Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009 Part 2

Today Nick and I were sitting next to each other at the kitchen island, eating lunch. He leaned over, laid his head against me, put an arm around me and said, "I love you through and through". Isn't that sweet? This came from a book we used to read a lot at bedtime but we haven't read it in quite some time.

This evening, as I was changing him into his pj's, he leaned against me and said, "you best my friend", or something like that. He got the words out of order and it was very cute.

Ben and Nick are both sick with colds now. Hopefully I won't get it and they will recover quickly.

January 30, 2009

I am constantly researching and reading to ensure we are doing all we should be doing, since the boys are not going to a formal preschool. I have the bug that I think many beginning home school mom's have in that I am at times wondering if we should "get started" doing something a bit more scheduled and official. Inevitably, after researching and reading and praying about it, I come back to the same conclusion: let them be three and enjoy themselves.

After praying about it, my most recent direction is to focus more intently on character development. It's funny how working on their character development is also working on my character development....isn't it funny how that works. Today I have been reminding them, when needed, to use a kind voice when talking to each other. It is a good reminder for me too, as it is easy for moms to lose our patience at times.

So we will continue to work on character development, with more intent. One of the things I must work on is encouraging them to help me more, when I am working about the house. It is so easy to wait to do house work type jobs when they are busy or sleeping but they are at an age where they can and should be helping more now. They are at such a great age for this, since they want to help and to learn how to do the things we (the dad and I) do. It takes a bit more thought on my part, of how to let them help me, what they can do, even if it is not just the way I do it.

They already put their dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket, at the end of the day, and they help to clear the table and set the table at times but we are not very consistent with the table duty. Also, they will start to set the table and then get distracted and not finish. So, we will be working on being more consistent and making sure the job is completed well. I need to have them do things alongside me until they learn it well and feel a sense of accomplishment and of helping out the family, as I want them to feel their assistance is appreciated and needed in our family.

We have already been working on persistence, or rather, praising it when it is displayed. We have also been working on obedience (obey, right away, every day, in a cheerful way:) and will continue to do so:). We work on sharing every day and Nick especially has been showing some growth in this area, as well as being compassionate towards Ben, although sometimes I'm not sure if this is always a good thing. We may be quickly approaching a point where Ben thinks he should always get his way and he always (or quite frequently) wants whatever Nick just picked up to play with.

In addition to character development, we will continue to learn through play, as we have to date.

We do preschool math by playing games and playing with toys that have us sorting, matching, counting, creating/finishing patterns and playing memory games.

We work on the basics of reading by playing with alphabet puzzles and the Leapfrog toy on the little white board. It is the one that teaches letters, phonics and spelling of three letter words. We work on letter sounds with the leapfrog toys also but we also discuss letter sounds when opportunities come up at other times during the day, such as when we are reading books. We also have fun with these sometimes when we are waiting for our meal, when we eat out on Sunday after church. We keep several types of fun, educational things to do in the diaper bag and the boys love to do this when they are getting bored at a restaurant. We play a game, once in a while, when we are in the car or waiting for something, where I tell the boys a word and they try to determine what letter it starts with. We are still a bit new to this game but Ben is actually pretty good at it, which was quite a surprise to me.

Probably most importantly, we spend lots of time reading a wide variety of books to the boys. I normally read to them in the morning. I have recently started letting them each pick a book that I read to them, while they are lying in bed, (hopefully) becoming relaxed and restful just before nap time. And I normally read again to them in the afternoon. The dad frequently reads to them when he gets home from work or after dinner and then they each get to pick another book to read before bedtime, after which we also read out of their Bible and the Everything a Child Needs to Know About God book. We also have a bunch of books in the bathroom, next to their potty chair. I encourage them to look at the pictures and have overheard them each "reading" aloud to themselves (stories they have memorized). I try not to read to them in the bathroom because they will sit there, wanting me to read more, even though they are finish and I don't like that:). I would much rather read while we are sitting on the couch, snuggling together.

We don't get in all of these reading sessions every single day, especially when we have to get out and run errands, but we do get in most of them on most days. Sometimes we only read one or two books before something distracts us and other times we read 8 or 9 books. We normally just follow the boys' lead.

To find good books for the boys, I look at book lists on the Sonlight website, other blogs of those who have already home schooled preschoolers and I also have three books that recommend good books for children. Also, Amazon has a listing of children's classics so that is a good resource, although I buy many of our books at my favorite used bookstore. I think the level of books we are reading to them are pretty good for their age also and they have a fairly good vocabulary.

