Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back To School

It can be so difficult to find the opportunity to steal away some computer time for myself when the boys are all home. Everyone is back to school and adjusting well back into the routine.

Jordan did get shuffled on to ninth grade. I have mixed feeling about this; while I know he is more than capable of doing the work, his grades however did not reflect this. I irks me that every child gets pushed on to the next grade rather they are capable of the work or not. Jordan is enjoying his freshman year thus far. His elective classes are his favorite weight training and surprising Spanish. Until this year he's dreaded Spanish class, he says he only likes it because his teacher is so much fun. His grades last year did come with consequences, he was placed in pre-algebra which he despises because of the extremely slow pace for the class and he gets pulled from weight training twice a week for language arts remediation.

Joey has a wonderful teacher!! I have spoken with her a few times and she is very open to working with parents. Joey still qualifies for resource room assistance but has not needed to visit the resource room. He is keeping up with his classmates on his assignments with no modifications. To help prepare him for middle school I am not meeting him in his classroom at the end of the day. He is to fill out his agenda and the teacher double checks that he has all homework assignments before he meets me at the end of the hallway. He still digs in his heels about doing homework, but does it with little help from me. The grades he's been earning on his assignments are nothing lower than a B. Thank God Almighty he really enjoys his teacher, they seem to get along well.

  Jacob hit a hiccup before school even started when not even one of his friends were in his class. Jacob is Jacob though and within a week was okay with only seeing his buddies at lunch. He is looking forward to running for student council now that he's in 4th grade. He really likes this teacher, says she's really funny. Both Joey and Jacob have taken a new student under their wing. Both volunteered to be their locker partners and are still playing with their "new student" during recess.

Jordan is planning on trying out for the school's basketball team this year. He hasn't done much in the sense of conditioning but is hoping through his weigh training class he won't be at too much of a disadvantage. Jordan has recently become involved with the youth group through our church. The group consists of high school students, so majority of the kids are older than him. He prefers to hang out with people older than him, he is more comfortable in this group than he was in the middle school one. I'm not 100% sure what they do at the youth group meetings, but from the pictures they share they have way too much fun :) *Pictured is the outfit he chose for their "Thrift Store Homecoming Dance"

Joey has joined Jacob's soccer team and both are doing awesome. Jacob is the leader scorer for his team although most of his teammates have played for a couple of years. Jacob is still strong as a forward and Joey is getting the hang of things. There are two Joeys on their team, Joey asked the coach to call him "Bob" so he knew when he was talking to It works well, but is so funny listening to everyone cheer for "Bob". He has been wonderful at being an encouragement to his teammates, it doesn't matter if someone is upset about letting a goal get past them or if someone was injured, "Bob" is right there to comfort and encourage.

Due to soccer games overlapping the time we spend helping at the pantry, we have to wait until the season is over before returning to volunteer. They boys really miss being at the pantry and are looking forward to being back and seeing everyone. I have compensated not being at the pantry by helping out the church one day a week. I do a little bit of everything, whatever they need the day I'm there I do. One of the best parts is I help assemble the programs we hand on before our services. I have meet some wonderful people. I really don't want to totally give up my time helping at the church once we return to the pantry, it's a lot of gas to head to the church 3 times a week. The boys have agreed to helping at the pantry every other week so on the off weeks I can still do my volunteering.

Jordan also has been ushering with me at church. We work in different areas so he can have a bit more independence, but I can still keep an eye on him. The boys are too young to usher, not to be excluded though every Sunday they help with taking down all the chairs after service. They are a huge help and great workers.

The changes I have seen in Joey the last couple months has me awestruck. He has been surprising me in so many little ways from trying new foods to joining a team sport. The newest one is he has decided he'd like to be in the beginner band through the school!! He had his heart set on playing the flute, but after he tested out what instrument best fit him; he's going to play the.... trombone!! "I'm going to be the best trombone player ever, Mom! And I only have to be to school and hour earlier for practice!!" So I guess I going to see about renting him a trombone.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Time For Some Changes

Oh my, it's been awhile since I've sat down to write!

