Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Busy B's

School supply list are already being send out, it's making us feel like were running out of summertime. Only a month left to finish the second half of our list. I'm confident that will be able to reach our goal of completing our whole bucket list. Especially if we keep up the pace we have completing them. So here is what we did over the weekend...
Watermelon eating contest with one of the sweetest and juiciest watermelon I've had all year. You'll notice that Joey didn't even take a bite of his, but he did sit and pose for the picture. That kid really doesn't like fruit, now if it were a corn on the cob eating contest he would have been all over it. Hmm...corn eating contest, I may have to add that to the list. Jacob has love watermelon since he was a itty bitty, so it didn't surprise me when he was the winner. Jordan was sure he had the win in the bag, it was close but Jacob won by 3 or 4 bites.
It was a watermelon themed day, because after our eating contest (and snack of a couple more pieces of watermelon) we headed out to spit the seeds. Now I wanted to make sure things were done precisely right. So I picked out the seeds from to insure they hadn't been near anyone's mouths. Placed the in a shallow bowl with some water so they wouldn't dry out making them more difficult to spit out. I grabbed the sidewalk chalk and measuring tape and off we went. After marking off up to 13 feet, the boys took turns spitting the seeds. Jacob's furthest one was 6 feet, Joey's was almost 8 feet, and Jordan made it past the 13 foot marker. Jordan was trying to teach Jacob different techniques to try to get better distance.
We went back to the neighborhood I began my childhood in for some Dairy Queen ice cream. Now there is many ice cream places between our house and one we went to, but that one always has the best ice cream. It's ice cream filled with memories of my childhood sitting at the same picnic tables eating ice cream with my parents. I want my boys to taste ice cream that is also full of memories they'll want to share with their children years later. Over the years we have frequented there often sometimes with my parents. Then after we're good and sticky we drive past my old house, I point out my old bedroom and comment on how different it looks. My boys could probably tell you how to get to my old house from the Dairy Queen, also tell you where my friends lived and where my grandparents lived and how often I use to visit my grandparents who lived only a couple streets over. It's all about passing on our legacy and those little bonding moments. So our visit to the Dairy Queen is about more than vanilla dipped in chocolate with sprinkles, and my boys loved both the ice cream and my sharing of memories.
The other night we had a going away bonfire for one of our neighbors. The boys were thrilled to up and outside so late (even though it's summer, there's still a bedtime so I can get some quiet time). Although we didn't stay out for long, they had fun cooking s'mores and laughing with the neighbors. Joey was bummed because he doesn't like marshmallows (go figure), so no one would give him any because he never eats them and I was plum out of hot dogs for him to roast.
The following day our church was having a barbeque picnic, with so many cool things for the kids. The first thing we did was get out faces painted (not the best idea, they sweated half of them off within the hour). Then they were off to the bounce houses and rock wall, I couldn't even tell you how much junk they ate. That same night our little village was having their fireworks. I got lucky and snapped the picture while a firework was going off to provide enough light to be able to document this activity . The boys laid on our blanket and snuggled in next to me. I love moments like that, when they are laying so close that my arm or leg goes numb just because they want to be close to me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taking our bucket list on the road

We headed south to Columbus Ohio for a vacation, to enjoy their wonderfull zoo. It was an adventure just the drive there and back due to the fact that we had my parents, my 3 boys, my 13 year old niece and myself all packed into my van for 4 hours each way. Not real sure where we were going to stay when we go there, after looking into many hotels and all of them being booked. We figured just to head down there and hopefully we'd find something. Although we didn't have a room for the night our first stop was the water park. Some of the slides were pretty intense looking. Thankfully Papa isn't as big of a scaredy-cat as I am  and took the kids on every slide they desired. Joey was a dare devil and went on most of the same rides as the older two did. Jacob is more cautious and liked the lazy river the best. I had the misfortune to step on a bee after going down only 2 slides and spent most of the time hobbling around with ice on my foot and getting pictures of everyone having fun. One of my favorites was the wave pool (I could do that one with a swollen foot), the kids had so much fun in there. We'd start back by the 5 foot mark and let the waves push us into shallower waters.
  After hours of playing in the water we started our hunt for a hotel with a vacancy. Turns out there was a car show that weekend. We got the last two rooms at a Red Roof Inn. Thankful for not having to sleep in the van, but unfortunately for us they were smoking rooms and 4 rooms apart. I'm the only smoker and I don't smoke indoors. Jordan is highly allergic to cigarette smoke and even extreme 3rd hand smoke can lead to him having an attack. We put Papa and the boys in the room that was less smelly and us girls took the other room. This was Jacob first stay in a hotel and Joey's first one he'll be able to remember (he was 2 months old the last time we went to a hotel), they were both very excited to be there even if it was super stinky.
