Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annie Brings Mommy to Preschool

Wednesday was parents day at preschool so Jane's Mommy and I got to be preschoolers for the day. It was also their Halloween party. (so smart not to do it the same day as trick or treating and overstimulate, those teachers know what they're doing!) But Annie couldn't possibly wear her wicked witch costume because she had worn it to her preschool night time party and really what was the point if the Tin Man and Dorothy wouldn't be with her? So we pulled out her bunny costume from last year and away we went.
Snack Time!
Mommy had a great time! I love preschool.
Teacher Jeri
Head Teacher Gaye Lynn. She dressed as Raggedy Ann.
Painting (our favorite activity)
Playing with mushy stuff
Making a Jack-O-Lantern
Playing with orange shaving cream, it feels silly.
Drawing a picture, see Mom, I wrote my name.
C'mon Mom, I'll show you how I do it.
A Halloween parade
The other day I came downstairs and it was obvious Jane and Annie had gotten into her closet. They were siting on the sofa eating Wheat Thins, just chillin. I said, "hi girls, what are you doing?" "Mommy, we're Santa's helpers, but we're taking a break!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abegail Gets Published!

Click on the image to see read the story

Abegail wrote a story in school about her summer trip to NY. She had it published in this month's school newsletter. We of course are very proud. Scott summed it up best, "some of my college papers weren't that long."
We are expecting to have baby news about Sophia tomorrow, she will finally be induced!
Meanwhile Maya, Mieko's Mom, had a healthy baby girl last week. Hana Johnson was born Monday, October 20th weighting in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 21 inches. Everyone is doing well!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza

We carved our pumpkins last night with some wonderful friends. Tori's (Abegail's friend) family invited us to their fall festival their church has and all the kids got to carve their pumpkins together. It was a lot of fun and I think this means we are ready for the big Halloween night!

Annie has learned to spell and write her name! She is also big on singing the new song she seems to learn everyday. Today, it was very appropriately about witches brew.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Fun

Annie's preschool had a Halloween party last night, Abegail was off to her own School's night out. Emmanuel of course found a friend!

Emmanuel had another visit from the tooth fairy this week when he lost his second bottom tooth.

Sleeping Beauty

It's hard work being a princess!

Hair Time!
Martu was over today and I jokingly said to her and Abegail, you should do each other's hair. The next thing I knew the girls were in the bathtub and the cornrows were going in Martu's hair. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Picture of Papa

A family from St. Michael, Minnesota just brought their son home from Liberia and we sent along a photo album for A&E's Papa. Abegail said to me, "why does he just get to see pictures of me and I don't get to see any of him?" How quickly we forget, there is no camera! So I asked if Bob saw Alexander (by chance) snap a photo. Word travels quick in Liberia and we got our pictures which made Abegail very happy! The cross he is wearing is one Abegail picked out at the Mall of America. Contact with a birth family is a controversial thing and whether or not to pursue it is different for every family, but we are happy to see Alexander alive and well. It's been a year since we've seen a photo of him.
Abegail: Mommy next year for Halloween, can I be a cheerleader?
Annie: I'm going to be the tooth fairy next year!
Emmanuel: And I'm going to be a car, a jeep. Yes, Mommy I'm going to be a jeep.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living History

This weekend, we traveled to Iowa to introduce Abegail and Emmanuel to our good friends the Ogeas. Emma (with Annie above) is my goddaughter and we became close to them when Scott and I were living in Lincoln, NE in 1999-2001. So we met halfway in Des Moines and had an awesome time at Living History farms where the kids could see the difference between a 1700 farm, an 1850 farm, and a 1900 farm.

Leaf Time

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did You Know?

I was at a school today in North Minneapolis doing a story. Fewer than one percent of the students are white. 99 percent of the students are African American or Hispanic. They are beautiful children with promise in their eyes. 97 percent of them are on the free lunch program. The average income of the families of the students: $14,000. Many are living in shelters.
A year ago, the superintendent hand picked Mark Bonine to be the principal. 87 percent of the kids did not meet the standards of no child left behind and Dr. Green wanted that changed. So Mr. Bonine came in and evaluated the 60 member staff, he kept four of them. The 750 students in grades K through 8 were accustomed to writing a few sentences or working for five minutes before they were spent. Mr. Bonine changed that too. First off, respect and safety. Second, every kid knows why they are doing each assignment and how it will help them. He got them the best technology in the district. They have free teeth cleanings and flu shots. He started all his teachers in a mentor program, meaning they have to stay after in their own class every Wednesday. But the first thing he did was drive his staff around the neighborhood and to the shelters. He showed them how the poverty here had continued for generations and the ticket out for the kids was education. The goal: every kid can go to college if they want to. Every kid will have the skills to succeed in a college classroom. He doesn't hold staff meetings, he doesn't like committees. He does take the kids to a college dining hall buffet and let them eat as much as they want. He also teaches them about social cues.
He works 12 hours a day. His staff is right behind him and wants to know if they can get the building opened on Saturdays. Half the students stay in an after school program. They have to work hard, they have more to overcome. But then he told me about this video, and you have to wonder maybe all our kids should be doing this.

