Friday, June 11, 2010

Builders

This year we have gotten involved in a new free activity for kids--building workshops. Lowe's has Kids' Building workshops every few weeks, and provides a free building kit and a place to build it, along with an apron and badges for each project. We've had so much fun with these!

We've built baseball games.
We've built bird feeders (and purchased bird seed from the store to use in the feeders...that one didn't turn out to be as "free" as the others ☺).
We built a little school house for teachers' appreciation week that could also hold a business card. HoneyBear even built one of those for me!
We planned to build a catapult--the project Tyler was most excited about--but wound up getting there too late. We were able to get the kits, though, so we'll build them at home this summer.

This weekend we changed it up a bit and went to Home Depot. Home Depot does their kid clinics once a month, on the first Saturday of each month. It makes it easier to remember, but of course is less frequent. This month's project was a mini soccer game in honor of the World Cup. The boys were excited that Home Depot's project used wood glue as well as tools. They also use pins on the aprons rather than sew-on patches, so the pins could be added immediately, as opposed to patches, which are still waiting to be attached.
We'll continue these fun, free outings as long as the boys enjoy them, especially since they wind up with a fee toy after the building is complete!

Friday, June 4, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

Snow days never look as good in June as they do during the winter, and this year our area certainly looked askance at them after Memorial Day. Our district only had 5 days out of school, which was actually fewer than many of our neighboring districts. Unfortunately, no snow days were built into the schedule this year, meaning that all five had to be made up at the end of the year. Rather than finishing the year the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, we went the Tuesday through Friday of the week of Memorial Day, and an additional Monday of the next week. June 7 felt like it would never arrive for many of our students--and teachers!

Our family made a decision this year that still seems a little surprising--the boys missed the last day of school. Hear me out before you gasp too deeply, please. Though I work in the district, I am on a longer contract than teachers in order to ensure technology in the building is ready for summer. This also gives our team the chance to offer some early summer professional development that counts toward the following year. This means that a week after school is out for students and teachers I am still on contract. This is not a problem, but it does require child care for the boys. The week is the perfect week for the boys to stay in Little Rock with Nana and Papa!

Going to school on Monday and then getting to Little Rock with Mommy and Daddy working the next morning was more of a challenge than we wanted to face, however. With the boys still in elementary school, and teachers assuring me that there would be little but movie time and cleanup missed on the last Monday, we opted to take the boys to Little Rock over the weekend.

Friday, June 4, was the last day of 4th grade and kindergarten for the boys. I forgot the 'real' camera, but did get a quick cell phone camera photo of them as they were going in the back door.
They've grown up so much this year! Of course, they have grown physically. Here they are on the first day of school, excited about a new school year in a newly remodeled building, with Shawn just starting 'big school.'
They also learned a lot this year. The both brought home wonderful report cards, and Tyler even got a certificate and a medal for getting all A's on the Honor Roll all year. He also showed a huge boost of confidence, between GT presentations and reports, getting a solo in the school musical, and having the lead in the church musical. It helped to make a great new best friend, too.

Shawn had an impressive year of learning, despite some challenges. He struggled with his sensory issues, continuing to chew on marker lids and bouncing a lot. He started his occupational therapy during the year, and also began taking medication for ADHD. Despite these challenges, his reading, writing, and math skills were wonderful, and he continued to surprise us with his new abilities and knowledge.

We're so excited about a fun summer with time at the library, at dollar kid's movies, camping at the lake, trips to Silver Dollar City, a day at Wild River Country in Little Rock, fireworks at Nana and Papa's house for the 4th of July, and just lots of fun. I expect them to have some video game time, too!

So our rising 5th grader, our rising 1st grader, and their Mommy are very glad to sing "school's out for summer!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Baseball, Books, Buffets, and Nerf Bullets

Some of our Saturday's are filled with rest, especially when certain MS symptoms show themselves. Some Saturdays are filled with family fun. Still others are productive days where we get things done around the house.

It's a rare Saturday when we are able to have family fun AND be productive.

