May 31, 2012

The Dog Walker Graduates

This is one of those days I thought might never come.
When he was 2 he was a happy smiling boy who only seemed marginally different from his older siblings. Except that he didn't talk. When I took him to the pediatrician at 2 1/2 he suggested we begin testing. I was in denial. Life was so hard and so unfair.

But we dealt with it, just like everything else.

When the autism diagnosis came through once again it was denial. Then acceptance. Those years when he was first learning to speak from about 7 - 10 were the hardest for him and for us. There were so many days when I wondered what kind of life he would have, what kind of adult he would become. Would he be able to get a job and move out on his own? What about a wife and a family? Could he handle school and academia? These were the questions that kept me awake at night and haunted me during the day.

But I shouldn't have worried.

"Alright, last picture - best pose."
By the time he was 11 we could see that his potential was unlimited by any diagnosis. He was doing well in school and beginning his incredible journey in scouting. Yeah, there were still definitely some setbacks and at times his path was incredibly rocky (still is!), but today is one of those milestones.

The Dog Walker is graduating from high school...and not JUST graduating...he has a 3.96/4.0 GPA! He also received a scholarship from our local community college!

Nate, we are so proud of you! You are definitely epic.

Love you,


May 30, 2012

Where Did the Time Go?

I am SOOO ready for school to be out! The Dog Walker graduates from high school tomorrow and Princess and Prima Donna have their last day on Friday. My three elementary-aged kids are on year-round so they have to go until the middle of next week. Except for Scout who gets out one day earlier since she is in kindergarten.

I know, crazy. I want them to be out so I don't have to keep remembering who is doing what!

When I was a kid, school was ALWAYS out before Memorial Day weekend. That was the signal for the start of summer. That's when all the pools opened for business and everybody switched to summer hours. But not here. Life sure has changed in nearly 30 years.

Give me a minute to pour my heart out. Spending this past weekend in my hometown was quite an eye-opener. First, I realized as we were sitting at the parade, that I needed to look in the faces of the old people for some hint of my former life. Even my dad who taught school there for 40 years and has only been gone for about 10 is largely forgotten by the young people.

Life changes so quickly. Little ones turn into big ones and then they grow up and move away. We moved into our current home when the Dog Walker was 9 months old. I was telling a neighbor this morning that we had been here for nearly 18 years and neither one of us could believe where the time had gone. Pretty much it was the Dog Walker's entire lifetime.

Princess pointed out over the weekend that I had lived in our home now for about the same amount of time that I spent in my parents' home. When I think of myself I still think I am young and vibrant with a bright future, but then I look in the mirror and I see a middle-aged woman with little wrinkles beginning to appear.

I don't mean to get depressing...but what happened? Where has the time gone? And when did I get so old?

May 29, 2012

Did You Miss Me?

As you already know, we've been out of town all weekend. It was a necessary, bittersweet journey. Our hardwood floors were in desperate need of refinishing so that meant the kids needed to be out of the house for a few days. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be our only opportunity, so we grabbed it. My sweetie started sanding things down early in the week. That meant the house was pretty torn up all week. We had to have everything off the floors! That meant cleaning out the hall closet and the floor of the pantry. After a couple of days of sanding, masking, and sanding again, he was finally ready to pour. The first light coat went down on Thursday and we all slept in the basement with the doors closed.

All ready for church!
On Friday, I packed up the kids and left for Grandpa's house. My sweetie would join us on Saturday after he made the final pour. I'll spare you the details on that because he actually has a funny story to tell...

When we arrived at my dad's house, everything had been locked up tight for a while. The house smelled kind of funny and the kids were a little nervous about staying there. It was hard being in town with Grandma gone. This was our first Memorial Day when we would have to decorate her grave as well. We aired out the house and decided on a huge sleepover in the living room. The kids all spread out their sleeping bags and pillows. We ate hot dogs out of a cooler and played board games and read stories.

The sleeping on the floor thing was brutal and early in the morning I sent my sweetie a text asking him to please grab the air mattresses before he hit the road. We ate bowls of cereal and then headed off for the Memorial Day parade. We mostly enjoyed it except that the wind kicked up and blew sand and grit into our eyes and made things a little miserable. Scout was thrilled to catch a Frisbee that was thrown from one of the floats. It hit a girl in the head and while she was a bit disoriented, Scout snatched it from the ground. She probably should have surrendered it to the other girl, but she was so excited to be the winner, that I just didn't have the heart to make her do it. Besides, the other girl didn't seem all that upset about it.

