Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Look! Something Shiny!

Summer 2013 Lake Huron
The boys and I seem to have a habit of getting distracted when we go places or when we're in the middle an activity. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just something I noticed. Often we will have a destination in mind, see a sign for something or somewhere else, and change our route. We have made wonderful memories on our detoured adventures. Last summer while on our way to Fort Gratoit Lighthouse, we saw the advertisement for the Floating Lighthouse (Lightboat). While the Floating Lighthouse was not nearly as exciting as we had hoped, we did learn some cool things.The lightboat was right there along Lake Huron so we walked the boardwalk, which lead to discussions about Canada and languages spoke there and some of their cultures. The younger two were fascinated they could be standing in one country and be looking at a different one.

We get distracted a lot, such was the case while we attempted to mark off our bucket list activity of finding 5 Geocaches. We found a walking trail in which over 50 "caches" were hidden. We only managed to locate 2 out of the 6 we were searching for before the mosquitoes got the better of us. We almost called it quits for the day because we weren't having much luck finding the ones we were looking for. We set off to try a different neighborhood. Jordan and I found another "cache" that we were both afraid to touch, we actually used a stick to poke it before we figured out it was what we were looking for. Feeling that we should be able to find all 5 Geocaches in one day we moved on to our next location. Which turned out to be an open field on corner in a subdivision with no parking on either side of the street. Part of Geocaching is your not suppose to be seen by "Muggles" (yes, like from Harry Potter), so we needed to find somewhere to park and be able to blend in. We ended up on a side street a short distance for our "cache" and ended up parked right in front of a really neat little park. We looked for of hidden treasure for a short time, but the boys wanted to check out the playground. Figuring 3 geo finds was a great start towards our goal of five, we went to play instead.

While playing at the new park that is less than 5 miles from our home that we never realized was there, Jacob pointed out that we once again added visit a new playground to our bucket list. So unintentionally we still managed to mark off a bucket list item. We haven't been back to that playground yet, but plan to in the near future. This turned out to be the first of many new playgrounds we found this summer while working on other bucket list activities.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Berries and a Birthday

Due to the rough winter the strawberries came in late this year. It just so happened that we went on Joey's birthday to get our berries. Last year Papa had mentioned that if we go strawberry picking again he would like to come along, so this year Papa joined us. I was hoping for a bounty of strawberries like we were able to pick last year. The difficult winter had greatly effected the size and numbers of berries. We started back near the sign that said "best picking" but most of the berries were over ripe or close to it, although there many to pick. We inched our way to the "better picking" and they were a nice shade of red, but not many on the plants. Feeling a bit discouraged we headed over to where there was no sign and managed to find an abundance of strawberries, however they were on the smaller side. Papa was able after some time to fill his bin to take back to Grandma. We (or more accurately I) mostly filled our bin. The boys just weren't as into picking their own this year. Joey was less than pleased to even be in the strawberry patch, he just wanted to get home to unwrap his present. Joey also made a point to inform the whole patch that he doesn't even like strawberries and it was his birthday, and he shouldn't have to pick fruit he's not going to eat...LOL! I think we had a smoother time last year, because there were so many big, juicy strawberries. That and it was quick picking. Last year we filled our bin in less than an 45 minutes and this year it was just over and hour and a half. We all enjoyed our berries later that evening, except Joey :)

After gathering our strawberries Papa hung out at our house for a little while to play with the boys and to watch Joey open his present from mom. Joey was very anxious to open his gift because he thought he had correctly guessed what it was, a new pogo stick. However his guess was incorrect he was over the moon excited about what he did receive, a Ripstix!!! Some friends of our received Ripstix as a Christmas present and Joey had loved trying them out. He borrowed them as often as he could and really wished to have one of his own. He truly didn't believe that he would get one of his own because they cost $65 and mom doesn't not buy expensive gifts (that's Santa's job). After opening his gift the trauma of picking strawberries was quickly forgotten. He was able to should Papa some of his tricks before Papa needed to get home to Grandma.

