Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Cora

4 things we love about Cora

  • Cora loves to read books with us and by herself. She is so tiny when she curls up on our laps for a story.

  • Cora is a girl all about routine. Every night she climbs in bed with her special pillow, blanket, and animal. Her animal is a musical seahorse, originally given to Eli, but taken over by Cora. The seahorse lights up and plays lullabyes, and Cora plays it repeatedly until she's asleep (surprisingly Sam never complains). Cora always remembers that we pray and kiss and turn on the night light before bed. She also loves to tickle and giggle at bedtime. She is a great sleeper too, and always has been.

  • Cora can play rough superheros with Sam, tractors with Eli, farming with Uncle David, or princesses with her girl friends. She is equal parts tom boy and girly girl.

  • Cora imitates us with her words and actions, but adds her own personality too. She is discovering who God made her to be.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Tractor School

Yesterday Eli went from reading about tractors in a library book:

to playing tractors in his room:

to finally riding with Uncle Dave in the cab tractor and baling round bales:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Progress Report

So far school has been fun (hey, 3 days seems like a big deal)! Sam and I seem to be “clicking” better this year as far as the core subjects go, meaning reading. I think that once he becomes a fluent reader school will be so much more enjoyable to him, but getting there is a slooow process. I feel like I have more patience because I can so remember concepts that frustrated him and me last year, but now he knows them fine. Usually if mom just backs off a bit, the light bulb will come on. Who wants to be constantly nagged on how to make the letter f?

Sam is into rock collecting, big time. He picks rocks up at the creek, in the driveway, in pea gravel, and anywhere else. At Aunt Karen’s he found some fossils, and then we went to a state park where we saw lots of fossils and imprints. We have 5 library books right now on rocks/minerals/gems. Per one of the books, Sam and Cora washed all of his rocks yesterday afternoon with warm water and old toothbrushes. Then we looked through the books to learn the names of some of his rocks.

Today we got out the microscope to look at some of the rocks. They were mostly too big, so we went searching for other things to look at. We looked at mulch, money, leaves, flower petals, and a dragonfly. The flowers Josh had sent me had some spots on leaves, and we found out it was little bug shells, which was very cool. I got a spider that had a big sack on its back and smashed it, hoping to find babies or something. No luck, and Sam told me I was disgusting (I got more into the microscope than him I think). Cora would try to look in it, but she would close both eyes, then say how neat everything looked.

Sam's recess is going for a bike ride. He zips down the road, usually stopping to say hi to Grandma, Grandpa, Meme, or David. I have put up sticker charts in the kids' room, and try to remember to give them a sticker when they do really well on something. After 5 stickers, they get a piece of candy. Sam is up to 4 stickers, and he was sucking up big time all evening for that last one. I don't normally do reward stuff like that, but I hope its a little something special they will enjoy.

Eli has been very good while we do school. We try to get a lot done in the morning, then save special things he can't get into for the afternoon nap time. Here he is on the 1066. He knows all our tractors and equipment by name. Currently his favorite book is a free tractor catalog. He looks at it ALL the time, naming things like combine, loader, disk, manure spreader...I guess he's in tractor school!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Birthdays on the Farm

We recently had a farm birthday party for the kids. Sam is 6, Eli is 2, and Cora will be 4 in a few weeks. (Note of God's goodness: We always wanted our kids 2 years apart. When we began the adoption process we figured that "plan" was out the window. Guess who is 3 weeks shy of 2 years younger than Cora? God gives us the desires of our heart.)

So we invited family and friends down to the farm to help us celebrate. It turned out to be a GREAT time. Its so fun to watch kids play, and I especially enjoy sharing a bit of the farm with non-farm kids.

Our fun included sack races, bobbing for apple slices and strawberries (more boys liked this than girls), and hunting for candy and small toys in a straw pile. We also had Dandy the calf in the yard and gave him his bottle and feed. We fed popcorn to the chickens. We had a playhouse, tee pee, rocking horse, stick horses, cowboy and Indian costumes, ropes, guns, and a bow with arrows for the kids to play with. And of course we ended the evening with a hayride, and it wasn't just any hayride. We rode in the hog hauler, which has tall sides, therefore Grandpa figured no one could fall out and so he could go fast!