After the parade we ate lunch and then joined the festival. Is it just me, or are festivals all about spending money? We were a little disappointed about that. But we all piled back into the van and I took the kids on a driving tour of my old high school and some of the other sights they hadn't seen.

My sweetie finally showed up around 7:00 and we ate dinner and ran to the local WalMart. My sweetie is all about Redbox, so we got a movie and headed back to the house to watch it. We made popcorn and just enjoyed being together.

The air mattress made the second night much easier although it still wasn't like my bed at home. We had committed ourselves to attending church. It didn't run as smoothly as I had hoped. I saw a few people I knew from years past...remember I've been married for nearly 29 years. I even saw a couple of girls I went to high school with. I guess we are all grandmas now.

We made the rounds of the cemeteries on Sunday afternoon. We stopped at six, but drove by several others. I love the family history stories we share on those outings. It gave me a few good topics to blog about. Then we joined up with my MIL for a sandwich and more stories.

One more night at my dad's place and then we were on the road this morning. I had all the kids in the van with me and my sweetie hung back to do a few home repairs for his mom. We got home around 3:30 and began the huge clean up task. The hardwood looked great! But there is still so much to do. We can't move the piano or the major furniture for at least another 24 hours, so everything is still a mess.

I hope you all had an awesome weekend and maybe you got a chance to visit a cemetery or two...or six...

May 27, 2012

An Apology - Guest Blogger: Drama Queen

Momma and the crew are down at Grandpa's house while the poly urethane sets on the hardwood floors. I volunteered to put up a post yesterday since I knew they'd be far from internet access but it managed to completely slip my mind.  This past week had been pretty hard on me.  I had six potential job interviews and worked five nights of it while my jaw was still healing up from wisdom teeth surgery.  Yesterday...I just checked out.  It was one of those days where almost nothing happened, and I think it was probably what I needed.  Who knows.

Point in fact, I wanted to say that I was sorry for not getting something up yesterday.  I'll think deep thoughts while at church and come back with a funny family history story to share later tonight.  I hope the blogging world is having a wonderful memorial weekend!

~ Drama Queen

May 25, 2012

One Amazing Daughter

See this beautiful girl? Yeah, you know her as Princess. She is just finishing up her last few days of middle school and today was their awards assembly.

Now I know she is amazing, but it's nice to see everyone else think so too. She earned a special medallion for having all A grades for the entire 3 years and all H citizenship grades for all three years. Out of almost 600 students, there were only 14 that earned that distinction.

Way to go Princess.  You are awesome!

May 24, 2012

My Awesome Boy

Remember I told you a while ago that Sport won the helmet safety slogan contest? Part of his prize was the free helmets for everyone in the family. The other thing was a pizza party for his school class. He had been so excited to share that part of the prize with his friends.

Since his regular teacher has been out on maternity leave, it has been a bit difficult to get the party scheduled. They moved it several times and then finally settled on last Tuesday. My kids generally pack their lunches, but because of the promise of pizza, Sport went pretty light with his.

The time finally arrived and so did the pizza. The kids were very excited and Sport, of course, was the hero. Pizza was handed all slice per student. Sport was watching carefully to make sure all of his friends were taken care of and that's when he noticed the problem. They had not counted carefully and the pizza was cut one slice short.

Sport's best friend, Jayden, had the distinction of being the last person in line. That's when my awesome son did what any best friend would do. He picked up his own piece of pizza and quietly slipped it to Jayden.

Yeah, this mama is proud...

May 23, 2012

Raingutter Regatta

I know I've told you before that my sweetie is the Cubmaster for our Cub Scout Pack. He has about 25 boys and their families to entertain once a month at Pack Meeting. He hands out awards and then he has activities planned. We have done some pretty exciting things, like the Blue and Gold Banquet and the Pinewood Derby. One month we all made paper airplanes and then flew them for prizes. Another time we had a treasure hunt with GPS and compasses. The Dog Walker helped lay out 4 different routes and at the end of each was a small box full of candy.

We have all kinds of fun at Pack Meeting and tonight was no different. The boys (and anyone else who wanted to participate) built balsa wood catamarans with tiny sails and raced them in raingutters with fans to propel them.

We had awesome attendance with only a couple of the scouts missing. While Sport and I were setting up this afternoon, we put up about twice the number of chairs I thought we might need and tonight we filled almost every one.

The kids were so excited! My own kids had spent several hours each on their little boats, cutting and sanding and painting. Their sails were covered with colorful stickers and everyone from Curly to the Prima Donna had participated. As Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster, my sweetie and the Dog Walker also made boats.