I don't even know where to start with some of the changes that have taken place. Joey is so very grateful that the school year has ended and he is finally done with horrible teacher he had (honestly so am I). By some miracle the teacher passed him to fifth grade. I was really worried about what his report card would reflect having seen the grades that were given on daily assignments. I have never requested that my boys have or not have a specific teacher before this year; I requested that Jacob not have the teacher Joey had for fourth grade. Jacob passed third grade with flying colors, not that I expected anything less from my studious child. Jordan is kind of in a limbo state right now. He chose not ignore the warnings from his teachers and myself, and did not pass majority of his classes. In my opinion I think he really didn't think I would allow the school to fail him. I have to wait for the office staff to return from their break to find out if he will be repeating eighth grade or if they'll just shuffle him to the high school regardless of his grades. There were no notes on his report card as to rather he would need to attend summer school, repeat the grade, or was promoted to ninth grade. I'll keep you posted as I learn what his next school year will look like.

Joey is taking his "drug holiday" so he is full of energy ALL THE TIME. The only issue we have had with this holiday is that two of the kids we constantly play with are also taking "drug holidays" and the kids can not tolerate each other in the least. Actually I think my kids burnt out playing with the same 3 kids everyday before school let out (middle/end of May), so things were bound to change. My boys have been awesome since we took a break from our friends; their frustration is almost nonexistent, there have been none/minimal angry outbursts, and they enjoy playing with each other and the handful of other "non-trouble makers" in our little corner. My friend has said basically the same about her kids, that things have been better since we split up the kids. It is so wonderful to spend hours outside chatting with friends while the kids play without any of the kids fussing at each other. Before we chose to take a break it was literally less than 3 minutes of our everyday friends being out that fists were flying. I'm not talking about the kids roughhousing or fussing, they were out for blood. So a break was way over due. The only reason I waited so long to call a break from our 3 friends is because their mom is my best friend. I could not come up with a way to nicely tell her that my kids were not going to play with her's anymore without jeopardizing our friendship. I just started keeping my boys away from the neighborhood when possible, playing at more parks and taking more walks. I even had them playing in the backyard with other friends so not to cross paths with the friends they were having issues with. Then one night while talking with my friend, she broke the ice and mentioned that she has been keeping her kids away from the neighborhood when she knew we'd be outside playing. It turns out that her kids no longer wanted to play with my kids, more accurately Joey. The only issue we're having now is keeping the kids away from each other during church when they're in the same youth room together. I have talked to the youth pastor and we're trying a few things to see if we can resolve this.

Having split off from the same 3 kids we've played with almost everyday from the past 3 years (yeah, a break was needed) we have been spending more time with other kids in our little corner. Still no one Jordan's age but he enjoys talking with the dad next door and hanging out the the 3 year olds. He's surprisingly very patient with them and they absolutely adore him. One of our new neighbors has become best friends with Joey. Which is so awesome!! They are very much alike and are constantly knocking on each other's door. I'm so glad that Joey found a best friend after all the issues he went through this past school year with his peers. Jacob gets along with all of our "new friends" but still prefers to hang by himself (aka watching Youtube videos). I'm loving the fact that while the boys are outside playing I can duck inside and get dinner started or wash up the dishes without worrying there will be a dispute and I'll need to intervene. Also I know if we're at the park, beach, etc I can leave a kid (or 3) with our "new friends" and not worry there will any issues.

 There's one major drawback to the kids not playing together, I don't get to see my friend as much. We met every night to sit, chat, and smoke. We have done this for years; rain, snow, freezing temperatures, and under attack from mosquitoes we make a point of chatting without little ears around. Our evening chats are the only time we get to see each other. That said, we sit out there longer than we did a few weeks ago and I smoke more while I'm out there (not helping with my trying to quit smoking). I feel like despite trying to maintain our friendship while the kids are no longer friends is effecting our friendship. While we sit out there longer, neither of us have much to say. I don't want to talk about what we did that day with other neighbors, feels rude to me. She text messages her male friend as is their nightly ritual. It's just not the same as chatting throughout the day.

