Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Monday, December 29, 2014

365 Happy Days: Weeks 2, 3 and 4 - December 7 through 27

I knew there was something I was forgetting to do! I've been sharing daily on Instagram, as well as the blog's facebook page, but haven't been writing a week-in-review post. Sorry about that!

So, without further ado:

Week 2:

Day 8: Dec 7th DONUTS!

The boys were all eating breakfast together with no complaining and no arguing. Pumpkin donuts save the day! ;)

Day 9: Reading together

 It was a long day of school, choi kwan do class and homework. They decided to sit and read a book together about Sitting Bull (Alex's book for his book report)

Day 10: Reese's cups

A little something sweet to put a smile on my face. Probably one of my favorite candies.

Day 11: Pancakes!
Day 11: The husband making the pancakes
Jason came home from work, and cooked the homemade whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. Teamwork! I prepped the batter, made from scratch, and he cooked awesome, perfectly done pancakes for everybody. And then he went to his college classes! Talk about an awesome husband and dad. He's a busy, busy man. We love him so much!

Day 12: Crossword puzzles

A quick puzzle before bed. I ended up falling asleep trying to do one though!

Day 13: Snuggles

 Cuddles (or snuggles as he calls it now) with this little guy. He was out pretty quick. That was definitely my cue to put him in his room/bed and head to mine.

Day 14: Brothers sharing and learning

Our oldest giving our youngest a tour of our church. There are statues of Jesus, Mary with Jesus, and Saint Francis (one of our parish's patron saints). Here Jackson was asking who that was, and Ethan told him it is baby Jesus with his mom Mary. Jackson said "oh! ok. Hi, Jesus and Mary!".

Week 3:

Day 15: Dec 14 Daddy and Son time

Cuddling and watching a little TV before bedtime. Jackson was talking his ear off, telling him all about something, and sharing his snack crackers with daddy. 

Day 16: chocolate in the best forms ;)

Chocolate chip frappe (yes, a frozen coffee in December in Michigan.) and a double chocolate muffin.

Day 17: family movie

Watching a new-to-us movie called Tangerine Bear.

Day 18: hard at work

 Our middle son, Alex, working diligently on his homework even though it was past his bedtime. He had to read a biography or autobiography, make a timeline and give an oral book report. It was due the following day. The book was long and he didn't anticipate the time needed to finish it and the timeline. It took a month to read the book, and he did the timeline in one night. While I'm proud of him for finishing, and he ended up with a B on the report, we discussed better planning and time-use.

Day 19: Christmas cards

Sending out some Christmas love

Day 20: Date night!

My handsome husband and I got a babysitter on the evening before his birthday. We went out to dinner and then did some Christmas shopping. He makes me very happy. We had such a wonderful few hours, just the two of us. Laughing, sharing some great food, and just talking about stuff. Definitely need to do this more often.

Day 21: New calendar

I love these large-grid planning calendars. There's enough lines for each of us to have a spot to put our activities each month and keep it organized. I also got a great deal on it!

Week 4:

Day 22: Dec 21 Books to donate
Finally took some time to go through all the books the boys own. We moved a ton to Jackson's room, and straightened the 3 shelves on the bookcase in Ethan and Alex's room. There is still a stack on top of it but a lot smaller now. (Time for a taller bookcase!) These 2 stacks are books they didn't want anymore, either because they've read once and don't want to re-read, because they started and didn't enjoy enough to even finish or they are for younger children/lower reading levels. They will be donated to their school as they are all still in good shape - some practically brand new - and age-appropriate for elementary.

Day 23: Littlest Dragon

Jackson has patiently stood on the side lines at Choi, watching his brothers 3 times a week for the last 4 1/2 months, waiting for the chance to jump in. He finally got to start Little Dragons. Classes are 2 days a week for 30 mins and he absolutely loves it!

Day 24: Awesome savings!

I saved up all of my rewards at Meijer and had $68 worth of rewards to use towards my total purchase. Combined with a coupon for $50 off of a $59.99 video game with purchase of game and Xbox 360 and buy one get one 40% off sale on video games, I bought an Xbox 360 and 2 new games for under $150! Not a bad deal.

Day 25: Presents all wrapped and waiting

All the presents for the boys, Jason and I waiting under the tree for Christmas morning.

Day 26: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!!

Day 27: Yoga DVDs

One of my great gifts this year! I had asked Jason for a yoga DVD and he got me a set of 2! I plan to start them this week. I didn't even know I like yoga until I attended my friend Stef's yoga class a couple of months ago.