Saturday, April 10, 2010, was fortunately one of those Saturdays where we had some fun family time in the morning, and still had some productive time in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day, and the boys enjoyed it a lot.

We started the day with a first--we went to Lowe's for a kids building workshop. They provide kits and aprons for each child, and let them use tools. After the kit is built the children get patches to sew on their aprons and a certificate. Tyler now wants to go back every time there is a clinic, and I think it's as much for the patches as the building projects!

April 10 was a perfect kit for our boys--they built a miniature baseball game, complete with ball, that they could then play after it was built! Both boys were very excited to get started.

They opened the kit and sorted out the pieces, then started going over the directions. This is Tyler's special area--following directions--and Shawn loves to follow his brother.
With some help from Daddy and the Lowe's workshop leader, the boys built their baseball games.


Lowe's Kids Workshop 4/10/10: Baseball Game from DigiLaura on Vimeo.

Once the games were built, it was time to play with them!


After our baseball building fun, we headed for some books. We needed new stories for bedtime, so we went to the Fayetteville library. The boys and I renewed our cards (and paid some fines), while HoneyBear got a new card. Tyler went for the digital card catalog to find books for a research project, while Shawn was drawn to the computers, from which we had to drag him away when it was time to leave.
After much deliberation, HoneyBear chose 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for our next family read. I'm not sure if our current musical about diving under the sea had any influence, but it was a good choice.

After leaving the library, it was time for lunch. The cafe I was hoping for had closed since the last time we were there, which was admittedly a while ago, but we were able to drive by the Razorback baseball stadium in our lunch quest. Since we had spent the morning building a miniature baseball game, seeing the actual baseball stadium seemed appropriate. With my lunch choice no longer available, we decided upon a favorite of the boys, especially the big boy--Chinese! Somehow this has become a common theme, though HoneyBear would say we don't go there enough. We do go enough, apparently, that the owners and several of the wait staff know us, making the boys happy.

After a full morning, we made it home. With pretty weather and a desperate need to get some cleaning done, we opened up the garage and became productive in the afternoon. The boys enjoyed this process, since we found several stored toys that hadn't yet been used, as well as some that had gotten buried. The favorite of the afternoon was a Nerf tag set, though Shawn struggled a bit playing by the rules!


Nerf Tag from DigiLaura on Vimeo.

Our fun and productive day was a great mix, and created memories for the boys and us. Hopefully we'll be able to repeat the formula soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Do We Already Have a Pre-Teen?

Some things really surprise me. Fortunately, a lot of surprises are good things. Particularly as a pessimist---ahem...realist---surprising outcomes are often a very good thing. Expecting to have to replace the starter in my car and only needing a battery is a good surprise. A card or gift from my hubby that I find in my car is a good surprise (hint, hint...).

Having my sweet little boy, who is only 9 years old, suddenly act like a rebellious teenager, however, is not such a good surprise.

This week is testing week for Tyler. THE testing week. The tests that determine how the school and district is ranked and rated. The tests that he should have no problem doing well on, but still require concentration.

Testing week does not mean he gets away without doing homework or chores, however. It does mean an earlier bedtime.

With testing week upon us, Monday night we saw a side of Tyler that we wish we hadn't. First, he chose to not do his homework. We have been having some struggles with math homework this year. He is consistently not doing his math practice exercises, so he is behind on his multiplication and division facts. This is unacceptable in our house, and he knows it, but the math facts are not fun, so the sheets get forgotten at school. I even bought him a game for his Nintendo DS for Math, but it's not as much fun as his other games.

His homework was to redo questions he missed on his math test, all of which went back to the basic math facts. Not only had he not done them after school, but he did not do any of his work, instead getting on the computer and later on his DS. I asked him about the test just before bedtime, so that he suddenly remembered he had to redo it and get a parent's signature for bonus points.

Instead of gathering to read a book chapter or two before bed, we all gathered in the boys' room to go over the missed problems. Forty-five minutes later, he finally got it corrected. With testing continuing the next day, staying up that far past bedtime was problematic, so we skipped our reading. We hurried to get them into bed and tucked in, and went about our evening.