We have the beginners set of Building Thinking Skills books from These are suppose to be work books but we don't really use them that way. I put them in with the boys' books and, every now and then, they get interested in them again and ask us to "read" them. They can easily be used that way, where you go through various pages and ask questions and have fun trying to figure out the answers, while sitting on the couch together. That is how we have used them so far, just sitting on the couch, with a child on each side and letting them pick out which pages they want to do. These are fun books and we all enjoy them.

We also have the Kumon cut, paste/sticker, fold, color, trace and maze books, along with the Brain Quest books that have sections such as My World (i.e. put an X on the things that do not belong in the house), Science (i.e. draw a circle around the animals/plants that are living), Numbers, Phonics, Letters, Sorting & Matching, Colors and Shapes, etc. These two sets of books are what we use when the boys ask to "do school". We usually do this two or three times a week, depending on what else we have going on and what the weather is like.

And, of course, they get lots of play time. Their favorite things to play these days are tractors/farm toys, firetrucks and the ambulance, cars and trucks with the garage or just running over the couch and couch pillows. They also enjoy puzzles a lot. We seldom go two days in a row without them spending a good amount of time working on puzzles - today, they worked together to do two large floor puzzles without any adult help. Then they did the United States floor puzzle but I helped them with that one. Additional favorites are playing trains, jumping on the mini-trampoline, and pretending to cook and prepare meals for me and also to shop for groceries.

When I write it all out like this, it makes me realize exactly how much we are doing to cover preschool, over time (meaning we don't do it all every week). I am glad I sat down and wrote this. It is good for helping me to think it through.....and now it's time for bed. Good night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28, 2009

We have had company for the past few days. A good friend from out of town was here and it was so nice to see her. She got stuck with us for a day longer than she had planned, due to an ice storm. We were not complaining, since we have missed her and enjoyed having her with us but I know she had other people she wanted to visit. Today is still very cold but the sun has been shining strong all day so the ice is quickly melting away.

Looks like we are starting another round of colds, although I can't complain too much because it has been a while since we have had anything around here. Nck started showing symptoms last night and woke up today with a runny nose that has not stopped all day. He didn't take a very long nap today and I'm sure that was due to not being able to breathe properly. He also did not want a gummy bear after using the potty and he passed on dinner and chocolate cake. That's when you know your child is really not feeling well, although it is amazing how kids keep going and keep playing, even though they do not feel well. The onset of this cold is perfectly timed for having been obtained at church, either on Sunday or Monday. I will be surprised if all of us do not end up with it, since we all eat and drink after each other quite often.

We seem to have made a break through with potty training, although it is too soon to tell if it will actually take this time or if we will once again regress. Ben continues to do well, although he did wet his pants once today. Nick woke up dry this morning and has stayed dry all day long, so far. I am completely shocked. He is really doing well with it right now, although I'm not sure how his cold will impact our progress. He did not want to go potty when he woke up from his nap and he had already been awake for over an hour and a half when I suggested it. I let them watch an extra 30 minute video, since he is not feeling well and we all kind of needed a little down time today. I convinced him to go to the bathroom by telling him we would not watch another video unless he did. I was shocked to find that he was still dry.

What we have been up to, in addition to visiting with our guest:
We have been doing lots of reading. We received some new (used) books last week and we have enjoyed reading lots of new stories. One of our favorite new storybooks is The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury. We already had several of the books included in this storybook and there is at least one or two stories that I don't feel are appropriate for the boys. However, this book still has some wonderful stories that we have all enjoyed and, so far, we have just touched the surface. We are also enjoying Richard Scary's Best Storybook Ever (or something like that) in addition to several others.

I have started reading to the boys, while they are in bed for nap or night and I am sitting in the recliner in their room. I really enjoy doing this and hope it can become a regular, fun thing for us to enjoy. I just have to remember to get them into bed a bit earlier or we end up not having time.

We have also been doing our "school work". It is pretty funny to call it that but I think it makes them feel like it is important. The other advantage of calling it that is that it distinguishes this time, when we are using our 'special' books, they are expected to follow directions and try to hold pencils correctly, etc., from casual coloring time or art time. Our preschool work basically consists of coloring, cutting, using paste and stickers, folding, tracing and doing mazes. They really enjoy it so that is the important thing this year. Our focus for this year is simply to learn that learning is fun, which comes pretty natural to them:), work on fine motor skills and attention span and our main focus is learning the basics to get to the point of reading (and having fun). So we spend lots of time reading. The boys already know their letters and most of the letter sounds but not all. Ben is already pretty good at telling me what letter/sound a word starts with, when I ask him (sometimes we do this as a kind of game and the boys really enjoy it).