Day 28: Family time
We spent Christmas Day with Jason's family (no pictures because my phone died!) and Saturday with my family. Both days turned out pretty darn great!
In this picture from Saturday, you can see our youngest, Jackson in the very back, my mom standing on the far right, 2 of my nieces sitting on the couch, my second oldest nephew Jeremy sitting on my niece, and his fiance Anna on the floor. Jeremy and Anna shared with us on Thanksgiving that they are expecting their first child. They revealed on Saturday that it's a BOY! My first great-nephew, due in early May.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

365 Happy Days Growing: Nov 30 - Dec 6, 2014

Looking back at week one, for all those not on Facebook or Instagram (Mom...)

First a quick little explanation in case you aren't sure what this is. Earlier this year, I found a site called 100 Happy Days and proceeded to take their challenge. It really helped my perspective not only on what's important, but also that no matter how bad my day goes, there's always at least one little (or big) thing that makes me smile or happy each day.

This prompted me to make an enhanced...adapted...whatever you want to call it, challenge. 365 days, with a picture of something that makes me happy that day. Truth and honesty comes to light on the bad days (i.e. day 6), and even though our life isn't perfect, I know that at least something will go right most - all? - days. By documenting it, it makes me step back in the moment each day to find it and truly see it, and then in the future, I can look back when I need a reminder.

Without further ado: My #365happydaysgrowing

November 30: A dove

On the first day of Advent this year, Ethan received a dove necklace at Mass, during his Rite of Acceptance. He's in Confirmation classes this year and next, and this is the "official" start of the process. The necklace is a symbol to remind him of the process and for others to remember to pray for him during the next 2 years.

December 1: Advent calendar

Our awesome neighbor brought each of the boys an Advent calendar, and they were very excited to open the first window today. It had been a rough day for all of us, between the boys fighting and mom yelling, so seeing their big smiles really made my day.

December 2: #dressember

Day 3 was so much more than just wearing a dress. I'm wearing a dress each day in December (I actually missed December 1st) for something called Dressember which is working with International Justice Mission to raise money and awareness to end human trafficking around the world. My happy came from being able to wear whatever I choose, being able to live my life as I wish and the fact that I'm free.

I forgot to move Finn, and Jason was awesome and moved him for me. The happy moment was the fact that I know I can always count on Jason, that he'll always step up when I need him to, and he's always there to support, even in the little things like moving a silly elf and playing a little prank.

December 4: All smiles
Just that cute smile, and the kid who's face it is on. He always has a way to make everybody around him laugh.

December 5: Bedtime!

What a long day today was. My bed was sure a welcome sight at the end of it.

December 6: My little King
Alex decided to sign up to be in the children's performance of the Nativity Story at our parish at Christmas Eve Mass. We were getting ready to go the first practice for the children's choir. He's one of the 3 kings, and while they won't be saying lines (there's a narrator telling the story) he will act out the part, and sing several songs.

By the way, if you are interested in joining in, just make sure to tag your pictures with #365happydaysgrowing so we can all see your happy moments! More next week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

365 Happy Days Growing and 365 Growing Kindness

With both Thanksgiving and the start of Advent fast approaching, Christmas and 2015 are right around the corner. That's got me thinking about what I'm thankful for. What I've achieved this year.

Earlier in the year, I participated in a challenge known as 100 Happy Days. I really enjoyed taking a picture each day, stepping back and finding something - anything - that put a smile on my face or brightened up the day. Sometimes it was something as small as cup of coffee, other times as big as one of my boys or my husband.

Time to turn that challenge up a notch. Starting Sunday November 30th (because it's the start of the Liturgical year for Catholics and the first day of Advent), I will be doing "365 happy days". I'm titling it 365 Happy Days Growing. Each day I'll share on Instagram and Facebook. Once a week, I'll write up a little post with the previous 7 days' photos. If you want to join in, either on IG or FB, just share with #365HappyDaysGrowing. Don't forget to tag me in the picture on Instagram too!

I'm also planning to do a family challenge: a year of random of acts of kindness called "365 Growing Kindness" in honor of the blog and also in hopes it will, quite literally, GROW. Just a small act for others each day, by one or all of us. Follow #365growingkindness.

Does anybody know how to make a cool picture with an explanation that I can put on IG? Something like the photo-a-day lists people make to share with others?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Staying busy

This weekend went very fast. Friday evening, while Jack-Jack and I took Ethan to Choi, Jason and Alex attended a Cub Scout/Boy Scout activity at a local fire station. They worked on the Readyman activity badge and learned about first aid techniques including the Heimlich maneuver! I was surprised with what Alex was able to tell me when they got home. He's excited by all of the activity badges they've been working on lately, and we are looking forward to some coming up in the next few months.