An hour later I discovered a problem.

At about 9:45 I went back to my room to go to the bathroom. Hearing a noise from the boys' room, I prepared myself to get Shawn back into bed. This is a regular occurrence, unfortunately. I was quite surprised to find Shawn sound asleep and looking quite angelic. This was a good surprise.

I was also surprised to see Tyler in his glasses, even though I thought I remembered him putting them on his bedside table. I was even more surprised to move his covers and discover something unexpected. His DS, which was supposed to stay in the other room at night, had somehow gotten into his bed. It had somehow been turned on. It had somehow been in the middle of play. My child had somehow done all this in order to play games. To top it off, he excused himself by saying he just has a problem stopping playing the games.


Fortunately for him, it's quite easy for us as parents to help him with this problem. In his words, he is now "banned" from the DS. He is also not to be on the computer at Grandma's house after school, since that time is supposed to be used on homework. I would be surprised if he were to do something like this again anytime soon.

I hope that this is the only surprise of this type I have from him. Of course, as a realist, I know that I'm likely to be in for some other situations as he gets older.

Hopefully he'll surprise me and his teenage years will be wonderful. Because I think we have already started the process.

I think we now have a pre-teen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring?

The first day of spring was March 20 this year. Spring break was March 22-March 26. The boys went to Little Rock for spring break and basked in the sun and outdoor fun.

So how did Northwest Arkansas wind up with yet more snow? It's spring! We live in the south!


This is certainly not the first time it has snowed in the spring. Grandma's birthday is April 5, and she has had snowy birthdays multiple times. I think we're just really ready for some warmer weather.

Of course, wait until July and August and we'll be wishing for snow...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Looking Towards a Musical Spring

I have expected to share pictures of the boys in the snow, and in fact have two days of snow adventures to share. With the snow finally melted and the sun peeking through, though, our family is ready to look toward spring and warm weather. I'll plan to share our snow adventures when we're out of school for spring break, and looking at snow won't cause fear of more snow days and more days to make up at the end of the year.

We can definitely tell the boys are ready for spring--we've already had multiple times jackets have been lost at school after being forgotten on the playground. It is frustrating for them; with mornings still cold with temperatures in the 20s, we have to have jackets and coats, but the afternoons are in the 50s, which is a heat wave for us after our colder temperatures this winter. Of course, it's even more frustrating for them when they get in trouble for forgetting their coats at school.

This spring will be another musical one! Last spring Tyler and Shawn and I were in our church musical and Tyler was also in a musical at my middle school while taking guitar lessons. That got out of control quickly, so we won't be doing all of that this year, but we will have another musical at church--God's Word in 3D. Tyler is ecstatic to have just been told he'll have the lead drama part in the musical! He'll play Jonas, the leader of the little pack of kids going under the sea to explore God's world. Jonas has a sidekick TJ who follows along with whatever Jonas does, and that part will be played by another Tyler in our group.

This will be a family event, since Shawn will be in the preschool/kindergarten choir and sing before the musical, and I will again lead a small group. This year we get an extra special treat in that Daddy will also be leading a small group. He will work with some kids to have them act out without words a song about the story of Jonah, complete with a big blue whale. He's excited to be doing some drama work again, and Tyler and I are proud to have him join us.

This spring in school Tyler also gets another musical treat--the 4th graders are learning to play the recorder. I'm incredibly excited, since learning recorder and doing well is what led me to choose to play clarinet in band. He loves music, so he's just happy to play. Tyler gave a little recital for me while Shawn was in therapy, which I was able to get on video. They heard it in the therapy session, and Shawn told everyone that it was his brother, who can play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder. He was very proud of his brother.

Hot Cross Buns on Recorder by Tyler from Laura Wainscott on Vimeo.


Shawn also loves music, especially pretend instruments. His air guitar and air drums are outstanding :). He especially loves the song Monster by the band Skillet, which I often have to play over and over when the boys are in the car with me. I finally got a part of that on video as well, though it's in a moving vehicle.