No, I didn't make a boat. I was the support crew. Instead I made reminder fliers and distributed them. Twice. I made all the certificates and attached the prizes and I made sure everything was set up and ready. I even called all the leaders to make sure they had treats and prayers and such.

And tonight went off without a hitch...except for the fact that some people thought the start time was 6:30 and others thought it was at 7:00.

Scout placed third in the Open Class division and Sport won Best Design for the cub class. I'm thinking I remember Burrito winning a prize too, but it was a bit chaotic and I don't remember what. Maybe Bossy will comment and let us know.

Teach was our amazing photographer and she snapped some fun pics. Maybe now I can relax for a few least from Cub Scouts.

May 22, 2012

Real Baseball

Tee ball was an interesting experience. I'm not sure the kids learned much about baseball, but they sure had fun. Sport, on the other hand, is playing REAL baseball. He has three games scheduled for this week! His team is doing really well. They have only lost one game and that was because I couldn't attend, of course. (I am the semi-official scorekeeper, you know.)

Tonight was one of those awesome games when the boys are doing really well. Sport was a little upset in the second inning when they put in a new pitcher. This boy had an interesting pitch, almost like a softball slow pitch. I don't know how he managed it overhand, but quite a few of them fell through the strike zone and became strikes.  Sport was one of his first batters and he was rather devastated to be the first strike-out of the inning. Even though he missed the ball three times, I was glad to see him come out swinging.

At the bottom of the third, Sport was playing his usual position in left field. It had been slow for the other team, with most of the boys striking out. As the fourth batter strolled up to the plate, he had a confident swagger and he twirled his bat menacingly. The guys in the infield instinctively moved a little closer to their bases and the outfielders crouched in ready position.

I could tell Sport was nervous, but ready. On the very first pitch, bat connected with ball in a high pop fly right to left field. I held my breath. Sport was not exactly known for his catching abilities. I mouthed a silent prayer. For a split second I thought he had misjudged it and the ball would fall about 5 feet behind him, but at the last moment he reached back behind his head and snagged it with his mitt.

The crowd went wild! Me especially! His coach sprang to his feet, "Now that's what I'm talking about!" he shouted. The other team was devastated. This was their best hitter and instead of being their hero, he had gone down in flames. Sport tossed the ball back to the pitcher like it was nothing, but I could see the grin on his face from clear over by the dugout where I sat with the scorebook.

Later, after they soundly beat the Giants 15 - 6, Coach K presented the game ball to Sport, and he earned it. I just love real baseball!

May 21, 2012

Daddy Daughter Dance

Remember I told you about getting my sweetie ready for his date on Friday night with Crafty and Scout? Well, today they emailed us the pictures and I wanted to share them with you. Our elementary school does a Daddy Daughter Date and and Mother Son date every year. It's nice to have a scheduled time when you can take your kids somewhere fun and for free.

I always think we will get around to making our own plans, but it usually doesn't happen. For their date, they dressed up in their best cowboy duds and had fun line-dancing and drinking root beer floats. It's a little tricky dancing with two girls at the same time, but my sweetie is a pro (lots of daughters!)

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I want to get time to visit everyone's blogs, but it has been so crazy! The Dog Walker spoke in church this morning and then graduated from Seminary this afternoon. I managed to grab a quick nap in between. We made 37 quarts of blackberry jam yesterday, besides the dodgeball and the reception.

Sometimes I wish we could slow it all down just a little...for a day or two.

May 20, 2012

1000 Boxes of Cookies

Way back in January when it was still cold outside, my girls hit the streets selling Girl Scout cookies. Pretty sure I told you that story already. When my girls sell cookies, we split the orders up so everyone gets some, but one girl (and we rotate every year) gets the most. This year it was Scout.

Officially she sold 1062 boxes of cookies! That means that she was invited to a special party only for girls who sold at least 1000 boxes, and that party was tonight. My sweetie and I had to go to a reception for his company (because he is awesome!) so Teach agreed to take her to the party.

It was a red carpet affair and they wore their fancy clothes. They danced and ate strawberry crepes. They also made sequined masks and drank sparkling cider out of plastic goblets. That was Scout's favorite part. In fact she loved the cider so much that as she was heading out the door, they gave her an entire bottle to take home!

Teach took some awesome pics for you with her cell phone. Scout was as bubbly as the cider bottle all the way home. And you know what? When she got here, she opened her bottle, and shared her special drink with everyone.

In our house, we follow the Girl Scout Law, and she was definitely "a sister to every girl scout..." and boy scout... and tagalong...