His den leader is also the Popcorn Kernel, and was able to give almost all of his popcorn order to us the same night. Alex is very proud of himself, as he not only met but exceeded his goal, selling over $1000 of popcorn. He and I spent part of yesterday trying to deliver the product and collect the rest of the money. I say "try" because many people weren't home. We went to about half of the homes we needed to deliver to, and only a handful of them were there. Thankfully all but one of those had cash, and the one check written to me is for a very small amount. This Saturday (if not before) we plan to deliver the rest in our neighborhood, and today we are delivering to 4 school employees as well as 3 instructors at Choi.

The older boys each had Catechism class on Saturday. Alex's is in the morning and this week it was "Family Advent Workshop". I figured with the word family in the title it would be a fun-filled learning experience for the whole family - well, the 3 boys and I at least. Not so much. While there was some learning, and there were a couple of fun hands-on activities, it was really just planned for the students themselves to do the activities with help from a parent. Personally, I would have called it "Parent and Student Advent Workshop". I wouldn't have dragged E and Little J along. Jack was being a typical preschooler, getting bored, wanting to do everything, talking loudly, etc. E learned a little but for the most part was bored. Next time, it will be just Alex and I or Jason.

Ethan had his confirmation class in the afternoon, and they are required to stay for Mass, and usually youth group. After dropping him off, I had a couple things to return to the store before picking Alex up to attend Mass with E. By the time we made it back to the church, we had about 10 minutes till the start of Mass. We saw Ethan standing up and singing with a little girl by the couple who run the music ministry and the piano. He saw me, finished the song, and came out into the entrance area to have a quick snack and let me know he was singing during Mass!! I knew they were going to be having the Confirmation students take on different roles in Mass, from music to altar servers and other needed areas, and it was nice to see E was chosen or volunteered. Throughout Mass, I could hear him singing the hymns loud and clear.

New shoes were needed for both Ethan and Alex, as they outgrew (and Alex managed to destroy, in 4 months...) their old shoes. After finding them each a new pair yesterday, we decided to go to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. I ordered something different - chicken chimichangas - and OH MY GOODNESS, were they so delicious!

We got home fairly early and the boys wanted to play Minecraft, and for the first time in a while, they actually played survival mode. I liked watching how they cooperated and were trading items. I learned a few things, and Jason and I both noticed how much they do get from this game, compared to so many others out there. After all three boys were in bed for the night, I decided to go read in the bedroom for a bit while Jason watched football. Nearly an hour later, I realized it had gotten very quiet (as in no TV noise), so I went to check on him. I thought for sure he'd fallen asleep or something. Nope. He was sitting there playing Minecraft in creative mode. I just laughed. He looked up and said "What?!" Nothing, nothing at all. Just kind of neat to see him playing it, without the boys even. I love that it's become a way for them all to bond, too.

A few other things: Ethan and Alex are still loving Choi, taking 3 classes a week. We bought a few private lessons (1 free each and 2 additional per), and they are taking their second this week. I noticed a huge difference after their first one last Thursday. They stayed for the 5pm family class, and normally E would have been getting upset over perceived mistakes, and Alex would have let his form slip. Both were on point and doing their absolute personal best!

They both know their highest pattern and yellow belt speed drill, and are possibly testing this coming Saturday for their GOLD belts!! Not quite 4 months in and they are just about ready for their second belt test! That's amazing. They are not the same kids, especially E, that started there all those months ago. Both of them have really blossomed, and are really more self-confident.

I asked them a couple of days ago to practice some push-ups for me, and they just said "ok, how many?" and busted out 10 like it was nothing. And I mean, pretty great push-ups! 4 months ago, heck, ONE month ago, you would have been hard-pressed to get them to do one without getting upset. They impressed me. They also practiced both their patterns and speed drills in each stance.

Ethan has been more communicative lately at home, expressing himself, asking more questions. Things like "I don't understand why anyone would WANT to go outside when it's cold out." He's been more clear on his opinion and how he feels when certain things happen, or why he doesn't like such and such. I've also caught him saying hi to other students that I've never met, and USING THEIR NAME! He's always had the tendency to not remember names, or just say hi after being prompted. But lately, he catches that they are talking to him, and responds appropriately or even initiates it. Another boy from school attends our church, and we saw him Saturday, and Ethan and I stood talking with him for a few minutes before Mass. He was looking forward to hanging out with E at youth group, which unfortunately got cancelled. Luckily they have class together and seem to have quite a bit in common. The other boy also attended the summer social skills camp Ethan did, and so I suspect he's on the spectrum as well. I like that because they have even more in common and "get" each other. E even asked me about emailing the young man a couple of weeks ago, and at the time I wasn't sure who he was talking about.