Shawn Feels Like a Monster from Laura Wainscott on Vimeo.


We're looking forward to seeing more of the sun, feeling more warmth with the spring weather, and hearing more music this spring.

Do you have any musical adventures heading your way this spring?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day! It's my favorite holiday. It's made extra special for us, because we actually consider February 12 and February 16 special days, too.

February 12 is special because we consider it the anniversary of when we started dating. That sounds corny, of course, but when we met in college we were best friends first. After a year, we both started to feel like we wanted it to be more, but there was so much at stake with our friendship we were concerned. On February 12, 1997, my dorm roommate and I had a little dinner party. Her boyfriend was in town from England (yes, the country, not England, Arkansas), and we wanted to have a special time. The four of us had dinner and watched the movie "The Rock." When HoneyBear left, we had a moment to talk, and decided to see what would happen if we became a dating couple. We celebrate February 12 as an anniversary.

February 16 is the day that HoneyBear proposed to me, in 1998. We had made a joint decision, and had even picked out a ring together, but he presented me with it, along with a giant panda bear and a precious card, in the living room of my apartment. It was a Monday night, and I had rehearsal for Fine Arts Team through the University's Baptist Student Union that night. Since he had been on the team the year before, the team members were good friends to both of us, and we planned to tell them that night of our engagement. He had excellent timing to ensure I had a ring with the announcement. Of course, he was a little sneaky and told me it wasn't ready so the actual proposal could be a surprise. We definitely consider February 16 a special day in our lives.

With the two dates, plus Valentine's Day, it's easy to find a time to celebrate together! This year we had the fortune of having two celebrations. We had a date night on Saturday night with the boys staying with Grandma. We took advantage of the Valentine's special at one of my favorite restaurants, Marketplace Grill. We even saw some friends--the instructors of our dogs' obedience school classes were out for the evening, too. As a plus, my hair was actually fixed curly, since I had gotten it highlighted that afternoon!


The next night was a special evening organized by our church. Child care was provided at church, so the boys were able to play with friends. Called the Great Date Experiment, it was the first of 6 structured dates, with instructions available for download. To be honest, we didn't follow the guidelines exactly, but we did appreciate the parts we did complete. This first one was on Communication, so there were some guided discussion questions that were really fun and helpful. We were also supposed to take a picture of ourselves at each step of the process.



Did you make a memory this Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making a Man Made Out of Snow

Snow! Our family has had some fun in the snow this year. During the days we called the NWA Snow Storm, the boys and I had several days outside in the snow. HoneyBear got to be in on some of the snow play, too.

Sunday afternoon, with snow everywhere and snowmen all over town, we made our first family snowman. HoneyBear had of course made lots of snowmen, and had always loved the snow. Tyler had also made some snow creatures, the most memorable being the one he made with the little Blue (from Blue's Clues) sprinkler we had in the garage when he was just 2. We moved Blue into the yard and packed snow on him. A little scarf finished off the snow Blue.

This time we had help from Daddy. We would make a snow man.

The boys brought Daddy the snow, with some help from cottage cheese buckets. The dogs didn't last long outside, but still left some marks that had to be avoided when collecting snow. With the boys' help, the snow was packed into a form. We added a cap from HoneyBear's collection, and he was done.

I took the chance to use my Flip Video camera from school so we could remember the day we made a man out of snow.

video

Saturday, February 6, 2010

NWA Ice Storm 2010

During the last week of January last year Northwest Arkansas suffered from an ice storm that caused almost the entire area to be out of power. When people in Northwest Arkansas heard that almost exactly one year later we would be facing another winter storm warning with ice and snow accumulation, the region reacted. Grocery stores were quickly wiped out of bread and milk, and Sam's went through quite a few generators. People in the region also stocked up on bottled water, so that HoneyBear had extra deliveries to the grocery stores with Aquafina and other Pepsi products.

