A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pearl Harbor - The Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor was a moving experience.  More so than I expected. 

Tour companies will try to sell you tickets to the Arizona Memorial, but if you simply show up there in the morning, the tickets are actually free--they just run out every day.  We got free tickets for the 10 o'clock showing.  First, you go into a theater and watch a brief movie, then you board the shuttle boat to the Arizona. 

The view from the windows of the memorial.  

Personnel who were assigned to the Arizona at the time of the attack, who were not on board when she went down, can be buried with the ship when they die. 

In fact, we saw a dive team preparing to go down while we were there. 

The back wall is names of those who died aboard the ship.

The smaller lists at the sides of the monument list additional crew members who have since been buried there. 

Because the monument is built directly over the ship, you can look straight down onto it.  We could see tropical fish swimming, but they don't show up in the picture because of the glare. 

Even all these decades later, there is still oil leaking from the ship.  You can watch it on the water, and the lapping waves carry it away. 

One of the massive anchors of the ship, which was recovered after it sank. 

This was a somber field trip, but I'm so glad I went.  As the mother of service members, I was touched deeply. 

Fortunately, there is more to see at Pearl Harbor, and I will share pictures from the Bowfin and the Museum soon. 

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Waikiki Aquarium

You know what I like about Hawaii?  It's warm.  We slept with the windows open and the breeze blowing.

Next morning, Josiah and I wandered around a bit before meeting Annaliese at her work for lunch. We stayed in Waikiki, which is very touristy, but is also very convenient.  You walk across the street to go to the beach.  You wander down the road for food.  There are ABC Stores *everywhere*, in case you have the munchies, or you forgot something. 

My beautiful girl!  It had been over a year since we'd seen her.  It was good to catch up a bit. Her manager gushed about what a great employee she is. 

After lunch, we went to Waikiki Aquarium.

Compared to Monterey Bay Aquarium, Waikiki Aquarium is small.

But it has some lovely tropical fish and other interesting exhibits.

I enjoyed wandering around with my grown kids.  It's a different vibe than doing the aquarium with younger children.

Jellyfish are fascinating.

I liked that it wasn't crowded, and we could linger or zip by as interest dictated. 

The seahorses were adorable, and Annaliese brought up a good point.  Who decided that the male seahorses were male?  I mean, ordinarily if you see a creature giving birth, you assume it's female, right? 

Part of the exhibits are outdoors.  The sunshine was wonderful. 

I did try to take pictures of the fish in this large, open tank, but the reflections on the water made the fish impossible to see. 

I remember joking about how we took Katie to the zoo, and we're standing in front of the zebras when Katie says, "MOM!  Look!  A squirrel!"  I kind of did the same thing here.  We were supposed to be looking at the giant clams, but what caught my eye...

...were the two little lizards on the stone wall. 

Our photo souvenir.  They take your picture against a green screen when you enter the aquarium, and it's ready when you leave. 

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Top o' the mornin' to ya!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I miss the art projects we did last year.  The girls' school didn't do anything for St. Pat's, which surprised me a little, but since it's on a Saturday this year, I have them home with me! 

I found this little leprechaun in our front yard and decided to take some pictures. 

I love my peeps.  And they tolerate me.  Even when I torture them by making them stand and smile and *gasp* hold hands. 

They're pretty good sports.  I miss them.  I'm looking forward to having them home for spring break soon.  And summer!  I'm going to appreciate the heck out of summer this year. 

Because before you know it, they'll be off again. 

I'm so glad I get to capture these fleeting moments.

It's fun to have green noodles and green ice cream and grapes and Snapeas and, of course, corned beef. 

But I wish I could slow down time, just a little bit, to savor these moments before they're gone. 

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Aloha! I went to Hawaii!

After finishing up her year in New Zealand, Annaliese decided to move to Hawaii.  For my birthday (and Valentine's Day, and our upcoming anniversary), Paul said I could go visit her.

I took Josiah with me.

Good gravy, that's a long flight (6.5 hours).  And I swear the screen said, "5 minutes remaining" for at least 20 minutes.  We were dying.  I know, it's shorter than going to China, but it still felt like forever.

But eventually we got checked in to our hotel and wandered out to find a bite to eat.  I love all the lit tiki torches in Waikiki!

We found a little second floor Mexican restaurant with a view of the beach.

The food was really good.

In fact, we ended up going back there another night.

Our hotel left something to be desired.  I think I've gotten spoiled staying in 4 star hotels in China. 

But it was a place to crash between adventures. 

And if you stand in the right spot and use your imagination, it even has a view of the mountains. 

This was my first time in Hawaii, and I was delighted with the warm ocean.  Growing up, the beach was nearby, but it was cold and windy. 