So those are the things we are really working on, although we do not have any real type of schedule of any kind. Some days we do a lot more than others; some days we just do puzzles and play. We always read, usually several times a day. The boys love to be read to and they always ask several times a day so we do this often.

Time to sign off and get a couple of things done before bed.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25, 2009

One of my nieces came to stay with us for a couple of days this past week, which was wonderful. The boys really enjoyed playing with her and I enjoyed her company also. I was also able to take some time out to declutter the house, which felt great.

I recently ordered a few new (new to us but used:) books for the boys so we were receiving a book here and a book there all week and it felt like Christmas:). I so enjoy receiving new books and the boys get real excited about new books too.

I dropped by my favorite used bookstore yesterday to see if they might have the Square Foot Gardening book. They did not have it but I ran across a new kid's section where they are now separating out kid's books that have won awards so I had fun looking through those. I found the book "The Mitten" (I think that's the name), which is an adorable Ukranian folktale. When I got home, the boys wanted me to read it to them right away and then they asked us to read it to them several more times that evening. They really liked it. It is a cute story. I did not find the gardening book I was looking for though so I am thinking about ordering it. It looked like it would be a good book to have, since I really want to start doing a bit of gardening (vegetables).

The boys are both doing great and we have not had any further illnesses around here, after our couple of colds at the beginning of the winter, for which I am very thankful. Ben continues to do wonderfully with the potty training, especially if the reward is an M&M or gummy bear. Nick has really surprised me at how well he has done lately, most likely due to the candy rewards. He is still very hit or miss, however, and he wears pull ups full time. Ben wears them if we are going out to church or somewhere where a bathroom might not be easily available, although I think we are probably being overly cautious with this, as he is quite good at waiting until we can get to the bathroom when he needs to go.

The boys have so much fun playing together now. I am always hearing one of them call the other by name and say "let's play puzzles" or "let's play trucks" or any number of other things they like to play together. They play very nicely together most of the time, although they have their moments, like all children

One of the things they like to do now is a little flip-over thing when they are jumping on their mini-trampoline. It has a rail for them to hold while they are jumping and they like to pull their legs up, put them over the rail and then push off and flip their legs over their head and land on their feet. My niece was showing them how to do it and helping them learn when she was here last week and now they are pretty good at it.

As for bedtime, it seems we are regressing in that department. We never made any further progress really so we decided to move the chair back into their room today, although I'm not so sure I have given up on this completely yet. I am still considering finding some kind of stories for them to listen to while they fall asleep. That might be just what we need to keep them in their beds. If anyone has any other solutions, I would love to hear them.

I really have mixed feelings about it because I know this is just a temporary age-related issue. I have recently thought I should just enjoy it while it lasts and maybe read to them or something, while they are falling asleep. I think I will pray about it for a while before I make a decision about which way to go next.

As for eating, they still pretty much eat anything and everything. We were at a Home and Garden show yesterday, the boys were hungry for their snack, we had accidentally left their bag with the snacks in the car and it was very cold outside. So we stop by the snack bar to see what they had to offer. They had the usual menu of burgers, hotdogs and such. When we were standing there reading the menu, Nick said "I want rice and broccoli". We usually have pizza on Saturday evenings and last night was no different. I usually fix a salad to go with it, so it is not 100% unhealthy. Last night I fixed a big salad and I like to put a little fruit in with all of the veggies. Ben ended up eating a huge bowl of salad, while a slice of pizza sat on his plate untouched. I think he may have finally eaten it, once he finished his salad. That child really amazes me though. He would be quite happy as a vegetarian, I believe. He eats tons of fruit and veggies. I always give him big servings of veggies with our meals and he normally asks for more. When we have a snack, they will both frequently ask for baby carrots with whatever else they are eating.

We were eating out one day and the dad had spinach on his plate...the cooked kind that Popeye used to eat. They wanted to know what it was and then they wanted to try it and they both said they liked it. I, on the other hand, don't even like to look at it:). They like to eat and they like to try new things, although there have been a couple of times recently when Ben said "I don't like that" when I put something new on his plate. I told him that I knew he would like it if he tried it because it was really yummy so he tried it and he did indeed like it. There was something recently though that I told him I didn't think he would like....can't remember what it was now. He tried it anyway and, I was right, he didn't like it.

Well, I think I have sufficiently made up for my lack of posts lately so I had better sign off for now and go spend some time with my cuties.

