Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Today, Andrew counted out 100 marshmallows. His class is doing a 100th day of school celebration. What was really cool was that Andrew counted by twos as he made groups of 10.
Until today, I thought that this 100th day celebration thing was unique to our school. I was excited to see that Kathy's daughter did the same thing today. :)
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Rachel is working hard on math..... mainly division. She is getting stronger with her multiplication by checking her division. Her spelling is getting better as she practices them by also putting the words I give her in alphabetical order and writing them in a sentence. We are working on her speech issues and I worked with the school to get her some unofficial speech services.
Sveta is at a plateau. I knew it would happen eventually, but not so soon. I hope it is not definite. She is only 10. I think I'm in a bit of denial because I am pushing her harder than I probably should be. Her test scores are either staying level or they have dropped slightly. Her speech is not getting any more intelligible... in fact she is getting lazy with her pronunciation because she feels comfortable with the limited English language she has learned. Things that I would assume she would know by now, she doesn't. She can write the numbers 200-300 in order, but if you give her a book and ask her to find the page 231, she may find it 20 minutes later if she is lucky. This is the first step we have been taking with her in teaching her how to look up something in the bible. I just give her a page number to look up. Maybe I am expecting to much. Sigh.
I have not had time to post anything substantial these last couple of days(at least in my opinion), and I often wonder how other people do it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy knowing that I am involved in my children's education, but boy, if I did it full time, I would probably never be able to post. is anyone willing to share their secrets here? :)
On another note, I also have been in a dilemma about what to post. I have some topics on my mind, but am not sure how well these subjects would be received. I have thought about posting about sexuality and what I have noticed in my children at different ages, or the effects of making the decision to put an older child a couple of grades below their peers, or what it is like to raise virtual twins when they are socially and emotionally at different levels. I would really appreciate some feedback here.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The girls worked over at Grandma's house one day not to long ago. Afterwards, she always gives the kids something whether it be money or some little gift. This time she gave them a nice set of sponge curlers in a little plastic bag. That very night, three of my girls put their hair in curlers. Here is Anna and Sveta.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Honestly, I couldn't control myself. This man looked over at me and brightened up the whole room with his smile. I might have been the only one that noticed. It filled me with such warmth, it would have been impossible not to smile back.
This man probably has one of the most tender hearts on this earth. This man also has Down's Syndrome.
Just thought I'd share because he made my day brighter.
Monday, January 21, 2008
My girls love when I make this for them. It is a little taste of Russia and Ukraine that always brings a smile to their face. I've also come to enjoy this healthy and delicious drink that is wonderful hot or cold.
Put 32 oz. of mixed berries in a big pot. I make two batches at a time and use the whole 4 pound bag from Costco.
Add one cup of sugar.
Add 12 cups of water.
Ladle 1/4 cup of the sugar water into a bowl and dissolve 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Add back to berry water. Cook on medium, bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for at least 1/2 an hour. Serve hot or chill. Add a squirt of lemon juice for a little extra flavor.
Our daughter Annalyn celebrated her 10th birthday yesterday! This is her second birthday that we have had the privilege of sharing with her. Here is a picture of the three of us. Earlier in the morning, John took Annalyn out for his usual "Birthday Breakfast with Dad" before church.
Annalyn really wanted a coconut cake, but believe it or not, the store was out of that mix and she had to settle for white cake instead. I did get coconut ice-cream however.
What happened to blowing out the candles with one breath? None of the older kids seem to be able to do this anymore. I'm sure her wish will still come true!
Annalyn got to invite a couple of friends. This was a very special day for her, and she handled the excitement quite well. What was for lunch ----Homemade chicken noodle soup with broiled sourdough bread. Oh and don't forget Annalyn's favorite --- Homemade compote.
We did crafts! Thanks Aunt Connie and the rest of the Egyptian crew for the wonderful things from Oriental Trading. All the kids had lots of fun making beautiful postcards.
Annalyn is quite the artist!
Many of the kids enjoyed scraping off all the black to expose the colorful background.
Even older brother Adam had a good time.
Opening presents lasted like 8 minutes. Some of her presents includes a new skateboard, alarm clock, clothes, Full House DVD set, gum, pictures frames, and money. And of course a new book from my blogging friend Kathy.
