Tuesday, January 28, 2014

100 Days of Homeschooling

Friday marked our 100th Day of the 2013-2014 school year! We started off with 100 jumping jacks, 100 seconds of dancing, finding 100 cents and counting to 100 various ways. Then Selah and Gabe wrote as fast as they could to see who could write their names the most times in 100 seconds. Selah won - Gabe had just put lotion on his hands which added so much more complexity to the task! HA!

We spent the rest of the day playing board games and having a pizza picnic party. 

We love having indoor picnics. I put down a table cloth and they eat on the living room floor - most of the time while watching a Redbox movie. On this day, they watched VeggieTales. 

It was a fun day and a fun way to celebrate all the hard work that they have done this year! I am proud of these munchkins!


This weekend Selah went from this smile:

To this smile!:

She lost a top front tooth! She even pulled it herself! Her smile will never be the same again. She is growing up so much. 

Here are a few other pictures I snagged of my big girl this week - just for fun.

And one with her brothers:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Immigration Approval!!

Last week I got a phone call from our adoption agency. They had received a letter from the Immigration Department saying that some documents were missing from our application for immigration. We received the letter the following day as well. The problem was, I knew I had included the documents they stated were missing! I waited until the next morning and then I called the USCIS. I was sweating. Missing documents meant more time to wait on our approval at the least - a denial at most. YIKES! Luckily I spoke to the officer in charge of our case. She looked through my file and found the "missing" documents. They were just filed in the wrong place. She told me to disregard the Request for Further Evidence (RFE). I asked her then when we can expect to receive our approval. She told me "Today. I am going to do it today. Of course, you will have to wait for it to come in the mail, but it will be done today." Well, yesterday evening - it arrived!!! 

This is an exciting moment in our process!! This little paper is the LAST document we needed to complete our dossier!!

We now need to get the approval (I-800a) notarized, certified and authenticated. Once that is done, we will send our completed Dossier to our agency. They take about 10 days to review, translate and bind it and then it goes to China!!

Keep praying! We are getting closer and closer everyday! If you would like to help us financially, we would be so blessed. There is a link at the top right of our blog here where you can donate to our adoption fund. All donations are tax deductible and go straight to our agency. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting ready for the Grand Prix

The AWANA Grand Prix is just around the corner! Both Gabe and Selah are entering the pine car derby this year - so on Saturday we went to the workshop to start working on their cars. 

Last year Gabe went for style - he had a very creative lizard car last year. Unfortunately, the lizard car moved about as fast as our lizard, Leia - which is not very fast. (Evidently this is why leopard geckos make good pets for kids - they can be caught and held easily!) This year, Gabe is going for speed! He designed his car with a low profile after seeing that other "flat" cars went fast in last year's race. 

Selah wanted to make a hot pink VW van. She and Byron worked hard at rounding out the body and then Byron lightly traced the design onto the body for her to paint. I decided that we would get started painting the cars on Monday as part of our art lesson for the week. While working with Gabe on his stripes, Selah saw bright pink paint and started painting everything on her car pink. Then she decided to paint the back part black….most of Byron's careful design is now covered by black and pink paint. She is going to incorporate some groovy peace, flower and heart stickers into her design. This car/van will be all her! 

I'll post more pictures as the cars are finished and of course - I will keep the blog updated on how the race goes! They will be racing their creations on February 15th! 

By the way, I have added a new feature to my blog! Toward the top of the left hand column, you will see a place where you can sign up to follow this blog by email. Each time I post, you will get an email with the post sent right to your inbox. Signing up will not cause you to get any junk mail - just my posts. I have tried it myself for the last month or so and it is great! You can always remove yourself from the emails if you get bored with me! This is a great way to keep up to date on our adoption and the kid's lives. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Chinese New Year

During the summer Byron and I had to take 10 hours of online parent training each to complete our home study requirements. Part of the parent training recommended that we find ways to celebrate our new child's culture and background. We have done this with our three biological children already. I am of Irish decent, so on St. Patrick's day we have an Irish dinner and read about Irish culture and listen to Irish music. Byron is half hispanic and so on Cinco de Mayo we celebrate their hispanic heritage. It only makes sense to celebrate our adopted child's heritage and culture as well and we decided to start right now! In China they have a big celebration on the start of the lunar new year (this year it is January 31). Here in the USA we call it Chinese New Year, but in China they call it the Spring Festival. This year I decided to mesh our New Year's traditions with some of the Spring Festival traditions to celebrate our New Year in honor of this being the year we will bring our little one home. We may have just started some new Serna family traditions, though! 

One of our New Year's traditions is to hide a dollar outside on New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day we go outside and bring our hidden money in. This is something my mom did with me every year. She said it was for a prosperous year. In China on New Year's Day the children are all given money in red envelopes. Red is a symbol of luck in China. To bring the two together, I placed our dollars in red envelopes and then on New Year's Eve, we all hid our envelopes outside. 

On New Year's Eve in China, they celebrate with a big feast. It usually consists of soup and Chinese dumplings. We had dumplings, egg rolls and rice for dinner - and ate with chopsticks! We each got a fortune cookie for dessert as well.

After dinner we had our second annual Minute-to-Win-It competitions!

Our first game tied in our Asian theme - we placed marshmallows in bowls using chopsticks. The person with the most marshmallows at the end of a minute won a point for their team. We played boys versus girls and the boys won. I told Selah it was ok - next year we will have an extra player on our team to even things up.

After our games it was about time to ring in the New Year (in Brazil). We headed downstairs and got our poppers and noise makers ready. Then we counted down the new year. 

Selah changed our year sign from 2013 to 2014.

The next morning we went out to find our red envelopes:

We had decorated the day before with paper lanterns, dragon puppets and oranges. It is also tradition in China to "sweep away the bad luck" on New Year's eve - so we cleaned house on New Year's Eve, too. 

In China instead of the Parade of Roses, they have a dragon parade. We made dragon puppets and then had our own dragon parade.

Another tradition of ours is our New Year's cake which has a trinket in it. Whoever gets the piece with the trinket in it gets a dollar! 

Selah found the trinket!

We had Shrimp Gumbo for dinner (with black-eyed peas in it). It was a beautiful day, so we also took a trip down to the park. It was a great start to the new year - and we have SO MUCH to look forward to this year!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas 2013

What a blessed Christmas we had! The Stepanovs came over to help us celebrate - and we always have fun when they are around! 

We started out on Christmas Eve by making home-made pizzas for dinner. 

After dinner we decorated sugar cookies...

We also baked chocolate chip cookies for Santa. We had home-made hot chocolate and then opened Christmas Eve gifts. (We have one gift to open per person on Christmas Eve and it is always pajamas - so that we can have a Christmas Eve pajama party!) Then we all changed into our pjs and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

The next morning the kids ran downstairs to see if Santa had come.

We opened gifts....lots of gifts.

Tali is loving Spiderman this year. She couldn't wait to see if Santa had brought her a "Spectacular Spiderman" toy. 

And don't worry - the Hulk didn't crash our Christmas...this is just Adrik.

We then moved on to our stockings which were completely filled with goodies....

and underpants...

Adrik decided all of his stocking loot needed to by lined up to appreciate it more. Good job little guy!

It was a beautiful day - so after we were dressed and ready for the day we headed to the park and took a nice Christmas hike.

Such a fun, messy, and loud Christmas. Hope yours was too!