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19, 2009 Part 2

Nick, pretending that Ben is daddy: "Read to me daddy". And Ben is more than happy to oblige. This was one of the books they have memorized, I think.

Nick: "Mommy look! I made a snowman". (Poor kid; we have not had any snow yet this year:)

January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 18, 2008

Two years ago today we picked up our sons from the baby home in Russia. Wow, it is hard to believe it has been two years already. We have all changed so much over the past two years. It is really amazing. All of our lives have certainly been blessed and enriched. My husband and I thank the Lord regularly for bringing our sons into our lives.

The other amazing thing is that I finally finished the boys' lifebooks this evening!! Yay!! I can't believe that I finally finished them. What a relief. I hope to take them to Kinko's tomorrow to have copies made.

In other news, Nick's face is much better, although we are still having to put ointment on it and make sure our humidity level is appropriate. The swelling is almost gone now, although it was interesting that his face was a bit more red when we were leaving church than when we arrive. I think their environment must have been very dry also. It's just that time of year I guess. Hopefully it will be all better soon.

Time for bed:).

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16, 2009

The boys woke up at 6:00am this morning. When Nick came downstairs, I immediately noticed his face was beat red. The right side is worse than the left but both sides are really bad. The right side even looks swollen, his right eye was a bit swollen all day and the inflammation has spread throughout the day. It has now moved to behind his ear and is moving around his eye, on the inside of the eye.

He had a bad episode with this last winter but we had not seen any signs of it yet this winter. We had humidifiers installed with our furnaces, downstairs and upstairs, and we were hoping this would fix the dryness issue in our house this year. We have had a lot of trouble getting the new humidifiers to work properly though. The guy came back out today and we think the downstairs humidifier is now working properly. However it seems the upstairs may have to be taken out and our money refunded, as it is not working at all. There is a pan under it to catch any extra water and it turns out the pan was full. I had noticed a dark stain on the ceiling in our living room yesterday, which should have sent off huge alarms in my head. We had so many other things going on though that I ended up forgetting about it. When the guy mentioned the water in the pan upstairs today, I immediately remembered the stain on the ceiling and knew right away from where it came.

The dad bought a large humidifier on his way home from work today and it is already running in the boys' room so the humidity level should be good in there when they go to bed. I boiled to large pots of water on the stove for a couple of hours this afternoon and that really helped the humidity level downstairs right away and it seems the furnace humidifier is now working (I think). So I think we now have the humidity level of the house in good shape again, which is good. Now we just have to get the inflammation in Nick's face under control.

He is such a good sport about it and it really does not seem to bother him much. It is very hot to the touch though and I can't imagine it is very comfortable. There were several times today when I could tell he was not quite his normal self today but, overall, he did really well considering. Hopefully we will see some improvement in the next 24 hours or so.

In other news, we sure did a lot of reading today. The boys really enjoy being read to and ask for it often. This morning, I read 9 books to them before they were done and ready to get down and play. I think that is the most I have read to them in one sitting and these are books that are typically listed for four-year-olds according to the books that I use to find good books, so they are a bit longer and more complex than the ones we used to read to them. We still have the simple ones too but they really like the books with more of a story now.

I really enjoy reading to them, although sometimes I struggle to stay awake:). I don't know why but it seems that every time we sit down to read, I start getting sleepy. There are so many books that I never read as a child, I am definitely enjoying picking out the books and reading.

Time to help get little boys ready for bed. Goodnight.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

January 15, 2009

Things have been pretty busy around here and yet there is nothing too exciting to report. The boys and I made our trip to OKC for the apostilles for our post placement reports and sent them off this week. That makes three down and one to go. Our last report will be due around this same time next year and then we will be done.

I took the boys to Target and let them each pick out some new big boy underpants, in hopes that would provide some much needed incentive. Since then, Ben has been wearing them each day and has not had an accident now in two and a half days. Nick, on the other hand, has an accident almost every time he turns around, or so it seems. I'm not sure what is up with that. On the afternoon when we returned from OKC, it was probably around 3:00 in the afternoon when we got home. Both boys put on their new underpants and N wet his pants six times that afternoon/evening. After that, he put on a pull up, since it was almost time for bed and I was out of sweat pants for him. I did laundry that night and let him start again the next day and he did the same thing. He sure seems to wet often and in smaller amounts. He tried again today and same thing. He likes to wear the new underwear but I have yet to see any progress in his ability to recognize he needs to go before he actually starts going. My plan is to wait until it gets warmer and then do the program that I did last time with him. He did very well with it at the time and he is older now so hopefully it will stick this time. Until then, I will continue letting him wear his big boy pants and "try" as much as he wants and I will encourage him and provide incentives and we'll see what happens. But, since it is so cold right now, he has to wear sweat pants or jeans and so it is not so easy for me to catch him as he is just starting to go and rush him to the bathroom.

