Monday, April 30, 2012


I wanted to introduce you to my classroom twins, Sinai and Aquila.
Now, in my humble opinion, I think every classroom should have at least one set of twins.
They make life interesting!
This is the third year that I have had these lovely ladies in my classroom.
I have watched them grow up and I have enjoyed watching their personalities emerge.
They may look alike, but they have distinct and individual personalities.
Each day when they come in, I have to ask them which is which and then make a mental note to help me remember who is who by some article of clothing.  Luckily, they very seldom dress alike and if they do, they will have a different hair accessory or different shoes.
In this picture, you can see they chose  quite different outfits.
So far, they are very honest when I ask who is who, but I am guessing as they get older, they may play some practical jokes that only identical twins are able to pull off.
I feel so blessed to have these two girls in my class and I am going to miss them next year as they head off to kindergarten.
On the first Saturday in June, Sinai and Aquila will be coming up to Oshkosh with John and I to visit Tizita.  That will prove to be one fun filled day!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wowing the crowd in church

My Preschoolers sang in church again today.
Each time we sing it gets better and better.
This group of kids is able to walk into church and up onto the altar without any assistance.
It is amazing.  I like to think it might be the teacher, but I have been doing this for so many years and this is the first group that has been able to get up there so easily.
To top it off, they stand up there and wait for the time to sing which can easily be five minutes or longer.


Today's performance was part of a special song service so my class was accompanied by two flutes and the piano.
I was worried that I would not get the verses started at the correct time since the flute played in between each verse, but things went very well.
I also do not usually stand up to direct.  I prefer to just kneel on the floor and let the kids be seen, but with this performance, they needed some guidance, so I had to stand and actually direct.
I think it probably looked like I was dancing because I am a bit animated while I direct, but hopefully most eyes were on the kids and not the crazy director.
It is rather bittersweet since this is our last time to sing this year with this group of Preschoolers, I can only hope that next year's group will continue to be able to get up there with such little help.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Of door knobs

So, we have had bad door knobs on our back door and our basement for a long time.  Everytime the Culligan man comes, he would ask for a screwdriver to tighten the door knobs.  how sad is that?
One morning after sleeping in our basement, Nathan and Alissa could not get the basement door open, they were stuck down there.  Once we got it opened, we taped the latch so that would not happen again.
 Well, not too long ago, I saw a handyman on a home improvement show change out some door knobs.  It only took a few minutes and he assured his audience that all doors are the same and any door knob will fit on any door with four simple screws.  I was inspired.  I bought two door knob sets which by the way had a warning that they can cause cancer in California so handle carefully.  Well, number one, I am not in California and number  two, I am not about to wash my hands everytime I open/close a door. 
The above photos are the two doors with the bad door knobs.
It took well over the few minutes he assured it would take, but hours later, I have two new door knobs.  Our doors are not your typical doors and making these knobs fit was anything but child's play, but when all was said and done, I got them on the doors.
I am not so sure they work correctly, but the doors stay shut and the doors open when needed, so I call that a success on some level.
It was a cold, rainy day today and these door knobs did not add any cheer to the day.
Tomorrow my kids sing in church and the sun is promising to return, hopefully the door knobs will still work.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Can anyone identify these plants?

This early spring has made our yard come alive with plants and flowers.
We found this pretty white plant growing on our north side.
If anyone can identity it, please comment.

This plant has returned for years, but we cannot figure what it might be.  There are never any flowers, just these big green leaves.  It pops up in our shade garden, so must require little to no sun.

And finally this plant appeared in another one of our gardens.  It may be a perenniel that I planted last year, but I don't  know for sure.
It has unique leaves.
I am going to try and become more of a hands on gardener.  I hope to pull weeds on a regular basis and force myself to enjoy digging in the dirt.

We also have begun to plant our garden.  We put in onions, radishes, carrots, and peas last weekend.  Hoping to add more crops this weekend.

