BRAT - (noun)

Brat- (noun)

1.A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one.

2.A child of a career military person.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What we do when we are bored...

We have had a lot of snow and ice around here lately... as everyone has because, well, it's January! We find weird, I mean interesting, ways to entertain ourselves!
Spring can not come soon enough!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Colonial Day

Last Friday Joshua's 4th grade class had their big activity day for the year, Colonial Day. It was the culmination of much of what they have studied this year. Josh borrowed a costume from our neighbors. I think he looks quite "dashing"!
For me, the highlight of the day was the strings concert. This is the first time these kids have performed. Most of them (Josh included) just started their instrument a few months ago. They did really well - very few squeaks or wrong notes.
You can see the top of Josh's head in this picture. I don't know if they were sitting by height or by "chair" as they would rank-wise in a real orchestra.
Josh did a great job! I think he felt the same way, by that proud smile. Priceless!
After the concert the kids sang and danced for us. Here Josh is doing the Virginia Reel with his partner Maddie. Maddie is also one of my piano students, so it was extra fun to see them dance together.
Josh told me a few weeks ago he wasn't too happy about this whole "dancing with a girl thing", but at least he was happy he had a nice friend to dance with, instead of one of those annoying girls.

Bow to your partner...
And a do-si-do...
Love this shot! I think he had a lot of fun.
In the morning the kids made Colonial crafts and did activities. They made old fashioned toys, candle dipping, and made butter. After the concert they did a food tasting. I was in charge of food - we have the best parents in 4th grade! They sent in some yummy homemade applesauce, bread, corn fritters, beef and buffalo jerky (which smelled disgusting but the kids loved it!) and ginger cookies. It was a fun day, but I have to admit, God knew what he was doing when he put me in this century. I'm not sure I would have fared well as a pioneer woman.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who Knew?

I am sure that most of you knew that the Martin Luther King Holiday was also known as the "Take Your Kids Ice Skating" Holiday. But this was news to me! After driving around for half an hour looking for a parking place and lacing up those skates, we took to the ice. It was just me and the younger 2 kids and our friends the Kimbles, and I was excited to share this fun past time with them. I loved skating when I was younger, and when they build an ice skating rink in my hometown my sophomore year in high school, we used to frequent it quite often. I never could do a triple lutz or anything, but I was pretty elegant on the ice.

Today, that was not the case. I realized very quickly I am MUCH older than I used to be during my skating days, and very quickly I began to feel muscles I did not remember having. But no worries, because I did not stay on the ice long. We did not fall or anything, but Michelle is not a skater. She began yelling the minute we got on the ice. I couldn't tell if she was scared or hurt or mad, but the kid was letting out some serious discontent with the whole situation. We finally took a break halfway around, and got big brother to help a little with some hand holding, but once we reached the entry point on the other side to the ring, she was done!

Josh loved it! He had a wonderful time, and I don't think I will have to rock him to sleep tonight.
Believe it or not, Michelle is sound asleep in this picture. She slept for an hour and a half on my lap while Josh and our friends skated.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Needing some advice!

I would love to have some of my blogger friends weigh in on this one! We have to decide soon if we are going to send Michelle to kindergarten next year or not.

PROS - I think in many, many ways she is ready - she is doing well in preschool, her speech is coming along and while not perfect, she is certainly understandable to everyone. She is curious and loves to learn. She knows all her letters and numbers, can "sound out" some simple words, do sequencing and patterns. She plays well (most of the time) with her peers.

Next year, she ages out of homebased speech therapy, so regardless of if we send her or not, she will have to go to the elementary school to receive speech therapy.

And, from a family dynamic, I would like to see her go. I have a second child graduating from high school next year. I will be 43 years old next year when she starts K5, and I will be a whole lot older than that when she graduates from high school!!! I know by today's standards that not really that old, but I have been a mom for a long time, and I'll admit, there is a part of me that doesn't want to still be doing this in my "golden years". Also, we think we will stay her in the D.C. metro area for a while longer, but as long as my hubby is still in the Army, there is a chance we could move again. I would like for Michelle to not have to face a move plus starting school all at the same time. And, I have always seen a big leap in her developmentally each year towards the end of the summer, so even with some my concerns I'm fairly confidant she might make another big leap before next school year.

CONS - She is not at the bottom of the class socially, but she is not at the top either. She is not as socially savvy as some of her peers - she is tall for her age, but still in many ways seems younger than some of her peers. She doesn't always sit still, sometimes she seems really hyper. She does very well now going potty at school, but I wouldn't say she is always 100 %. (more like 97%)

Because she was adopted at 2 years and 4 months, I know she missed out on a lot the first 2 and half years of her life. I get that maybe she could use a little more mommy/home time. I don't want to push her ahead and later regret it if she struggles in school just because I wanted a little more free time.

So, I would love to hear from some of you mom's who have faced this same issue.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Glad Monday only comes once a week!

Monday's are my busiest day. In Fairfax County, Monday's are a half day of school so the teachers can use that time for planning their week. So, Monday is a big piano day for me. I usually teach nonstop from 1:30 - 6:00 p.m. Nine students back to back - by the end of the day I am usually working with a minimal number of brain cells.

Monday morning after I drop the kids at school, I spend most of the morning trying to pick up from the weekend, throw in a couple of loads of laundry, figure out what I can put in the crockpot for dinner, and then rush to get everyone home from school and settled before the revolving door of piano students begins.

