Thursday, January 31, 2013

some January gifts

206.  microwave popcorn

207.  sunshine through icy trees, lighting them up like crystal

208.  icicles in afternoon sunshine

209.  hot apple cider
210.  chicken broth warm in a mug
211.  speeding ticket to remind me to SLOW down
212.  Bills paid and stacked to mail
213.  texting with Justin throughout the day
214.  Girls Night Out at The Artsy Cafe
215.  Laughter with friends
216.  scrapbooking fun
217.  sounds of boys playing nicely together in their room
218.  three day weekends!
219.  making the perfect hard boiled egg

220.  apple slices and PB shared between me and the boys

221.  Pretzles dipped in spinach dip

222.  baking cookies
223.  special delivery from Justin:  Starbuck's mocha
224.  Evenings laying in bed talking with Justin
225.  Sharing lunch at school with Logan
226.  perfect lines left in the carpet by the vacuum cleaner
227.  sick days to stay home, rest, and recover
228.  The Discovery Center
229.  Dutch apple cheescake compliments of Starbucks (and the Cheesecake Factory)
230.  Tall glace of iced tea lemonade - almost can make me believe its summer!
231.  Beer of tap paired with a plate of hot wings shared with Justin
232.  the bright white glow of a full moon
233.  Moonbeams peaking around clouds, lighting up the night sky
234.  "You're pretty cool" - Justin
235.  Two boys, hands folded, saying prayers in church
236.  Gavin singing as loud as he can during praise and worship
231.  thunderstorms
237.  Open windows letting in fresh air - in January!
238.  Falling asleep to the sound of rain falling steadily
239.  starting and finishing a book all in one day!
240.  antibiotics for healing
241.  Logan's negative strep test
242.  Gigi to the rescue!  Babysitting Logan while he's out sick from school
243.  expressing my thoughts and experiences through writing and pictures on my blog
244.  What I Read Wednesdays from School Teacher by Day...
245.  suprise gifts from Shelley at group

246.  my phone alarm to remind me to pray throughout the day
247.  snow hugging trees

248.  boys coloring together at the table


why I love the discovery center

First, there are dinosaur bones.  And you can dig for dinosaur bones.  My boys get a kick out of this.  Heck, I get a kick out of this!  I love digging along side my kiddos!

Then there's Wonderland.  Really, I love this place.  It keeps the boys occupied forever - Gavin especially.  I think he would have been content to stay in this room all. day. long.  I find it very sad that it is only for children five and under because that means that all too soon Logan will be too big for this pint sized wonderland.

The second floor is filled with all kinds of different things like this drinking fountian...

...and fun with magnets...

...and building...

 ....and music!

There are also a couple of great areas that I was so busy playing with the boys that I never got around to taking any pictures of.  They have all kinds of activites dealing with electricity, motion, and water.  Activities that kept us so busy that I never even stopped to think about snapping a picture or two!
A big section of one floor is all about the human body.  They have "veins" and "arteries" to climb through, bones to play with, teeth to brush, and eyeballs to explore.  Along with some great learning activities of course.  Logan was pretty excited about the bones, but wouldn't go near the fake brain!  Gavin just liked climbing all over everything.

A big hit is always the Discovery Town.  They have a grocery store, a house, and a movie theater!  This area really caught Gavin's attention.  Not surprising considering some of his favorite toys at home (and day care) are the cash register and the kitchen set!  There's also a newspaper room and a weather studio, but we avoided those things because they're a little over the boys' heads.


Logan may not have been as excited about Discovery Town, but he was pretty impressed with this giant bubble machine.  I actually felt bad when I had to make him leave so that other children could have a chance.  He was a good sport about it though!

All together, we spent over three hours in the Discovery Center this past Saturday!  Honestly, we could have stayed longer, because we never made it to at least one floor and I know for a fact Logan and Gavin would have each spent a lot longer in a couple of areas if one of them wasn't always so ready to move on to the next thing!  It also didn't help that it was after three and I had two very hungry boys that were ready for snack time!
I love the Discovery Center.  It is such a great place to go and spend a good chunk of the day learning and playing with my boys - especially on days that are too cold or too hot or rainy!  Plus, there's so much to do, that it doesn't get old going back multiple times a year.  We had a great afternoon, and I'm looking forward to the next time we head back there!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The week I barely remember

Most of last week is lost in a fog.  A fog brought on by a sinus infection and it turns out, bronchitis.  Two things stand out to me about last week:
  1. I was sick.  So, so sick and too stubborn to really admit how bad it was and how much I just needed to stay home from work, go to the doctor, and rest.
  2. My Logan, my baby, my five year old, learned to lie.  On purpose.
It was a tough week.  On top of being sick, I had to take on this issue that had cropped up with my son, an issue that went way past one little lie.