This week we have Choi classes on Mon, Tues and Friday, as well as private lessons on Thursday. Alex's pack meeting is on Wednesday with a flag retirement ceremony. Saturday, if they are ready, is belt testing. We signed up to help sort and distribute Thanksgiving food boxes at our parish on Sunday evening from 4-7. We decided on that before knowing that E was required to help either at that on Sunday or Monday or at the Christmas giving tree gift sorting/distribution in 3 weeks, for his Confirmation Christian Service hours. I'm glad we had already signed up, and that he wanted to before he knew he had to. He chose to give his time to help others. And now it's still going for his service hours :) We may try to sign up for the giving tree sorting too, but it's on Mon/Tue/Wed which are all usually super-busy. It's already been decided that we are each taking a tag to buy an item though.

In two weeks, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we are attending Mass to celebrate the Rite of Acceptance with Ethan for his Confirmation. I remember mine, 9 years ago (Alex was just a baby at the time!) and my sponsors, fellow RCIA candidates and I when to the Basilica in Washington, DC. It was absolutely beautiful there. I've always wanted to go back and attend Mass as a Catholic Christian, but never made it before we moved from Maryland.

Last year, Alex wanted to sign up to light the Advent Wreath before Mass one weekend as a family, and we didn't. I've already signed us up this year, for December 7th. I'm hoping to dig out our personal Advent wreath and light our candles at home each Sunday as well. It's just a matter of finding it and the candles.

I'm taking this moment to remind myself that while we are busy, and this is the busy season of life - when kids are young, in school and activities, learning about life - it doesn't have to wear us down. WE have to be the ones that make the busy-ness of it enjoyable and fulfilling. While that's not always easy, and I've been failing miserably at that lately by complaining, it's a good goal to reach towards. Today is a new day, and even though we will be tired at bedtime, we will have enjoyed our time, and done something productive. At the end of it all, we will have a delicious home-cooked meal, and nice, warm beds to sleep in. So no complaining about being busy, it's a life we choose, Crystal. Enjoy it. Watch them grow, and learn, and live. Get out there and grow, learn and live with them. It's your life, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Plug your nose?

Not sure where to start. I don't know if I should be grateful or embarrassed. Or a combination of the two?

Yesterday, we had 2 extra little boys at the house, since we were going to cub scouts, and I offered to take both of them with us. I thought they could just come over and play for a while before and have dinner with us. The visit went great. The 4 older boys (ages 9-12) played together, and included little J for the most part. That's not what I'm "concerned" with.

It was the comments made upon first entering the house.

Guest 1: It smells weird in here.

Guest 2: Yeah, it does. It takes a while to get used to it, too.

Umm. What does that mean? I mean that in a totally innocent way, not accusing or irritated, just curious their meaning?

I said something to Jason, and he told me that everybody's house has a different smell. Then he proceeds to tell me that our towels, even the clean ones, have a sort-of musty smell. REALLY??? After nearly 14 years, you are JUST NOW TELLING ME THIS?!?

You see, I have a very off sense of smell. There are many things I can't smell at all, and some things very faintly. It's been that way for as long as I can remember. Jason doesn't really believe me I don't think, because sometimes I can smell when the toddler has pooped and other times I can't. Usually I can smell it when I'm actually changing him and it's a particularly putrid smelling mess. I can smell gasoline on things, but not cigarette smoke unless I give Jason a kiss and catch a whiff on his shirt, but not every time. I can smell certain foods really well, others not so much. I think that's why I like garlic and onions because they are very pungent.

So that means, I can't smell things around the house if there is an odor. If the bathroom or kitchen drain has a musty smell, or the towels smell off - even when clean. Our house could be the stinkiest house in the world, and I might never be aware of it!

Our house isn't spick and span from floor to ceiling but it's fairly well-kept. Some times it's messier than others. I also have no idea if our dog smells bad, as dogs tend to do (so I've been told...)

I'm tempted to have a friend come over and smell my house, and tell me if it smells weird, and if it's a good/neutral weird or a bad/stinky weird, and where the smell may be coming from!! As silly as that may seem. Now I'm paranoid that I'm living in a very smelly house...

Jason tells me it's probably nothing. But he also didn't tell me about the towels...

Yeah, I'm embarrassed. And grateful. Because now I know. My house smells weird and takes getting used too.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Not a robot

Today, I was having a conversation with the boys in the car. We were discussing Autism, and how it's a spectrum disorder, and that there are some children (some we know even) who are low-functioning, and some like E who are high-functioning.

Then the conversation took a slight turn. Our sons amaze me. Our oldest really made me stop in my tracks tonight.

E: When people say "functioning", it makes me think of robots.

Me, after thinking for a moment: You're right, buddy. It does sound more appropriate for robots, doesn't it? It doesn't sound like a very nice term to use for people, huh?

E: No, it doesn't.

