So here we are again several months later.  Where does the time go?  Oh I know, it goes to soccer games, and therapy, and school, and meetings, and drum class.  This handsome dude turned 10 a few weeks ago.  Never again will he see single digits (and for the record, one of his big dreams in life is to reach triple digits.  He’s a pretty determined guy.  He probably will!)

Gavschool(And a couple of you have asked-Gav’s dentist visit to fix his chipped tooth went great.  We found a new dentist who is AWESOME and we were in and out in under 20 minutes.  No issues, no worries!)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  Months ago, Josh was asked to speak at a Junior High youth retreat at Hidden Acres the weekend of Gav’s birthday.  Josh agreed to the speaking engagement only if the whole family could tag along.  We spent a fantastic birthday weekend at Hidden Acres.

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Don’t worry, we didn’t sleep in the covered wagons. Although the kids would have LOVED that.  Bunk bed sleeping made everyone happy!

 

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We hiked, we swam, we swung, we relaxed, we fed the horses (and then accidentally let them out).

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It was a VERY chilly weekend and I was thankful that I had grabbed winter coats, hats and mittens as we ran out the door.

Another great thing about being on the camp grounds all weekend was this:

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The kids got to take turns driving (Lord help us all!)

And when they weren’t driving, we piled them all in the back of the Jeep plus a few extra cuties we picked up along the way.

hiddenacres4One of the highlights of the weekend for me was when Liam tried to beat the car to the conference hall.  What a goof.

hiddenacres6It was a great birthday weekend and when we walked in the door at home, there were about 30 people waiting to surprise Gavin on his actual birthday (and of course I didn’t any shots of the crowd or his surprised face).  My mom went all out with a Lego Movie theme and Gav had a blast.

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Annnnnnnnd he got a Tubano.  I signed him up for a drum class at Courage League Sports in September hoping that he’d learn some rhythm but mostly just for something fun for him to do.  To say he loves this class is an understatement.  The best thing about this class every week is that the whole family gets to participate.  It has been so much fun!!!  For once, we have an activity for Gavin that we all get to do and we don’t dread (sorry ChildServe, we’re rather sick of you).

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So I failed big time. EPIC FAIL. We did not do ONE SINGLE thing I had originally planned to do this summer. We planned to camp. Didn’t happen. We planned to fish. Didn’t happen. (The kids even got new poles and their own little tackle boxes). And lastly, I had planned to teach all 3 boys to ride their bikes without training wheels this summer. That was my one big goal. How hard could it be? (Yes, I know we’re extremely behind on this skill.  Gav has balance issues and we’ve really put it off for him, so everyone else is lacking too). We had all summer spread out before us with not much else going on. Guess what guys. We didn’t even get the bikes out once this summer. Seriously. What happened? I blinked and school started. We still had fun this summer…..I think…..I already can’t really remember what we did. Sigh. I can’t beat myself up over this but it’s just hard to believe we didn’t do a single one of those things. How did we not even camp this year??????

But school started last week and everyone was very excited to go back. Maybe because we had a super boring summer without camping, fishing or biking? Probably. Time to get back to fun stuff and leave boring mom at home.

1stdayofschooltateTate’s in kindergarten this year.  Not much of a change for him because he has the same teacher and classroom as preschool last year.  He’s very excited to be the big kid in the class though.  (Excuse the hideous shirt.  I have completely given up trying to dress the boys.  They are SO particular about what they wear now.   And by particular, I mean they have to have a graphic t with some kind of character on it.  Goes against everything I stand for, but I CANNOT fight that battle x3 every morning!)

1stdayschoolliam(And apparently Liam’s posing for a back to school ad).

1stdayschoolboys1stdayschoolliamclassLiam also has the same 2nd grade teacher whom he adores.  He cried the last day of school because he didn’t want summer to start.  (Liam cried, not the teacher.  The teacher I’m sure did not cry).

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We started 4th grade(!) home school yesterday and it’s been going well.  My biggest concern was keeping Sloane occupied.  Once I told her she could do preschool with us, she’s been all about sitting quietly and doing her work.  Hopefully that continues all year!

And this happened two weeks ago:

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Walnuts were being thrown outside (after the boys had been told not to) and suddenly I heard Gavin screaming and Tate apologizing profusely.  And now he has a chipped front tooth.  Of course it had to be him and his tooth, not either of the other boys who still have front baby teeth and who don’t mind going to the dentist as much.  The dentist says it’s not damaged and is easily fixable.  We’ll be heading back the end of September to get it fixed.  Hopefully it really is as easy and as painless as he says. It’s always something around here!!

