Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's Happenin'!!

We have been a busy little family over here, although doing not much that is likely to be interesting to anyone else :-)  However, you are here visiting (Funny how at moments it almost feels as if I have opened my front door and said "Come on in!" here on the blog!), I will offer you a Diet Coke or a glass of iced tea, and I'll gab a bit about what we've been doing lately.

I spent the last couple of days before my trip to Memphis and the first 2 days of this week preparing a package to submit to our "cover" school.  We are hoping to take advantage of the remainder of the funding we have available to use for our trip to Washington, DC in May.  We are traveling for what will surely be our very last time in an airplane as a family, for we could never come up with airfare for all of us again.  We have frequent flier miles we need to use by August or lose, and so we decided that we would use them for a once in a lifetime trip, going some place we'd otherwise never get to see.  The timing couldn't be more perfect as we are going to attend a cultural festival of sorts for Kyrgyz adoptive families while we are there.  We have old, very dear friends we are going to visit, and...guess what?  We decided that since we can take a train for less than $250 for the whole family, we are going to go to New York City as well!  Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art...and of course, for Matthew, the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.  It will be the first time ever we have gone anywhere as a family someplace totally new because we simply wanted surgery involved, no adoption stress, etc.  I am sure it will likely be our last trip as well.  If we don't get the funding, NYC will be strictly seeing what little is free.  We have already done a fair amount of learning this year that ties much of this together, and we have much more planned for the next two months.  In order to qualify for using our remaining funds this way, we have to have a lot of documented learning to back up our request, and we also have our friend Mr. Steve teaching us a class on Washington, DC. 

I laughed when the administrators at the school said "This is EXACTLY what this program was designed for, to allow students the opportunity to learn in new and creative ways.  The documentation necessary for such a trip is intense, and many families don't take advantage of this rightful opportunity because they feel the process is too complicated."  Complicated?  This measly little project?  Ha!  I scoff at that! I am an International Adoptive Mom, I am an EXPERT at complicated paperwork.  This is a cakewalk compared to all we have been through in the past.

So on Tuesday afternoon I walked into the school office with a banker's box full to the brim with documentation.  :-)  Nooooo problem! Hahaha!  Now we wait to hear in a few weeks if we are approved.  If so, we will be able to have a SUPER amazing educational trip.  If not, we will STILL have a SUPER amazing trip seeing every possible thing for free that we can find, and in DC that certainly won't be too hard.

Part of the preparation for the package was that each of the kids had to write a short essay on what they hoped to learn on the trip.  This all gets submitted to the school board.  They had fun writing it, as well as other essays on the films we have watched and other activities that tie in.  Here they are, hard at work.  I know it doesn't look like it, but seriously, they were!
This winter this has been the favorite place for school front of the fireplace!

A soft sister makes a great pillow!

Did you know I had an extra student?  Sunny is always in the middle of it all.

We have some interesting school projects lined up to finish out our year.  Although we will continue to homeschool throughout the summer, it will be a lighter schedule.  The kids have already accomplished so much this year!  But the fun has just begun.  We are beginning a basic comparative religions project where they are each assigned a religion to research and will create a display board.  This will be terrific to help introduce them all to research skills and resources available to them.  Even Joshie is in on it and it will be interesting to see what each comes up with.

I also came up with what I thought was a terrific idea.  Each of the kids will create a book at the end of each year and illustrate it.  Then I will get it bound at Tikatok , which I found through Barnes and Noble.  I thought it would be a wonderful way to end each year, and if we follow through and do it each year it will create a nice keepsake to compare how their writing changes over the years.  I am doing this with a bigger culminating project in mind for their senior year in high school.  There is a curriculum out there that is designed to help high school students create their own adventure novel in one year.  I have t his idea that  we will have each of the kids do that as their senior year writing class, then have that bound as their huge final writing project.  What a neat thing, if I can pull it off, to have lower level books authored in their elementary years to sit alongside such a huge final project at the end of their school years.  It might be something I don't pull off, but it sounds like a good idea to me now!

We are going to create lapbooks about colonial times and about the White House, and these should take us awhile to complete too.  We have several movies in mind to watch, as that really seems to help cement things for Kenny, and in fact are midway through a 3 hour biography of Thomas Jefferson, who is a fascinating dude :-)  We plan to try and fit in Monticello, so this is a good introduction to the history of it.

Let's see...what else?  Oh yea, the kids had the first of two porcelain doll making classes last week, and we encountered the most lovely woman who was teaching them.  She is in her late 50's and was actually State Foster Family of the year several years ago.  I can see why...she is delightful, and the kind you can tell is plain old gifted with kids.  Our kids ended up being the only ones in the class, and when I went to pick them up she and I chatted for quite awhile.  It is always nice to get compliments on your kids, but there are certain kinds of compliments that are more meaningful than others.  I don't really care one whit if my kids are deemed good at something by others, but it means a lot to me when people notice things about their character.  She asked me "Are your kids really always this kind with each other, or is this an act for the teacher?"  When I shared with her that we were indeed very blessed and they indeed really did enjoy each others' company as much as they appeared to, she smiled and said "It has been so nice spending the afternoon with them, I don't think I have ever been around a more pleasant and decent group of kids."