Me: You're right. Thank you. I will try not to use that description again.

I'm so glad he is able to advocate for himself, whether he realizes it or not. This specific case was HUGE!

Just wanted to leave you all with that before I go to bed. My take on his words? It feels degrading to be described as "functioning". What's your take? What do you say, maybe without meaning anything by it, or without really much thought because it's a general term or "medically" recognized term, that may be damaging to others? How can you change that? I know he has me listening a little more to what I'm saying, and how it affects others.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Today, as I sit here, wondering what my day holds, I think. I think about tomorrow. I think about all the activities we have planned over the next few weeks, from Choi Kwang Do to Cub Scouts, from Religious Education/Confirmation classes and retreats (!) to wedding and receptions. I think about how something has to give on some of those days. Compromise must be found in some areas.

We won't be giving up the boys' activities. It's good for them, physically, mentally, socially. I've seen them grow so much over the last few weeks taking Choi. Alex is really looking forward to Scouts this year and all that being a Webelos Scout entails!

Religious Ed and Confirmation classes are a bit of a struggle with them being opposite weekends and on Saturdays, but it works with the rest of our activities. It does mean we can't go to out of town events for family and friends on a whim, or even not on a whim, very easily. A friend of mine is getting married in a couple of weeks and while I'd love to drive down and celebrate, we just won't be able to. A week later, 2 friends of the family are having their reception about an hour from us, and E has his second Confirmation class that same day, at the same time. So, in the spirit of compromise, I'm going to tell Jason to go, take Alex if he wants, but I'm staying home with Jack. You see, E's class isn't just class. It's followed by Mass at 5pm (mandatory, and I do wish we could just attend Sunday morning in place of it, but it's to make it more of a mini-retreat/community event for the Confirmation 1 and 2 students) which he must have an adult - preferably parent - attend with him, and then youth group till 8:30pm. If I felt comfortable dropping him at 2:30, we could show up a little late for the reception, and then be back in time to get him. But I was unaware last week about a parent needing to be there during Mass. I thought that they would have all of the students sit in a group, and that would be that. When I went to pick him up, I was informed otherwise. Either my husband or I needed to drive back for Mass, or he would need another family to allow him to sit with them. Technically I have one family I could ask, but I don't know them very well. I'm on the fence. As the date approaches, I will make a final decision.

That's not really what I wanted to share today though. All of this worrying and focusing on the future. On tomorrow. On changing things. On what hasn't happened yet. Or may not ever.

Our future looks bright. But it's just that. It's the future. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. We aren't guaranteed anything but today.

Changes will come. Some may be bigger, and I hate being in limbo, but I can't change that. I can't change the "not knowing". The waiting. The wondering. But I can just put it on the back burner, and just wait and see what happens. Because whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. We all have to roll with it.

So today, I'm refocusing. Refocusing on what does matter. On what I can change. On decisions and choices I can make today. Good or bad, my day, my outlook, depends on ME!

One thing I'm refocusing on is myself. I haven't ran or exercised in just over a month. I left my tennis shoes at my parents last month, and have yet to retrieved them. I did find my old pair of sketchers in the mini-van, and while they aren't in wonderful condition, they fit, are comfortable and aren't falling to pieces. I am recommitting to spending 30 mins a day doing something, running if I can, or Wii Fit, or whatever.

My eating habits also took a step backwards. I'm eating more junk food, we aren't eating nearly enough veggies, and I've chosen to start drinking pop again. While I have somehow (we do still eat better than we did, with at least most dinners being mostly paleo) managed to maintain my nearly 13 lb weight loss, I haven't lost anymore. I'm doing ok so far today: eggs fried in coconut oil, baby carrots, a banana and water for breakfast. The plan is to edge back towards the way we were eating a couple of months ago. Because guess what?

My body doesn't like me right now. My sleep is crappy, my skin isn't as clear, my mind is a groggy mess and I can't focus. My moods are all over the place (not that they were perfect even during the Whole30, but I felt more stable, able to handle my anger, and not sad, moody, depressed feeling. I was happy more often than not) and I'm yelling way, way too much. I can't think straight. This is the first time I've been able to sit and write a whole post. And it still feels like a jumbled pile of words. My tummy bothers me some, and I'm getting headaches from caffeine withdrawals.

What else am I going to do? Hopefully declutter this house some. I'm going to just take it one room at a time, get rid of things, box up too-small clothes, donate things we don't need or want. Make room to enjoy our family time.

I'm also going to try to be more present. Get down on the floor and play with the boys, go for a bike ride, play a board game or video game as a family, take a walk at a park. Things we should do, and tend to neglect because we get busy, and then when we aren't, I just want to sit and do nothing. But I've noticed I'm doing nothing an awful lot right now. Or dismissing them, and saying just give me another minute to watch this, or read this, or even write this.