 

The Perfect Trip

July 31, 2014

We got back from St. Louis last week and I have to say, it was the perfect trip. The kids were EXCEPTIONALLY good THE.WHOLE.TIME.

The nice thing about STL is that it’s relatively a short drive from us. Just when we were starting to get sick of being in the car, we arrived.

Our first full day was spent at the zoo (which is beautiful and huge and FREEEEEE).

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Our second day was spent at Meramec Caves. This was an hour drive from our hotel, but totally worth the trip.

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And if you couldn’t tell from cave pictures, we also had a Cardinals game planned for later that day.

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The kids made it through 8 innings which was pretty impressive. It was hot and we were in the sun the whole game. Lots of cold frosty drinks kept them happy for a few hours. We tried to stay for the whole game because kids got to run the bases after, but once we saw the line of kids everyone opted to just leave and find dinner. (I was secretly glad they didn’t want to stay as fun as that would have been for them).cardsgameafter2

Day 3 was by far the highlight of our trip. City Museum has got to be one of the coolest, most imaginative places I’ve ever been. The kids’ heads exploded multiple times that day. (Get ready for picture overload).

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We had NO idea what awaited us!! (Poor Gav, he gets tired of stopping to take pictures as evidenced by his face).

When we arrived, the staff suggested that we start on the roof and work our way down. This is the view from the top. Wow.  (See the school bus hanging off the edge???)

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Liam pretending to drive the bus off the roof.
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citymuseum5100 feet in the air over the rooftop to the plane…….but they made it!

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citymuseum7 So if you climbed over this harmless looking bridge there were tiny openings the kids could crawl into.

citymuseum8And THIS is where you would end up.  Suspended 2 stories off the ground in a little cage.  (Those tiny things down there are people!!)  Gavin LOVED this and did it a few times.  No thanks!!

citymuseum9Making our way up the winding stairs to the 5 story slide.   Sloane was a little unsure but she loved it going down.

citymuseum10  City Museum is FULL of slides.  The 10 story slide that starts at the roof leads out into deep dark caves.  It’s unbelievable.  All the caves have separate little nooks and cranies the kids can crawl through that lead to different places.  We lost our kids a few times…..

citymuseum11There were also a couple of “trees” the kids could climb in and through.  This one had a tunnel at the base of the tree that led to the basement.  I never went down there but the kids said there were more caves and slides.

We stayed open to close and there were a few tears shed when it was time to go.  We’ve added this place at the top of our to-do list for every time we’re in St. Louis.

And last but not least, before heading home on the last day we decided to head downtown to City Gardens.  This is 2 city blocks of giant sculptures and water features for kids.

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citygarden2THIS girl did great considering she skipped a nap 5 days in a row and stayed up too late every night.  She was all smiles all the time.

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citygarden6Of course we had to take our picture with a giant bunny!

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Before we left we attempted to get a family photo with the self-timer on the camera.  Not too bad!  We all left St. Louis with a smile. It was a great trip.

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Pink Dinosaurs

June 11, 2014

For about a month, Sloane has been asking me to take her to get her hair cut.  My good friend cuts my hair and Sloane is always so curious about it when I go.  After a lot of discussions, I decided she really was ready and wouldn’t freak out once we were actually doing it.

sloane haircut1Looking a little unsure….

sloane haircut2……that’s better!

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She loves it and she wakes up with it looking cute as opposed to snarly and tangled.  I was afraid she might miss pigtails and pony tails, but so far she’s not said a thing.  She gets lots of compliments which makes her pretty happy.

That girl.  She’s such a good mix of girly and tom-boy.  I’m so glad she’s not prissy and can stand to get dirty.  Last weekend we went to the zoo and all the kids got glitter tattoos.  There were lots to choose from and with all her heart Sloane wanted a t-rex.  Out of all the “girl choices”-flowers, butterflies, you name it, she knew immediately she wanted a dinosaur.  A pink sparkly dinosaur.  I think that about sums her up perfectly,  She can run with the big boys but still be a sweet little lady.

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In Suuuuummmmmmer!

June 5, 2014

(Anyone else’s kids obsessed with Frozen?)

It’s finally here!  Those last few weeks of school were killer.  NO ONE wanted to go to school or do anything remotely related to school.  We were staying up way too late and all we wanted to do was play outside.  Thankfully now we can do those things and not have to fit school into that.

Last weekend we planted our vegetable garden.  We had a bed all built last year and life got in the way and no planting happened.  We determined this year not to let that happen again.  (Better late than never!)

