Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Some Garden Goodness

This is the first year I have grown spaghetti squash.  I planted them because someone gave me a packet of seeds.  I had no idea if they would even grow, but despite the weak soil, they are thriving and taking over my garden.  The vines have grown over the row of peas on one side and over the row of beans on the other.  They have even started climbing over the fence!

We have two that are almost ready, and many more coming.  I will have to find some new ways to eat them (besides the traditional bake, shred, and cover with butter, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese).  I have to also mention that all the kids ate a huge plateful of sauteed zucchini and onions for dinner tonight.  Anna complained a little, but she finished her plate (with the promise of pizza to follow).

Speaking of Anna, she was my little helper in the garden today.

Here she is with a handful of green beans (that were a little too small, but that's OK).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Morning with Mom

Despite the number of cousins sleeping at our house last night...

Despite the amount of sugar consumed the night before...

Despite the fact that we left kids at our house this morning, kids that my kids love to play with...

All three kids got out the door for their kid program with food in their bellies, clean teeth, packed lunches and no crying.  I made it to work on time today. 

Dad left work early and suprised them by taking them to the beach with their cousins in the early afternoon.  A good great day was had by all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's a New Morning

This summer is a whole new day care adventure for our family. No more au pair. Four days of the summer day care program run through our local school district.  Dan and I adjusting our work schedules to drop off and pickup.  Ehren LOVES it.  Christian likes it.  Anna is sad.

Pro: Mom gets mornings with the kids.
Con: Mom gets mornings with the kids.

Pro:  The day care program takes the kids to swimming lessons in the school district.
Con:  The kids go to swimming lessons without mom three out of the four days each week.

Here's how it's gone so far this week (only our second week in day care because of vacations and cousin visits, etc.).

Monday: Christian refused to get dressed (in his swim suit and swim shirt) because he decided he did not want to go to swimming lessons (even though he went all last week without issue).  I ended up dressing him in regular shorts and a t-shirt and packing his swim clothes. When we finally got out the door, his teeth were not brushed, and I was 15 minutes late for work. After I dropped off the kids, I had no idea if he would cooperate with the staff when it was time to shuttle over for swimming lessons. All morning I was waiting for a phone call from the staff saying that we were on probation (or kicked out) because of Christian's behavior. Thankfully he didn't have any troubles (or if he did, I didn't hear about it).

Tuesday: The kids did a good job getting ready, but I forgot to pack lunches and had to do it at the last minute. When we arrived at the school I forgot the new door code for the preschool building, so I had to make an extra trip to the office to get it. I was 15 minutes late for work.

Wednesday: Christian refused to get dressed again because his "right" swimsuit was accidentally left at the school on Tuesday. For whatever reason, he wouldn't wear his green swim shorts or his white swim shirt. I left him sit in his room crying about it, while the rest of us ate breakfast and got ready. I'd like to tell you I was all "ABA" and full of motivational ideas to get him moving, but frankly, I was just frustrated.  Finally with some help from Ehren, we found a black swim shirt, and Christian agreed to wear some black swim shorts that are a little big for him (even though I was terrified they would be falling off him while he didn't even notice). I tried to show him how to tie them in the inside to tighten them, but let's face it, he's not awesome at that. On the way out the door, he ate two breakfast sausages and some strawberries. Of course his teeth were not brushed (again), but we were on schedule. After dropping of the boys in the second grade room, I walked Anna over to her preschool room. On the way, she reminded me that I forgot to hug her good-bye on Tuesday. I said we'd have an extra big hug today. When we got to her room, she wouldn't let go of me. She cried and held on to me for 10 minutes despite every diversionary tactic employed by the staff and me. Finally, It was clear I had to leave her in tears. I was 15 minutes late for work again.

It's another new morning tomorrow.  Here's hoping we find our groove.