I hope someone who reads here can help me out with these plants.
If you have never commented, now is the time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just Lookin' Back

When one adopts, some milestones are missed.  When Tizita came home at age 21 months, we had missed many of those milestones.  We never saw her first smile, her first steps, or heard her first words, but for some reason, I never looked back, only forward.
Now as I look at this picture taken shortly after she arrived, I don't feel we missed anything at all.  I can hardly remember her as  being this small and it feels like she has been here forever.  Life just falls into chapters, there was one titled,  "Before Tizita," and there is one labeled, "After Tizita."  Anything else is just not important.
Soliana will hopefully arrive home a few months after her first birthday which is July 7.  We will be able to witness a few more of her milestones which will be nice, but again, I expect it will seem like she has been a part of our family forever once she gets here.
One thing is for sure, God knew these two sweet girls would be part of our family way before they were even born, He also, in His infinite wisdom, knew that Natnael's time on earth would be short, played out just as planned.
God is good, all the time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A zoo in a zoo


As if my classroom is not enough of a zoo already, I set up a classroom zoo to go along with our animal unit.  The kids had a great time taking care of the animals in our zoo.  Thanks to Tizita for letting me borrow some of her stuffed animals and her doctor kit.

And just so you don't get the wrong idea, my class is really not a zoo.  Our school visitor came in for his yearly visit to critique the teachers and he complimented my classroom and called it organized chaos!  That it is, my friends, that it is.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Resident Woodpecker

Meet our resident woodpecker.  He lives in our big old maple tree.  We hear him pecking away anytime we are outside.  He is a persistent little fellow, pecking away at what seems to be an endless job.  I wonder if he gets rewarded with tasty little bugs.  I hope he is happy up there in our tree because I would miss him if he decides to move on. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


This is another picture of us when we met Tizita at the airport on Sunday after her trip to Ethiopia to meet her sister, Soliana.
After we had lunch together, we went to the Van Auken home where Tiz proceeded to give us a lesson on getting unmarried.  She was our teacher and the subject of the day was how to get unmarried.
I am not sure where she got his idea, but it was pretty funny.
Some of the things she told us:
"She and her husband were getting unmarried.  They would wear their wedding clothes and there would be a big party but no dancing just soft music.  Presents should be brought to her or him if desired.  He was a very nice man, but he found someone else to love.  She had not found anyone new to love yet."  There was more to this lesson, but I can't remember it right now and it is hard to capture the true spirit of it all here without her expressions, etc.  She is one funny little lady.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

They are Back!

This is us at the very same airport where we first met Tizita when she joined our family three plus years ago.  Today we met her and Courtney and Paul as they returned from Ethiopia.  Truth be told, we almost missed them, because I had seriously misjudged our travel time, but in the end it all worked out well. 
We had a nice lunch with them at Good Company in Appleton where we enjoyed a recap of their wonderful trip.  Courtney shared some pictures of Soliana and Tizita together which she "snuck" on her phone.  What a beautiful baby girl!  We cannot wait to meet her.
Courtney said they also were able to visit Natnael's grave which brought them some peace. Courtney did say it was very difficult when they left Ethiopia and she realized she was leaving two of her children behind.  God is good all the time though and we are waiting for the next chapter of this story to unfold.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Early Childhood Fair

 I have been hosting a booth at the Early Childhood Fair here in Watertown for more years than I care to remember.  It is a morning filled with fun activities for all the young children in our area.  All the area Preschools, Day Cares, and other organizations that pertain to kids set up a booth and offer some fun type activity for the children.  Our booth just happened to have Ethiopian colored balloons on it.  I thought that was appropriate since today the Van Aukens are leaving Ethiopia to fly home.
 The Watertown Gosling is always at the fair.  This is one of my students posing with the big bird.
 I made these discovery bottles for the children to use at our booth.  This is another one of my students having fun looking for objects in the bath salts.  As they found the objects, they checked them off on the list.  I fully intended to use rice in these bottles, but I found these bath salts in these containers at the Dollar Store.  Such a great find!  The kids really seemed to enjoy the activity, too.
 Here is the granddaughter of one of my friends checking out the bottle activity.
 Mickey and Minnie even made an appearance.
 More kids enjoying the activity.
 We also have a bean bag toss at our booth.  Here is my friend and fellow teacher's little grandson enjoying the toss.
We really like our beanbag game.  We toss bee shaped beanbags into the flowers and our prize is a pack of seeds.
One of the things I really like about this annual fair is that it gives me the chance to see many of my old col lieges as well as many other early childhood educators from the area.  I have not done many big noteworthy things in my life, but I do have a good reputation among these people and I know they respect the way I teach.  It always makes me feel good about the job I do in the classroom.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pretty new summer bag