So today, not tomorrow, I'm going to start changing the one and only thing I can change, MYSELF. And by doing that, I'm going refocus on what's truly important in my life - My family and myself.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

School Daze (and we haven't even started yet!)

We had Open House at school last night. It was hectic, for sure. Always is. Tons of kids, grades K through 12 with parents and siblings, coming to find out their teacher, or schedule (6-12) and meet all of their teachers, and determine where all their classes are. Meeting the resource room teacher.

Poster in the Special Education Director's office

Alex is in the same classroom E was in for 5th grade. The teacher isn't the same, well kind of. She was the long-term sub when E's teacher was on maternity leave. That teacher has since moved to a different position and the teacher who subbed took over 2 years ago. So we've had some experience with her. She is nice and had her classroom all laid out with the books they will use, what kind of work she'd like to see on book reports, etc. They are going to do 6 book "projects" this year, where they read a book of their choosing - teacher-approved, of course - and then make a small project, such as a poster, brochure, diorama, etc, and then do a short oral presentation.

He doesn't know what days they have specials yet, but should be taking computers, art, music, gym and Spanish again this year. Last year, and throughout summer, Alex said he wanted to play soccer, but the last two weeks he changed his mind. After I signed him up. I even had all the paperwork at home filled out and ready to turn in last night. He had decided that he would at least sign up and go to the first practice to get practice and game info. His biggest reason for changing his mind? Cub scouts and Choi Kwan Do! He wants to make sure he has enough time to do both of those! What a smart kiddo. Well at least he wasn't to s ad when I realized I'd forgotten all the paperwork at home last night! He actually made sure to tell me that he was absolutely fine with it and he'd much rather work on earning belts at Choi, and awards in Scouts.

Alex was a little upset last night when he saw the class list for his teacher. While he knows several kids in his class, and he knew his best friend and a couple of other good friends wouldn't be in his class (they are in 4th grade and there's no 4/5 split this year), he had hoped a certain good friend would be in his class. Unfortunately he's in the other class. I was proud of him though, because he took it in stride and remembered that they would have lunch and recess together as well as all of his 4th grade friends :)

E is rotating classes this year. It's his first year rotating, because, as you may know, even though he's been in a regular education classroom with no aide since the beginning of 3rd grade, he was in a self-contained "elementary style" classroom for 6 & 7. They have such a large class size for his grade, that it's been split into 3 sections for all of middle school. Previously, due to interest from many families, they had 2 rotating sections - A & B - and one self-contained section - C. Because of the school size, logistics almost required it to be like that as well. At the end of last year, they did a survey asking if there was interest in staying with a SC class, and over the summer we received a letter stating that there was little to no interest, so there would be 3 rotating classes. The high school building was under construction during the summer and there was a small addition put on to one of the hallways. That will now be used for one of the sections of 8th grade. Section "A" was always seen as the "advanced" class, while not honors, they seemed to work at a slighter quicker pace. "B" did all the same curriculum but the pace may have been different. The kids have all been at the same levels for learning basically. They took the kids from self-contained last year and split them between B and C. No biggie. I was a little concerned about E being in B, because of the pace. He's smart and usually ahead in many subjects. B & C will be in the 4-8 building, while A will be in the high school. I was also concerned about him not having algebra this year, which is required for him to go to International Academy next year, should he apply.

I voiced my concerns last night, and I'm so glad I did. The HS resource room teacher made sure to talk to the vice principal for me, and I received a call today!

She wanted to reassure me, that although they aren't teaching Algebra as a class, they are offering the Algebra test for the students! They do it in April, and if they pass, they get credit for taking the class. Sometime in January, E's math teacher should give us some study topics (not a specific study guide and they won't actually be teaching it) to practice with, and they do apparently use an Algebra book (?). Also she wanted me to know that the only reason they didn't put him in "A" was because it's his first time rotating, and they didn't want to throw him into a whole new thing to quick. Since it will be a rotating section AND in the high school vs the middle school building that he knows well. She said if he does really well with rotating - handling transitions, frustrations, etc - as well as his grades, we can revisit it and consider switching him at the end of Trimester 1!!

So, now it comes down to this: Should we just let the math take it's course, or should we do some "homeschooling" for Algebra? And I don't mean extra practice. Basically a real class. Where I go get the Algebra book and Teacher's book, and we sit every day and have a half-hour lesson. More formal than just practice. So he doesn't feel like he has to just figure it out on his own. He's a very visual learner, and I think he will need to be taught some of the concepts he's never been introduced to. I know homeschooling isn't something Jason and I agree on, but they are still going to a traditional school. I'm just thinking of something extra, to give him an advantage when it comes to going to the school he wants to go to for high school. It's not about what I want here, it's about helping him. If the school isn't going to have a traditional Algebra class, but they are willing to test him to pass it, then he needs to actually be taught some of it, right? Thankfully, for him and I, math is fairly easy for him and one of his favorite subjects (math and science are top right now, followed closing by history. Of course he loves to read so reading is not too far behind. Writing and gym are definitely at the bottom of the list, though!), so even though it's not my best subject, with the help of some good textbooks, I think we will be just fine.

