Thursday, June 20, 2013

We've been busy marking off our Summer Bucket List

 Waking up early on a Saturday morning to be across town by 9 a.m. with all four boys, isn't one of my favorite things to do (especially after everyone getting into the habit of sleeping in late). Participating in the Out & About Autism Walk is well worth it. I cheated when I added this to our bucket list, because this is an annual thing for us the past couple of years. We meet my parents out there for the walk, but this year we had the joy of one of Matthew's sister joining us. We stuck to the 1 mile fun walk, after struggling with Matthew in the wagon up on down the unpaved hills last for the 3 mile. It was nice to see familiar faces of the kids from Matthew's therapies there along with their staff and some of their parents. Also to meet some of my mom's co-workers. autism awareness is close to my heart obviously because of Matthew, but also my mom works in the autism program at work. and I have many friends whose lives have been touched by some one who is autistic. I love that this is something I can share doing with my family and get my boys involved with.
  We crossed off making cookies from our list. I've been craving homemade chocolate chip cookies for about a week. I know cookies aren't helping me any for my BeachBody challenge, but sometimes you just gotta have cookies made with love. The weather has been on the cooler side, so we figured it was time to make mom...I mean the boys some cookies. Thankfully I have some very talented little chefs, we forgot to readjust our recipe and they ended up making five dozen cookies. Honest, the boys ate the majority of them.
Many years ago my mom took my brother and myself strawberry  picking and the memory has stuck with me. Wanting to make memorable moments with my boys I added it to our bucket list. We were only there 30-40 minutes and had filled our flat with 11lbs of strawberries. Jordan was really into it and a huge help filling our flat. Jacob was in his glory just eating strawberries He'd pick one
and ask if it was a good one, regardless if I said try to pick ones that are more red or that's a great one, he'd answer "Oh, I'll eat it then. lol Joey, my sweet Joey; who isn't a fan of strawberries or any fruit only picked a handful to contribute. He spent most of the time looking for the ones that were absolutely perfect, if it wasn't perfect he'd leave it and keep searching.
  On our way home from getting our strawberries we passed a farm we frequent every summer and stopped in for what was suppose to be a quick visit. We stayed a lot longer than we planned because the animals were very friendly. A calf that was only a couple months old, snuggled up next to Jordan and licked the remains of strawberries off his jeans while he pet its head. The goats and sheep ate every piece of hay Joey and Jacob  held out to them. The donkey came right up to the fence so Jacob could pet him. Even the pigs were awake and active and come over to sneeze and snot on the kids. We went inside the farm house and Joey and Jacob put on a animal puppet show for me, and Jordan talked one of the farmers into letting him hold a baby chick.
We drove out to Fort Gratiot to visit the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. I was surprised at how excited the boys were about climbing the lighthouse. We learned a lot of cool information about light lighthouse, I try to squeeze in education wherever I can. We climbed the 94 steps up to near the top of the 86 foot lighthouse. The view of Lake Huron and the Canadian border was so beautiful.  After out tour we were told we should check out the "Floating Lighthouse" that was just down the street. Actually it was a Lightship and we took a tour of it too. The boys weren't as impressed by it as they were with the lighthouse. Some of it may have been due to the long stories our guide a lovely older gentleman told along the way. The younger two were fascinated by seeing the bridge to Canada and the knowledge that another country was so close to where we live. We walked the boardwalk for a bit and read some of the informational signs along the way.
 That's five more things marked off our bucket list. I think we'll be focusing more on the ones we can do at home for a bit. The boys like the ones where we go places more than the homebound ones. I'll have to space them out some, there still is two more months of summer. Either that or come up with more ideas to add to our list, hmmm....