  We woke early and tackled the huge Columbus Zoo, it's at least twice the size of our zoo we visit near home. We were so close to the animals and they were very active and entertaining. We walk both sides of the zoo and were allowed to touch some of the sea creatures like a starfish. We walked 6 miles easily that day (even me on my foot that had just about doubled in size). After the zoo we stopped by Stingray Bay and pet the stingrays, that was really cool. After getting over the fact that they wouldn't actually sting us I was as into it as the kids. We just had to watch out for the shark they had in there, we were told he may actually bite. The boys thought it was funny to keep telling me the shark was there (when it wasn't) to watch me quickly yank my arm out of the water with a yelp.
 After driving the almost 4 hours back to my parents house, the boys and I crashed there instead  driving the extra 40 minutes home. The following day we were headed back south to Monroe, MI to the River Raisin Battlefield. We had chosen this date for a reason, after some research I learned they were going to be firing cannons and muskets. For such a little museum it was really neat. We learned a lot of information about the Battle of 1812 and the weapons they used. There were 1812 style costumes for the kids to try on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Halfway through our bucket list

  We've so busy enjoying our summer and flying through our bucket list, I'm finding it hard to keep everyone updated. We've had a lot of nights we've been getting in late and I'm just too exhausted to write, in the mornings we're up and moving nonstop. So here's what we've been up to.
   I'm funny about going out in public in my pajamas. I know many people do this all the time, but I'm the type that will change back into my day clothes to take the garbage out at night. That said, completing our bucket list item of go out to breakfast in our PJ's was hard for me. We did it though, the boys were more excited about it than I was. I changed out of what I wore to bed into what I viewed as  pajamas that could pass as  workout clothes. Luck was on my side and the restaurant near our home was closed for remodeling and we had to go to the next town over. We had planned on having a sit down meal, but were unable to find an open restaurant (must be the time of the year for restaurant remodels), we ended up eating in at a McDonald's. The boys were thrilled that Mickey D's served breakfast, they've never had a reason to eat out that early.
A little while back Joey and I had assembled our sponge bombs but the weather hadn't been warm enough to enjoy them. We met up with some friends to catch up and for our boys to play. We brought our sponge bombs and our friends got out there sprinkler and some water balls. The boys were divided into to teams, after a brief water war we redevised the teams. Jordan has a really good arm and doesn't use much restraint in the heat of the moment. To make things more fair it was the four boys vs. Jordan. That seemed to work until Jordan couldn't keep up with throwing the sponge bombs back fast enough :) All the boys had fun playing in the water together and enjoying each others company.
Our pie eating contest was interesting to say the least. Jordan and Jacob wanted a Lemon Meringue pie, but Joey said he would only participate if we got an apple pie that its the only pie he likes. We got the apple pie; after the first couple of bites Joey remembered he doesn't like apple pie after all and forfeited. Turns out he only likes pumpkin pie, I should have seen that one coming. Although he forfeited he had a good laugh watching his brothers scarf down their pie. Jordan was our winner with Jacob in a close second. After our contest we all enjoyed another piece at a slower pace so they could actually taste it :)
For our game of charades everyone wrote out five things to be acted out. We had some really interesting ones to try to guess. Poor Jordan had to try to act out a mat. Jacob became a little frustrated because he was too good at acting his out and we guessed them too quickly. I had the pleasure of watching Jordan act out being me, the card he drew was MOM; the other boys guessed it right away. We ended up playing a couple rounds of charades.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Day at the Beach

   The weather has finally warmed up enough to really start feeling like summer, and we have been taking advantage of it. We were able to check off visiting 3 Metro parks when we visited the beach the other day. We had made a day of it and kept busy doing many activities that are on our summer list. One of our favorites is visiting the nature center so we went there first. It was neat to compare it to the one Jordan has been volunteering at. Jordan talked one of the employees into letting him help cleaning one of the turtle tanks and placing the turtles back in it after it was clean. They even allowed him to take out one of the snakes and handle it. There were some cool things there that we don't have at the other nature center. After the nature center we played some croquet , then unloaded the bikes and rode the 3 miles to Mickey D's for dinner. After riding the 3 miles back to the beach the boys switched into their swimsuit while I figured out how to get all four bikes back on the rack. They spent about 45 minutes running through the splash pad before the park shut the water off. Another quick change of clothes then a quiet walk down the boardwalk to check out the boat before we headed to the playground for bit, also tried to play shuffleboard. The only thing we didn't so at the beach was go to the beach.
