The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is coming!

What a year for Christmas this has been! No blog updates, because I can hardly get the tribe fed and the work done. Yesterday I cooked all day to prepare for today. The annual cheesecake delivery team has just left the house giving me a moment to breathe.
Every year I make cheesecakes for friends and the team delivers them. This year -- I could only get out six. One driven to Jerome's work last night -- a night with ice coming out of the sky. We almost ended up in the ditch cheesecake and all - but mighty prayers saw us through.

We made our trek for the Santa picture. One of my favorite things is to line the buffet with the annual pictures. We have them starting with Riane alone up to this one:

Last year I was wondering if we would ever have six kids to put in the picture and here they are! Mary said "I am not sitting on that man's lap." Well, I want a good picture. Alas, there was no need. Wokelle was happy to sit up there and he really liked his coloring book. In the mall, there is always an elderly man that runs a little train ride for a dollar. The kids think it is a great treat. Wokelle came out of the mall saying "A new book AND a train ride!" Yes, it was good day.

We had the church Christmas play. The theme was S.O.C. C. E.R. Saving our Christmas Carols Emergency Rescue - hence the soccer jerseys. All of our pictures turned out fuzzy so I will only post one. You can see Braydon, Ricky and Mary in this shot.

Riane had a part too - she was behind the piano most of the time. Wokelle came up with the pre-schoolers in the beginning as a shepherd. Adela was a mighty encourager from the pew (public performances have never been her thang!). Braydon had an actual part, Ricky and Mary both had scripture verses. Despite Mary's schooling issues, she memorized her part and said it perfectly - choked me up, but moved a friend of mine to tears. When we see God's hand working in the lives of children it's truly awesome.
We've also had some challenges this season. Grandma made it in -- even through the snow in Las Vegas. However, she was held up in Charlotte and it was late night.
The furnace in our house blitzed out one windy evening this week. We had one cold, shakin' night of attempted sleep and woke to a house in the 40's. Jerome worked like crazy to fix it before he left for work. The 30 minutes before he left the house fell apart. The heat was working, I was trying to take a shower -- and Braydon was blow drying a pipe to keep it from freezing -- Wokelle wet his pants, the dog wet the floor and the water turned off -- I still had conditioner in my hair! Jerome fixed the water and I told him to take off for work where life would surely be easier. What a day!
We are all on track now and ready for a great dinner with the fam tonight.
Oh... and the Christmas card thing .. they are coming .. I hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Land of Sparkle and Shine

The land of sparkle and shine is frozen! A freak snowfall to be sure. It had to happen the night my mom was flying out to spend Christmas with us. Her flight was cancelled and we hope to hear from her today on a reschedule plan. Enjoy the snow desert dwellers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Misc. Comments and Pictures

Updating my blog used to be one of my favorite things to do. Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed and haven't been able to think enough to compose a sentence. Part of that Christmas Cheer I suppose. I finally did get all the decorations up that I intend to put up. We will have only one tree this year. Mary and Wokelle were so excited to help with all the decorations for the first time and Adela and Ricky were crazy with memories. It was wonderful and a bit sad for me. I loved that the "middle" kids are so excited, however, my Riane, who used to be the one most lit up for decorating was MIA this time. She has grown up and has lost interest in some things. Can't wait to get them to get out of diapers, and then I want to hold on for dear life as they actually do grow up.

Our family tradition is for me to pick out a special ornament for each child -- they open their ornaments on Christmas Eve. They are carefully marked and dated and when they have their own homes they can take their collection of ornaments with them. We relive all the memories of past years as we look at their ornaments. Mary and Wokelle helped hang up the ornaments that belong to Jerome and I and they oohed and aaahed over everyone else's. They are really excited to receive their first ornament this year.

We also give the kids all their Christmas money upfront and take a family shopping trip together. They purchase what they want for Christmas and we have a nice dinner together. Last year was our first year for this and the kids absolutely loved it. It was hard for Mary this year, too many choices and no clear understanding of money. I helped her as much as I could, but I think she may still feel a bit of buyer's remorse. I think every year that it is going to spoil the excitement of Christmas, but you can hear the kids chattering about how excited they are to get their gifts. I still fill their stockings with little surprises.

In the middle of our big trip a very close friend of mine called saying that two of her children were in a car accident and one was being care flighted. We were close to the hospital and rushed over. Everyone ended up being fine -- but it put a slight kink in the shopping day.