I am very thankful that Ben is doing so well with using the potty. I would be going nuts if they were both wetting their pants this often. God has really blessed me in this way. It seems that it is usually one at a time that has an issue with something. It has saved my sanity.

I need to try to remember some of the funny/cute things the boys are saying lately. There have been several I have thought I would post about and then I forget them. One of them was Nick, the other day, telling me that I am his best friend. He told me this again tonight. It really melts my heart. The other funny thing is listening to them playing "stone soup", which is a book they like to read. They will pretend they are making soup and they will say, "mmmmm, this is good....but it needs something else" and the other one will ask what it needs and then they will think of all kinds of things to put in their "stone soup". Very cute.

Today, they wanted to sit at the table and color. I was just finishing up something before getting all of their stuff out and, while they were waiting for me, they started picking on one of the cats who was sleeping nearby. I told them to stop or they would not get to color. They continued with pestering the cat so I told them they could not color right now and sent them off to find something else to play. They both cried loudly, apologized and begged to color but I stuck to my guns. Nick tends to get over things like this easier/faster but Ben seems to take it to heart a bit more. They were in the library/playroom and I overheard Nick saying "let's play puzzles Ben!". I am seeing more and more that Nick does not like to see Ben upset, unless it is from something that Nick did, like taking his toy or hitting him or something. Soon after, I heard Nick say, "Ben, are you happy?; Are you happy Ben?". I think Ben said that he was happy. It was so cute and I heard him ask it again a bit later too. Very funny.

As for sleeping, Nick is staying in his bed much better these days. I am on night duty right now and they have both done very well. I had to go back in once because Nick decided he needed to go to the bathroom (and he did:). After that, they both went back to bed and I have not had to go back in since and they are both quiet now. So that's all good.

Well, boys seem to be sleeping. I'm off to bed myself now.  Good night.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

January 7, 2009 Part 2

Now that the boys are both three years old, we are letting them watch 30 minutes of television a day. We have a bunch of old videos that my sister gave us and we have some DVD's that were given to us as gifts so the boys have plenty from which to choose. I have started having my quiet time and reading my Bible during this 30 minute period so it is actually working out very nicely for all of us.

But here is the thing. Once their 30 minutes are up and we turn off the set and they start playing again, they frequently start pretending many of the stories or scenes they saw in the video/DVD. It is amazing how much they remember and I am surprised at how often they will say something or pretend something that is new to me and I'm thinking "where did they learn that". I will ask them how they know that or where they saw/learned it and they tell me what video/DVD it was on. It is incredible what the remember. They do the same thing with books we read too.

Now, thankfully, the videos/DVD's that we have are all very wholesome and have good messages. Some of them are Bible stories, many are Barney and then we also have a hodge podge of Winnie-ther-Pooh, Veggie Tales, Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, Madeline, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, etc. However, after watching my two three year olds running around pretending and reenacting scenes from what they have seen, I cannot understand how on earth people could say that television, movies and video games do not impact children.

We are very careful about what the boys watch. I don't want them watching anything that is scary or aggressive. They are aggressive with each other enough already. I certainly don't need to add to it. If something is the least bit scary they don't want to watch it and I am glad. They are great sleepers and I want it to stay that way. I really dislike most scary stuff myself so there is no way I would let my kids watch it, especially at this young age.

There are been several times when they finished watching their 30 minute video/DVD and they ran and asked me to read a book about something they were watching. Today we read Stone Soup after they had heard the story told on a Barney video. Oh, and they love to sing the I love you, you love me, we're a happy family song. It is so cute because they want to hug me and each other when they sing it. What a cute cute age three is turning out to be. Now if we can just get that potty training thing down, we'll be doing great.

January 7, 2009

Just when I think I have the boys figured out, something changes and I have to start all over again. I mentioned the other day that our potty training efforts and our bedtime efforts are not going very well these days. Fast forward a couple of days and, surprise, the boys are both doing better with potty stuff. Amazingly better. And I didn't do much of anything. Who would have thought.

Basically our situation was that nothing had changed with Nick since I last reported on this. He did great during our three day potty training exercise and even for a couple of days afterwards but, when all the excitement wore off, he was much too busy playing to bother with going to the potty and he could not care in the least if he ran around in dirty pull ups. He also put up a big fuss if I asked him to sit on the potty and try to go. I was really at a loss of where to begin again with him.