 While I'm updating about the change in friendships around here, I may as well include that we lost another friend (and fellow blogger) just a few weeks ago. It's bitter sweet for us, while we'll miss seeing them we are very happy about the adventure they have begun. Our friends at Growing into Me have moved to Florida!! We look forward to following all the fun things they discover while they are there, as well as their journey of homeschooling for the first time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tantrum Tuesaday!! 1/3 of My Children Always Seem To Be Backsliding

I sat down to write about our adventure at another new park for us, when I get a call from the school. So change of plans I'm going to hold off on that post, and do another Tantrum Tuesday instead.
Why is that I can never have all 3 of my boys acting right and making positive choices all at the same time? I'd settle for just one day of them all doing what they are suppose to! There is always one, and sometimes two, that seem to be going off the deep end. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that (as of yet) I haven't had them all losing their common sense at the same time. Is it really too much to ask for them to think before they do something?

I know. I know. They're boys and don't always think things through. Also that they are kids and being a kid is when you make mistakes and learn from your mistakes. Seriously though, can't a mom catch a break. When one starts making big strides in their behavior, another one seems to decide to backslide. Most often it alternates between my two oldest. Jake has his moments too, but not to the same degree as the older two (yet).

Here's a couple examples for you:

1) Joey decided that he was through with school, his teacher, and homework about a month ago. Just stop doing assignments and overall giving all his teachers a hard time. He was telling his teachers he left his homework at home and telling me that he was suppose to leave the assignment at school to finish or that it was already finished. We found a stack of unfinished assignments crammed into the back of his desk. While trying to figure out what Joey's deal was and get him back on track, Jordan stepped up his game. Jordan cleared out his locker finding missing assignments which he turned in for a reduced grade. He was being kinder to his brothers. He was actually playing with the younger kids in the neighborhood. Helping me around the house. Just all around being encouraging and a helping hand to many.

2) I recently bragged on Facebook how awesome Joey has been doing. He's back on track and catching up his assignments. He's making friends at school and actually talking to them outside of school. He's making progress with some of his sensory issues. He's still being Joey and we have few bumps that get turned into mountains throughout the day, but overall he's been doing great. That's Jordan's cue turn my hair grey. Today's phone call was to notify me that Jordan will be suspended from school tomorrow. There was a "reward field trip" today for the students who had kept their grades up and haven't gotten any write ups. Those kids who were doing what they were suppose to all year long, had earned themselves a day riding go-carts. Jordan was not counted as part of that group of kids this year. Jordan decided that he wanted to go anyways and snuck onto the bus. I haven't gotten the chance to talk to Jordan yet, but I'm guessing he didn't figure once there the teachers would do a head count. Seems he wasn't suppose to be there, they put him back on the bus and brought him back to school. He was written up as skipping school. That's his second suspension within a month. With only a little over a week left of school, hopefully it will be his last.
When Jordan and Joey are both working in a positive direction, no matter how briefly, is when Jacob's attitude comes out in full force. Jake takes his school work very seriously so he never slacks there, but he makes up for it with his mood swings. My little snuggle bear turns ornery!! There is no pleasing him and he's just looking for an argument wherever he can find one.

Will they ever all get their acts together at the same time? Probably. Will it happen while they're all still living at home? Probably not, but I'm hopeful. Will my hair be completely grey before Jacob leaves for college? Hopefully not, but probably.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lake St. Clair Metropark

We love visiting Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach to us locals), and usually make a couple trips a year. There is plenty to do and we tend to spend the whole day there. Besides the beach (we don't swim though), there's a splash pad, picnic areas, playground, shuffle board, fishing areas, nature center, and a bike/walking path that loops around the park and ends somewhere miles down Metro Parkway. Recently we learned there is a nature trail also.