I'll take that over "brilliant" or "talented" any day of the week.

Olesya is doing quite well with her sewing class, and we are sneaking in math skills that she is probably totally unaware of practicing.  She LOVES it!  While she is far from her mother in this area, I bow down to my obvious Domestic Goddess daughter in the making. 

As part of our science curriculum which we just finished, we were excited to watch butterflies and lady bugs grow from pupa to adults.  Josh, in particular, was fascinated (no surprise there, huh?):

Something about those hands that are as beautiful to me as the wings.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Matthew...straight from the tropics!  Thanks to our incredible substitute teacher and blog reader, Lael, the kids were transported to Samoa when she shared about her travels there while with the kids.  She is such an incredibly intelligent, gifted woman...and generous to a fault. Want to see what Matthew has been wearing ALL WEEK LONG around here?  A lavalava!  It cracks me up because on him, it looks so appropriate.  He looks like hs is right at home in it!

He loved it so much that he almost wore it to the store, but chickened out at the last minute.

As for me, I received a surprise invitation to work at another homeschooling fair in a month, this time in Duluth.  Yea, I's Duluth and I know that isn't anyone's idea of a lovely getaway.  But I was honored to be asked to do this again, and will thoroughly enjoy it, I am sure.  Dominick will be done with ski season and knowing he could handle more with the kids he encouraged me to jump at the chance.  So Duluth, here I come! Hahaha!

So now it is time for me to get some sleep.  I am fighting a bad cold, and with the time change I will be losing even more sleep after a bad night last night coughing.  Dominick and I have a floor full of kids tonight, all of whom I think are finally asleep.  Shhhhh....let's not wake them!  G'night!


Anonymous said...

Just home from a get-together for families from the same agency with kids from Guatemala. We've been going for years, but the faces have changed. Always very good to chat with other moms of older adopted kids.

Hey, "Night at the Museum II" includes the Air and Space Museum, complete with Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis. If you haven't seen it, the kids would have fun seeing some of the same Washington DC sites as in the movie. Lincoln stands up from his chair at his memorial. Can't remember what all, but fun.

Duluth has some very fun sites... wish your kids could see those things, too. There's a train depot museum, ships to tour, meritime museum, etc. Another trip.

What an amazing oppotunity, with or without funding, but hope you get it!

Nancy in the Midwest

Heather said...

OH cindy, Wish we had that type of funding, etc in our state. It's either go to the public schools or nothing! You're on your own! So nice that that is available!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Duluth, set on a hill that ends at the shore of Lake Superior. Have a fun time. Wish you would have time to see the Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls. Someday, perhaps, you'll have a chance to take the kids there.

Meantime, do I get a day or two with the kids while you are gone?

Waiting for my turn,

Christina said...

As we did one day in DC this summer on our way to NYC and did one day in NYC and one day in Boston..... WE LOVED our trip as a family.... I just know that you guys will LOVE it too! We were able to do a boat ride all the way around Manhatten, and then went to a brownstone house in Brooklyn and then to the top of the Empire State Building at night... but the kids biological family paid for this adventure... A day at the Statue of Liberty would be AMAZING!

In DC we had one day and did the American History museum. Kendra cried on the way out, she didn't want to leave.... we stayed until closing. We hope to go back again soon. We packed lunch and dinner and ate on the mall both meals. Other than paying the parking metor, it was free!

I hope your trip is approved! It will be great!

Kelly and Sne said...

Wow - what a great opportunity for the family! It will be very educational (I still get a thrill when I visit DC - and I lived there for a few years!) and every one will have a great time, I'm sure. A former colleague (who was sr mgmt so well off) used to take his kids all over the world. But they would study up on the history of a region first then visit, say, the Loire Valley in France to see the real castles where the kings and queens they had studied actually lived. I hope to do something similar with my kids someday - I just hope the frequent flier miles last that long. Our first real family trip will be to Kazapalooza. Yes, we decided to turn it into an extended family trip rather than just a weekend since we have to now buy 4 adult airplane tickets - ouch! In any case, this will be our first real trip that doesn't involve visiting relatives (or adopting!) so we are really looking forward to it too.

Hilary Marquis said...

Making plans to see you in Duluth!

Anonymous said...

Nicholas says, "you have to see the bureau of engraving in D.C."
I'd choose Monticello for sure.
Dominic loved the Air and Space. Plan for plenty of time there. Also, the Bascilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a great study in art.

Have a great trip!
Teresa F.

Mala said...

Looking forward to meeting you in May!