I am not a purse person. I have used pockets, but I prefer John's pockets for my "stuff." It is not like I have all that much stuff to begin with. My staples are a camera, a phone, and a pick. John has always been my mule without any complaint, but when I saw these pretty purses that my friend/preschool parent makes, I wanted one.
She chose the colors for me and I absolutely love them. She has captured my color palette perfectly. From now on I will be carrying my own stuff in this cute bag. I am prefering to call it a bag as opposed to a purse, makes it easier to carry.
I also have a bad history of leaving my purses in restaurants, stores, etc, so calling it a bag will hopefully help with that problem, too.
Thanks, Angie, I love it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Soliana's Baptism

We are Lutheran, born and bred. We believe in infant baptism. I am not here to make any judgements against those who believe in dedication of infants and adult baptism, but as I said, we believe in infant baptism.
It is for that reason that I wanted Soliana baptized as soon as was possible. Courtney, Paul, and tizita performed the baptism at their visit yesterday. Now she is a child of God, her original sin is washed away, and we can be assured she will be in heaven if something should happen to her.
All one needs to perform a baptism is water and the Word. Courtney or Paul simply had to put a few drops of water on her head and say the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." That is it, done and done.
Soliana is now a baptized member of God's family.
When she gets home, they will have the baptism reaffirmed at their church for all to witness and to make if more of a celebration, but for all intent and purposes, in God's eyes, she is baptized.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today is finally the Day!

After waiting for well over two years, meeting Natnael, and then, sadly losing him so unexpectedly, this beautiful papa, mama, and sister are going to meet...

wait it,

it is worth it,

and here she is,

Their precious sweet new daughter/sister, Soliana. Our Sunshine after the storm!
Today they will lay eyes on her for the first time at the Care Center in Ethiopia and their lives will never be the same again.
I am only guessing it will be very, very difficult to leave her behind this time in light of what happened to Natnael after their initial meeting, but as my friend Verna said yesterday, God is good and all will be fine this time around.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tracking Flights

Well, they are up in the air as I write. Now they are on their way from Amsterdam to Khartoum, Sudan. (Doesn't sound like a very friendly place to me) I think they only stop there for a short time and then it is on to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, finally. I had forgotten about tracking their flights until Laura, a pilot's wife reminded me of this site. I like to check on the flights to make sure that the plane is still where it is supposed to be, but it stresses me out when there is a glitch and I can't find the plane. Technology!
I will breathe a sigh of relief when I hear that they have landed safely. Of course, then I have a whole new list of possible worst case scenarios.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It is going to be one L O N G week for me

Today Courtney, Paul, and Tizita will board a plane to Ethiopia to meet my granddaughter, Soliana. I am back in my "hope for the best, expect the worst, and roll with the punches," mode. As you may recall, after we lost our sweet Natnael, I posted about not being in this usual mode and being blindsided by his sudden death. I learned my lesson and will not let that happen again.
Today all the possibilities are going through my mind, all the bad case scenarios that can happen whenever one flies, add to that flying to a third world country so far from home. I will not list them here, that might make them all too real, instead I will just let them filter through my head for the next week.
I am trying so hard to put it all into God's hands, since I know he already has it all planned out and all the worrying in the world cannot change that. I also try to remember Tizita's excitement as she anticipated this trip to meet her sister. We cannot take that away from her.
In my mind, I am fast forwarding to next Sunday when we will meet them at the airport and I will put all these worries to rest once and for all. It will be a joyous moment.
So, please keep all of us in your prayers and thoughts this week. It is going to be a long one for me, but with God's help and your prayers, I will survive it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yesterday on our way to Oshkosh to visit Tizita, we stopped at the cemetery to put some new spring flowers on my Grandma's grave. This is not her grave, but I happened to notice this one as I was walking to hers. I am assuming thi lady liked wiener dogs. I told John that when I die, I would hope no one puts any type of dog on my gravestone because I do not care for dogs. What a joke that would be! Maybe Beatrice never really liked them either. Who knows?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Monkey Joe's

Today John and I headed up to Oshkosh to take Tizita to Monkey Joe's and bid a fond farewell to the Van Auken family before they leave on Monday for Ethiopia.