Thursday, June 13, 2013

We're All Good

We received our official acceptance letters into our new schools. Jordan is over the moon that he has been accepted and now says "I always knew they'd take me, why wouldn't they" lol. There was some question to which middle school they were going to send him, if he got in; thankfully he's in the one toured and had hoped for. Recently, we have learned some of his classmates from our "old" school will also be attending the same middle school. It's nice to know there will be some familiar faces amongst the masses. We have to wait until just before school starts to set up his schedule, this is new for him; his schedule was always figured out for him and the school chose his electives. All the boys are looking forward to not having to take Spanish class anymore. They are already learning a second language at home, I have been slowly teaching them sign language for years. My only problem now, What am I to do with ALL these uniforms and dress slacks. I think I may know some families that can take some of them off my hands. I think we'll keep one shirt per kids as a memento, it had been Jordan's school for the past 5 years and the other boys' first school. Although we are so ready to move on, it is kind of sad t be leaving behind the only school they've really known. I had been very involved in a wide variety of activities from helping in classroom, testing kids, keeping score at sporting events and running concession stands, to field trips and working in the lunchroom. I have come to know most of the students, and will miss them dearly, some of the middle school students had taken to calling me "Aunt Julie". I have worked beside many wonderful parent volunteers and will miss them also. I will be in the same place as my boys, when it comes to getting involved with activities and meeting new people. There will be new opportunities for me also to involve myself in the schools and new parents to meet. Choosing to view it as adding to our circle of friends, not as missing out on things with our old friends. Not sure what school Matthew will be attending, this year it will be up to his father. I do know he will also be starting a new school regardless of which school his father chooses. He'll also have new opportunities wherever he goes. We will stopping by the school tomorrow, the official last day of school to empty out lockers, pick up some things my boys have earned and of course say goodbye to our friends, maybe even get a few people to sign their yearbooks. I have to make sure they get some closure, the way we left the school didn't give them a chance, and was not the way we had planned to leave. We are closing this chapter and looking forward to starting a new one with us all beginning in the same place.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Offically on Vacation

   We have chosen to start our summer vacation early and not cut the boys' mohawks off. We are officially on vacation and officially working our way through our bucket list. We have made some headway and now have 10 activities completed. This past week we checked off five of them.
    When I was younger I use to love playing Chinese Jump rope, about a year ago I stumbled across one at a dollar store, and it has sat in our outdoor toy bucket since then. We added it to our bucket list in hopes of  the boys learning how to play. They were excited to play (even though it was a neon pink rope) and I ran through the basics and had everyone in place, then couldn't remember what to do after you made it through the pattern correctly. We Googled it, and the "rules" they had were not the same I remember from when I was a kid.  We meshed together what I remembered with some of what we found on line and came up with our own version. I was pleasantly surprised how well they did, they even were jumping two at the same time. Jordan was able to jump and actually land on the ropes from as high as my waist!!
 We borrowed a stack of origami books from the library, had a stack of paper, and this crazy idea that we could create all the cool animals from the books. Quite a few time we did really good until steps 5 or 6 then couldn't figure out what we were suppose to do then, and we'd start another one. I've learned origami is one of those
projects that is easy in theory but not in practice. We managed to make couple fish with all four of us working together to figure it out. Joey made a pretty cool water lily. We stuck mostly to paper people and fortune tellers. Jordan also taught us how to make paper balloons that he had learned how to do at school. All in all things  worked out, but I don't think we'll be trying to create any more paper swans any time soon.   We made popsicles with Nutella and Cool Whip, the boys measured, poured and mixed, then we waited. It took a long time for them to set, then we couldn't get them out of our molds. Finally releasing them with the use of a butter knife, we counted it more as a ice cream than a popsicle seems it wasn't on a stick. Not being one to let ice cream go to waste we enjoyed our fudge glob in a bowl, and it was very tasty. We made popsicles again and this time we took the much easier route of pouring pineapple orange juice into the molds, wait 2-3 hours, and enjoy. These one stayed on the sticks :)
   While we waited for our second popsicles to set we headed outside to
make our sidewalk chalk mural. They went with a beach theme. They had some really good ideas that they incorporated into the mural. Jordan made a S.S.BEATLES yellow submarine for Jacob (it's his new favorite band and song), we had Patrick from Sponge Bob, and of coarse a couple people about to be eaten my sharks. Along with sand castles, sea shells, and life guards. One of our friend's helped us with our artwork.The past two weekends Jordan has been volunteering at one of our favorite nature centers. He absolutely loves it. He gets to handle most of the critters and show them up close to visitors and hand feed them. We have been borrowing a lot of animal books from the library and researching them on line so he can make sure he gives correct information when people ask him questions about the animals. Yesterday, after finishing his shift we hung out for a while and he shared some of what he's learned about each of the animals with us. He even brought out a wood turtle to show his brothers.