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post some more of my pictures over the next few days. 

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Catching Up

February is slipping away from me, so here's a "photo dump" post of what's been going on in our lives.

We survived the Dante's Circle that is Science Fair.  The night before found Paul helping Hannah and me helping Jack.

I believe Brianna did some proofreading and editing for both of them before we got to the display board part of the deal, too.  It was a family affair, and I feel like I earned part of that grade.

I know I already showed pictures from our recent photo shoot, but there were a couple more that were on my cell phone instead of the big camera.

They're adorable, and they really were good sports about the whole thing.

Brianna and Boy before the Sadie Hawkins dance.  (Miss Adorable was in Hawaii for a wedding, and Eli chose not to go without her.)

Another school project.  This one was Hannah's Arctic diorama.  White model magic, blue sand, various animal toobs, and spray adhesive inside a Walmart beauty box (affiliate links).

Milestone!  Eli is now taller than Paul.

After 14 years of PURPLE and GOLD as our school colors, it's kind of nice to have something different for the younger kids (although purple is my favorite color).

They had to dress in red, white, and blue for one of their recent spirit days.

After school snacks, instituted this year, have been immensely popular with everyone (and Sam is annoyed to have missed out on this particular institution!).  Mostly muffins, sometimes cupcakes or cookies.  Josiah has been baking chocolate chip cookies when I don't get around to making something, which is very helpful and appreciated.  This was using up the last of the candy canes on chocolate mint cupcakes.  They were ugly (but tasty) after baking.

Yes, my 16 year old is wielding a chain saw.

I actually love it when Paul teaches the boys real life skills.  Note he is wearing hearing protection, eye protection and "chaps."

Homework:  I have to admit, it's not as bad as it could have been.  I remember when Josiah and Sam went to kindergarten.  Paul and I hated the "homework packet" that came home every week.  Thursday nights when we tried to catch up on everything we hadn't finished really sucked.

Katie's teacher asks the kids to study their spelling words, but leaves it totally up to parental discretion HOW that takes place.  We've done spelling words on a white board, with letter tiles, with blocks, written in pencil on lined paper, written with markers on construction paper, sidewalk chalk, etc.  Probably the favorite, though, is making spelling words out of Trader Joe's letter cookies.

Eli even "helped" her find the letters, eliminating pesky extra Qs and Vs and such.

I belong to Facebook groups for families with kids from the provinces that Hannah and Katie were adopted from.  Recently Katie's province group put together a search video, hoping it would go viral in China, and that families who've given up a child would come forward for genetic testing so matches could be made and communication could be opened up.  The photo above is the one we submitted of Katie to be included in the video.  The finished video is below.

Because of this, we took another big step recently:

Spit testing with 23 and Me went better than I feared it might.  We are awaiting results (which usually take 6-8 weeks).

Speaking of genetics...  no denying a resemblance there.

Jack and I recently made a run to Toys R Us so he could spend his Christmas gift card from Grammy.  As you can see, he's still into Legos.

 Valentine's Day is a birthday in our house, but Someone did not want a fuss this year.

So no flaming cake picture of this guy, who is now a grown up, grown up.

The day after Valentine's day is also a birthday!  Brianna turned 18, and wanted a cake surrounded by Kit Kats and covered with peanut butter M&Ms.

If you notice the walls behind Josiah and Brianna, they're a different color now.  They used to be a nondescript beige.  I wanted a warm, soft yellow.  What we ended up with... well, Eli refers to it as Ramen Seasoning Packet Yellow.  It's like being in an inside out taxi.

I totally stole this photo off Class Dojo, which is an app the school uses to facilitate communication between parents and elementary teachers.  I went to the school to give a little lecture about Chinese New Year to Hannah and Katie's classes.  I brought along visual aids, a craft, and a coloring page.  It was fun!  I had a great time teaching again, even if it was only for an hour.  I also left a bunch of our China books at the school for the kids to enjoy during the 2 weeks of Chinese New Year, and I've enjoyed seeing pictures of the kids reading them.

These two went out to a fancy dinner celebrating both Brianna's birthday and their one year anniversary together.

I got to babysit for a friend of mine, and it was so fun to have a toddler in the house again!

I think I've figured out another part of why I'm not blogging as much any more.  Obviously, the biggest reason is that I don't have all the homeschooling stuff to talk about anymore.  But I used to spend a lot of time on my computer in the school room, while the kids were doing school work.  Now, I'm really only in there a couple times a week.  I keep thinking, "Maybe I'm done blogging."  But I guess it's just that my blogging has changed.  Again.  I have a trip planned next month, so I'm sure I'll have some vacation pictures to share later. 

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!