As we watched the weather move into our area, we all watched the radar and the weather predictions. Thursday morning started with some sleet and freezing rain, but then cleared, with no road problems, so we made it to school. The winter storm watch was changed to a winter storm warning and a winter weather advisory, though, making us nervous all day that school would have to dismiss early. Fortunately, we made it through the day before the rest of the storm system hit.

Just after school was out, light precipitation started. By the time I got home, just minutes from school, my Explorer was covered in icicles.


With memories of last year still in our minds, we began to get nervous. For our family, our safety net was even eliminated--though we had been able to escape to Little Rock the year before, central Arkansas was also expecting winter weather, and we could no longer drive down to Nana and Papa's house if we lost power.

Fortunately for keeping power, NWA Ice Storm 2010 turned into NWA Snow Storm 2010! The sleet and freezing rain changed over to snow, and kept it up for hours. The ice and snow in our yard was so pretty--a true winter wonderland.

Tucker wasn't very happy with the cold or the snow, but Roly spent time outside. He was so funny prancing through the snow.


We were quite thankful to not have the power outages and dangerous conditions from the previous year as we settled in to enjoy the snow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Tucker

Today is Tucker's birthday. Tucker is not one of my sons. He is, however, my first "baby." Tucker is our oldest pug dog. He turns 12 years old today.


Actually, today is technically only the day we celebrate Tucker's birthday. Much like Christ's birthday, we don't know the actual day Tucker was born. When he joined our family, he was determined to be 6 weeks old. That placed his birth sometime in late January. HoneyBear's birthday is August 27, so we used the day--27--to make a celebration day for Tucker's birthday, so his birthday became January 27.

When Tucker joined our family, he was tiny! HoneyBear and his mom had a Ford Thunderbird with a center console that wasn't very big, but was almost empty. HoneyBear often drove with Tucker inside the console--a perfect little fit for the little puppy.

He is a pug mix, and we rescued him from the animal shelter because his mom was not supposed to have anything but purebred pugs, so a mixed litter of puppies was not allowed. There were several to choose from, and I still don't know how we picked him, but it was just as likely that he picked us. What he's mixed with is also unknown; he looks just like a "puggle," but we've always been told he has some terrier, and he's not as large as a beagle or puggle would be.

We've also believed he's part terrier because of the energy he had as a puppy. Now that we have another puppy, we're remembering some of Tucker's early days. It may be that we're not remembering exactly the way things were, or we may just be working better with the new puppy, but Roly-Poly is much less excitable than we remember Tucker being.

When he was a puppy, Tucker would play and play until he just collapsed into sleep. He "tuckered out"--which is how he got his name.

When he was a puppy, Tucker chewed everything in sight. When he was almost 8 months old, HoneyBear and I got married (we adopted Tucker just after we got engaged.)  Nana and Papa stayed in my apartment with Tucker after the wedding and took him home with them while we were on our honeymoon. While they were at my apartment, Tucker apparently chewed up several of Nana's shoes. They remember buying a bag of pigs ears to keep Tucker entertained on the way to their house--and he went through several.

When he was a puppy, Tucker ate anything. We found that he had eaten foil, rubber bands, and the little ball on the top of HoneyBear's hats. It's hard to think of what might still be inside that dog's belly!

When he was a puppy, Tucker loved Pup-peroni treats. We got some as part of his adoption kit. He ate the first one almost without chewing, and it was longer than he was! While we ran into Wal-Mart on the way home after adopting him to pick up a collar, food and water dishes, and food, he found the bag of Pup-peroni. We're not sure how he didn't get sick, but he finished off the entire bag--as a tiny puppy.

We didn't really celebrate Tucker's birthday this year. We had kid's choir and Bible study, plus Shawn's therapy after school, so Wednesdays are very long days for us. But we got him a bag of Pup-peroni for his very own, and he got one tonight. He'll cuddle with me until bedtime, then cuddle up against me under the covers when we go to bed, so that I'm sandwiched warm and toasty between my two pugs, Tucker and Roly.

He's my first baby, and a cherished part of our family. Happy birthday, Tucker-puppy!