   Early Saturday morning we were up and headed out the to see what their surprise craft was at Home Depot that had to do with Despicable Me 2. I was kind of disappointed when we got there that Matthew wasn't with us for this one. They made little cars that included sticker of the minions to stick to it. My boys had a good time assembling them, we even stayed to paint them this time. 
   The next day we had plans with friends to go to a small beach near our neighborhood where we checked off more of our summer activities. Although the boys had already been swimming we decided that we were going to mark of "go swimming" because mom finally got into the water. I dug a nice size hole that the boys happily hopped into so I could bury them. We attempted to make our sandcastle, but weren't able to stack them and made more of a sand city. We did a lot of swimming and got a lot of sun, we all have a sunburn to some degree. It was a nice day spend with friends and the kids had fun playing with their friends.
  The wrote our letters to family members and informed them of all the fun things we have done so far this summer. I had the boys address their own envelopes, which I was really taken aback that they couldn't remember how. All my kids even my youngest can tell me how to send an email, IM, or text, but none of them know where to write the address to the person they were sending the letter to. We will have to start sending more letters to people through snail mail. I believe this is a life skill they should know especially my oldest that is going into 7th grade.
    Last night we marked off one of my favorite list items, the boys prepared dinner (with supervision). We had a lovely meal of eggs made my Jordan, Joey microwaved some turkey bacon for us, and Jacob manned the toaster and buttering of the toast. They were all very proud of themselves for their contribution to dinner. A meal as fine as the one the boys created deserved to be eaten by candle light. So they rounded up what candles the could reach (some of them scented) and added them to the dinner table. I have three very talented chefs, and look forward to teaching them more meals the can help cook.
We have a few more bucket list activities planned for this week. We have completed 36 so far this summer. I think we are keeping a nice pace and should have enough to reach to the end of summer.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Breezing through our bucket list

 We have been breezing through our summer list. Although our bowling trip didn't go as planned and we'll probably try it again; we haven't had any issues with the ones since then. We have been doing more than one activity per day, it's just the way it has worked out. We had a family picnic, nothing
fancy just subs, chips and juice boxes. We had stopped for lunch and there wasn't much seating at the fast food restaurant so we stopped at a nearby park to enjoy our meal. We had planned to stay and play after we finished our lunch picnic, but the grounds crew at the park had different plans. Shortly after laying out our blanket, they had started up the lawn mowers. We finished just before they got over by where we settled.
  We also celebrated our Un-birthday party the day after Joey's birthday. With minor adjustments to the birthday decorations that were up for Joey's birthday and left over birthday cake and ice cream. We enjoyed a pizza dinner, ate cake and ice cream, had our dance party. We did a couple hip hop line dances and showed off our own crazy dance moves.
    Monster's University is one of new movies the boys wanted to see on the big screen this summer. We met up with some friends to check this one off our list. They are eagerly waiting to return to see Despicable Me 2 and still want to see Epic.
  When we originally put treasure hunt on our list, we had planned on doing our homemade one. We have done these in the past where I hide clues that lead to the next clue throughout our home for the boys follow to find a "treasure" or treat at the end. We took a different approach this time and tried our hand at Geocaching.  There are a couple caches within walking distance of our home. Although not exactly what the boys thought it would be like, they really liked searching for them anyways. We had micro ones so there weren't treasure to find inside. We have gone "caching" a couple times since then, and the boys are getting really good at locating the hidden containers.
  Doesn't it seems that the barbeque runs out of propane at the most inconvenient times. We had a busy day so we were late getting dinner
started and the propane quit on us. We improvised (we're really good at improvising) and dug out our little charcoal grill. It took longer to make dinner, but the boys were able to roast hot dogs on sticks. Since we had hot coals from the hot dogs we figured it was the perfect time for S'mores.
  We don't do foods that contain artificial food dyes, so it's been awhile since my boys have had ice cream from the ice cream truck (also I don't like paying $2.75 for one popsicle). So being allowed to chase down the ice cream man for a treat was a really special treat. They were excited about their ice creams, but didn't enjoy them as much as they thought they would. I have to admit I tasted Joey's after he decided he didn't want it. To me it didn't really have any real flavor. Grateful for the opportunity to get ice cream from the truck, but not one they think they need to do again anytime soon.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Update on Matthew

Just over a week ago Matthew moved out and after spending a few days with his grandparents he's all moved in at his dad's. His first couple of days were a little rough for him, although he loves staying at Grandma's house it wasn't what he was expecting. He was prepared to move straight into dad's house, but there was a little hiccup up work schedules and everything worked out in the end. After his first couple days at Grandma's Matthew started to really miss us. He has never been away from us for more than 2 days at a time the whole time he stayed with us. Once moving in with his dad, it was easier for him to not dwell on us not being around. I was worried about him adjusting to being an only child after being "one of the boys" for so long, but recently found out that dad's girlfriend and her 6 year old son were also moving in the same weekend. He has fallen into somewhat of a routine with dad. He's continuing with his therapies and is strictly following the gluten free diet. I had hoped to see him on July 4th, but just couldn't meet up with them. From what I've heard through the grapevine he is testing boundaries and testing to see what he can get away with. He has tested the therapist also, to see if even though dad takes him there now that he still has to do the exercises. I think they have him back on track during therapy now and he's participating again. Both Matthew and his dad are figuring things out and seem to be adjusting really well.
