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 shy...lol).

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)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Giving it another Go

October of 2013 through October of last year we took part of the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge, we didn't reach the goal but gave it an awesome try. We were going to restart the challenge but at the time I had too many other things I was juggling with getting Joey's diagnosis, straightening out issues with his school, and getting everyone back into the school routine. Then it kind of got pushed to the side, until the weather started warming up. It was kind of ironic that the day we decided to take the challenge and spent the whole day outside, when we got home I noticed 1000 Hours Outside had shared one of our posts.

I've got to tell you that I was over the moon excited when I seen they shared our post. I follow their page and absolutely love what the message they promote. For those of you who are not familiar with them you can check out their blog here or their Facebook page here. Their message is actually very simple, get kids back outside!! To get kids unplugged from all the wonderful gadgets and get them plugged into nature and into just being kids. I'm not a fan of my kids sitting in front of electronics and electronic time is seriously restricted around here. I much rather see my boys using their brains and imagination then staring mindlessly at a screen. This challenge runs parallel to what I'm already trying to instill in my boys.

There are so many ways to you can add up your outside hours, we do many without thinking about them. We play organized sports through local groups and very unorganized sports as a family in our yard. We walk through our neighborhood and play with friends in our yards. We play at parks and playgrounds and take family bike rides. We invent games to play outside, some being more successful than other (i.e water balloon baseball was great in theory but hysterical to try to play). We also take advantage of the changing seasons to play in the rain, go swimming, jump in leaf piles, and sledding/snowboarding.

When we take part of the challenge we look for ways to "sneak in" more outside time. We have spent time doing homework or reading while outside soaking up some vitamin D. We plan more family meals on the patio. I look for opportunities to get us outside. Then there's my kiddos' favorite way to "sneak in extra time", staying up later. We have more bonfires, take more flashlight walks and star gaze for longer.

Getting us outside does not come without challenges though. There are days that it is either too hot or too cold to want to get outside. The difference in the ages of my boys can make things difficult at times. Jordan would rather not play at the playground while the younger two love it. Joey and Jacob can't walk/bike as far as Jordan can. We also have lazy days when everyone wants to live in their pajamas. Recently we have run into the problem of the boys getting tired of the same parks and walking the same trails. There is something about having a goal that challenges my kids to get up and get outside. Knowing we are behind on our projected weekly hours can help motivate Jordan to suck it up and play at the playground. I can honestly tell you while my kids may gripe about heading outside for many reasons, they have a blast once they're outside.

So here we go for round 2 of 1000 Hours Outside. Our ultimate goal is to reach (or exceed) 1000 hours, but we have a sub-goal of more hours than round one (782 hours)