Logan, it seems, has been having a lot of trouble in school since we've come back from Christmas break.  Not academically.  Academically the child is right where he needs to be for a kindergartner in January - even a little ahead in some areas.  But socially, emotionally...well, that seems to be another story, and it is starting to really affect his behavior in school.  This isn't completely new - he struggled in pre-school and continued to strugge through the fall this year with little things like sitting still, following directions, listening, keeping his hands to himself.  All those little, but important, self-management skills. 

None of that was unexpected either.  He's a young kindergartner, only five and a half, not six until the end of June.  He barely made our state age cut off to go into kindergarten this year.  I expected some behavior issues because he was younger, because he would lack some of the months - even a whole year in some cases - that other students had had to mature.  Sending him to kindergarten this past fall was a big debate, a choice we took very seriously and discussed at length with his pre-school teacher.  In the end, we made the choice to send him because intellectually he was so ready.  And, behavior was an issue.  An issue that didn't seem to really be getting any better as the year progressed.

But, I didn't know how bad it had gotten.

And then, I discovered the lie.

He'd had a bad day at school last Friday.  So bad that his teacher had sent a note home to tell me about it.  A note that needed to be signed and returned on the next school day.  A note he hid from me and then told me he had had a good day.  A note he attempted to return to the teacher unsigned.  A note he then hid in his bag again with no intention of me finding.

But, find it I did.

And I asked him about it.  At first I thought it was from that day, and I was upset because he had just told me he had had a good day.  I confronted him and he caved.  Dropped his head and told me he'd had a bad day.  That he'd even had to talk to the principal! 

Then I looked a little closer at the note.  Realized that it wasn't from that day, that it was from the previous school day!  And again, his little blond head dropped and he started to cry as he admitted what he had done.

He was broken hearted.  I was broken hearted.  We were sad together.  I hugged him, told him I loved him, and loaded him in the car.  At home, he had to sit at the table and finish his work from school, work he hadn't finished there because of his behavior.  We had to talk about lying and why it is wrong.  We had to talk about good behavior and why it is necessary.  It was an early bedtime, a tough night all around.

The next morning I went in to talk to his teacher.  We came up with a plan.  I fought through the fog of sickness that afternoon to find, create, and print of "homework" for Logan, to make a plan for tackling bad days, giving consequences for poor choices, but not turning school and home into a miserable experience.  (Talk about a challenge!)  And that very first night, I had to put my plan to the test.

And it worked.

And the next night I had to do it again.

And he fought it.  And I stuck to it.  And it worked.

And the next day he had a good day!

And yesterday was Monday, and he had another good day!*

I figure we are far from out of the woods.  Considering his age, considering that it is going to take a few more years for things to even out with the others in his grade - all that means we will probably be dealing with similar issues in various forms for awhile.  But, having made it through this bump in the road gives me confidence that we can make it through the next.  And the next.  And the next....

Last week was tough.  I'm actually kind of glad I was sick so all the details are blurred and all I have to remember is what I need to remember:  Being a parent is tough work, an incredibly important job.  But, it is a job filled with wonder and beauty and love, a job I wouldn't trade for anything.  I love my children, I love Logan.  I love that I get to be there to help guide him toward being the person he was meant to be - bumps and all!

*I also caved, went to the doctor, got lectured on waiting too long to go to the doctor, got an antibiotic shot in the butt along with an oral prescription, and am starting to feel a little better finally.  Go figure!

a family hike

Back at the beginning of the month, Justin and I got a babysitter (Mimi rocks) for the boys and planned a day hiking trip up at Ha Ha Tonka on their seven mile trail.  We were super excited, really looking forward to getting outside and doing something together, just the two of us.

And then the weather was bad.  Really bad.

It was cold, dreary, windy, rainy, and eventually very icy.  At the last minute, we gave up, called off the hike, and found something "in-doors" to do that day.  Turns out we were each more disappointed then we wanted to let on to the other, and it ended up being kind of a bummer day all together.  Chalk it up to my almost complete inability to deal with a sudden, drastic change in plans.

Needless to say, when the forecast that week was predicting a sunny Saturday in the high fifties, Justin and I both had the same idea:  a hiking trip!  Course, we didn't have a baby sitter this time, but that turned out to be no obstacle.  We simply decided to make it a family hiking trip.