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The kids had an absolute blast and Gavin really has a passion for gardening which is fun to cultivate. Ha!  At one point I looked over at Sloane and she was bent in half with the top of her head resting in the dirt.  “It feels so good mommy.”  She was dirtier than the boys combined. (I’m very thankful I don’t have a prissy girl).

We also begin our LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG therapy sessions at ChildServe for the next 12 weeks. Yay. (Said in my most sarcastic voice I can muster).  An hour and a half to two hours three days (in a row) a week.  Ugh.  The beauty is that our speech therapist who left is now back and she’s paired up with our fantastic OT.  Together the two of them are unstoppable and this is going to be an awesome 12 weeks.  The more intensive, the better the result.  We could potentially be finished with ChildServe forever after this session.  I won’t even know what to do with all our free time!

While this therapy cuts into our summer in a big way, we still have lots of plans to camp, swim, travel, and have as many play dates as we can possibly squeeze in.

My mom said I have no excuse not to blog regularly now that I am sitting in a waiting room 6 hours a week.  Hopefully she’s right!

Sunshine Has Arrived

April 25, 2014

Life’s been busy and I realized the other day that life would be easier if I could blog while driving. I can’t text and drive but I can blog and drive!  I feel like I am in the car hours a day and I’m so looking forward to summer and a slower schedule.

In the meantime, we’re very thankful for the spring weather and sunshine these past few weeks.  It just puts everyone in a good mood (and makes it SO much harder to do school and homework).  All we want to do is be outside.

And speaking of nice weather, here are some sweet Easter snaps from that beautiful day:

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I LOVE this.  Sloane has a crush on a good friend of ours.  The minute she wakes up on Sundays she asks when it’s time to go to church and see Josh Harper.  Once there, she immediately wants him to hold her and she never leaves his side.  She recently started drawing our family pictures and adding Josh Harper.  She’s probably looking at him here.  So cute!

And we actually got a decent family photo this year!  I was lamenting to Josh that I didn’t take a single family (or at least kids) Easter picture last year.

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It’s a rare thing to have everyone looking at the camera and not smiling all crazy and chicken necky.  Ya know what I mean?  My kids try too hard sometimes.  (Sorry for the crappy iphone pic.  I dropped our camera face down on the lens a few weeks ago and broke it.  Awesome).

And on Tuesday, Josh and Gav ran the Grand Blue Mile race to kick off the Drake Relays.  One thing about Gavin, he loves to run but he doesn’t understand the point of “training”.  He and Josh ran a mile one time a few weeks ago to practice but he just couldn’t figure out why that was necessary.  Aaaaannnnnnndddd he ran the mile in under 9 minutes.  Amazing.  (To be honest, I think he could have done it faster.  There was a TON of people and he was just trying not to run into anyone.  When Gav thinks too much about running, he has trouble actually doing it.  It’s like he over-thinks it.  But pit him against a competitive brother and he’ll kick major butt).  The whole family wants to run it next year…….well, maybe not me…….

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One thing is for sure.  He has great trouble with all the rules and nuances of organized sports. but give the kid room to run and he knows no greater feeling.  I’m so proud of him!

 

Day Brighteners

February 26, 2014

It’s almost MARCH people!  Crazy!  And I realized that I’m a horrible blogger.  My apologies.  I am in awe of these moms who have more children than me who blog every single day.  I hardly have time to pee let alone blog.  Sorry.  TMI?  Aaaannnnd our lives just aren’t that exciting. 

Gav started in intensive therapy in January that takes up a lot of our time.  Google Interactive Metronome.  It’s pretty amazing!  Needless to say, he’s pretty wiped out after and it’s been a struggle these past several weeks to focus on school.  (And who can focus, really, when the weather is SO utterly depressing?)  But there are a few things that Gav has for school that he loves and I thought I’d share.

This came in the mail last week and the whole family loves it.

ImageThe kids love looking at the moon and knowing the different phases and Gavin especially loves calendars and keeping track of the date. 

ImageAnd this BY FAR has been the best purchase I made for school this year.  Kids with Autism are extremely literal.  If you think about it, the English language is pretty ridiculous with all our idioms and slang.  These poor kids get lost in the goofiness of it all.  For example, Gavin used to cut people in line.  If I would tell him it’s not polite to cut in line, he’d make scissor motions with his hands.  Extremely literal.

This calendar is AWESOME!  It has an expression of the day, along with a funny picture and then the real definition at the bottom. 