If you have pets, do you celebrate their birthdays? Do you know the date, or is it a guess?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Being Reminded

As a wife and mother, I spend a lot of time reminding people of things.

"Don't forget your backpack."

"Remember to feed the dogs."

"Don't forget we have karate tonight."

"Can you please put your keys where you can remember where they are?"

Some might call these reminders closer to nagging, but in our case it's the way we can actually get things done. The problem is, I am not as good at reminding myself of things. I know this is normal. What may not be normal, though, is how easily my disease takes over and causes me to forget things that I should have no problem remembering.

More importantly, when things are going well for me it's easy me to forget how quickly my health can go bad. The past few weeks I've had a strong reminder of how important it is for me to be careful with my disease.

It started with just a little too much activity. I did too much bending to plug in equipment. I did a little too much fast walking, rushing to get things fixed for a meeting already in progress. I had a little too much worry, spending a lot of time concerned about things I couldn't really control.

Then I had my medicine.

My medicine is a miracle drug for me. I believe strongly that I would not be as mobile and active as I am, even with my limitations, were I not able to take this medicine. It is a pretty strong drug, though, and must be carefully monitored. With the monitoring, the IV infusion takes about 3 hours. I usually miss about an hour and a half of work each month for the medicine. Although I make it up by working late throughout the month, and just getting my projects done in general, I am still out of the building when teachers and students are not. I typically try to have the infusions on Friday afternoons, since that's a time during the week that tends to have the fewest things missed if I am out of the building.

This month, though, I opted to have my infusion on a Monday. We were out of school for a holiday, and I thought it would be good to avoid missing any work and take advantage of the day away from school.

No one reminded me of how much this drug affects me.

Since I typically have the infusion on Friday afternoons, I rest over the weekend. Resting on Saturday or Sunday afternoons is a part of our adaptation to having multiple sclerosis; in our family this is a normal, necessary part of life. So even though I know that after having my meds I'm more tired than usual, I usually think of the day of the infusion as a day I need to rest--about 4 hours after it's over, actually.

While this is true, and my body shuts down to deal with the medicine about 4 hours after the infusion, I've been reminded that two days after I have my medicine I am forced to rest. This is not just a case of being tired. Multiple sclerosis laughs at "tired." It laughs at "exhausted," even. The term used most frequently is "fatigued"--as in MS fatigue, which is one of the potentially debilitating affects of the disease.

After my medicine, my body took MS fatigue to a new level. The boys got to stay home, because Mommy couldn't get out of bed (Tyler was also dealing with the after-effects of a migraine and Shawn was feeling poorly, so staying home was actually a good thing for them, but when I'm being honest they stayed home because I had to). Mommy couldn't move. Mommy absolutely, no-questions-asked, do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 had to rest. With the drugs doing their thing, my body told me it was out of order while the repairs were taking place. Because I had tried to force it without that rest, they had more work to do, and I had a harder time recovering.

As the day drew to a close, I returned to normal. The fatigue lessened, and I was able to get out of bed. We didn't make it to choir, but were able to get back into routine the next day. By the weekend, I was feeling great again.

I've rescheduled my next medicine, though. We may be off on a Monday the week of my February medicine, but I'm not taking any chances; I'll have my medicine on a Friday afternoon.

Hopefully, I've gotten all the reminder I need to rest 4 hours after and again 2 days after my miracle drug. If not, I'm open to being nagged/reminded in the future.

Have you ever had a time where you were strongly reminded of something the hard way?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Dogs

While the boys made snow angels and had snowball fights on their January 4 snow day, they did not get to build a snowman. We got carrots when we picked up new hats and gloves, so we were ready, but it was just too cold.

Of course, we did not actually plan to build a snowman. We decided we would build a snow DOG! It originally was going to be laying on its belly with little sticks for legs sprawled out. As we talked about it, Shawn decided he wanted it to have something special. He was determined it should have a "weiney." Actually, it should have 8 weineys. Plus, they had to be black.

As a little bit of background, a stray dog had been spending time at Nana and Papa's house before Christmas. This dog was very pregnant, and probably gave birth during the holiday. In preparation for the birth, the teats on the dog were quite large--and they were black.