Ben was still doing a great job of pooping in the potty but he was using his pull up for peeing more and more often. I have had several people tell me that it would be easier to train two at the same time because, when one wanted to do it, then the other would to. Not. Don't believe this. It actually worked just the opposite in our house. Ben was trained to the point where he hardly ever had any kind of accident. Then he saw how Nick was not going to the potty at all and that seemed to work for him and he had more play time (or so it seemed), so he decided to start using his pull up for peeing also.

I really felt like I would be starting over again, for the most part. Only this time, they would kind of already know the drill and the excitement of the newness of it all would not be there. So, I was really dreading this when, all of a sudden, Nick decided to start using the potty for pooping. Boom! Just out of nowhere. He just decided. Isn't that nice? And, after I had a talk with Ben, he has decided to start using the potty all the time now, instead of peeing in his pull up. He wants to wear big boy pants again and I told him he could after he showed me he could go all day without wetting his pull up. He did that today with no problem.

So, it looks as if they may be getting to a point where they want to be potty trained. It will be so nice not to have to worry about pull ups, wipes and diaper bags. I can't even imagine it. Hopefully it will happen soon.

I think tomorrow I will take them shopping to buy some new big boy pants and see if that adds a little more incentive to the mix. Maybe if I let them pick them out, they will really want to wear them. I am hopeful that is all we need to get Nick back on the potty bandwagon.

As for our bedtime issues, we have had a very hard time keeping Nick in his bed at night. At nap time, they both usually do very well. They are so tired that they normally fall asleep within 10 minutes or so. We have had such a hard time with them at bedtime that we have now moved out bedtime a half hour. It used to be that we started getting ready at 7:30 and we tried to have them down by 8:00 but then they would play and get out of bed for about 30 minutes before they finally started to settle down around 8:30 and then they would both normally fall asleep between 8:30 and 9:00.

So, we have move out their bedtime a half hour so that they are going to bed at 8:30. We just recently did this so it is still a bit too soon to tell if it is going to help. They did settle down pretty quickly tonight though, I think. Sometimes it is hard to tell because Nick has figured out that if he walks softly we can't hear him. So I think he probably gets out of bed at times when we don't know it.

The dad was on the night watch last night and he ended up putting Nick in the next room for a short time, so he could see/understand what it would be like to be in that room by himself. We have been telling him that, if he doesn't start staying in his bed, we were considering moving him to his own room and he would be in there all by himself. He is a very social kid so I know he would definitely not like this. So hopefully it made an impression on him and he will start staying in his bed now.

If not, we'll try something else. You just keep trying until you finally find something that works or they finally grow out of whatever it is they are doing. Before I became a parent, I never knew how difficult it could be....but also how rewarding and joyful it is:).

I'm back to working on the lifebooks and I am so close to being done that I can taste it. I can't wait to finish these. It will be such a relief to have it done and to have books that the boys can look at and we can read to them. The lifebooks cover birth through coming home.  I can't believe it has taken me this long to do this. They are really coming out nice though. I am pleased with the results. I just hope that Kinko's can copy them and put them in a bound book so the boys will each have a copy they can look at anytime without worrying about ruining the original.

In other news, our post placement report should be finished tomorrow. I still have to make copies of the pictures, although I have them ready to go. I will review the post placement report and, if everything looks good, I will probably plan a trip to OKC next week for the apostilles and then I will mail it off. After that I will do a happy dance because we will only have to do this one more time next January and then we will be done. Yay!

I have also contacted a lawyer to help us out with our readoption here in Oklahoma. This is not required, although it will make it much easier for the kids if they need to order more copies of their birth certificates in the future, since they will be issued an Oklahoma birth certificate. I have to gather up all of the paperwork and then I meet with the lawyer next Friday. I'm glad to finally get started on this because we have always planned to do it but it somehow fell to the bottom of our priority list.

Sounds like they are asleep and, as far as I know, nobody got out of their bed this time. Yay!

Friday, January 02, 2009

January 2, 2009 Part 2

I thought it would be fun to do a comparison post, so here are some pictures of the boys from last Christmas (our first Christmas together and home for one almost year) and this Christmas.

That was then:
(Ben was not ready for Nick's hug:). If you click on the picture, you can see it better.
This is now:
The dad didn't want them to hold hands but I thought it was cute (I suggested it:).

And a few more....
That was then:
This is now:That was then:
This is now:
That was then:
And this is now:
Now wasn't that fun?? Boy oh boy, have they changed over the past year or what?? Both sets of pics were taken on the Sunday before Christmas, as we were getting ready for church.

