Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rainy day activities

Grandma Pam came up to the lake for a visit to wish dad a happy birthday.  Happy 72nd Birthday Dad (yesterday)!  I am glad 72 isn't what it used to be....he's still as busy as can be.
Aunt Pam brought leftover fabric pieces from quilting and the kids were on it, making lists of all the things they wanted to make.  Poor mom got sucked into a project and it took a bit of work to find all of her sewing stuff.  It turned out to be really fun for the kids and for Aunt Pam and mom who both love that stuff.  
Here's Reggie sewing for the first time.  They worked on different projects today and Khalif will do his project tomorrow....doesn't appear that the rain will go away anytime soon.
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 The twins came over to visit

We've also spent a little time doing hair....
I have been trying to have the kids do some chores and school during the break.  They've been picking raspberries everyday, unless it is raining and working on their lists which I brought with me (it is a whiteboard with what they need to complete in order to get their chore money).  It is so nice to have fresh fruit right out in the yard!  We've also been reading and typing (Khalif writing) during the week and it is going pretty well.  We have to have a little structure!  The kids are picking up typing pretty quickly and I'm hoping by the end of the summer we can race.  I tested online to see where I am at and I did 85 words with no mistakes...not too bad!
Rain or shine, we've been doing quite a few bear hunts.  So far, no luck, but we have found droppings and tracks and have smelled them.  Grandma took us to the area where there was a confirmed den last year, but we didn't see any.  The quail did scare us half to death though.  We were all on alert after that.

Even though we haven't seen a bear yet, Ainsley did find a spotted owl.  We were so close to it and it was the most amazing thing to look at.  Not sure why it was out and about at 4 o'clock, but we were blessed by God's creation.  I find myself looking up a lot more to see if we might find another one.  Unfortunately, we were on a bike ride and I didn't have my phone, so no picture.

4th of July

The weather took a turn and it has been chilly and cold for almost a week now.  The 3rd wasn't so bad and it was good the lake did their community fireworks on the 3rd because we woke up to rain and the parade was a downpour.  It cleared off a little for our party, but it wasn't the warmest 4th.  There was a small crowd, so it was all good.
Fireworks on the 3rd:
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Rainy parade:
The weather was good enough for fireworks and the kids spent a lot of time on the beach lighting them.  Wade was a great pyrotechnician!
 Video of the kids:
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Reggie is turning into a little pyro to Ryan's delight!

After dinner, I took Lacey and Destiny on the tube and we had a great laugh.  Her kids were egging me on to make her dump which eventually she did, but it took a lot of fancy driving.  After that, her kids wanted to go.  Reggie was watching and I know he thought they were crazy!  Lacey was encouraging me to make them dump and they were loving it.  Eventually, Destiny fell of, likely because she couldn't feel her hands from the freezing cold and gripping so hard.  I couldn't get a picture because I was driving, but they caught some serious air!
Cute picture of Ainsley and Marley:

Birch Bay

I booked a night at our timeshare in Birch Bay for Liha, myself and all the kids and it was an adventure for sure.  We got there a bit early and our room wasn't ready, but I checked in anyway.  It was awkward to say the least since we had an extra child (room capacity was 6) and Reggie pointed that out and then Ainsley as well as I was checking in.  My sister had not arrived yet with Khalif and Spencer, but she had to know what we were doing based on the confusion the kids were having.  Ainsley called me a liar and sinner, of which I am both.  I do have to say that in general hotels/cruises/food packages are very unaccommodating for families of 5.  Everything is made for 4 :o(.  Anyway, enough of that rant.  All the kids went swimming, except Reggie, so I stayed with him and recovered from my embarrassment.  I didn't feel so bad after we waited and waited and they were an hour late in getting our room ready.
The next day we woke up and it was beautiful sun, but the clouds rolled in quickly.  Not much fun for the water slides, so we finally decided to rent an 8 person bike and tootle around a bit.  It was actually a bit of a work-out and we warmed up quickly.  Liha developed a blister from the seat, so the kids took over and were troopers.  We found a candy/cookie store and got some dessert for after lunch.  By the time we got back it was starting to get really warm and burn off.
 Picture courtesy of Spencer
Spencer snapping a selfie...I photobombed!
Since we already had tickets to the water slides, we decided to go for it, knowing it would be a bit chilly, but hoping the lines would be less.  We lucked out...the sun fully came out and although it was breezy and cold, we managed.  There was hardly anyone there, so we went up and down several times on each slide.  The kids had a blast and I had a great time too.  I think my favorite was the black slide that was completely dark, but really warm or the intertube ride.  Liha loved that she ended up with a kid-size inner tube, but didn't know it until she was on her way down.  She asked the guy what would happen and he said she would fall off when she hit the pools and that she did!  Ainsley said it was really funny to watch her, but I'm not so sure she agreed.  We sat in the hot tub a couple times and everyone was ready to go after a few hours.
 Khalif rockin the big slide