We hadn't planned on marking this nature trail off our list just yet, but so glad that we did. I had promised the boys we'd go for our first family bike ride after all homework was completed. By the time homework was done, the bikes were dug out of the shed, air put in the tires, and were loaded up we were getting a really late start on our ride.

We normally park near the nature center, so after our ride we can stop in for a quick look around to see what new things may have been added. Due to our late start we thought we'd start with the nature center, but they had just closed. We started off on our typical bike path the leads out of the park. Normally we bike to McDonald where we have dinner as a special treat before heading back, but today we weren't stopping to eat. We rode the whole 3 miles to McDonald where we turned around and headed back to the car. I was so impressed with my boys for a couple of reasons. 1. They didn't even ask to eat at McDonald. 2. They hadn't asked to take any breaks during our whole bike ride. 3. One of Jordan's pedals fell off before the first mile marker and he just kept on riding.

Not being conditioned to ride for so long, our backsides were a bit sore. We chose to stretch out our muscles by walking the nature trail. We have only walked this trail one other time, as part of our 2013 Winter Bucket List. The boys really liked seeing everything turning green and the trail waking up from it's winter sleep.

We had barely started our walk when Joey noticed a leopard frog hidden on the side of the trail. Joey isn't normally the one to notice little details and this little guy had some great camouflage. After finding the frog, the frog hunt was on! My boys started really looking to see if they could find any more. Jordan found another leopard frog near the edge of the river. Jacob was searching so diligently without success. There was a large pond and Jacob feeling discouraged that he hadn't found a frog wanted to take the shortcut around the pond and head home. Nature had other plans for us; as we turned towards the shortcut we saw some Canadian geese with their goslings. Not wanting to test the new parents we took the long way around.

The long way held some surprises for us. First, we saw a pair of swans. Obviously they have long necks, but we didn't realized just how long until we watched then dive through the algae. Then the most wonderful thing happen, Jacob found a frog! Not another leopard frog like his brothers, but a good sized bull frog. We also seen another pair of ducks (we saw many ducks in pairs along our bike ride also).

As we were leaving the park we had one more surprise creature, a groundhog. He was so close to the road that I just had to turn around and try to snap a picture of him. While he hadn't moved when we drove past him the first time, we scared him away when we slowed down to take his picture (must be camera

Click here to learn more about Lake St, Clair Metropark
Click here to learn more about their nature center

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Seven Ponds Nature Center

Lots of nature walks seems to currently working for us. It's something I can get all 3 boys to do with little complaint and for the most part they don't fuss at each other while we're walking. The bonus is we can add our time on the trails to our goal of 1000 hours outside. The have a couple trails we walk often, but the boys were getting bored with them. We all researched other trails and nature centers near our home, that we had not known about. We compiled at list of 17 places within 30 minutes to an hour away, all but 3 are new places for us.

A few weeks back we checked out one of our new places. We really lucked out on the day we visited, we were there on an "Eco Day" and there were extra activities to do. While we would have been happy just checking out the center and walking the trail, the extra activities provided some awesome learning experiences. The reptiles that were visiting for the day from Lansing were a huge hit with my kiddos. Jordan is very comfortable around snakes, but the other two not so much. Jordan wasted no time asking to hold different types of snakes. Joey and Jake were standing back and preferred watching the turtles and the snakes that were in tanks. Joey doesn't like to touch snakes because of his sensory issues, he shies away from cold and slimy looking things. Jacob is cautious with most animals, and has a healthy respect for the fact that animals all have potential to revert to their primal instincts. The group that brought the snakes were very knowledgeable and answered the boys many questions. We were even given the opportunity to watch one of the snakes eat a frog. I have to admit, I thought it was a very cool thing to see!! We must have spent about 45 minutes playing with the reptiles. Within that 45 minutes Joey managed to push himself to hold a snake.

