Today was the Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Valley Stadium.  Having never participated before, we didn’t know what to expect.  (As mentioned earlier, I totally dropped the ball on fundraising, but it’s not too late to donate towards Autism Speaks!  You can donate under Emily Hulling for Team Gavin here).

We got there about a half hour before the start and I was amazed at the number of people who had already arrived. There was fun stuff for the kids to do and a large resource tent with cool stuff for parents. 

I choked up more than once realizing HOW MANY kids there are with autism just in our city alone.  AND, how many people out there love somebody with autism.   In some way, it was comforting to be in such a large group of people, all who know EXACTLY what we go through on a day to day basis.  There was a sense of team spirit and camaraderie.   We were all there for one sole purpose, to raise awareness and funds for autism.  It didn’t matter if your child couldn’t follow directions in line for the bounce house or if he started flapping or plugging his ears when the sound got too much for him.  HE WASN’T THE ONLY ONE.  We’re not alone although SO many days it feels like it.  A gigantic thank you to my family for always, always supporting us and little Gav.  We’d be lost without them. 

You can kind of see the crowd in this shot.  We were near the front of the walk so imagine about 1,000 more people behind us.  It was crazy huge. 

Liam snagged a toy catalog from the ToysRUs vendor before the walk, so he was engrossed in his “magazine” the entire time. 

A couple of cute dads and their even cuter kiddos.

Even the littlest bean got in on the action……….well, sort of!

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We ended up releasing our butterflies last Sunday night.   8 out of 10 emerged from their cocoons (one never did and one emerged with a deformed wing-gross and weird).   Once their wings were dried, they all hung out at the top of the hut just pleading to be released.  We headed over to Grandma’s beautiful garden in hopes that all her flowers would lure them out into the world.

(The first one we released was swooped by a bird.  Don’t tell the boys, they didn’t see it.)

Along with raising butterflies, Gavin has also become proficient at making carmel macchiatos and such.   I mentioned a few posts ago that one of his favorite spots is Starbucks and he LOVES to pretend (yay!) to make coffee in his play kitchen.  A friend (a former Starbucks Coffee Master) recently gave the boys her Starbucks aprons.  Gav is a barista-in-training (baristo? I feel like that word should end in an “o” when talking about males.  High school spanish, am I right?)

ANYWAY…..

Gav’s coffee is always served hot, quick, and usually only costs $1. 

I love this picture.  Tate now has to do everything the other two are doing and G and L have been playing SO good together lately.  They’re also having a ton of fun with Tate now that he’s “growing up to be a big boy” as Liam likes to say. (The other reason I love this picture is that Grandma recently bought the big boys new jammies and they wear them ALL THE TIME.  Seriously, Liam changes out of his clothes after lunch just so he can wear his “Buzz Lightyears” to nap time).

And little Tate recently decided he wants to climb….everything.  Crawling is now not as much fun.  He pulls himself up on anything that might possibly support him (sometimes he’s not so lucky and then for some reason can’t figure out how to sit back down so he’s left standing awkwardly until someone helps him).  The other day I caught him pulling himself up to a standing position on the side of my bed, step up onto the platform (4″ off the ground),then lift his hefty little leg and crawl up into the bed.  Gonna have to watch this one like a hawk.  As you can tell, he usually just plays it cool and climbs when no ones looking!

In other family news, we have the Autism Walk tomorrow (which I totally dropped the ball on raising money and support), we are camping in a few weeks and I’m nervous, we also started biking as a family and Gav can kick my butt around Grays Lake.  Geesh.  The kid has STAMINA!

DHS Part 2

June 16, 2010

So Anne Marie came promptly at 9:30 this morning.  Gavin was a perfect gentleman and greeted her at the door, then happily went off to play quietly with Liam.  She was very nice and not once did she go through my closets or ask when the children had last bathed. (Although she wanted to sit at the dining room table and of course I haven’t mopped the floor in, well…..months probably-YUCK).  Sorry your feet stuck to the floor Anne Marie!

During our time, she informed us that she has close to 300 clients in 4 counties, so my bubble burst a little when I realized we would not be building a relationship with her and we most likely will see her next to never.   (I know my idea of having our social worker just pop in occasionally to check on us seemed a little far fetched, but it would be nice).  We’ll be lucky if she can put a face with our name when we call or email. 

After all was said and done, we chose some services that will be most beneficial to our situation.  Granny’s getting paid and we were able to sign Gav up for day camp that runs daily through the middle of August.  (All completely and totally paid for!)  The best thing about this day camp is that it’s run by, you guessed it, ChildServe-Gavin’s happy place.  The people are beyond great and I feel completely at ease leaving him in their hands every day.  He’s going to love the peer interaction and all the fun activities (Trust me, this mommy is NO FUN in the afternoons when the little guys are napping.  Gavin tells me often that he’s bored). Not anymore!!

DHS

June 15, 2010

So the Department of Human Services is coming here tomorrow morning.  I’ve told a few people this and you should see the looks I get.  One person even jokingly (sort of) asked if they were coming to take my children away.  (They actually might if the appointment was for today and they saw the state of my house and found out we had breakfast for dinner more than once last week and smelled that my kids hadn’t bathed since…..well…..I’m not really sure).

We finally get to meet Gavin’s new social worker.  After almost 2 years of being on a waiting list for the Ill and Handicapped Waiver, he was recently awarded a spot.   We now start the process of home visits, mountains of paperwork, and everything else I have yet to understand.

Here’s the kicker.  Gav was “awarded” (a term they use a lot which I think is kind of ironic considering why we need this waiver in the first place) a considerable amount of money per month. This money is for things like respite care and such.  Basically, paying someone to come into our home to watch Gav in order to give me and Josh a break.  I was told that we don’t have to use a respite service, but that we can hire a relative or a friend.  Guess Grandma’s gettin paid!  (I’m sure she’s thinking it’s about time she got a little compensation for ALL those times she’s watched the boys).  Just kidding, Mom!