Long drive and water skiing

Our drive this year was the most enjoyable yet!  We stopped 6 times, but I guess it was the right balance of entertainment because there wasn't much complaining (and since we only have battery on the mini DVD's for one movie, that's pretty good!).  We made it in 14 hours and 45 minutes.
We wasted no time enjoying the lake and sun as the kids were out in the water the next day.  Ainsley had a whole year to think about water skiing and decided to do it first thing.  We had to bribe Reggie last year and it was much more costly that Ainsley..... she did it for 5 pieces of licorice!
We had to bribe Reggie again this year, but it was worth it because he was on real skis, holding the rope to pull himself up and it wasn't quite so easy.  He was very upset that he didn't get his Kylo Ren for the Wii U Disney Infinity, so he gave it another try and in less than ideal conditions, he went half-way around the cove.  He was pretty proud of himself!

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The kids have been tubing, riding the tricycle, playing in the sand and on floaties and Ainsley went paddleboarding on her own board all the way out to the point with Khalif and I next to her (he is my front man).  We hit a few waves from a jet ski, so she decided to paddle sitting down, but she managed.  We have noticed lately that she is a lot more willing to try new things and it is fun to watch!  Reggie is coming around too, but the little man is pretty cautious when it comes to certain things.


VBS and other fun

The week after school the kids had VBS at Cedar Grove Church.  We just love it there!  This is the 2nd year that Reggie has been a craft volunteer and he had some fun stories about some crazy kids.  They have great snacks which is the real reason he enjoys it so much!  Ainsley and Khalif had some of their school friends there, so they really enjoyed it as well.  They always have such great messages for the kids.  Next year, Ainsley will be a volunteer....she is getting so old, they are all growing up so fast these days.
We managed to squeeze in the fair before we left.  The kids got free tickets from school, so that was nice!  We saw an acrobat performance and the kids were amazed.  I think we are going to have to get Reggie some juggling balls, so he can work on that art.  He was into the yoyo this year and learned all kinds of tricks and was amazed watching the juggling guy.  Khalif and Ainsley enjoyed going on a few rides.  Ainsley and I went on a water ride and that felt nice since it was a hot afternoon.  We all enjoyed curly fries and cotton candy!  We visited the reptiles and petting zoo (this is always crazy funny) and wandered through the exhibits.  I keep encouraging them to work on something to submit...we shall see.  On our way out, they had the Budweiser Clydesdale's and they were so impressive.  They are so amazingly large and we learned that they sleep standing up for about 10-15 minutes whenever they need as we saw one dozing off.  That sounds miserable!
 I took a selfie with the Llama...that was a challenge and surprising we were both in the picture!

This guy was pretty amazing:
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We also went to the Compassion Project.  It is like visiting a 3rd world country without actually having to go there.  It followed 3 children and told their stories and it was really eye opening for the kids.  I hope they realize how lucky they are!

We spent a little more time working on the yard and have the Bocce/pathway almost finished.  I didn't take a picture with all the progress, but this is the start and the kids and Ryan were playing frisbee on it.  We had many games of Bocce before we left and Reggie and Noah played putt putt golf.  In the process of moving things around, I broke the sprinkler line and didn't know it until the water came on.  Oops...Ryan is getting quite good at repairing sprinkler problems!  We just have the walkway left, which is the hardest part....it will be nice when it is finished!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It is finished!