  We tried doing blowing bubbles from our list, but with a twist. Another great idea I found on Pinterest, another one that didn't go as planned. The boys stayed up late so it would be dark enough to do glow in the dark bubbles. We tried pouring glow sticks into the bubbles, which was harder than it should have been. We successfully made the bottle with the bubbles glow, but we had hoped to make the actual bubbles glow. We didn't count it for our bucket list, and planning on trying it again. Now that we're on vacation, we're planning to complete at least one bucket list activity a day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Talk About Splitting Hairs

The other day we marked off another bucket list item- Cool summer haircuts. We compromised on this one, they wanted to grow out their hair and I wanted it buzzed. So we all got part of we wanted and they got mohawks :) They love them, I love them, but the school not so much.
Yesterday morning we were running late and only 2 boys spiked their hair up. I made sure they only spiked the top, the school doesn't allow the backs spiked (safety issue?). Shortly after I dropped them off I get a call from Crystal to let me know she had seen one of my boys in the office with his hair spiked. She stopped by and we chatted for a bit and waited to see if the school was going to call and let me know they made him lay down his hair. The call never came and I forgot all about it. On my way in to the cafeteria the principal stopped me because "we need to talk" UH HO! That can't be good. Once he closed the door I did the typical mom thing and mentally ran through anything any of my boys could have done wrong within 3 hours they were there, came up with nothing. I find out that I'm there because of their hair. That if I was trying to create a stir with their hairdo's I had succeeded. HUH? The principal saw their mohawks as a slap in the face on our way out. Again HUH? I got their hair cut because they needed them (Jacob was starting to look like Dora the Explorer) and they were cool hair cuts. They had mohawks (that were spiked up) last year for last week of school and it was a non-issue. I was told I had to "fix" their hair before tomorrow (today), or they could start their summer vacation early. WHAT?! Because of their hair? It's just hair. They were in violation of the school dress code by having sculptured/carved hair. He told me he didn't know how I was going to "fix" it, but they could not come back until it was fixed; even if it was laid flat. When I got home I googled  both sculptured and carved hair, my kids' style didn't fit the criteria.
I was told that their hair was just the last straw, because he had heard rumors about me talking to other parents about pulling my kids and encouraging them to pull their. Wait a minute, he's the principal he should know better than to listen to rumors. I had talked to some friends that also fellow parents about why I chose that this school was no longer a good fit for my family. Presumably, there are other parents who for their own reasons decided to pull their kids, and I had no clue about it. Apparently, I'm the cause because I'm pulling mine? The school had gone as far to call a close friend of mine and ask her if she was pulling her boys, too. You've got to be kidding me. Okay, I'm getting a little side tracked.
As it stand now, my boys will have to start their vacation early. I kept them home today, when I called them in I said it was for personal reasons. I'm still trying to figure out the right next step. I have considered buzzing them, they don't want to cut their hair, and I'm trying to be supportive of their decisions. I just spent a good amount of money on their do's and would rather not buzz them (I could have done that for free from the get-go). My brother sent me a message after I posted about this issue on my personal Facebook page, telling me he doesn't want his son's hair cut and to just keep him home from school. I'm not a rule breaker and if I would have known getting their hair cut was going to cause such a problem I would have waited until after they were out of school. I'm not even sure if I buzz them, that they'll be allowed back into school to finish out their last 6 days. They will be missing out on fieldtrips, field day, and fun days mostly. The boys are all for starting vacation early, but would like the opportunity to say good bye to their friends, especially because they won't be returning. I'm shocked that they are being kept from going to school because of their hair, and its the same style they had last year.
So much for leaving gracefully.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I'm doing a happy dance, two of the three boys were accepted into the school of our choice! Still waiting to hear on the last one, thinking positively. The boys were excited when they heard the news. Poor Jacob keeps thinking he's going to go this year. After we toured the school he thought the next day he was going to start there. That morning he was confused as why I woke him so early (we'll get an extra hour of sleep, BONUS) and why he had to still wear his uniform. I explained we had to wait to make sure they had room for us first, he wasn't happy about still having to wake up early but didn't complain. Again last night after hearing that they have been accepted, he thought he'd be attending today, because "but they have room for us". After some conversation he agreed that he should finish out the school year at the charter school and give proper good-byes to his classmates.
I was a little concerned how Joey would handle going to the new school, given that fact that he will be repeating the 3rd grade once he gets there. This year while trying to figure out his behavioral issues and dealing with the school because of his behavioral issues, he's grades and study habits took a nose dive. He's been working very hard to regain his grades and get back on track, but it feels like he's always playing catch up. After explain that none of the other kids will even know that he's already done 3rd grade, pointing out that he'll now probably be the tallest in his class as well as the oldest (I'm so glad he's still at the age where being the oldest and the biggest is a good thing), and he won't have to struggle so hard and will already know some of the material the other kids will be learning. Thankfully he's okay with it now. It was a very hard decision to make, but I think I've made the right call.
"King Jordan (as we taken to calling him during his hormonal preteen stage) has been making life interesting in our house. He's not happy about not hearing back yet if he'll be attending the new school or not. Although I don't like to make excuses for my kids when they decide to turn my house topsy-turvy; I think "King Jordan" has reappeared to show that he's important too and feels slighted by not quickly being accepted by the school. He is taking it out on his subjects (the other boys) by ordering them around; which this Queen B isn't liking at all. In his royal glory this morning he decided the subjects should be stuck eating Rice Krispies, while he had the good sugared cereal that after he poured his, he hid it away in his royal cellar (aka his closest). Oh the joys of having a preteen, I CAN wait to see what the teenage stage brings. Fingers Crossed we hear back soon on the new school.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Easier than we thought