E has Art for 1st hour for Trimester 1, which he loves. MTSS(math/reading standards)(M,W-F)/Computers (T), Math, Reading, Social Studies, Lunch, Science and finally Writing. I think it's fortunate that 3 of his best subjects and one of his absolute favorites are in the morning, and his top favorite is right after lunch. He'll be able to concentrate without being hungry on Science. His least favorite is at the end of the day, after lunch and he can look forward to going home after. Hopefully he will get along with all of his teachers, and also continue to deal with frustration and transitions well. His perfectionist attitude has been coming out a lot in Choi Kwan Do, and we've been talking about it daily. I know that it can affect not only his attitude but his assignments, others' responses to him and the atmosphere in the classroom. Two of the teachers are new to the school this year (MTSS and Science), 1 (reading) worked in the preschool before but is new to the MS, 2 (Math and SS) have never taught E but we've talked and they know him, 1(writing) he had in an earlier grade and she knows his difficulties, but hasn't taught him in several years, and the computer teacher I'm not sure about. The art teacher is pretty awesome. He's been there since the school opened 12 years ago, and E had him in 6th and 7th grade. Mr G actually chose Ethan for the Spirit award for his classroom last year and said he saw how much he'd grown and how hard he'd worked on dealing with his frustrations! E is looking forward to Tuesday morning :)

I really need to help Little J  with his potty-training. It's so hit or miss, and I know better than to rush or force it, but I'd really like to have him fully potty-trained day and night by January (October would be better ;) ). I want to put him in preschool at least part-time, during the day, so I can pursue some dreams of my own. More on that later, once the plans are set in stone.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Early morning ramblings of a wandering mind

It is nearly 5:30 in the morning. I've been up for over an hour and was tossing and turning before that.

I can't sleep. We have one week left till school starts for our older boys. I keep thinking about all that it entails: the school year itself, what we still need to do before. Our oldest boy, E, the 12 year old, is starting his final year of middle school. Yes, 8th grade. What does that mean? We are thinking about high school. Where will he go? Our current school goes through 12th grade, but there is the public high school near us, a Catholic high school as well as the international academy that offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. The last is his first choice as of right now so we are looking at application info for January (!). Our middle son, A, is starting 5th so he needs to think about what middle school he wants to attend: our charter school or the public middle school near our home.

We've got a busy week of activities, between a one-to-one brain gym today at 3 and Choi for the boys today, tomorrow and Thurs or Fri, open house at school on Wednesday, Jason starting two of his three classes for this semester tonight after work and then of course normal everyday stuff, like cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

Plus extended family is on my mind heavily right now. I just keep wishing I could help each and every one of them out with whatever is needed, but have no idea where to start. I can't choose one over another to start helping first and I can't help everybody at once. Not just family either but those close friends that feel like family. Also I know I can't possibly help everybody by myself. My heart hurts.

I had a dream about my grandma during the night, and I think that's what woke me in the first place. I don't recall the details and they aren't important. What is important is that not only did I see her Saturday,but I also talked to her on the telephone for a bit yesterday. For some reason, and I don't know if it's God or my guardian angel whispering in my ear or something else, I just cant stop thinking of her, my uncle Bob and aunt Kay. Feeling like I need to go see them again, right now, and take care of something that's been left undone, but I don't really know what that is. Not a bad thing, either, but like I was supposed to say something, or I'm supposed to do something for Gram. When she called me yesterday, to thank me, I couldn't stop thinking of how I wished I'd have been able to do this all sooner for her. That I don't want any more time to slip away. That all the other things I want to do for her, others, and even myself, well, that I need to just do them, and quit putting them off. I need to stand up and voice my thoughts and offer suggestions, even if they fall on deaf ears, even if they piss someone - no one in particular - off. If I see something that can change or something someone can't do for themselves and I can help with, by physically being there doing it with them - if I had a money tree, I'd give it all away, too - I need to.

My brain just can't stop.

Then I keep thinking about how to plan another get together sooner rather than later. I don't want it to be another year before I see the people I saw Saturday and I also want to see those who couldn't make it. And then there's my mama's family that I haven't seen in months or maybe years for some. I'd like to have a get-together with them soon too.