Apparently, it's time for more of a "talk" between Daddy and Shawn!

Though it was too cold to build our snow dog, with or without correct anatomy, our real dogs did spend some time in the snow.

Tucker did not enjoy it very much, but did sniff a bit before he came back to the front door and waited to be allowed back inside.



Roly was more adventurous, though only slightly.









Daddy asked us where our snow dog was when he got home that night, since we'd told him we would build one. We showed him the real snow dogs, and enjoyed time inside for the evening, so we could all return to school and work the next day.

(For the record, I would not have allowed any private anatomy to be added to our snow creature, disappointed children or not!)

Have you ever built a snow creature other than a snow man?

Snow Days 1

This winter we've already gotten more snow than we typically do. Though we missed most of it while we were at Nana and Papa's house, we technically had a white Christmas, something I'm not accustomed to. Of course, as a child we celebrated Christmas in south Arkansas, in Magnolia and Camden. Most Christmases could be spent in t-shirts.

Since we missed the Christmas snow, the boys were very happy when it snowed again New Year's weekend, especially when it meant that the Monday we would have gone back to school turned into a snow day! The snow was not easy to work with, and it was incredibly cold, but that didn't stop the boys from having some fun--for brief moments at a time.

They started with my personal favorite snow activity, snow angels. The snow was only deep enough for the snow-angel-making to sweep the snow from the ground in those spot, but the boys enjoyed it.



Since boys will be boys, the next order of business became a snowball fight!






Shawn had to check on the snow sticking to his glove,


While Tyler hammed it up for the camera.


Since it was incredibly cold, with a steady wind, that was about all the boys could take.

After Shawn took one last look around at...something....we all headed inside to warm up and play video games.



Wonderful snow days...

What's your favorite snow play activity?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Senses Don't Make Sense

We've finally started sensory therapy with Shawn this week. So far he seems to be doing well.

We're already learning some things to try with him. His sensory issues revolve around his brain not seeming to process the sensory stimulation he's already getting, so he craves more. He wants to jump and bounce and roll around. He usually wants something in his mouth, whether it's his thumb, his fingers, the caps to markers in his classroom, or anything else. In some ways he's like the puppy, and in fact he and not the dog is responsible for chewing on the Wii controller. The therapy process is at least confirming that these are legitimate issues, though, and not just disobedience.

One thing we've learned this week involves deep pressure when he's touched. For example, when we or his teachers need his attention he rarely responds if he's just touched gently, say on his shoulder or arm. If we press a bit harder so it's more at the muscle rather than just the skin, though, he tends to have a better response. We'll continue to try this and see if it helps at home and school.

We're also going to get him to try some coping techniques on his own. When he is upset or gets over excited we'll be asking him to try a trick the therapist taught him. He's to put his arms on his lap (if he's sitting) and put his palms together. With palms pressed together, he's to squeeze his hands together as hard as he can. It's supposed to give him the sensation of pressure on his palms and thighs plus make his arms and shoulders work to squeeze his hands.

I'm pleased with our first week of therapy, and hope things continue to go well. Now we just need a fun name for our little hand squeeze we'll be asking him to do.

Any thoughts on a fun name a 6-year-old might like for the little squeeze your hands together trick we'll be working on?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh What a Night

We don't really have any New Year's Eve traditions in our family. Each year has very different circumstances surrounding the day, so it's not really possible to create traditions for the family. There are many years that HoneyBear and I celebrate my birthday on New Year's Eve, in fact. We have had some pretty special New Year's Eve events in years past, though.

I remember our first New Year's Eve after we were married. I volunteered for a shift at First Night, Fayetteville's New Year's Eve celebration, which was held on the downtown square at the time. HoneyBear joined me while I directed people to bathrooms, etc. Once my shift ended, we did a little walking around, but it was pretty cold (not surprising for Northwest Arkansas in December/January) and it was getting a bit crowded, so we wouldn't have a good view of the fireworks. I think I had worked that day as well, so I was getting tired--though I was not yet diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We went back to our townhouse just before midnight and just enjoyed time together as a new family for the new year.