When I first started making our summer bucket list I had so many ideas that I quickly came up with over a hundred. Then I got to thinking, how will we ever complete them all, the summer goes by so quickly. After knocking out 3 of them today, I'm thinking we may just need to add some more. We only had one bucket list event planned today from our list, but made a couple detours along the way. We went to our local Home Depot for a children's craft. We were late getting there but the boys got right to work on constructing their lawn mower shaped pencil holders. I couldn't very well deprive them of this. Every kid needs to have a lawn mower shaped pencil holder that they'll use all the time. They had fun lining up the wood, gluing, and hammering. I thought I would use this opportunity to sneak in a little life lesson for my young gentlemen- to read the instructions, then to actually follow the instructions, and that there usually aren't supposed to be any spare parts. My poor nephew not being as accustomed with tools as my boys learn a important lesson as to how hard to strike a nail if he's not sure if he'll hit the nail or his thumb. We now have four lawn mower pencil holders that are slightly more unique than the model, proudly on display. This was not one of our bucket list items; as the boys pointed out to me earlier the one on our list clearly has the date of the Home Depot craft as July 1st, so we have to wait until after that project to cross it off. We would have made this project anyways if it was on the list or not. We can't wait to see what the surprise project will be on July 1st.
From there it was to Tons O' Trucks our main event for the day. We hunted down a parking spot and hiked our way to where all the trucks were and the first thing we see is a racecar. Matthew's most favorite thing in the world is racecars (He has 500 hot wheels to prove it) They climbed on, in, and around just about every truck, car, and machine that was there. They posed for dozens of pictures for mom, played every game that was set up, and grabbed every freebie along the way. We even stopped in at the Child ID booth to update their info, just incase (heaven forbid anything ever happen). Leaving with bags of freebies, coloring books, a copy of every sheet of paper the booths had laid out, and huge smiles. I've heard this is an annual event and we're looking forward to returning next year. That was our 2nd bucket list item completed so far. We stopped for a late lunch, then headed home. Along the way we spotted a playground we had been meaning to stop at. Figuring that everyone is still in a good mood even after a busy morning, why not stop now. Although it was really muddy and there were more than a couple puddles to hop over, we stopped and played for a bit. Off to the side was a small track that seemed to grab my boys attention and soon we were trying to determine who was the fastest in the family. We learned Jordan is a sprinter and mom can do long distance, which is probably why cross county was difficult for Jordan and why mom loses every race from the house to the corner. We played there until it threatened to rain again. Check and check, those were two more of bucket list activities- go to a new park/playground & compete in a foot race. Later in the evening the boys had friends who were coming over to hang out for a couple hours. What a well spent Saturday, the sun was shining (mostly), everyone maintained positive attitudes, not yelling or crying, and it was shared together as a family and with friends. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring us :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What's new with the "B's"...