The kids also made bracelets. What a great activity to strengthen fine motor skills.
I had to coax Sveta to make a bracelet, but once she started she made me a beautiful necklace.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This morning, I put together a cupcake holder to use for Annalyn's birthday tomorrow and Jonny decided to do this. It was very cute in this Mama's opinion.
Anna and Dolly sat next to me this morning for a long time, as I sipped my cup of hot water. It was nice to have a slow morning.
Julia and Rachel are on their way to a chess tournament. This is Rachel's first time participating. We'll know more later, as we get updates after each game. :)
Friday, January 18, 2008
Last night, I was reading a Strawberry Shortcake book to the girls. One of the characters in the book, I think Angel Cake, needed to borrow some butter. She was presented a stick of butter in a beautiful covered butter dish, and the girls thought that was just so special.
"Why don't you have a pretty butter dish Mama?" asked Annalyn.
"Yeah, Mom, why don't you put your butter in something pretty?" Sveta chimed in.
"Girls, I put the butter on a plate because it is easier to get from a plate instead of a little square dish. Plus, we use the butter so fast that it doesn't need to be covered."
Real translation. Mom is too lazy to add an extra step (removing the cover each time) in her food preparation.
"But I do have one that I can show you," I told them.
"We want to see it Mama!" Sveta, Annalyn, and Anna squealed.
"Will you use it one time too?" Anna asked with much excitement.
"Sure I'll use it pretty soon."
To have such excitement over something so trivial still marvels me. Kind of like when I get a new kind of hand soap out. They go crazy, and think I am the best mom ever.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
When I was upstairs in the bathroom checking on the girls while they were showering, she informed me,
"The conditioner is all over Mom. We need new one."
So I got them out a new bottle of hair conditioner.
Tomorrow is Crazy Hair Day at school. The kids are so excited..... especially the girls. Tonight after their showers, they wanted to experiment with hairstyles. It was really touching for me to see the way they came together to help each other....... especially Rachel and Sveta who's relationship with each other isn't as strong as with some of their other sisters. I''ll have to post the final pictures in the morning after they go to school. They were in bed before 8pm so that they could get up a half hour early to work on their hair. Oh, boy!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
John and I flew to Russia to meet our daughters in May of 2005 for the first time. We were very thankful and felt very blessed to be invited to take a tour of their orphanage in Ivanovo. We had heard that some families were not even allowed to see where their children slept let alone video tape the whole orphanage, so I consider this a priceless memory that I am so grateful to have.
In the beginning of the tour we walked into an entry way that has a wall lined with coat closets for each of the kids. Above them are pictures of the kids that I was very interested in because Anna and Sveta might be in them. Sure enough they were, and later I came back and took stills of them so I could have a picture of a picture of them when they were younger.
Soon, we walked into the playroom of Anna's and Sveta's group. We were surprised to see so many toys for the children. I found it kind of old fashioned that our translator told us "This corner is only for girls," when she pointed to a bunch of doll toys.
The children were eating where we later found out was where they not only ate, but also had group learning time. I can still remember many of the children's names. Artom, Yulia, Sergei, Natasha, Misha, and Angelika. Do you know the child left behind syndrome you feel when you connect with another child and wish that you could adopt them too? Well, I felt that way about Artom and Angelika, and to this day I wonder how they are doing. I know that Artom, a precious little boy with a missing hand, was adopted by a Spanish couple, but I don't know what ever happened to Angelika.
Though I didn't show it, I remember how seeing all of those little beds lined up next to each other in that little room made me very emotional. To think that my Sveta would be going to sleep there tonight without me to tuck her in, was very hard. It broke my heart thinking about how all those beds would soon be filled with little boys and girls come bedtime who had no one to kiss them goodnight.
But on the other hand, I was very thankful that my girls were lucky enough to be in such a good orphanage. It could have been much worse.
Later, they took us to a place where they kept their pet parrot. A pet parrot. Can you believe it? Sveta told us that his name was Mashinka.
We took a quick look at the bathroom, but honestly, the smell was pretty bad and so we didn't stay long.