It was confirmed yesterday by Khalif's attorney that the appeal is finished and there's no chance for another appeal!  Finally, the timeline went our way...it was supposed to take another year.  The timing was super awesome because about a month and a half ago, we had a discussion about why the adoption was taking so long.  I was honest and told him that Jonathan was the reason and I never expected the response I got.  It sent him into a spin.  He couldn't understand why he would do that and was asking if I would talk to him.  I explained that I had already done that several times and he was so frustrated and angry.  He kept saying, "Doesn't he know how much I want to be adopted?"  It wasn't good.  We talked through the entire process and he had a lot of questions I couldn't answer, like, "Can the court move us up?", "Can Jonathan take back what he's done?", "Can the judge make him stop?", "What happens if he wins the appeal?"  Poor kid was thinking about this day and night.  He brought it up to me the following night and we talked through it again and then he told Ryan the next night that he couldn't stop thinking about it, he would do something for awhile and then he would start thinking about it again.  I finally had him write a letter to get it out and that seemed to help.  The beautiful thing is that he started praying every night for the adoption to move quicker and boom, 3 weeks later we got the news.  I told him that God heard his prayers and he answered them in a big way!
If all goes well, everything could be done by the end of the year and he'll be part of our crazy family :o).

End of the school year

Last day of school:

The end of the school year was fast and furious as usual!
It was such a great year for all the kids and the move to our new school was such a blessing.  Reggie already had a group of friends going there, but he made some new ones that are really good kids and he came so far in figuring out how to study and manage his time (and not panic when he had lots of homework).  The first 2 quarters, he was barely hanging on to straight A's, but the last quarter, he had really high A's and felt pretty confident in his grades.  He told me it seemed that school was getting easier :o).  If he got straight A's all year, grandma and grandpa would split a WII U with him, so he had great incentive and worked really hard.  He has been enjoying it a lot since we got to Washington.  He was also given an IB trait award for being open minded at the last assembly of the year.  We were a bit surprised by this, but I guess in certain situations, his teachers see him that way!  Who knew?
A very happy boy:

Ainsley had a very busy end of the year.  She had a big project with classmates where they came up with a business idea, applied for a patent, made their product, promoted it through a poster and commercial and then sold it to their classmates.  She made a lot of "Walker" dollars and was able to buy some fun things at the end of the year.  We also went on a field trip to the capital and train museum.  It was a fun day, but really long.  
You can see her teacher photo bombing the picture!

She was also recognized at the end of the year assembly for being 1 of only 2 students to get a 4.0 for the entire year!  This school is a little more academically challenging and she really wants to excel, so way to go Ainsley!  It was sometimes difficult with her gymnastics schedule, but we used car time and weekends and she ended up cramming for a couple tests and it is good to know that she is able to do that and come out o.k. if necessary.  It is quite a balancing act!
She has a great group of friends and spends most of her recess teaching them gymnastics. Here she is with her best bud, Makayla, who happens to be her teachers daughter (Ainsley is a giant!):

We also had her gymnastics banquet which kept me quite busy.  I did the awards, coaches gifts and senior gifts and was very happy to have it finished!  It was hard keeping everything a secret since I knew well in advance who was getting special awards.  Ainsley was given the hardest worker award for level 5 and they said some really nice things about her.  
Khalif had a great year!  His teacher said he came so far in so many areas and is such an amazing reader.  He was having some behavior issues the last week and it was a bit frustrating, but we were in the car driving to swimming and he said to me, "I am having a lot of feelings about school ending."  He was nervous about next year, sad to leave his teacher and friends for the summer, but also excited to go to grandma and grandpa's.  We talked it through and the next morning he woke up a different kid.  It was then that I realized what had happened....Something was bothering him, he figured out what it was and brought it up to me!!!  What a major break through!  Makes me feel like some of the therapy and all the work we do might be paying off.  Very impressive for an almost 7 year old.  He has had a lot of growth this year...we just need to figure out how to keep track of water bottles and jackets and we'll be golden!
With his teacher, Mrs. Mahoney:
This was too cute.  Khalif couldn't find his friends on the last day of school and Ainsley offered to hang out with him (one of her sweeter moments).
The 3 seahawk fans!  He asked his teacher for this picture :o).