January 2, 2009

I am constantly amazed at how fast kids grow up, especially during the preschool and younger years, which is what I am most familiar with at this time. Ben is now 3 years and 3 months old and Nick is now 3 years and 1 month. The speed with which they learn new things is absolutely amazing.

I have always been of the mind that puzzles are really great for little kids. The boys have recently really taken off with their ability to put together puzzles without help. It seems like it happened over night, although I know that is not the case. We have a lot of puzzles and they can now put most of them together without any help. Today the dad and I were sitting at the kitchen island, reading and talking. We did not know the boys had climbed up on a chair in the next room to reach the shelf where the floor puzzles are kept. They had gotten a puzzle down, put it on the play table and had put it all together by themselves. Then they yelled at us to come see. We were amazed. The floor puzzle is a 2 x 3 foot jigsaw puzzle with 24 large pieces but they had worked it many times before.

I recently brought home 2 new 25 piece jigsaw puzzles, because I had noticed the ones we have were becoming less of a challenge. They needed a little help in the beginning to work these puzzles. Then, a couple of days later, I brought home 2 new 12 piece jigsaw puzzles. The boys were both able to put the 12 piece puzzles together without any help the first time they worked them. After they did that, they got the other two puzzles out and were able to also put those together without any help. It seems that something just clicked.

After working the floor puzzle today, they got the alphabet floor puzzle and, for the first time ever, they were able to put 90% of it together without help. It was the first time that they actually said the alphabet each time to figure out what the next letter in the train was suppose to be.

I am also impressed by their vocabulary's and how they can easily carry on a conversation these days. Today, Nick walked into the room where the rest of us were sitting and said, "hi guys, what'cha doin'?". Ok, now I know we need to use a little less slang-sounding talk around here but he said it so casually, as if he had been speaking like this forever, even though it was the first time I had ever heard him say something like this. I know that example is not a good one for displaying ones vocabulary knowledge but I think they both have large vocabularys for their age, probably because we read so much to them and also they frequently ask what a word means when we are talking. Today, for example, I was explaining to them what the words sympathy/sympathic and empathy mean.

I have not been around children enough to know if all of this is average for children of this age or if it is above average. Either way, I am impressed. Kids learn so incredibly fast and they also have such a huge desire to learn to do everything.

Both boys are very into trying to dress themselves, which I think is normal. They can do the bottom half and are close to being able to remove a shirt without help, although they still have issues with putting on a coat. They can put their shoes on without help (Velcro fasteners). Sometimes Nick might need a little help with getting them on the right feet. I ended up putting a black dot on the inside of Nick's sneakers so they could tell which shoes are Nick's and which are Ben's.

They also try to be very independent in the kitchen. They get their own plates, bowls and cups and they like to try to spread the peanut butter on crackers and stuff like that. They have been practicing cutting things too but it has to be something easier to cut, such as a banana.

They are very into playing together these days and they are spending more and more time interacting in their play and pretending together, such as one is the patient and the other is the doctor. It is very funny to observe these interactions and I see it a lot after we have finished reading or they have finished watching their 30 minutes of TV per day. They have great imaginations and will frequently act out what we just read or what they watched on TV. It is quite funny to watch one of them pretending to be Peter Rabbit and the other one chasing him saying "stop, thief!", as he pretends to be Mr. McGregor. This is one of their favorites to act out.

Isn't it awesome the way God made kids?!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

January 1, 2009

We have been very busy Christmas-ing. My sister in law (SIL) came in from Arizona and spent about a week and half with us. She just left yesterday. (We're all missing you already!) The boys loved spending time with her, as did we. I enjoyed it so much more than when we took the boys to Arizona to visit her because it was less stressful having the boys here and in their own beds/rooms and stuff. We all had a wonderful visit and I tried to talk her into moving here but I don't think I succeeded:).

My SIL also took tons of pictures while she was here. All the ones I post are ones that she took. Unfortunately, we have very few pics with her in them, since she took most of them. We didn't even realize this until the night before she left and then it was too late. Of all people, I should have thought of this because I often think that about myself. I am normally the one to take most of our day to day pics around here so I am in very few of them.

This was our first year to send out Christmas pictures of the kids. We ended up receiving many also, which made me very happy. I so enjoy looking at the pics of everyone's kids and seeing how they have grown from the prior year. I always keep them around the entire year so I can compare them the following year.