In one of the hallways was a book shelf filled with crafts that each of the kids had made. It was amazing to see how artistic these children were. Just look at the little figurines and paintings!
As we walked out of their group's area, we passed a mini kitchen that we told was where the children got to role play what it was like to live in a family with a mom and dad. They wanted the children to learn what it was like to sit down at the table and have a meal with their family.
I was impressed that these caretakers wanted to provide this experience to these children, but again it made me come to the realization that many of these children's only opportunity to feel what it is like to be part of a family is through this role playing. How heartbreaking.
We left the older children's group to visit the other side of the detski dom where the younger children are housed. Again, I was surprised to see how many pets they had. Maybe those pets were there for therapeutic reasons to help the kids learn how to love and care for a living thing.
As we finished our tour, John shows us what the children were watching on television. It was interesting to say the least.
"I'm sorry Daddy," he said.
"Now ask Daddy do you forgive me?"
"I forgive you Daddy. My foot doesn't hurt anymore."
John and I chuckled. I guess Jonny misunderstood me.
BTW, it wasn't that hard and John is fine.
This is my lunch today, not Jonny's. He will most likely eat half of a plain ham sandwich and a banana. What do you eat for lunch?
Also, I wanted to promote these cookies again made with chocolate pudding instead of vanilla. They are both great either way.
I've just noticed that my last two posts were about food. Hmmmmm, can you tell that I love to cook and eat food yet?
Monday, January 14, 2008
A couple years back, I found a recipe for babyback ribs that used currant jelly and fennel. Since, I've cooked these ribs at least a dozen times, varying the recipe and cooking method each time. Tonight, the ribs turned out exceptionally moist and juicy with just a hint of fruity sweetness and licorice. This is a recipe worth sharing. This is a hit with all the kids (except for Julia and William who I lovingly, and in a short order cook kind of way which I normally never do, left a portion of ribs plain for them to eat) who normally would not eat regular barbecued ribs.
Strawberry Glazed Babyback Ribs with Fennel
3 slabs of baby back ribs (the big pack from Costco)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup strawberry jam (tonight I used homemade and it was by far the best batch)
1 teaspoon of fennel seed ground up with a mortar and pestle
Lay ribs on a rack with a pan underneath to catch the drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place on middle rack in a 325 degree oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, mix jam and fennel seed together to combine flavors. After ribs have cooked, take out of oven and lather 1/2 of jam on the rib side up. Cook uncovered an additional 20 minutes. Repeat with other side for an additional 20 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes, then cut and serve.
Yes, this is a cracked bowling ball.
Before I say anything else, I want to apologize to whomever may have given it to John (I'm thinking Mom and Dad) for breaking a perfectly good bowling ball. Well, I didn't break it, but when John gave the kids the green light to go ahead and do whatever they wanted with the ball, I didn't resist.
He wanted to get rid of it anyways. It was either give it to Good Will or let our kids spend a good solid hour trying to break it. They bowled in the street, they had a shot-put event, took a hammer to it I think, and eventually broke it.
I'm sure I heard Anna say that this was the best day ever!
Technically, this was also an educational experiment, because none of us even knew what the inside of a bowling ball looked like until today. This may even count as a public service to all of you reading. I bet you didn't know what the inside of a bowling ball looked like. Plus, it was interesting to learn just how solid and durable one of these things are. The kids must have thrown it up in the air to let it drop, a gazillion times. Kind of like seeing how may licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. How many drops on the pavement does it take to break a bowling ball?
Very educational. :)
I still feel bad for ruining a perfectly good bowling ball that someone else could have used. Kind of wasteful I admit.
On another note, How do you like the new look of my blog? Just trying to make it look as hip and cool as all of yours. :) I especially love the wide three column look with the big picture headers, but it ain't gonna happen any time soon. As it is, I spent way too much time editing the HTML code to make these changes, and I still didn't get it the way I want. Oh well, I guess it will be a work in progress.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Annalyn after many attempts, begged John to pull her tooth. It was a stubborn one.
She was very happy to have it out.
So, it looks like the tooth fairy will be visiting again tonight. Two nights in a row visiting our home, I'm sure she can't wait for a vacation.