Over the weekend we celebrated Joey's birthday with Papa and Grandma at their house. Where more gifts were given and more cake on ice cream were had.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Potter Park Zoo

We met up with the grandparents to head down to one of their favorite zoos, that they found a couple years ago while visiting Lansing for one of my niece's cheer-leading competitions. Things got off to a bumpy start, and had me questioning if we had chosen the wrong day for the zoo. We had been out later than normal due to visiting our villages firework display the night before so having them wake up early wasn't an easy task.  I had let the boys know that it was going to take about an hour and a half to drive to and from the zoo and to bring something to occupy their time. All 3 forgot to grab an activity! While trapped in the car for the long drive, I was having a difficult time seeing my boys as the blessings they are. This was the night Jordan had stayed up majority of the night to play the banned computer game so he was a big pile of attitude and crabbiness. Joey was, Joey. To occupy himself he invented many ways and noises to pester his brothers the whole ride there. Jacob who loves his sleep, was giddy from the lack of rest. Pairing that with he was sitting next to Papa lead to a lot of noise and goofiness from backseats. I was tired from only getting about 3-4 hours of sleep. It just was not a good combinations of personalities. Thankfully Papa and Grandma from their years of experience (not from me, of course *wink, wink*) kept moving forward and put smiles on and hoped for the best. Once we reach the Potter Park Zoo and the boys were no long "trapped" in the car with each other, slowly we could all be seen as the blessing we are. We had a lovely time at the zoo and saw some animals we don't see at the Detroit Zoo. It was wonderful that you were so close to each of the animals and could really get a good look at them. The aviary was a favorite of ours! You can purchase a small amount of food and feed the birds. There was also a petting farm where instead of feeding the goats, you could use one of the brushes provided and brush them. We also rode on camels, Papa and Grandma had offered to just watch. I was very impressed with Jacob who has a fear of height and is extremely cautious about trying new things, he climbed up on that camel with the same excitement his brothers had.

Normally a day at the zoo is more than enough to wear us out. However we were so close to our State Capital building that it seemed silly not to stop by. We were all over our earlier moods and were in good spirits. As it was Sunday, we couldn't actually go inside but the boys enjoyed walking around and reading and looking at the  statues. Jacob was fascinated that we were at a "really important place" where decisions for our whole state were made. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Magic of Our Local Library

We have signed up for every event our library is hosting this summer. So marking off a library event was going to be very simple for us, between the summer reading program, science crafts, and magic/science shows. It just so happened that we ended up really participating in one of the events.

The first event of the summer was a performance of the Science of Magic. Jordan really wasn't into watching the performance because it was going to be lame and he would most likely already know how all the tricks were done, but he was low on reading material so he tagged along. I think mostly just to humor me, but I'll take what I can get. Turns out the "magician" was really impressed with Jordan's theories of how the tricks were done. We all learned a few tricks we had not known before hand. During the presentation the magician keep the kids (and their adults) engaged by asking question to test our knowledge. It made me laugh on how often my boys were tossing out their hypothesises. All 3 had their hand in the air for most of the show either with a question or to answer a question. The magician made a comment a couple of times to the effect of "who is your mother? Is your mom a teacher? You're the brother of Mr. Awesome (Jordan was wearing a shirt that said Awesome) back there? That's one of your kids, isn't it? " I've got to tell you that it felt great to hear someone praise my boys and to hear my efforts to teach them praised. I was so proud to see that things I've taught my kids when I wasn't sure they were really paying attention had taken root in their memories.

We became part of the act in more ways than just helping with leading questions and educated guesses. Jordan was pulled on "stage" to help with a few experiments. Joey, Jordan and I all were able to participate in a demonstration of Newton's law. A nice mom took pictures for us and emailed them to me.

While literately taking part in the library event was great and the boys had a blast (even Jordan), I think the best part is it sparked Jacob's interest in science experiments, Joey borrowed some books about Albert Einstein, and Jordan grabbed some magic trick books. I'm so glad we added this to our bucket list this summer.

Walking for Awareness

I love to sleep. Especially during summer vacation. Usually I get to do so, but here it is just before 5:30 a.m. and I'm now wide awake. So much for thinking we had the "teenage thing" under control. Jordan and I have been going round and round about certain games being played on the computer, I finally banned some from our home computer (we believe Grandma's computer got a virus from at least one of the games). Apparently when I told my 13 year old "You are not to play *insert game name here*" that translated to "You may only play *insert game name here* during the middle of the night, when you believe everyone else is sleeping. You also need to log off *game* and pretend to be sleeping on the couch if anyone comes downstairs". He may have gotten away with it, but unfortunately for him (and myself) I had a lot of water to drink just before bed. I often wonder what actually goes through a teenagers mind. He even tip-toed back down 15 minutes later to see if I was still awake. Oh, the joys of teenagers.