PS - Bara and Marina, I know you can relate since you have been getting my kids ready for school and other activities in the morning for two years!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Narrow Focus

Kids on the autism spectrum sometimes have narrowly-focused interests.  But I was thinking today, that parents of children on the autism spectrum also can lose sight of the big picture.

I remember an embarassing moment when Christian was in OT.   When we arrived, the therapist reminded me that we weren't scheduled for therapy that day.  She said we could stay for a short session or just skip it and go home.  Thinking of all the ABA training we were receiving at home, I immediately thought I should give Christian the choice so he didn't have a meltdown.  I got down to his level and quietly asked him if he wanted to stay for a short session or go home.  He didn't really make a firm decision, so I repeated the question a couple of times.  As his therapist walked by she said, "Hmmmph.  Letting a four-year old decide what to do."

I felt I was doing the right thing at the time, but after the therapist's no-so-under-her-breath comment, I realized how I looked trying to get a four-year old make a decision about whether to stay or go when he clearly didn't really understand the situation or care.  At some moments, I can get so focused on the autism that I lose sight of the situation as a whole.

PS - The picture is actually Ehren.  I don't think I have a picture of Christian in OT.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This week Dan and I undertook a long-overdue project:  separating the boys' clothes.  The boys will be sharing a room for the foreseeable future, but they shouldn't have to continue to share all their clothes.  We finally re-organized their closet so they can each have their own half:  Ehren on the left; Christian on the right.  As the parent, it's too easy to just put everything together for them.  But even though they're identical twins, they're seven now, and it's time they had individual ownership of some things.

Now if only they'd stop wanting to sleep in the same bed!  If they could choose, they would still sleep together every night.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good-Bye Once More

Taking walks

Catching fireflies

Seeing my sis

Playing Boggle

Being gathered together from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Montana and California in a little camp in Iowa (where, ironically, none of us live).

Sixty years of family tradition pulls us together here. This was the first year we've gathered without my Grandma, who started this tradition.  She turned 100 last June, but passed away soon afterwards.  We miss her, but her life was a shining example to us all, and we continue the tradition she started here.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Anna had quite a few hair stylists during our week at Okoboji.

Lucky for mom.

Lucky for Anna.

Got Wheels?

Biking is a big part of the week for the kids.

The camp is the perfect place for kids of all ages to bike.

Ehren and Christian learned a few tricks from their older cousins, like riding down stairs. Did I mention they were stairs to a chapel? I witnessed the trick, congratulated them on their new skill and told them never to ride on those stairs again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jump In!

The sun is burning.

 I am yearning

to jump



The water may be green

but there's no air conditioning in the cabins,

so morning, noon or night

anytime's just right

for a little swim.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rocket Ship Park

There's an old playground that the kids love to visit when we're in Okoboji.  It's surrounded by a moat and you have to enter by a little bridge.  The playground is almost exactly the same as it was when I played there as a kid.  We simply call it the "Rocket Ship Park" because the central feature is a huge rocket ship slide.  It can't possibly meet modern safety standards, which is probably what makes it so fun.


Cousin Ethan climbed up the slide and ran down.



Ding, ding!  All aboard the CB Express.  I think this train used to actually run on a track around the park, but for as long as I can remember, it's just been parked.  No matter; the kids love it anyway.

The little kid swings are still fun for the big kids.

Gymnast wannabe

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Babies and flags...

Cousin Jackson giving us his happy toddler grin.

Hope you  had a happy Fourth of July.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Four to Two in One

Cruisin' with my training wheels.

We're taking these things off?

Ok, let's do it!

Can I help, Dad?

And an hour later... riding a two-wheeler!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vacation in... Iowa?

Ever tell your friends you're going on vacation to Iowa?  It gets better when you tell them you're going for a family reunion that lasts a whole week.

But we have fun!  So much fun.  Here's a picture of our group (the group photos are not the fun part).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shelf Cloud

As seen a few minutes ago in my backyard.

Fierce looking, but it turns out we're just getting some rain and moderate winds.  Thankfully no 50-60 mph winds here!