 Next on our list was to dissect owl pellets. The boys were corrected when they exclaimed that we'd be digging through owl poop. Jacob was very relieved when he heard it's more like a hairball. Each of the boys' pellets held different surprises. Jordan had an extra jaw bone, that had probably been left behind from a previous meal. Joey had a whole mouse still intact, just really compressed (Like the whole mouse; tail, still fluffy fur, and all!!). Jacob had an intact skull with the teeth still in place. We were given a chart so we could identify the bones we found and the tools needed to carefully dissect the pellet. We found it easier to use our hands to peel the "fur pieces" away. We were given bags and brought our bones home.

 After a quick hand washing, we finally looked through the nature center. This one had an awesome "touch table" in the center of the room. There were so many things we have not had the opportunity to touch before. There were other things to check out along the walls, but this table was by far the coolest part for us. They had a whole wall that was a window for bird watching, were we watched a woodpecker. There was also a really neat tunnel thing the smaller guys could crawl through and poke their heads up in the beaver dam display. A whole room was dedicated to different types of birds and some displays of there habitats.

We briefly visited a craft room they had set up for the day. Jordan and Jacob planted seeds in plastic bags while Joey made monsters using bottle caps. Two of my boys made "rain tubes" using paper towel tubes, fasteners, rice and beans. Then slowly I lost their attention for the other crafts as they drifted back to the reptile room.

When I walked into the room I found Joey actually holding a snake, not just any snake a big black rat snake. Jacob also worked up the courage to "pet" a snake, although he still wasn't interested in holding any of them. After a while of watching the snakes wind their way around my children, we headed outside to the nature trail.

 We didn't make it far before we made a detour to learn about bees. We were promised a honey stick if we could locate the queen bee. So while Jordan and Jake searched the small comb for the queen, Joey asked a bunch of questions about what a bee keeper does. Joey got to practice spinning a couple empty frames, learn what the smoker was for and how it effected the bees and learn the different layers of the hive. While Joey was learning all this cool stuff the other two were still searching for the queen bee (they had also been listen to the guy as he explain things to Joey), they were determined to earn a honey stick. We searched for that queen for about 20 minutes, before the guy took pity on us and gave honey sticks for trying. As we were walking away he found the queen and called us back, we hadn't been able spot her with the blue dot they place on her back because she had been tucked away in a corner laying eggs.

 Then it was finally time to tackle the trail. We were told we should stop by "turtle pond" along our way, there usually are a bunch of turtles and frog you can spot easily. The turtles were sitting all lines up on a branch and looked liked like a bunch of tiny helmets. The frogs were all over the place just blending in and being frogs. We had seen a bull frog but when we got closer for a better look, he jumped into the water. From there we continued our 1.5 mile walk along the trail. While everything was still brown and not much to look at, we did make a few discoveries such as a beaver dam and a lot of trees with beaver teeth marks on them. The path itself was a nice change for the boys, instead of just the dirt ground there were wooden planks to walk on and a cool bridge to cross over. The boys also did some climbing around as there isn't any poison ivy to watch out for yet.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

We Love Our Mom Because...

So I'm writing this because its mothers day and my mom deserves some praise. She is always putting us first, she will tell us she never really like pie even if its her favorite kind because we asked for the last piece. She is always driving us places. I love her because she puts up with me even when she doesn't want to. She helps me with my patients because she has mood swings fast enough to give me whip-lash. That might be because I am so much like her so I know how to push her buttons. (Jordan, age 14)

hi mom I <3 you because u take care of us and care for us and puts up with me. (Joey, age 10)

Hi mom I think you deserve more than what we give so here a list of what you do for me.You kiss me good night you feed me you clouth me you are my favorite you protect me you need to turn around and give me a hug .I<3 my mom. (Jacob, age 9)