We snacked on veggie and fruit trays. I made lots of cupcakes, then set out various colored icing and toppings so the kids could decorate their own. They really liked the gummy worms, sprinkles, and jelly beans. Nana also made an awesome tractor cake. It was so good we didn't want to cut it, Eli just slowly picked much of the icing off. He still talks about the tractor cake.

Cora and her best buddies were rounded up by cowboy Cruse.

Dandy didn't mind all the attention, as long as he got his bottle. What a big baby! The kids in the background are searching the straw pile for goodies.

Eli was all smiles.

A few days after the party we took our bikes and tractor to the turkey building. It was cleaned out and powerwashed for a new flock. The kids had a blast with all that room to ride.

Ausbrooks Family Home School is back in session. Today was the first day. Sam is in first grade, kind of. We got through 3/4 of the kindergarten material, and we've not touched it since mid-June so we have some catching up to do. I love that about homeschooling. He doesn't have to keep up with anyone else. Today we reviewed to see what he remembered. He's definitely forgot a bit, but it comes back very easily. I think in a few weeks will be plowing fresh ground. Cora is in preschool, and anxious to do things right along with Sam.

I am learning that I have to make school a priority if I want Sam to also. But I also have to be flexible. For example today we had a great morning, with Bible, calendar, phonics, writing. Then we had to go feed Dandy (lesson on responsibility right?). We had more to do after that, but while we were at Dandy Uncle David came to work in the baby turkeys. They are 5 days old, and he was ready to take the pens down and take out water jars. So, we helped. The kids did a great job. It was fun and hard work all together. After that they went with David to check a cow, and they found she had calved and they got to see the new baby (who made Dandy look big to them). They came home from lunch and after that Nana stayed with the older kids while Sam and I went to Meme's (my grandma) to can relish. Most of the ingredients are home grown, and Sam helped us chop and measure. We did do some reading, math, and science while took a nap in the late afternoon.

This wasn't the day I'd planned, but it was a good day. Education comes in many forms. I think time spent with the other generations of our family is invaluable. Lessons on hard work, team work, life cycles, and food supply are so much better learned in reality than books. So, our school may look much different than most, but I pray God can use our opportunities to turn our kids' hearts toward Him and our family.

Finally, I have to show off the beautiful flowers I recently received from my sweety. Thanks Josh, I love you!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hot, hot, hot!

It is so HOT:

  • Time and temp says, "100 degrees".

  • Sam got a slip-n-slide for his birthday. (Oddly enough, my parents would not get me one of these but they got Sam one, and it clearly states on the box that I am too big.) Anyway, the kids had a blast, as you can see! A bonus is we have hydrants that use free pond water, so slide all day. (Note: cool water from bottom of pond, different than water mentioned below, though still somewhat nasty)

  • The pond feels warmer than body temperature, and so it is temporarily closed. Plus the warm temp seems to have cause some sort of green grossness to float in the water that even we don't want to wade into, except the dog. We have taken in the clean city pool though.

  • The puppy is too hot to tear things up, almost.

  • Farmer David has lost 500 turkeys in the last 24 hours, and the count is sure to rise before the relief predicted for Friday. Bad week to be a turkey farmer, as over 10,000 have been reported dead in our area already.

  • We eat no less that three freezer pops per day.

  • David put up square bales of hay yesterday, which I generally like to help with (driving of course), but this time I wouldn't even let the kids go say hi to the guys. Gave Eli something to watch out the window though.

I try not to complain though, since summer is my favorite time of year. Plus I hear it is much hotter in the Middle East!

We got to enjoy some heat in Tennessee this past weekend at an All God's Children picnic. (Our adoption agency). There were families from all over, as far as Connecticut and Texas. We got to see one travel buddy (Hi Belks!) and lots of cyber buddies. Though Eli has no concept of the special relationship he shares with many of the other kids, one day he will and we want to continue communicating and meeting with other ET adoption families. For pictures of the picnic, visit

We spent two nights with Aunt Karen and Uncle Scott in Tennessee and the kids had a blast. They also have a very clean pool, plus 4 dogs, 3 or so cats, and a lawn mower for Eli to sit on.