The stores Riane was waiting to go to were closed. So, Riane and I are going back to the city on Monday to finish. I am looking forward to a day out with Riane.

Getting ready for Christmas cards, which I hope to get out soon, I took a picture of the kids. It took forever to get the 6 of them to all look decent at the same time. I should have paid more attention to my background!

Braydon is a laugh a minute. He can read for hours on end or run at full tilt -- no middle ground really. In his free time he does things like make himself look like a midget:
Pretty convincing!

OR Take pictures of his eyeball....

This is what happens in school:

He made a strand of crystals for science -- now that was cool.
Just to update on the "Education of Mary" -- she seems to have caught the idea and is working much harder with me. The difficulty of Christmas shopping actually helped some. She was taught to count by 2's and 5's and 10's, but didn't really pay attention. The reality of money was a wake up. We keep telling her that school and life are really one and the same. She seems to try to compartmentalize parts of her life. If I check off school I am done. She is getting the idea and trying to read even outside "normal" school hours. She has really made a turn in this area.
Part of the grown up Christmas this year was to buy a wireless router. WHOO HOO I can access the internet from my laptop. No more running to the basement just to check e-mail. However, at times I wonder how much multi-tasking one Mom can do. I had to check with my security program about getting my laptop up-to-date so I was on chat with "Rajan". I was trying to cook our main meal, and Braydon was asking me about setting up a problem for the percentage of travel time between Mercury and Venus, and the girls were drifting through the room. So I would be talking to Braydon and saying "Wait a minute, I have to answer Rajan. Riane, I think Rajan is blue, if he pops up tell me."
Is this much technology going to help my life or confuse it some more?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Education of Mary

Working with Mary lately has been quite a struggle. And I have struggled as to whether to post or not. A "happy letter" all the time is boring news.

As I have been teaching Mary I realized that she had little to no school in Liberia. She says that her birth mom was too poor to send her much, but she did go a little bit. However, they beat you there sometimes -- so she would skip when she could. There was school in the foster home, but she only lived there eight months. I started her out in the very beginning kindergarten curriculum and have since made it into first grade. However, we are still struggling. Many days, I realized she really wasn't putting in much effort. I was working harder than she was.

However, just this week we have hit on our problem. I was frustrated to the point of being Really Angry. So Jerome went to talk to Mary about one lesson on counting pennies, dimes and nickels. In the course, of talking things over with her, several things became clear to us both. Most of the time she is just plain guessing. That is why she would know things one day and not the next. She is extremely adept at reading her environment and working around to get the answer you want, but not really knowing what she did. So tomorrow she has to start guessing again. She doesn't say it in words, but her attitude seems to be that as long as I get what I want, why do I need to worry about learning anything. If Braydon helps me get my computer program started, I am good for today. If I need to do it again tomorrow, I will ask again. You could show her things 50 times and she will still be clueless on how to do it. She doesn't try to learn it - she doesn't get why she should. I have to tell her, this is the last time I will show you this task and after that if you don't know it, you don't do it.

Another problem is her powers of observation. If you ask her to describe something to you, she is very likely to not even look at it. She tries to remember or guess. She is kind of surprised when we prompt her to actually look at the item in question.

Of course, the biggie is her base of knowledge is so limited. She is culturally a baby since she didn't grow up here and has been here less than a year. However, basic knowledge is just missing also. For instance, she doesn't know her shapes. Or even words to describe anything. I was showing her the basic shapes and asked her if she could tell the difference between a square and a rectangle. She was holding both blocks and I had to prompt her to actually look at them. Then she said, "This one has all the sum-in(something) short like so.. (tracing it with her finger) and the other has long sum-in here and short sum-in here." Something is a word we hear a lot. So I have to teach the shape and basic things like it is called a side.

She has no sense of time, or a line between reality and fantasy. She always asks if the people in the Bible are still living. If we watch a movie and I say "Oh, I have seen her in a movie before." Her first question is "Do you know her?" She asked me the other day why we never saw any of the people in movies when were out and about. She asks if every movie is a true story -- even animated ones. We also still working on her speech. She really doesn't speak very clearly yet. I believe that at 12 she will take longer and I also know that I tell her the same words day after day. Everything is so new she is coping with too much. But, I also believe it is back to the "why learn it?" thing.