Well, I'm up now, may as well start updating how out Summer Bucket List has been progressing.The first activity this year almost didn't make it on our list. For the past 4 years the boys and myself have joined my parents in walking for Autism Awareness, and my nephew Matthew (who use to live with us) was added to our group in 2011. At first I thought it was a given that we would be participating again this year; but after seeing how my boys and Matthew interact since his time living in our home, my mom gave us the option to opt out. After the initial shock of why wouldn't we want to walk, I saw her point of view. There was a high probability that tensions would rise between the four boys resulting in a likely decrease of fun during our Fun Walk/Run. There were other ways we could help bring awareness for the wonderful research being done and to show support to our friends who are on the Spectrum. During Matthew's time living with us we were able to finally get him diagnosed on the Spectrum, so it seemed important that he be part of the walk and the boys and I graciously bowed out. The day before the forms needed to be turned in, Grandma called and suggested that we join them regardless of ill feeling between the boys. She pointed out that being part of the walk has become a tradition for us, so we decided again to walk.

We met up with the grandparents, my niece (Matthew's half-sister), and Matthew at the walk shortly before the 1 mile fun walk began. The worries about how the boys would interact was a non-issue, Jordan and my niece buddy up as the two oldest, Joey hung with Papa, Jacob bounced between hanging with Mom and hanging with Papa, Matthew stuck with Grandma or tagged along with my niece. We peacefully completed the our mile as a family. Raven, Jordan, and I made plans to
compete together in the run portion if we are invited again next year.

Every year my boys seem to work up an appetite during that one mile and look forward to the bagels provide afterwards.This is usually when we take our group picture, but this year we were distracted by the sound of music. Surprisingly there wasn't anyone dancing and the lady over there was so peppy and friendly. There was no way of getting the two teenagers over there to dance like fools and embarrass themselves in public, but Joey and Jacob were all for showing off their moves. I joined in for a couple of the line dances, and maybe a couple other songs too. Matthew and Grandma got their groove on for a song or two also. What about Papa you ask, he was taking pictures of us.

Our wonderful dancing slowly drew in a crowd and we quietly slid our way over to the playground, where the older two were pretending they didn't know us or our crazy dance moves. After about and hour and a half of climbing around like monkeys the kids found the bounce houses empty and headed over that way. All the walking, dancing, climbing and jumping really works up an appetite, so it was time to head to lunch then to Grandma's, but not before we finally took our group picture.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Post That Really isn't a Post (But I managed time to sit and write)

I'm so far behind on blogging!! We have been busy just about nonstop and when I finally have a moment to sit and relax, I can't find the motivation to even inch my way to the computer. When the kiddos head off to bed, I head outside to spend some time with friends just to sit and chat without any of the kiddos around. Also I have been crocheting away trying to earn some extra cash for Jordan's
8th grade trip. It's a gloomy kind of day and the boys are engrossed in a movie, so I'll try a quick post.

Let me see, what all have we been up to.... The younger two boys attended a twilight camp last week through cub scouts. I had planned on spending the quiet hours they were at camp to sit and attempt to catch up the blog. Once getting to the camp, I couldn't bring myself to miss all the photo opportunities while they were working on new skills and crafts. We all ended up staying the whole 5 hours for all 3 days of camp. Jordan being the "tag-along" busied himself with helping out at each of the activities. The second day there Jordan was given an "official" staff shirt and was posted at the archery booth. He was more than happy to help the younger scouts and even found some of his schoolmates to hang out with. All the activities the boys worked on while at the camp will go towards either one of their requirements or a belt loop. A more in depth look at what went on at camp will be in a post in the near future (hopefully).

We didn't make a Spring Bucket List due to our hectic schedules at the time. We have however made a point of resuming the bucket list for the summer. We are sticking with the shorter lists and only have 30 activities on it. There are some activities that were on our list last summer that are pretty much a given every year so we did not include them on this years list. Also there are some fun things we plan on doing and some new places we plan on checking out that also didn't make it onto our lists. We have been flying through our bucket list and are currently half way through. Again, there should be a post (or more) in the near future about which activities we have already completed. If you missed this summer's bucket list you can find it here.

