Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Chicago!

I picked up the kids on Friday afternoon, in the minivan laden with suitcases, car seats, dogs, and a snowblower tied to the roof (to sell on craigslist in Chicago) and started on to Little Rock. Tonio had been at a conference in Chicago for the past couple of days and the earliest trip back to Houston wasn't until evening. I didn't want to waste the afternoon and not drive, so I suggested meeting him in Little Rock. I (!?!?!?!?) suggested it!?!?!? That was without knowing that right after getting out of the city we would be stopped for 2 hours on the highway for an accident. If you can imagine the excitement of going to Chicago, and then multiply it by 1000 because this was going to be a SURPRISE for my parents- the energy was palpable. And then we stopped moving. People were taking down their bikes from their roofs and riding along the shoulder and between the lanes to see if there was any news about movement forward. Dog and kid potty breaks in the bushes, 2 Disney movies, a sunset, and dinner finished: we finally saw brake lights as people began to turn on their cars again. Yay!!! And the whole time I couldn't call my mom to tell her what was going on because our trip would be a surprise! We made it to Little Rock at midnight instead of 9:30pm and the last hour I was so tired. Tonio kept me awake and "followed" me on his computer on google maps as I told him what bridge I was passing under or street I was passing. The next morning we got up and started on our way. We finally made it to town around 6:30pm. We had planned the story for weeks!!! I called my mom and was very distraught (ie biting my cheeks not to laugh) telling her that Mingo had escaped from our backyard (she had done this once before). We talked for a minute about how worried we were, and then hung up before the shrieks of the kids and squeals of excitement would give her a clue about our plan. We were just down the block! We ran to their backyard with the dogs, and let them run crazy. We were hoping my parents would hear their barking and peek outside, but the dogs wouldn't bark. They were so happy to be running around they wouldn't make any noise- just sniffing around. Finally we found a ball, they barked and barked, my mom looked outside and we heard her say "I wonder if it's Mingo! haha" When they realized it was, it was awesome.
We had a fantastic time seeing our friends, cousins, family, visiting the Science and Industry Museum's Christmas trees from around the world, and eating a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner! My sister and her boyfriend also surprised my mom, so instead of Thanksgiving for 6+ a baby, they had 10 adults, 4 kids and a baby- now that's a Thanksgiving dinner! A full, loud, happy table! The drive is worth every minute!!!
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Toothpicks and Marshmallows

A box of toothpicks + a bag of mini-marshmallows= a telescope, a car, a person, a tower, a bug house, a snake, an ant, a pearl necklace... and of course a huge marshmallow fight!! I wonder what Ricky was thinking as he stuck the "sticks" into "sticky white things." He definitely liked to eat them though!

Maya's love still smothers a bit sometimes:)- today I heard Vivi say "Maya he can't breathe!" I came running and Maya was assuming a similar position and smiling "I'm just hugging him Mommy."

Making structures with marshmallows is a lot harder than I thought, but the kids had fun and got their sugar intake. I think they were too fresh and soft- maybe a little more stale would hold together better (seriously, am I analyzing marshmallows as a construction material!?).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Unofficial homeschooling

Since we won't put Ricky in school until next year, I am trying to build his vocabulary and curiosity a bit at home. His language is coming along really well and quicker than I expected- he can have a basic conversation in English and Spanish, knows his numbers, body parts, some animals, and can sing ABCs in both languages. We're working on "dramatic play-" and lucky for him his 3 older siblings are constantly pretending, inventing and imagining. In our house we don't really watch TV, and I think that this encourages the kids to make up games and activities. Ricky loves getting dressed up and is slowly joining the kids in their schemes instead of standing on the outside and watching (though he does find them very entertaining!). The big kids are always asking me to do "experiments." I'm not sure what is so appealing, although I have a feeling they like the messiness and unpredictability of science. Their favorite was the baking powder and vinegar, and I think they are waiting for the next big explosion (we'll have to try a volcano one time.... outside). I found an old used book on amazon called "Literature-Based Science" that ties children's books to science activities that I have been using. Also there is another one I took a bunch of copies from about developing critical thinking or creative thinking (I can't remember the name of it!). Some of the experiments take several days, and the kids have a hard time waiting to see the results: putting balloons in the freezer and under the bed, planting different seeds in different materials, putting a wet and dry pieces of bread in baggies, and placing a wet one and a dry one each under the bed or in sunlight, checking what liquids evaporate faster under what circumstances, or here placing chalk in water and in vinegar. "Why can't they go faster? Sometimes they take so long mommy!" It's all about predicting what the kids *think* will happen, making observations on what actually is happening, and then drawing some sort of conclusion.

I always loved science and I hope that doing these little "speariments" (as Maya says) will pique their interest.

Monday, November 1, 2010

50's Day!

Celebrating the 50th day of school with a 50's party! Check out my cool dude greaser and my pink hula-hooping dolly!

They had hod-rod races:

Root-beer floats and races to balance the 50's style drive-up trays of hamburgers and milkshakes:

Who doesn't love parties in school with all your friends?