This is how Tiz felt about our time at Monkey Joe's. We all had a lot of fun hanging out together.
Tiz hit the jackpot on the spin the wheel game. She won all these tickets! They just kept coming and coming and coming.

She traded them in for a "scratchbacker" for her papa and five little colorful puppies which will travel with her to Ethiopia.
Courtney and Paul have such a beautiful yard full of colorful flowers most of which are from my Aunt and Uncle's gardens.
After Monkey Joe's we spent some time in the park. It was such a beautiful day. We all ate together at a root beer stand. It is so nice to see Tizita so excited about this trip. She is so happy to be meeting her little sister. Please pray for safe travels for them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Safe travels to the Van Auken Family

On Monday, this sweet family is traveling to far off Ethiopia to meet their new daughter/sister,, Soliana. As you might remember, I was against the idea of taking Tizita along on their last trip to meet Natnael. Tiz stayed with us while they traveled. That decision did not have anything to do with my feelings however. This time I am feeling very good about the three of them traveling together. It seems so different this time around and I pray it is. The three of them are so excited to meet their new daughter/sister. I take comfort in the fact that they have friends in Ethiopia who will help them out if they need anything and of course, they will visit their son/brother's grave which will be wonderful for them.
John and I are going up to bid them farewell tomorrow. Tiz wants to go to Monkey Joe's so we will do that with her and make some new memories to help us out while they are gone. My mind will be on them every minute especially when they are in the air, but I know God will protect them and this trip will turn out just as it should.
Safe travels to this sweet little family!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Okay, so my photos today are not really pictures that I took, but I think Kim and I decided that these were okay to use for our challenge. When Alissa was here this past weekend, she spent time reading books on her phone. I had never envisioned that being an enjoyable experience for me. Somehow it seemed like the print would be so small and I have always enjoyed the feel of a real book in my hands, but lo and behold I am hooked.
Loaded the app from Kindle on my phone. (terminology may not be right with that) Alissa told me about Pixel of Ink which is a FB like that offers free books to download each day. There are usually four offered at a time a few times a day. I have downloaded about ten of them and I am enjoying the first mystery already. I have the print set nice and big so reading is easy and effortless.
I used to join book clubs, order the free books and quit the club after I bought the required two or so books. I have quite a nice library because of that practice, but sadly, I have not read a book for awhile. I am happy to be back to reading again.
My favorite books are still mysteries, but I am hoping to branch out. Since these are all free, I can quit reading one without guilt if I want. Alissa warned me to watch out for the christian books, she got one by mistake and didn't realize it right away until it started mentioning God! I don't think I would mind that as much as she did.
At any rate, I am going back to reading!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Visit to the Cemetery

We took a trip to the cemetery to take off the winter decor and add some spring touches to dad's grave. As you know from previous posts I love exploring cemeteries. I know this is just an earthly memorial to him and he is happily enjoying his time in heaven so I don't spend anytime chatting with him when I am there. My mom was with us and as she was pulling weeds around the grave, she poked her finger on a piece of wire sticking out of the ground. We did joke that dad poked her, but that was the extent of our conversations with him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let's Go Fly a Kite

On Easter Sunday, the weather was just perfect for flying a kite, so we decided to do just that. Tizita and I rode the bike down to the park to our kite flying area. While it was a good day for kiting, it was not so good for biking. The wind was strong!
As we approached the park I noticed what I thought was another family flying a kite and I thought to myself, "now we have people sharing our air space." I said to Tiz, "Look, they are flying a kite, too." I heard the "young boy" say, 'That is our kite!" I thought, "how rude." Well, we then realized it was Courtney (the young boy), Paul, and John waiting for us. I didn't actually realize this until Courtney said, "It's your family." You may have had to have been there to think this was funny, but it was funny and I wanted to remember it.
Now back to the kite business.

Grandpa already had Curious Georgio flying high, so Tiz took over the controls.
There is Georgio flying high.
The Van Auken family watching from a prime spot.
Another high flying kite picture.
Tizita had some fun just running with Georgio.
It was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It also brought back memories of when we had flown this same kite on St. George Island.
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