It is amazing to me that at 12 years old we could have a child that doesn't even know the shape of anything, or how to communicate in any depth more than "something". How delightful to be able to open the world for her. What it must have been like to live in such survival mode at all times. Her naivete is so sweet. However, I have to be real here -- doing this day in and day out is tiring and frustrating. School has gone better the last two days now that the message that we expect her to work at school has been imparted and I realize how far back to basic I really need to go.

At the same time, I am at a loss as to how to help her be a US teenager. Her body is -- her self is not. I put her in the 6th grade Sunday school class to attempt to have her around some peers in a safe environment. It is going OK. Next year, the plan is to move her into the teen youth group with Braydon. Riane, Braydon and Mary would all be there. I want to do this to help her acclimate to her age. I still have doubts. It is a long way off and by then we should see how far she has come.


I am mighty late getting any post on and I am finally getting to Thanksgiving. The pictures are out of order, but hey, this is the best I can do at this late hour. It was really a great Thanksgiving. Jerome and I cooked too much food -- Riane helped me bake. Jerome's brother and his family were able to come over and we had fun and food. After they left, some friends of ours came over with a Cranium game to play -- oh and did I mention we ate more food!
Jo did not want to go home.

Wokelle got into some dress ups - FAR OUT DUDE.

Riane did too - do we have a sixties theme going? She looks a bit like Jerry Garcia to me.

The 3 year olds serenading us.

The fam gathered at the table.

Riane and her dad.

Dad at work.

Aunt Joy

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Piano Recital

WHEW! This weekend was a busy one -- whatever happened to the day of rest. Saturday was spent practicing piano and shopping. Sunday was a lineup of church, bridal shower and piano recital. A little full for my taste, but all in all a fun weekend.

The piano recital was really great. It was Ricky's first time; he just started taking lessons a couple of months ago. He loves it so much he can hardly wait to go. You never have to ask him to practice he is always in there.

Their piano teacher is a wonderful, older German lady. She still has a hint of an accent and the kids say she will talk on the phone in German. All the kids love her so much. Usually a first recital is a little duet with the teacher, however, since Riane is advanced she played the duet with Ricky:

Braydon is doing great. At home he seems neither excited or frustrated. He just does it everyday. It is on his list and he checks it off. He likes his teacher and he seems to like playing -- just not much emotion. When it came his turn at the recital, he got pretty nervous. A few baubles while he was playing, but he did a good job.

Riane is really getting used to playing in front of people. She is part of the praise band at church now. So she had her nerves in check.

After recital the nerves were gone and the three were cutting it up a bit:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pictures from My Life

Life just seems to move so fast and I haven't even had a chance to blog. I had a cook and freeze night that a lady from our church organized. You do some prep work and all show up to work stations and at the end of the evening you have main dishes to put in your freezer. 30 minutes or so of heating up and dinner is on the table. It was a fun night. Due to our family's food allergies and such (I blogged about before THE GREAT DELETE), we could not eat any of the meals. I wanted to go to the night though and I decided that 8 freezer meals would be a great gift for an expectant Mama -- so I went and gifted my meals.

This week another friend has asked me to help with her daughter's bridal shower. No, not to bring food -- something I would be totally comfortable with -- but to help with games. OOOOH - I am not really a shower person and GAMES? Well, after much searching she has come up with two simple games she wants included and I came up with a White Bible Ceremony that I would like to include.
On with some pictures from my life of late.

Labels are my life:

Discovering that Ricky does not tolerate wheat or dairy has sent me on quite a journey. I have had to learn how to cook separately for him and keep my eagle eye open for offending products. Since, it would be prohibitively costly to have a family of 8 keep up with this it is only Ricky who follows it. Hence, the labels all over our house. One side benefit, is that it is encouraging Mary to work on her reading. She will often pick up a package and say it says everyone! No, Mary sound it out. Oh, let's see..... it says Wheat.

Today is my birthday, I am not shy about my age, I am 43. I asked Wokelle how old he thought I was turning and he confidently said 8! Okay, I can go with that. The kids did not really have any money of their own this year and it forced them into creativity. It was wonderful. Here is a sampling of my gifts:
Braydon and Wokelle spent one whole evening locking everyone out of the basement while they rehearsed two magic tricks for my birthday. I was still bleary eyed from the early awakening, so I didn't get any pictures, but the tricks were awesome.
Mary and Adela were so excited they got up at 5:30am to take showers and get ready for the day. Braydon and Riane set alarms to get up at 5:00am to be able to bake me a cake. It did turn out lovely:

Labels even sneak into birthdays. I baked the "NO Wheat" version the night before.