Seriously though.  I have no idea what tomorrow’s meeting is going to look like, but I keep having this picture of a woman going through our house, checking under the beds, the closets, going through my cupboards.  Weird I know.  She probably won’t even leave the living room but every time I think about this meeting I feel like I need to take a toothbrush to the tile and freakishly clean EVERYTHING just to prove I AM A FIT MOTHER!!!!   (Instead, here I sit at 8:30pm and I have absolutely no strength left to clean or even pick up stuff).  So if the kids get taken away…………

The boys are into bugs these days.  All kinds of bugs.  Gav likes to look.  Liam likes to squish.  Tate likes to eat. Go figure.  So I ordered this. (The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle IS one of our favs after all).  I thought it would be fun for the boys to actually see and experience the changes a caterpillar goes through.

It’s crazy that these little guys came in the mail all safe and snug in a box with packing peanuts!  This photo was taken about a week after they arrived.  The caterpillars started out way smaller than this and we were seriously amazed every morning at how much bigger they had gotten overnight.  Once they had each formed cocoons at the top of the container, we transferred them to the nifty little butterfly hut where we anxiously awaited the arrival of beautiful Painted Lady Butterflies.  

The red stuff is meconium!  Isn’t that crazy?! Even caterpillars! No one ever said nature was pretty!  Well……….. maybe SOME people say it is……………………

Look what we found this morning when we checked on the cocoons!

5 out of 10 butterflies have emerged and are “drying” out their wings.  Two more are about half way out of their cocoons and I’m sure they’ll be drying their wings by morning.  Gavin gets to feed them when he wakes up tomorrow and he’s SO excited.  A cotton ball soaked in sugar water or orange juice is a tasty treat for these little ladies.

With a life span of 2 weeks to 2 months, we will only keep these beauties for a short time before releasing them (only after we name each one, per Liam’s request).

Summer Fun

June 3, 2010

It’s been a big week at our house for Gav.  Jimmy John’s finally opened IN Josh’s building downtown.  JJ’s is his favorite place on earth right now.  The funniest thing is that he loved Jimmy John’s before he had ever eaten there.   He’s really into symbols or store signs.  Some favs are Target, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks.  I guess recognition is the first step to reading.  So one day he spotted a Jimmy John’s and now every time we pass one he points it out loudly from the back seat.   Last month, Josh actually took Gav into a JJ’s and bought him a sandwich and it’s been love ever since.  Seriously, he’s like a kid in a candy store except with deli meat and cheese (and so not gluten-free). 

Yesterday was Daddy’s birthday and he had to work.  So I piled the boys in the car and we headed downtown to meet him for dinner at the new Jimmy John’s.  The weather was perfect so we opted to sit across the street on the lawn.  Can I just say that I love our downtown.  Josh’s building is across from the Sculpture Park and it’s amazing.  We’ve already been there several times and the boys love it.  It’s so fun to be able to get up close (and inside some) to look at them.  Plus there’s lots of room to run! (I would totally live downtown if I could).

After we ate the boys wanted to play in the “stream” that runs down the block.   What the heck.  They were completely soaked and cold but they had SO much fun and it made my day.  Sometimes you just have to not care how dirty they get or how wet the car’s going to be.  You just have to let boys be boys.  I think Josh and I had just as much fun watching them have fun. 

Even little Taters got in on the action. 

It was a great way to jump into June!

Trader Joes IS coming to town!!!

Hellllloooooo Summer!

June 1, 2010

Gavin had his last Son-Rise time this past Friday so we are officially celebrating the start to summer!  We’ve had tons of fun already and it’s shaping up to be a great summer (I’m probably most excited that I’m not hugely pregnant this year so we can be out enjoying life without me getting sweaty in weird places and uber cranky….oh wait, that happens anyway).

We are ecstatic that Baby Eisley is FINALLY here and we are planning to snuggle and moochie her a LOT this summer.  The boys have already nicknamed her “Princess Eisley” (because she IS) and we can’t get enough of her sweet cheeks and precious smiles.  Yay for baby girl cousin!

We had some serious pool fun last week when some dear friends were in town with their new little peanut.  The boys jumped in the pool for the first time this summer (Tate and peanut’s first time ever!)

When did this kid get so big??  We’re about 8 weeks out from him turning 1.  Wow.  That was the fastest year ever.  I’m kinda mourning that part of the summer, so I’m going to stop talking about it.  If I don’t think or talk about it, it won’t happen, right?  I could seriously keep him this little forever.

Gav starts swimming lessons this month and has been doing great during pool therapy at ChildServe.  Last session, he jumped off the side, went clear under water and came up happy (usually he can’t stand to get his head wet or even splashed).

June is turning into a busy month.  We’ve already celebrated my dad and Josh’s birthdays (Happy Birthday Crappa!), Aunt Julie is in town this week from Colorado, some great friends are coming the middle of June for several days, the boys have VBS, and we hope to fit in a trip to the Omaha zoo.  July we’ll be celebrating Tate’s first birthday in KC with the whole fam.  All this while trying to figure out what we’re going to do with Gavin this fall (Son-Rise? public school? homeschool?)  Yikes!

Another highlight to our summer is the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.  We have a fantastic one and it’s always packed-a great place to people watch.  The best part of the FM is that there’s a GF tent this year!  We bought her M&M cookies last week and they were delish!  If you have to eat GF and live in the area, I highly recommend the Letz Bake tent!  She has loaves of bread, muffins, cookies, and cakes all made with Domata flour (which I noticed you can now buy at Hy-Vee).  Finally an easier substitution!

Enjoy your summer-I know we will!