. Nope. I love my house and the home is the heart inside it. It is new. And I love it.

  7. Julie needs to work on her parenting. Lord knows raising three kids leaves me in need of working on my parenting!

I'm stopping here because the google list is getting funky and they're just facebook and classmate type links that don't really make sense for this post.

Kind of fun. And it's a quick post for a new day. What does google say YOU need?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Anniversary Pictures (most of them, anyway)

Years 1-5 were pre digital camera and pre home website and well...there's a scanner here on my left and big ol mess of photos on my right. I don't have much to show for years 1-5 on this post but trust me, we were married, young, without kids and it was a whole different life back then.

Here are the past NINE years of anniversary photos.
I still get giddy thinking about my husband.






Year 6
Columbia River Gorge Hotel
Hood River, Oregon


Year 7 (I was pregnant!)
Trianon
Beaverton, Oregon

Year 8
McCormick & Schmicks
Portland, Oregon





Year 9
Some cute little restaurant
Seattle, Washington




Year 10 (I got custom made diamond earrings and a diamond necklace!)
Ruth Chris Steakhouse
Portland, Oregon




Year 11
Airplane food
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia




Year 12 (we saw Celine Dion in concert!)
Spago
Las Vegas, Nevada





Year 13
Benihanna's
Beaverton, Oregon

Year 14 (Just after a family swim at Wilson High pool)
Noodles
Portland, OR

Tonight was the first time we celebrated our anniversary with a kid. Let alone THREE kids! Ahhh it's a whole new life with these girls. I couldn't imagine being in this world without every single one of the people listed in the photo from Year 14.
Smooches all around.

August 7, 1994

Happy 14th Anniversary To Me and My Husband
I love you, babe.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 4, 1971

I love this man soooo much!


Happy birthday, Honey.





Yesterday was his day, but since it was a Monday, and my husband is the hardest working man I know, he had a full and busy day at work. But he was highly rewarded with dinner at his favorite restaurant, PF Changs. I think he and Amy were born on the wrong continent. They each could eat Chinese food or Mongolian food every day. I like tacos, myself.


He has been so extremely and very diligently part of the transition period for the girls. He has not taken a back seat on parenting or cleaning or cooking or playing games or anything. Even though he has his hands full at work, he does not let the family suffer. I'm the luckiest woman alive to be married to him and the girls are the luckiest children alive to have him as their father.


Or maybe it's God.


Yeah, it's probably God.











Happy Happy Birthday, my man. Thanks for being awesome.

Thanks for joining us, Mom and Mason. And thanks for dinner.