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And this is just a word a day calendar (by the same company).  One of Gavin’s greatest strengths is his love of language.  He uses big words ALL the time, knows what they mean, and will correct you if you use a word wrong.  Now that he has his idiom calendar, he uses expressions just like a typical kid.  He cracks his therapist up (yep, just used one) with all the expressions he throws into conversations. 

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I am so thankful that a boy who had a speech delay and didn’t really talk much at all now has a gigantic vocabulary and pretty much doesn’t ever stop talking!! 

 

Welcome 2014

January 8, 2014

“It’s going to be a great year,” according to Mr. Gavin.  He proclaimed it on January 1st and I believe it.  That’s half the battle, isn’t it?  Thinking positively.  It IS going to be a good year.  I can feel it.

I just finished reading Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child (and oldie but a goodie).  I originally read this book because Tate is proving to be somewhat difficult.  He’s strong-willed and highly opinionated which can be a really good thing, if channeled properly.  But this passage struck me in light of Gavin’s challenges as well:  “When parents bring one of these tough youngsters into the world, they need to recognize that while raising that child may be difficult for a time, it is worth their effort to do the job right.  Their attitude should be, ‘The Lord gave me this challenging child for a purpose.  He wants me to mold and shape this youngster and prepare him or her for a life of service to Him.  And I’m up to the task.  I’m going to make it with the Lord’s help.’ That’s the healthy way of looking at parenting when the pressure is on.  There is a tendency, I think, for parents of strong-willed (or autistic) children to feel cheated and oppressed because other moms and dads seem to have smooth sailing with their children, whereas they are at war every day of the week.  But if they can perceive their task as a God-given assignment and believe He’s going to help them fulfill it, then the frustrations become more manageable.” (page 31)

It can be very easy to fall into a funk when it comes to thinking about all the challenges Gavin has yet to overcome. Challenges that pose no problem at all to the typical child.  The long road that we have yet to travel.

So my resolution this year?  To remember that God has CHOSEN me for this task.  I don’t understand why, but it is my responsibility to be up to the task.  My God is bigger than all this.

And my favorite passage from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, when the sweet character Lucy encounters Aslan, the great lion, after being away from him for a time:

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws.  He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue.  His warm breath came all around her.  She gazed up in the large wise face. 

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger!”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”                   

 “I am not.  But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Cupcakes

December 6, 2013

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(So pretend that you’re reading this last Saturday).

For the past several weeks anytime anyone mentioned Sloane’s birthday, she would immediately start talking about cupcakes.  That’s all the girl wanted.  Chocolate cupcakes to be exact.  She also started telling secrets.  “Cupcakes” she’d whisper in your ear long and drawn out.  The best secret ever.

DSCN4288 Look at the love in her eyes for her cupcakes! She carried these around ALL DAY.

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Happy birthday to my dear, sweet sassypants.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.  You’ve brought so much joy into our family.  I love your love for your brothers and the way you look at them while you memorize everything they do and then immediately repeat it.  I love how much you and Tate want to cuddle together at night.  I hope you will always be the best of friends.  I love how you clean up after your brothers and like to tell them what to do.  (Right now they think it’s cute, we’ll see how they feel in a few more months).  I love all your random “I love you’s” and spontaneous hugs and kisses for everyone.  And most of all I love how much your want your mama.  I hope that never changes…….

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And for a look at the big surprise that was waiting for her on her birthday, see this post.

School Days

November 23, 2013

Well here we are counting down the days until Thanksgiving break.  Thought I’d update you on home school life since that’s been such a big part of this blog as of late. These past few months have flown by.

Things couldn’t be going better!  Gavin still has a very busy schedule of therapy and co-op but fortunately we were able to phase out his private tutoring which frees up one of his days for school work.  We try to cram as much school in each morning while Tate’s at school.  (No offense to Tate, but it’s a LOT less distracting with only one other little person hanging around).  But since we also have therapy and co-op 3 of the 5 mornings a week, we do have to do some work in the afternoons during Sloane’s nap (also another REALLY good time to get stuff done).  We’ve been saving our math program for afternoons since there are so many manipulatives that she wanted to get her hands on.  Tate joins in the math fun and hey, why not?  He’ll just be that much more prepared at school.  The kid can rock some roman numerals!

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And of course Little Sis can’t be left out of the action.

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I’m so incredibly thankful that Gavin loves to learn.  He’s always eager to do school and I love how excited he gets when he learns something new.  We’ve been studying geometry and the different shapes. (Did you know a shape with 9 sides is a nonagon?)  He was also pretty thrilled when we started learning Greek prefixes (the kid loves language).  It’s been a great year so far and a LOT less stressful than last year!