Another year, when Tyler was just a year old, we spent New Year's Eve at my parents' house in Little Rock. My mom's twin sister and her husband came over, along with my cousin and her boyfriend (now husband). We played games and just had a fun time together. I don't remember the exact questions, but some of the game's questions were about relationships and physical aspects, which were especially funny with the dating couple. Tyler had a lot of fun with the decorations, hats, and balloons that year!

In 2006 HoneyBear and I actually went to a New Year's Eve event for the first time. We had a chance to get away just the two of us, and decided to stay in Hot Springs. The hotel where we were staying had a party downstairs, so we had dinner and listened to music there. The good thing about it being in the hotel was that we could slip up to our room during the evening--the Chicago Bears were playing that night, and we were trying to keep up with the game!

Last year we had a great gathering with HoneyBear's family at his grandmother's house for New Year's Eve. HoneyBear's uncle's family, with almost all 7 of his children, were in town before the uncle was deployed to Baghdad for another tour (his promotion moved him to a new unit, whose deployment required him to go over again). Another uncle's family, who live only a short distance away, also came over bringing some friends. We ate, watched Wall-E, ate some more, and played games. HoneyBear and I were pretty tired, so we left just after midnight to get some sleep, but the boys spent the night to have more time with their cousins. They tried to "stay up all night," but I don't think they were successful. (I don't have permission to post pictures of the cousins at this time, so I'm not going to post pictures, though we do have some of the younger cousins all together.)

This year was another new event, but was special for us as we spent time with new friends. Since HoneyBear worked during the day both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, the evening had to be relaxed, and we couldn't plan on a late night. While he worked, I took the boys bowling with Tyler's new best friend. He moved with his family from Cincinnati at the beginning of the school year, and it's been nice seeing them develop their friendship. None of the boys were especially good at bowling, but they did have fun.

A few years ago we went bowling over Christmas break with one of Tyler's friends, and after bowling we played pool at the gaming area in the bowling alley. Since that time the boys always want to play pool when we bowl, though they really don't play well. I'm not very good at pool, either, so showing them how to hold the pool cue didn't work out so well!


After trying for a while, we decided to play without the cues, based upon a little billiard ball game at our church. We called it bowling pool because they used the cue ball with their hands to knock into the balls. It still took a while, but was a lot less frustrating for the boys.

After bowling, we returned to the friend's house. His mom had spent the day cooking a delicious meal for us all. HoneyBear was even able to join us after work, so he and I enjoyed an adult dinner with Tyler's friend's parents and college-aged sister, while Tyler and Shawn had a wonderful time playing Pokemon, Lego, and various video games with their friend. Tyler was not able to choose a favorite part of the day, as usual. He loved the time with his friend and just having fun.

That night we let the boys "stay up all night" again. I'm sure they're not the only ones who want to do this all the time, so I try to find times to let them when there's a chance. Tyler's had the opportunity for his last two birthdays, and of course they did so last year for New Year's Eve with their cousins. They never have made it all night, though. After we all emerged this morning we discovered that Shawn had fallen asleep in the chair in the living room with a blanket covering him from head to toe early in the evening, even before midnight we think. Tyler made it to late morning before he went on back to bed. He shared with me later that he was trying to play his Nintendo DS after he went to bed, but it kept getting heavy and he couldn't hold it up away from his face, so he finally just went to sleep!

HoneyBear had to get up for work about 5:30, and took the sleeping Shawn back to bed then, where he slept until about 10:00. Tyler's adventure wore him out enough that he slept in until after 1:00 in the afternoon! Maybe we should do this more often when we're on break, and I could sleep in later guilt-free!

The evening did inspire the boys to want to be more involved in Pokemon cards, so New Year's Day was spent sleeping in, going to a late lunch with the boys, then getting binders and trading card inserts for the boys new interest.

I expect 2010 to be filled with friends and Pokemon-at least for the boys!