Yes, a family trip.  This means a seven mile hike with a five year old and a two year old.  I blame this insane idea on extreme cabin fever.  But really, it turned out great!  Sure, we had to shorten it down to five miles and we didn't do it nearly as quickly as we would have on our own, but that wasn't really the point.  The point was getting outside on an uncharacteristically warm day in January and spending time together as a family.

And we did just that.

Justin filled his pack up (he wanted to practice hiking with a full pack) with the usual stuff (tent, sleeping bag, etc) and food.  I made turkey sandwiches for everyone, filled a zip lock bag with pretzels and cheese its, grabbed apples, and packed water bottles.  Then we layered the boys and ourselves in shirts, coats, and hats; loaded up the car; and made the half hour (ish) drive up to the park.

We originally planned on having a picnic lunch while on the trail, but since we got there around eleven, we decided to eat on a bench at the trail opening.  Logan gobbled his sandwich down, while Gavin chose to take bites at his leisure while poking around in the leaves.  Before long, we were all done eating and he had barely started!  This meant that we basically started the hike out having to carry Gavin while he munched away.  Not the best way for me (or Justin) to conserve energy for a long hike!

We were off to a slow start.  Partly because we were letting the boys (mostly) walk it on their own and they were intrigued with every stick, rock, and leaf we passed by.  And then it was partly because I brought my camera hoping to take lots of cool pictures.  Turns out something with the meter in my camera is jacked up making it hard to adjust my settings correctly, and, well, Gavin really needed to poked and prodded frequently to keep moving.  Either way, I didn't get a lot of pictures after the first mile which took us about 40 minutes to hike!

We took a break at the first mile.  Let the boys sit and rest on a giant rock they found pretty nifty.  It probably wasn't more than a five minute break before we were up and on our way again!

The second mile went faster - mainly because we were doing a lot more carrying of Gavin.  At that point, we knew we weren't going to be able to do the full seven miles (the reality of hiking with two children had quickly sunk in), but figured we could still manage the shorter five mile loop.  So, we decided to move forward instead of heading back.  Of course, all of this was discussed while sitting on a bench at mile number two, sipping water.  Before the really hard work had even begun!

The next mile was a tough one.  Logan was wearing out, and I was pretty much done being able to carry Gavin.  His added weight and wiggliness was getting just too hard on my hips and knees.  Justin was probably the only one doing good at this point despite the fact that he was carrying a full pack! 

At mile three we took our longest - and last - break.  We stopped for a good half hour to sit, drink, snack, and potty.  It was a nice break for all of us as we rested, chatted, and munched on apples, pretzels, and cheese its.  The time went quickly, and then we were off again.

This was probably the hardest part of the hike for all of us...except maybe Gavin.  Logan's little five year old legs were tired, my joints were aching, and Justin was now not only carrying his fully loaded pack, but also all 27 pounds of Gavin!  And for a good mile and a half, Gavin was sleeping!  While he took a little siesta, Justin got to hall all of that limp with sleep weight up and down hills.  Poor guy should get a medal for that! 

(There was a lesson learned here:  When one is hiking with a two year old, one does not need a pack for one will simply end up carrying the two year old most of the time!)

Despite the last two miles of the hike being quite the workout, it was impossible not to enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery.  But, I gotta say, at that point, the most beautiful sight ended up being the sun rays glinting off the top of our car!

Surprisingly, the boys stayed awake for the entire car ride home!  We stopped at Walmart on our way to pick up a few things including Redbox movies for us and the kids and a couple of bottles of wine (that was just for us!).  Once home, I stuck our dirty boys in a big bubble bath and Justin headed out to our favorite Chinese restaurant for take-out.  After dinner we tucked the boys into the spare bedroom with their movie while Justin and I stayed out in the living room talking and eventually watching our own movie.  It was a great way to relax after a fun day outside!

I loved this Saturday family time!  Sure, there were challenges, but just being able to be outside, all of us together, more than made up for the hard parts.  I'd love to take another (much shorter) family hike again when another gorgeous day strikes on a day off!

198.  57 degree days in mid-January
199.  Family hikes at Ha Ha Tonka
200.  Wind rustling through tree branches
201.  knock-knock jokes with Logan
202.  Gavin asleep in Justin's arms near the end of our hike
203.  Boys splashing in a tub full of bubbles
204.  Chinese take-out picked up and brought home by Justin
205.  Wine paired with a redbox movie