My little vice, sanity saver, whatever you want to call it, is McDonald's sweet tea. I normally hit the McD's drive through after I pick up Michelle, on my way to get Josh, and get the girl a happy meal and myself a Large sweet tea to get me through the day. I sip on it happily as I listen to my students play and it just makes the time a little more pleasant.

(NOTE - I know McDonald's is awful! My teens have sent me video's about the horrors of happy meals. Please don't judge me because I hit the drive through - I am doing the best I can here!)

Yesterday as I was teaching, Michelle was really fighting for my attention. The deal is, she stays in the other room with Josh, coloring or watching t.v. or whatever, and I give Josh a little spending money for babysitting for me. But yesterday "The Princess" was in rare form! She kept coming in, interrupting my lessons, and demanding my attention. I had to get on my "mean-mom/yes-I-mean-business" attitude and tell them both they better stay out of there until I was through teaching!

So, as soon as one of my lessons was over, I was standing in the door with my sweet tea in hand, talking to one of my parents about her son's progress. Michelle came running up to me, trying to get my attention. I ignored her and continued with my conversation. After a few minutes she came back again, did something to my cup, and ran away. It wasn't until she returned with a roll of paper towels that I realized what she had done - taken a pencil and poked a hole in the bottom of my cup. What a stinker!

Did I mention I am beginning a Bible study in February at our church on parenting? Sounds like I will have plenty of real life examples!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My hope endures

I will admit, this time of year is not my favorite. I am not a winter person - I like warm weather, being outside. I tend to just want to hybernate in the winter. And once Christmas is over, I can't find too many winter things to get excited about!

And, I am having a hard time getting motivated getting back into the routine of school and all it brings. I am sad to have to take Lizzy back to school tomorrow - it's been so sweet to have her home, and I miss her already! My parents came to visit for a few days over Christmas, and it makes me realize how much I miss my extended family. And Bill is leaving this weekend for a short trip - it's only a couple of weeks, but I think my already "blue" attitude is making it hard for me to think about him leaving.

So, yesterday I sang with our church's praise team. And we ended with "Amazing Grace" - that hymn is so much a part of my faith, sometimes it's almost like slipping on a warm sweater. Comforting, but in a cozy, familiar kind of way. But as I was singing it, one if the verses really became new to me - "The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my Hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures." I was so overwhelmed as I sang those words that the God who made the world and holds it together, still cares for me. He has promised good things for me, even in the blue, cold, lonely days of January. Jesus is my Hope, and God has promised to be my protection and my portion (enough to satisfy my soul) if I will just dwell in Him and His Word.

Yesterday I sang those words with my lips. Today they are still ringing in my heart. I pray they will continue to resonate deep within my soul as I go through January.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Year in Review - 2010 - aka "the substitute Christmas letter"

Every year since we have been married (22 to be exact) I have sent out a Christmas letter with pictures, updates, etc. It's a great way to keep in touch with so many people we have met over the years. But this year, I just didn't have it in me. So, in an effort to still record our year for posterity, I decided to include a "Year in Review" for our blog. (Actually, I got the idea from Teresa at one of my favorite blogs!) In an effort to keep things managable and not bore you all to tears, I will keep it to one picture each month and try to keep things short and sweet. January brought us the musical! Lizzy had the lead in Guys & Dolls. Our whole family kind of centers around this for a while - it's a group effort, helping with cast meals, set building, photos, rehearsals and getting extended family members to and from performances.
February (and much of our 2010 winter) brought snow. And more snow. More snow than any of us have ever seen. Snow-mageddon as the media called it.
February also brought travel and auditions. Six colleges in 5 weekends, up and down the east coast. It was fun and exhausting all at the same time, but a neat way to preview schools with Lizzy.

March brought rest, a time to regroup a little as a family. Bill Jr. played with his school's guitar ensemble.

April brought baseball. Josh had a fun season, we caught a couple of Nationals games. It was good to be outside once again.

May brought friends from afar. We were thrilled to meet Kai & Jade - our blog friends (and part of our LuoHe connection.) Bill Sr. missed out on the fun during one of his trips to Afghanistan to check on our nations soldiers.

June brought graduation. And lots of parties, family & fun!

July brought travel and reunions. We met up with some of our travel group friends (and extended that to the Berter's since they were so close by) in Kentucky for a reunion with all our kiddo's. We also traveled back to SC for the Merritt family reunion and vacation time with family.

August brought still more travel. Cape Cod to see Grammy. Settling Lizzy into college life. Another trip back to the Middle East for Daddy.

September brought a princess pool party for a certain 4 year old. And it brought a new school year for us all. And 20 music students for Mommy. (Yikes!)

October brought a visit to Lizzy to see how she is doing with college life. She loves Duquesne, and we had fun visiting and seeing the sights in Pittsburgh.

November brought a beautiful Fall - one of the nicest I remember in a long time. It brought progress for all the family - Michelle doing well with preschool and speech therapy. (It's hard to believe we ever worried about her communicating - she is quite the chatter box.) Josh progressing with cello, Bill Jr. in guitar and beginning his college search.

December brought a new driver and 17 year old to our house. It also brought a 2 year Gotcha Day celebration. And a college student returning home for a nice long visit. And family. And a lovely Christmas.
Once again I am reminded how richly God has blessed our family in this past year. We wish you and your family a wonderful year in 2011.