May 19, 2012

Crazy May

I'm a firm believer that May is as busy as December!  We have had some completely crazy weeks lately. Thankfully, tee-ball ended yesterday although Sport is still playing baseball. That should help a little. We played Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last four weeks.

Our women's group has also been playing dodgeball. If you are remembering it from your childhood when a playground ball slammed into your head meant a trip to the emergency room, well, things have changed a lot since then. We play with squishy balls that don't hurt. Tonight we played for about 2 hours. It was fun except that I had already had a crazy day.

Teach and I and Scout got our hair cut this morning and we got back just in time to grab a sandwich before the Drama Queen and I hustled out the door. We made a quick run through Hobby Lobby and then drove for 40 minutes to Orem so the Drama Queen could have her wisdom teeth pulled.

We had to wait for over an hour in the waiting room and then another 45 minutes for the procedure. She had never been in any kind of surgery before so I was a bit worried about the anesthesia and all. But she handled it like a trooper and we finally pulled into our driveway at about 5:00.  I got her settled and then I headed to the store for her pain meds.

Then it was time to make dinner, get Scout and Crafty out the door with their dad for a Daddy Daughter Dance at the elementary school, and run off for dodgeball. The Dog Walker and Prima Donna went with me and we left Princess home to take care of the Drama Queen and the little ones. We got home about 10:15 and after prayer and scripture study, my sweetie and I headed off to the store again to buy the corn syrup I forgot the first time.  Two cartloads later...

I have 8 flats of blackberries coming with my Bountiful Basket in the morning, so I will be making jam tomorrow...
 and playing dodgeball again...
 and attending a reception for my sweetie's work...
 and helping the Dog Walker to prepare a talk for Sunday...

I'm tired just thinking about it.

May 18, 2012

Curly's Favorite Story

You already know that we gather the kids around us each evening before bed and we read from the scriptures and have family prayer. So tonight Curly could hardly sit still...he just had to tell his story...for the fiftieth time!

It's his favorite story and it goes like this.

A couple of weeks ago, we had our weekly family fun night. After a sit-down lesson, we decided to do some arrowpoint activities out of Sport's book just to help him move a little further down the Cub Scout trail. We started with some lessons on what to do if you meet a stray dog and the use of 8 different machines. Then we turned the page to our one last activity, the standing long jump.

Now our living room is long and rather narrow, but it was originally intended to be two rooms, a living room and a formal dining room. The living room half is about 13' x 13' and it is covered in carpet. The dining room side is the same size but covered with hardwood. We have our church pew on one side of the room under the windows, and on the other side we have a couch and a loveseat. That leaves the entire center of the room just perfect for doing the standing long jump.

We started on one edge of the carpet and the kids jumped as far as they could. Princess seemed to have the competition sewed up at first, but then the Dog Walker got up there and with his long legs, he could make it more than halfway across the carpeted area, so we crowned him the winner.

Then we decided to let them have a couple of jumps to see who could get all the way across the carpet in the fewest jumps. Curly hopped across like a little bunny with the most jumps and as you can imagine, the
Dog Walker was again the winner. He spanned the carpet with only two jumps!

Fast forward to the next day...

It was Tuesday and the Gym Rat stopped by.  That is typically his day off and we love it when he spends a few minutes with us. Curly and I and Baby Doll were the only ones home and Curly started telling the Gym Rat about our jumping contest. "Let's see how far you can jump," I suggested.

The Gym Rat is usually up for any competition that involves brute strength, so he readily agreed. He slipped off his shoes and lined up on the edge of the carpet. He is 6'6" and his long legs took him nearly 2/3 of the way across the carpet. Curly was so excited! It was definitely the best jump we had seen.

Then we started telling him about the other contest. We wanted to see if he could clear the carpet in 2 jumps. On his first try, he had an extra little hop in the middle. Curly would have none of that and he insisted that the Gym Rat do it again. Not one to be outdone by his little brother, the Gym Rat lined up again. He swung his long arms back and forth as he prepared to make his best jump yet.

Curly was bouncing up and down on the couch (which is against the rules, by the way), but he was so excited!

I think his excitement fueled the Gym Rat's hopes of being awesome. He hit the carpet about 3/4 of the way across and landed  almost in the middle of the hardwood on the other side. The problem was that he was wearing socks...

His feet slipped right out from under him and he totally landed on his backside!

Curly and I were so surprised we didn't know what to do. As soon as we were sure he was OK, we started to laugh! Then the Gym Rat joined in too. His jump was definitely the best by at least a foot (or maybe a butt...).