We have been taking advantage of as many free events we can, that are within a reasonable distance from our home (and planning to attend more in the coming months. There has been some great bounds made towards out 1000 Hours Outside, as the boys have taken up a new "sport"; skateboarding. Of course, we have been swimming as much as the weather allows.

Just wanted to let everyone know I have not forgot about writing. I have been enjoying family time was teenage attitude has lessened some. I promise more detailed posts to follow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We're Back!!!

Teenage attitude in full swing!
Well, Hello again!! Sorry for such a long silence. I had not planned on taking a leave from writing, but home life needed my full attention. I was not prepared for the changes that would take place with a teenager. Most days all it takes to send my boys into a tailspin is for one of them to be "off" and the others usually follow suit. Now that we have a better handle (well, for now anyways) on what to expect with the bouncing hormones I can return my passion of writing.

There have been a few things that have been happening around here I wish I could have had a chance to share with everybody. It may take me a couple posts to catch up. We started our home/summer school the week after school let out. We also started working on our Summer Bucket List again. (You can find our bucket list here if you missed it.) We have continued with our 1000 hours outside and our year long goals.

Before I get to all the "new things", a quick update on our year long goals. I lift the rigid guidelines on electronics during the summer and they are allowed a couple hours a day, especially when the weather is too humid to enjoy outside play. Jordan has been allowed more electronic time, although I have not giving him free range of all electronics. He has been doing a lot better with limiting himself to a couple hours a day. Jacob has met his goal of sharing more freely. While he felt this was an area he needed to work on, I thought his sharing skills were already age appropriate. Joey continues to make new friends. He was very excited the last couple days of school when his classmates signed his year book. This was huge for Joey because a number of children signed his book and a few included their phone numbers so they could stay in contact during the summer. Joey has continued to make Jordan has also taken a liking to our new neighbor.  *I am always cautious when adult males friend my children. None of my boys are ever left unsupervised with our new friend.
new friends this summer, his new best buddy is one of our new neighbors. While I prefer that Joey find friends his own age (as he is prone to seek out adult friends), I understand his wanting more male role models.

My personal goals are still hit or miss. As far as my weigh lose goals, I have been maintaining my weigh. Right now I'm okay with that, and has not hindered me from walking around the beach in my swimsuit :) I have been taking more time to myself, but I'm back in the habit of staying up later that I should. Every summer the neighbor girls and myself sit outside after we put the kiddos go to bed and enjoy some kid free conversation. I have also been crafting away. Not so much as catching up on projects as starting new ones. A friend was asking about a sling purse she could wear to concerts and such. I was inspired my my friend over at Homeschool Camper to make a purse after seeing the lovely one she made for her eldest daughter (although my was not nearly as complex). After making the one for my friend, I made another for my mom and struggled to fashion a Autism Awareness puzzle piece for it. I'm still making slow progress (very slow) on the cross stitch Christmas stocking. I am finally working on Joey's blanket that had a "little hole". Instead of "fixing" the hole, I'm reworking the whole blanket with a stitch I just learned (corner-to-corner stitch).

Family goals are still progressing nicely. We have slowed down some on reaching our 400 books in a year, but have stepped up our outside hours. Our year-to-date total towards our 1000 hours outside is 434 hours. We were off to a slow start but clocked about 100 hours in June, so I think we maybe able to catch up and be able to reach the goal of all 1000 hours by October 6th. 566 hours isn't really that much, right? It's just about 188 hours a month :)

The boys out-read me for June. Our new books read total is 101 books. We're still behind on where we would like to be at the halfway mark. Still have faith that will reach our goal though. June books read are...

Jacob- 6 books
Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne, Knights at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Trembles of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey, TMNT Mutant Origin: Ralphael adapted by Michael Teitelbaum, TMNT Mutant adapted by Michael Teitelbaum, and The Thanksgiving Day from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler.

Joey- 0 Books

Jordan- 4 books
The Secret of Lying by Todd Mitchell, How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller, Origin by Jessica Khoury, and Legend bu Marie Lu

Me- 2 books
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson and Eve & Adam by Michael Grant

Thank you for sticking with us after the radio silence.