We spent Christmas Eve with my entire family at my sister's house. We had our traditional fare of my sister's famous lasagna, along with all the trimmings, including lots of wonderful desserts. When everyone was finished eating, one of the kids read the Christmas story from the Bible. After that, my niece read a poem in honor of my grandmother (my dad's mom) who passed away this year. And lastly we opened our gifts.

Here are some of the pics taken there, including the who's who of my siblings and parents.
These first three pics are Nick, Ben and my great niece, all playing with the other's toys.
Here is the who's who mentioned above:

This, of course, is the husband, also known as the dad (he doesn't want me to use his name on the blog:). He is sitting next to my dad.
This is my lovely mom (MaMa) and she is holding her beautiful great grandchild.
Here is my dad again with his lovely wife (Papa and Mimi):
This is my only sister (the one who makes the best apple pie and also the best lasagna I've ever tasted - she is also my best friend:) and next to her is her husband.
Here are two of my three brothers. The one sitting in the chair is my sister's twin. They are a year older than I am. The other brother in the picture is a few years older than the twins.
And this is my oldest brother with his grandchild. He and I are the only two children, of the five of us, who have curly hair, although it may be hard to tell in this picture. The similarities end there however, since he looks more like my mom and I look more like my dad.
And now, a couple more pictures of the youngest member of our family get together. She is my great neice. Isn't she a cutie? Her sister is a cutie too (pictured above with the yellow hard hat on her head.) Isn't it wonderful that God makes little ones so cute?
If you click on these two pictures (above and below) you can see her beautiful blue eyes.And a couple more shots, just for fun.
This is the piano that will be moving to our house in the spring, since we didn't get to it before the winter set in. Aunt D showed the boys how to play the keys nicely with their fingers, rather than pounding with their hands:).
And the grand finale:
Yes, my husband can fall asleep anywhere. While he was sleeping in this chair, there was absolute chaos around him. The boys were wrestling with their cousins, all the kids were playing with toys and everyone was talking so it was very noisy.

We spent Christmas at our house with just us and my SIL. We had a very fun and blessed Christmas. The boys received some wonderful gifts. We only had to put together two of them, which was great. I always take everything out of the box it came in and, if it requires assembly, I put it together and then I wrap it. I think they enjoy it so much more when they open it when it is ready to play with.

Santa brought a mini-trampoline, which I think will come in handy for many years to come, since Nick has a lot of energy and I have a feeling he might be the kind of kid who needs some movement while he learns. I read about one homeschooler who would jump on the mini-trampoline while counting or working with flash cards or they would go bounce a certain number of times between subjects or something like that. The boys had both played on one at a friend's house so I knew it would be a big hit.

Santa also brought a parking garage, which is also a big hit, although when asked, the boys seem to always say that their big tape measure is their favorite gift. We have been teaching them how to measure things with their big tape measures. They also receive Tinkertoys, which I really like, and Lego's, which are also fun. I had never played with Tinkertoys before. They are so great for creativity. The boys really like both the Legos and Tinkertoys also and have been playing with them a lot. They received a toolbox full of playdough toys, which has been loads of fun too. So we now have lots of fun things to do to spur creativity.
We got them the leapfrog spelling thing that helps one learn how to spell three letter words. I kind of thought it would not interest them that much until they were a little older but they really like it. I normally try to stay away from toys with too many buttons or sounds but I have bought several of these kind of toys that help with learning the alphabet, letter sounds and beginning spelling. I really think these toys have helped them a lot so far.

My mom got them a riding toy that is a 'digger' (excavator) and it also came with a small hard hat. It is very cute and they both enjoy it and have done very well with taking turns, thankfully. It is often hard to share a new toy nicely but they have done very well this Christmas.

We also received a new zoo pass for 2009, which I know we will use a lot and some other toys, puzzles, books and CD's/DVD's. We all had fun while the boys were opening their presents because they wanted to stop and play with (or read) each present before moving on to another present.

We did stockings last, which I think was opposite than intended but, oh well:).
Ben is playing his harmonica, in case you couldn't tell what that was. It was a stocking gift. While they were opening their stockings, I was still building with the Tinkertoys:).
We should not have any issues with not having enough toys to play with for quite some time. Fortunately I had been busy purging toys before the arrival of the new ones. I am also sorting through all of our children's books. It is hard to keep up with them but I like to go through them every once in a while and sell off the ones that are becoming too simple for the boys.

Somewhere in here us three adults also opened our presents and stockings but that is not as interesting. Suffice it to say that we all had a lovely Christmas.

As for New Year's, we didn't do anything, go anywhere or celebrate anything. We didn't even watch any parades. We just enjoyed a quiet, normal day.

Hope you had a joyful holiday season.