May 17, 2012

A New Instrument

I'm pretty sure I've told you before that I encourage all my kids to play musical instruments. Since I can't afford piano lessons for the lot of them, we have generally chosen the band programs in the local schools. In fact, we attended the Dog Walker's last high school concert yesterday. They did a fabulous job!

Well, somehow, Teach never learned to play an instrument. Oh, we started her out in elementary band just like her siblings, but she never took to the clarinet and the entire experience was terrible. When she landed in middle school, we gladly switched her over to choir. This was the same path we had allowed the Gym Rat to take several years earlier, and he never learned to play an instrument either.

As they got older, we tried to remedy that situation. We bought the Gym Rat a guitar and paid for lessons, but he just never got it. We put Teach in piano for a year, but then finances demanded attention elsewhere, so we moved on. Neither one of them learned to really play anything.

Last weekend, Teach went to a little jam session with her church group. I think it's the first time she realized that she was the only one who didn't have a musical talent to share and it bothered her. An awesome guy friend of hers had a ukelele and he promised to teach her to play and by the time she got home, she was very excited about those 4 chords.

I must admit I giggled a little behind her back, but ever the supportive mom, I encouraged her new-found obsession. We got online and she shelled out $50 for a ukelele starter kit. We asked for 2-day shipping, which meant it should have arrived on Wednesday.

She started looking for the package on Tuesday.

And I don't mean a little. She waited in the living room with the blinds up, just watching the street. If she had to leave the room, she put someone else in charge of keeping her constant vigil. And still it didn't come.

She was up by ten (which is bright and early for her) and in front of the window again. Every time a big truck drove down the street, she jumped. She even got a false alarm when my new office chair my sweetie ordered for me for Mother's Day arrived. Finally, about 3:30, she decided she better get ready for work. She was so disappointed!

At 3:55, she climbed in her car and headed for Smiths.

At 4:02, the UPS man arrived with her package.

I immediately texted her and even though she was working in the customer service booth, she asked me to bring her the box. Against my better judgement, I sent the Dog Walker out the door with it. She was so excited!

When she got home just after midnight, she had her precious instrument in tow. Apparently it wasn't a problem at all...Marcie in Pharmacy helped her tune it...

Now if she could just learn to play...

May 16, 2012

What's for Lunch?

My sweetie works for a large engineering company across the valley and it is too far away for him to come home for lunch, so he packs one every day.  With all these kids, we have several large (OK, there are three) chest freezers in our house. One is only for meat, one is almost exclusively TV dinners bought for lunches when they are on sale really cheap, and the other one is for everything else.

So this morning my sweetie sent Crafty to grab him something out of the freezer before he dropped the kids at school. Crafty grabbed a grocery bag, headed downstairs, and came back with the box tied up and ready to go. My sweetie slipped it into his pack and they ran out the door.

When he got to work, he took the package out of his bag and put it in his little fridge. It was still tied in the grocery sack. His usual mode is to let the dinner thaw during the morning hours and then it doesn't take nearly as long to cook for lunch.

Around 1:00 he sent me a text. "The kids packed my patties...12 pack."

Not exactly your typical TV dinner, unless you're a seal...

May 15, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

I know, I know, Cinco de Mayo was almost two weeks ago, but I've had so many things to tell you I haven't had a chance to share my fun pics with you (and Teach is getting mad at me because I asked her to take a bunch and then I never used them).

No, I'm not Hispanic, but my SIL is, effectively making my grandsons Hispanic too. Not that it matters, we started celebrating Cinco de Mayo long before Gamer was part of our family. It began as (what else?) a scout project and ballooned from there.

We always cook Mexican food (this year it was sweet pork like Cafe Rio) and we love to bash around a pinata for a while. Gamer is in charge of the pinata. We get it much cheaper if we send him to the Mexican store. This year he brought back some fun and different Mexican candy (usually the sweetness is overpowered by the peppers, but not this time). We got caramels, suckers, marzipan, and some kind of gooey stuff that Crafty absolutely loved.

The pinata got off to a rocky start. It was shaped like a bucket and extremely heavy even though it was only half full. We let the kids whack at it in age order starting with Baby Doll. She was pretty upset about swinging at those princesses...

Then Curly made a valiant effort...and so on, up the line. The Dog Walker didn't try very hard because he said he really didn't want to break it. All the kids started chanting for the Gym Rat. They just knew with his awesome rippling biceps that he would be able to crack it open!

And he did...

He also smashed the dickens out of the candy!

Half the suckers were in powder form, the other half had lost their sticks completely. Tootsie Rolls had been knocked right out of their wrappers! I don't think the kids will hope for the Gym Rat to pick up the bat again any time soon.