The school year is quickly coming to an end, but so is my time as my nephew's caregiver. End of June he will go back to live with his father. Its' very bitter sweet to have him leaving us, in so many ways he has become one of  my boys. We have accomplished so much in the time he has been with me and he has definitely challenged me while here. We're all going to miss him terribly even though we'll still get to visit with him, but it won't be the same. I'm going to miss taking him to his physical and occupational therapy, where we've made so many friends whom have been an encouragement and a support system. I won't miss having to drag him to so many doctor appointments and tests; hopefully they'll be a thing of the past now that we've got the ball rolling in the right direction. I'll miss the cuddles he gives spontaneously throughout the day and having him tell me he missed me every time I reenter a room. He has grown so much during his stay with us and learned so many things. It amazes me how much more independent he is compared to when he first got here. It's going to feel weird for awhile carting around only 3 kids, tucking in only 3 kids, and making lunches for only 3 kids. To not have to always be reading labels to make sure things are gluten free and/or make alternative meals that are similar to our meals but are gluten free. I am however looking forward to devoting more of my time and energy to my little family. Everyone kind of got pushed toward the back burner until we could get Matthew his diagnosis and the help he needed. There was some resentment from that and I'm still working on correcting the friction that was caused. So much of my attention was on getting Matthew set up with should have been in place since he was 2 years old, that I missed my own boys straying off course.
We will be busy enough this summer and up coming fall to distract from the fact that we are once again a family of four. A lot of focusing on my boys and spending a lot of family time together. I have signed on with The Happy Family Movement and we have a "Summer Bucket List" of 101 activities (and counting) to tackle. I'm also doing a 30 day challenge through The Orange Rhino to yell less, love more. I'm finishing up a 30 day Beach Body challenge and will be participating in another one with Crystal during June.
This fall my boys will be attending their first ever public school, if everything goes according to the plan. This is my first time with school of choice, and I guess you have to wait to hear if they'll have room for you. We have had a very trying year at the charter school they have attended, along with many things at the school that I have issues with (and don't see changes coming any time soon). Even though they are sad about leaving their friends (and the basketball coach) , they are very excited about no uniform, making new friends, and starting a new adventure (and for my oldest the shear variety of sports).
I will keep everyone updated as much as I can about how Matthew is doing and adjusting to his new living arrangement. Soon I should be able to share our progress with our "Summer Bucket List". Although summer hasn't officially started for us yet, the boys were excited to get started on their list and have already completed one item :)

Post from 6/1/13