Quotes From E-man:
E: Mommy, am I going to play soccer this winter?
M: Yes, you are going to play it indoors.
E: INDOORS???? Why can't we play outside?
M: Because there will be snow
E: But we can wear snowsuits!
Quotes From Annie:
We were in downtown Minneapolis, a man came up to Scott and asked him if he had any change to spare. Scott said no he didn't have any cash.
Annie: I have a dollar in my piggy bank at home. (thinks for a second) But I don't think I want to give it away.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

E-Man's Straight Talk w/ Santa

E-man and I went to Home Depot last night to get some things for Mommy. He spotted a bunch of Christmas stuff all over the store and now wants to me to decorate our house like Clark Griswold's in Christmas Vacation.

He also has been bugging me about this Spider Man game that he wants. The other day he was nagging me the whole way home from school about it. And having read the "Parent's Guide to Handling Annoying Children" I answered as all parents do, "Why don't you just ask Santa? Maybe you'll get it for Christmas."

Well, for the past 3 days E-Man's been all over me to help him write a letter to Santa. So today I finally caved. Here it is...enjoy!!

Disclosure: You'll notice the part where E-Man talked about being "mad at it"...we'll that actually makes us pretty proud. He's been working really hard at his school on identifying and verbalizing his feelings. So even if it is a toy car that he's mad at...we're thrilled!! ;-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Harambee Village

Last night we went to the first of a series of workshops at Harambee Village. Harambee Village was started by Deb Reisner, the mother of 6 children, including 4 teenagers. She started it six years ago when she realized white parents with black children need resources, support, and black role models for their children. She says the first meeting they had five families. Within two months there were 250 families and by the end of 2006 the group had served more than a thousand families in Minnesota. I had no idea there were so many families out there like ours.

The group we go to meets two hours on the first Sunday of every month. They split the kids into age groups and the parents go and have their own meeting. As I looked around the room, I saw myself. Normal looking people around my age, with young children, some of us not sure how we got here and had no idea how much education we needed on the African American community. Others had been coming from the beginning, one family drives 150 miles, from "Whiteville" as they lovingly put it, to attend meetings.

As always with something new Abegail was skepical. But E-man and Annie dove right into their area, new toys and trucks, and lots of kids who look like them or who are in the same boat as Annie. Harambee views it as an opportunity for white children to be in the minority, which they are at these events. For them to get a taste of how their siblings feel.

For Abegail, she immediately made a new friend, a Somali girl who was adopted through the state of Minnesota. They also made pages for their life books focusing on famous families who have lots of color in them.

The biggest lesson of the night: you can give your kids everything in the world, but you can never be black. So they will need to see black adults as positive role models in professional roles. It is a journey.

I know I'm so lucky to have this resource just 15 minutes from our home. We are looking forward to learning a lot and finding new friends and mentors for all of us.

Quotes from Annie:

Mommy, this has been a great day!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mommy's Marathon

It's been five years and three kids since I've run a marathon. So I basically looked at this as my very first marathon in a new body. I made it and was thrilled to finish. It rained hard at times but that made me never want to stop as I knew I would freeze. The kids were awesome making signs and cheering. Scott is always amazing at these things, he's still got it when it comes to support. My chip time: 3:54:51.
Quotes From Annie:
I'm running around trying to get ready this morning.
Annie: Mommy, don't forget your smile!

Let me just say this...Sue is being modest. She had an amazing day and an amazing run!! We saw her begin the race at the Metrodome and one of the last things she said to us was, "Don't be surprised if I run slow today." It was cold and she really wanted to start off slowly. We were supposed to see her at around Mile 13 at 10:15am. We arrived at 10am and waited until about 10:35 before a co-worker of hers spotted us standing there with our signs and said she had passed 45 minutes ago!!! WHAT????? We were stunned...and more than that, we were now in a race of our own to get to mile 20 where we had agreed to meet her at 11am!! And if she was going fast, we were going to be pushing it. So we drove to mile 21 instead and got there about 4 minutes before she did. So we finally caught her!! And it took 3 hours and a speeding car to do it!! We then got to the finish line just ahead of her and saw her finish just in front of the 4 hour pace team. She had started the race waaay in the back of the pack...and was starting slow as she wanted. She then caught the 5-1/2 hour pace team....then the 5....then the 4-1/2....and by mile 16 had caught the 4 hour pace team. Strategically, Sue says this was the best race she's ever run. We agree!! Way to go Sue!!!!

Finally, WCCO put a picture of the kids on their website today. CLICK HERE

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Abegail's Mile

The Twin Cities Marathon is tomorrow and the day before, the marathon always puts on a day of family events. So Abegail and I headed out this morning for the Family mile. She said at first, "Mommy I have stage fright," and she was a bit apprehensive but I stayed with her until the start, at which point I almost got run over by kids. Then I went to find her and somehow missed her. We finally caught up to one another but I didn't see a second of her run. She did run the entire way and won herself a medal! She said she enjoyed it. I was more nervous when she left for the start then on her first day of school. Come on, my daughter's first race! Great job Abegail! We still don't know what her time was, but she ran a 3:48 half mile in gym class so she definitely has the running genes. Today was the last morning of Saturday soccer and Annie and E-man both received trophies. A good sports day in the Richardson household.
Quotes From Abegail:
As we are driving to the race, we took a wrong turn (where is my mind??) and saw a dead squirrel.
A: Mommy, when squirrels die, do they go to squirrel heaven?
M: Well, I'm not really up on the whole squirrel heaven thing.
Then seeing another trailer on the road that said bobcat Abegail says: "Mommy is that full of bobcats??"
M:No, not exactly.