Jerome helped with one gift that is supposed to update Mom. I have had so many crappy can openers in my life that when the last one broke I refused to buy anymore. I have been using the totally manual one you see below ever since. You bang it into the can and work it around like a knife. It was working for me, but now I have been updated. No school to teach today and a trip to "Cracker Barrel" I am feeling particularly loved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Break In the Day

"Green acres is the place to be...."

I don't know how well you can see them, but our family devotions this morning were interrupted by the sight of these two deer right out our window. There are some advantages to living on the edge of a village.
What a nice break -- a moment to breathe in the middle of busy family life and .. dare we forget ... presidential elections.
I hesitated to comment on the election since this is a family news blog, however, it would seem a rather large gap to not even make a nod toward such an event. All I will say in this venue, is that I voted. Who I voted for is of no real consequence. God has ordained a new leader for our country. My job is to obey and pray for the authorities placed over me as long as they do not contradict the Word of the Lord.
Proverbs 21:1... The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
AHH all is in the hands of God. And he is gracious enough to bring deer to my window to brighten my day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Children's Bible Quiz

The first Children's Bible Quiz of the season was held on Saturday. Much to my relief, everything went off smoothly. This was just an invitational, or practice, quiz. That means that scores did not count for moving on to other quizzes.

Wokelle is too young to quiz, Riane is too old and Adela is not interested that leaves 3 left to quiz. I didn't know how Mary would do, but she did great -- coming from Liberia 7 months ago and she could hold her own.

Singing the opening songs:

Look at those awesome shirts Angie was able to get for us:The whole team:
Ricky was proud of his ribbon:
The blue level 1st place team:

After a rousing day of Bible quizzing -- they crashed at our house with brotherly love. How in the world do they sleep with all that stuff up there?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Family Picture

Getting a family picture is always a bit trying. We try to do it after church so that everyone has on nice clothes. We forgot! So after lunch I told everyone to put on a nice shirt -- no one sees your pants anyway. So everyone looks lovely and then has something goofy like soccer shorts on the bottom half - crazy.

Here's the picture I think we liked the best. It is still not my favorite family picture year. It is just hard to get 8 people to all look right at the same time.

We went through various trials like losing Braydon and cutting off Jerome's head.
OOOPS! Here we lost Mary.

Here we are setting up for lighting. Now this is a snapshot of real life. My boys are lovin' mama -- Mary is hanging out, Riane is POSING, and well... Adela... if looks could kill I'd be fertilizer.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Update with Pictures

My blog feels so empty. We hope to take a family picture this weekend in preparation for Christmas cards. Here are some new pictures.

Hanging out in the basement often involves a lot a jumping rope:
Sometimes two at a time.

Or one by one:
All the boys got a new haircut today and Jerome always cuts their hair. Ricky has been using the gel lately and he didn't want his usual short style. He was trying to describe what he wanted with some "longer hair in the middle". Jerome figured that was a mohawk. Unfortunately, Ricky wasn't that happy with it, but it looks okay. Not my favorite, but his hair grows fast and Jerome can fix it up:

High school can be overwhelming:
Tomorrow our church's children's Bible quiz program has it's first quiz of the year. I am nervous -- I am coaching this year and I have never coached before. The first order of business was to update some dilapidated quiz boxes. Jerome, the master builder, made all the boxes for us. The kids helped me paint on numbers.We ended up with table after table of numbers:

Braydon demonstrates the use of a quiz box.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Can't Cry Over Spilled Milk

Well, I did it. I erased my life. I have been setting up a new blog on another site. In deciding what to do, I had set up a second blog on blogspot. Once I decided it would work better on another host, I came to delete the one on blogspot and ... I deleted the family blog while I deleted my secondary blog.

NO, it was not backed up. All my entries and pictures for over a year are gone. In a click. I am sad, but what can I do? My kids loved to scroll through and see their birthdays and such. I still have the pictures of course, backed up on CD's. But the history of this blog is gone, gone.

I will still keep my blog. I will re-set my family picture and update my profile and links list as I have time. The page has turned, only the fresh is here now.

Forgive my blundering, heave a great sigh and let's get back on the road.