  My boys are excited to have my undivided attention again. We've been working at getting things running smoothly around here and getting everyone on the same page about what is expected of them. There was a question of who gets their own room now, seems there is a bunk bed set up in both bedrooms. We have figured out a rotation of the rooms that works for all 3 of them. They were eager to reclaim their space and their stuff. We have been working on correcting some of the resentment sharing everything 24/7 for almost a year. They are doing great; attitudes are improving, their aggression has lessened towards each other, and routine is being restored. We have been spending a lot of family time together both working our way through our bucket list and just hanging out. There has been more cuddles and hugs getting passed around. They have surprised me at how quickly their behaviors started to change once it was just the four of us again. Things that would have sent them on the offensive have mostly been rolling off their backs. The high fiving, fist bumps and hugs between the boys has returned. I'm very proud of the changes in attitude and behavior of my boys; I know it will take some time but we'll all get back to where we were before. We still have a ways to go but we're getting there.
  Last weekend was very busy for us; between Joey's birthday, Matthew moving out the day after that, and marking off more of our bucket lists. Joey's birthday this year was a quiet event with the five of us and my parents. The boys went swimming (I wasn't getting into that pool, the water was freezing), Joey received some really cool stuff he had wanted along with MANY baseball cards (his newest collection), and a cute Lego cake I made for him. The cake was an adventure to make, from the cake falling apart, having to run back to the store for more cake mix,  to my natural food dyes not changing the color of the icing, to finally adding additive filled dyes. Knowing that it was the cake that Joey really wanted and totally loved, was worth the mishaps along the way.
  The day after his birthday, things had gotten off to a rough start. What was left of Joey's birthday cake was left on the back of the stove, and while I was in the shower Matthew helped himself to about half of it. Needless to say I wasn't too pleased. Trying to maintain a positive attitude and not let it ruin our day and trying to have Matthew's last day with us end on a happy note, we went bowling. Bowling is one of Matthew's favorite things (after Hot Wheel cars) also one of our bucket list items. We had a great time bowling and ran into some of Jacob's friends who bowled with us for a bit. Everyone was in great moods, ribbing each other about their great gutter balls, and how could they have gotten been beaten by a girl (mom) as we left. Walking outside into a mass of fish flies, the boys being boys started throwing them at each other and Jacob's friends. An improv fish fly fight; everyone running around laughing and fish flies were flying in every direction and the boys all loving it; then came the an ear piercing scream from Matthew. He had managed to get himself in the very center of all the boys and a fish fly landed on him. He screamed so loud and so long that people from the stores next to the bowling alley actually came out to see what was going on. He was wildly swinging his arms, dropped to the ground kicking, and striking out at anyone or anything near him. I tried to get close to him to attempt to calm him and reassure him, not knowing what else to do. I was in complete shock at his sudden tantrum and the severity of it. This was the first time Matthew had had a fit while staying with me. I had never been so embarrassed, and as quickly as he started he just stopped.  All happy positive feelings gone, replaced by embarrassed on my part, anger, resentment, and embarrassed on the boys part. Jacob's friends got scolded by their mom who came running out when Matthew started screaming, even after I tried to explain that they hadn't known the fish flies would set Matthew (none of us did). My boys were not happy that their game had come to an abrupt stop, that their friends got into trouble and that people from the bowling and other stores were all staring at them because of Matthew. Matthew was perfectly calm and clueless about how his fit affected everyone else, and picked up another fish fly to throw at Jordan. On the way home he talked nonstop about everyone throwing bugs and how fun and funny it was; having no idea that he was making the boys even more upset and reminding of us of how embarrassed we were. When we got home from bowling Grandma was there to take Matthew to her house for a couple days. Needless to say after the scene that had occurred only 10 minutes before, they boys were ready to see Matthew leave. So much for ending his last day with us on a happy note.