Visit from Family and International Fair

Jill, Rob, and their three kids came up on Valentine’s weekend. We had a pretty full house, but it was fun. The kids spent a lot of time playing downstairs in the family room with the little girls’ new dollhouse and the dress-up clothes. It was a bit too cold and muddy to play outside except on Monday before they left. Church was interesting as we don’t normally have nursery right now (only because we don’t have the volunteers most Sundays), but this Sunday I was able to recruit a friend to watch the kids during the sermon. Benji was in my arms quite often. When I wasn’t holding him and he wasn’t nursing or sleeping, James usually had him. He really wants to bond with this boy cousin of his. He’s always loved babies and enjoyed holding them, but Benji is kind of special to him. He’s already planning on playing with matchbox cars and trains and dinosaurs and teaching him about how to make his own super hero to pretend to be. After church on Sunday, we went out to a restaurant which the kids love. It has dessert included with the meal, so the adults got pie (which we all brought home because we were full) and the kids got ice cream (James had jello). We all really enjoyed visiting and I wish we could have gotten out and about more. I hope they can come sometime when the weather is nice and warm and we can go out to the Forest Preserve to hike and go into Chicago to see Millennium Park and some of the shops on Michigan Ave like Hersheys and Lego.

And now, on to the 4-H regional International Festival.

The kids’ 4-H group did China for the regional International Festival yesterday. They all worked really hard to make sure they had learned a lot and did lots of different crafts of things from China. They made tom-tom drums, Chinese lanterns, firework sparklers (not real ones, of course), cherry blossom trees, terra-cotta soldiers, a clay dragon, a buddha, a replica of the Great Wall of China, and they all collaberated on making a big parade dragon. Some of the crafts were done by all of the kids and some were just done by a few or individuals. James made the little clay dragon. Amie helped a lot with the paper mache on the big dragon and along with Christine and another girl, painting the poster we used. AnnaBeth helped me make some Chinese sweet rolls on Saturday to take because all the groups had to have a type of bread.

Anyway, it was a ton of fun just making all of that… so now, on to yesterday.

During the presentation to the judges, Amie was one of three kids who explained about why we chose China and the different crafts we did. She and Christine both helped do the public presentation, but neither had speaking parts in it. James was also in the public presentation… under the big dragon. He was the third (and last) kid in the dragon. He loved it. We enjoyed going around and looking at the other groups tables and seeing what they had. Most of them had store bought stuff on their tables (the only store bought thing on our table was a betta fish, also called “The Chinese Fighting Fish”). Anyway, the kids enjoyed asking questions of the other groups and learning about different countries. At the end, the guy presenting the awards starting listing who all had gotten blue ribbons or green participation ribbons and we kept asking, “Did you hear our group?” Nope, it wasn’t in there. Then he announced the runners up. By this time, we were so excited. The winners were announced… HOMEGROWN CLOVERS!! Woohoo! Anyway, we are heading to the state International Festival in August down in Springfield, IL. Noelle and AnnaBeth might be visiting friends or family during this time as they weren’t quite as interested in participating in the actual festival and got a little bored.

Homeschool Group, Meetings #7, 8, and 9!

I know it’s been a while since I updated my blog. It’s been a whirlwind of craziness around here.

This first blog post will be about the last three meetings we had with our homeschool group. I’ll do one tomorrow on the visit with my sister and her family last weekend and this weekend’s regional 4-H International Festival that our homeschool group participated in.

On January 21, we had Benjamin Franklin and his wife visit our group. James and Christine found him interesting and asked him lots of questions, but most of the kids were bored with him. He didn’t have a prepared program and he just told the kids to ask him questions about his life. If we had known he was going to do this, we would have told the kids to be prepared with questions, but as we didn’t most of the kids didn’t ask anything. He also talked a little above the kids sometimes so it was harder for them to understand. It was kind of neat to see him and his wife all dressed up though, so that was a plus.

On February 4th, we had a drama group come and present the Bessie Coleman story. The kids really enjoyed that. My kids were able to give a lot of details to Jeremy that evening after church when they told him about it. I’m hoping they can do another presentation for us in the future. In fact, our church has been doing a “Who Am I?” thing for Black History Month since the majority of our congregation is African American and each person has been someone who has overcome big odds to realize their dream. Amie presented what she learned to Pastor and one of the deacons on Wednesday and they let her do it this morning for the “Who Am I?”. She still remembered so much because of how well done it was. I was quite proud of her. She just had to stop and question me on one detail that she couldn’t quite remember.

On February 16, we had our Valentine’s party. Think about this… a normal classroom has 30 kids of the same age. Our group has 60 kids of various ages. I had to make sure that EACH of my kids had enough cards for all the kids. That’s 200 cards. Anyway, we got there and placed their valentine receiving boxes or bags on the card table and then let them congregate while I worked the Welcome Table. They had a stereo set up at one side of the gym with movable walls around it to block off a “dance floor” and some of the kids were over there. We had 2 new families and at least 3 visiting families, some of whom may join our group. My kids really hit it off with one new boy and I enjoyed visiting with him mom. We had pizza brought in and after eating, sent the kids over to the table to distribute their cards before attacking the dessert table. (I brought my Chocolate Cheesecake Mousse… by request.) After having dessert, someone put on the fun dance songs. You know, the hokie pokey, the chicken dance, and some line dances. It was about 30 kids and 3 moms out there having a lot of fun dancing. Yes, I was one of the moms because I love having fun, plus it hopefully worked off some of the chocolate. All in all, it was just a fun party time, but that was fun and needed and my kids came home with a bunch of valentine’s cards and some candy too, but thankfully not much.

Anyway, that was the last few meetings we had. Our smaller 4-H group met a bunch of times in the last month and a half to get ready for the regional International Festival that was this afternoon. We met on our regular days (second Wednesday of month) and at least 3 other times that I was able to make and once that I missed. BUT as I said before, I will tell you about that tomorrow.