 Sometimes this is how my mind works. I feel all over the place but each thing is so important to me. And then when I can't fix the problems or do it all, I have a tendency to withdraw or give up or become angry, or irritable towards my little family because I let myself get overwhelmed. Because I don't know how to deal with it all. Because I'm one person but I want to make everything better...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

School lunches

It's that time of year again. Well, almost. We actually have 3 full weeks till the first day!

I'm grateful for the time left for summer, and just a tad bit ready for it to start at the same time. After so much unstructured time, my boys are bored all the time. Even after they do a few chores, read books, play with toys, ride their bikes, watch cartoons and play video games. This can make for some very loud, unhappy children and a cranky mama by the time dad gets home... Poor Jason ;)

This year, I want to plan a little better when it comes to lunches. We typically do a combo plan: Wednesday is pizza day at school and they usually ask to buy it. Since we have to pay for the month in advance, it makes it easy to say ok to that and no to the rest.

They (and I) can't change our minds in the morning about buying vs. packing before school if it's a different day. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the boys always pack their lunches. Last year they packed A LOT of sandwiches. I want something different for them this year.

Also, I really, really DON'T want to buy pizza every week for the both of them. Now September is different, because we have a small balance in each of their accounts. Of course, one has 3 meals' worth of money and the other just 1 meal's worth. To make it fair, I am sending money for both to have pizza all 4 Wednesday's in September. What they don't know yet is from there on out, we probably won't be doing that.

I'm currently making a list of what foods to make (and freeze) ahead of time for lunches - as well as some breakfasts! - that are wholesome, real foods with little sugar, and processed crud in them, and some that are paleo, so I can indulge too! Some things we won't be freezing, of course.

Here's what I have so far: *Anything with grains, dairy or sugar IN the recipe will be adapted if possible or is just for the boys and Jason as I'm following Whole30 for the next 90 days. Well, 89, now. Through November 8th. Besides the fact that I'm planning to go mostly, if not completely, grain-free and dairy free from now on anyway.*
  1. Paleo Pizza Bites   
  2. Whole-wheat waffles (or pancakes)  
  3. Spaghetti and Meatballs - possibly minus the noodles, so just meatballs and sauce. Also planning to adapt the recipe slightly, using coconut flour in place of whole wheat breadcrumbs, and leaving out the parmesan and maybe the soy sauce.
  4. Homemade whole wheat pizza - or I may use her suggestion of pita bread, sauce, cheese and whatever cold toppings for a "lunchable" style pizza
  5. Whole wheat blueberry muffins - I love that she offers suggestions for other add-ins.
  6. Whole grain pumpkin muffins - we might just use whole wheat flour instead of spelt...
  7. Homemade Pop Tarts - we've made these before and they were tasty. 
  8. Refried beans (with leftover taco meat)- so good, and so easy. They won't eat the beans plain, but if I have a ton made up, they can take leftover taco meat and beans mixed in their thermos, with a tortilla and some cheese and lettuce on the side to make a quick taco!
  9. Cinnamon and coconut pancakes - these were a hit when we made them and although I'm not sure how they will fare being frozen, it's worth a try.
  10. Bacon, egg and cheese muffins - We made them once, and they were overly salty, but I want to try again using coconut oil in place of the bacon drippings, and a little less bacon.
  11. Spicy Tuna Cakes - I'm not sure about freezing these, but I figure they could just take some leftover ones the next day.
  12. Whole wheat zucchini bread
  13. Strawberry Jam - to use on sandwiches or on waffles!
  14. Cool Ranch Chicken Nuggets 
  15. Egg-salad made with homemade mayonnaise
  16. Tuna-salad made with homemade mayonnaise
  17. Oatmeal with raisins, or cinnamon/sugar
  18. Fruit and yogurt parfait - just a little 100% maple syrup and/or vanilla extract in plain whole milk yogurt, with a quality granola (homemade if possible!) and fresh/frozen blueberries, strawberries, etc.
  19. Fresh veggies with homemade mayo ranch
  20. Salad w/ homemade mayo ranch
  21. Fresh fruit
What are your typical school lunches? Any ideas that I haven't thought of here? I love comments and ideas, so feel free to share!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Goal-oriented: An Update

It's been a few months since we have shared how we are doing on our 2014 goals. I'm taking a little bit of my day to sit down and write today, so here goes. (If you aren't aware of our goals, check them out here!)

I'll start by sharing the boys' progress!

Since our last update back in April, Ethan has completed level 2 in swimming at our rec center, and gone to social skills day camp in July, which he really enjoyed and learned a lot. He has added 17 more books to his total for the year bringing it to 32 so far: After Ever After; Steampunk: an anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories; The book of Mordred; The Guinness Book of World Records 2014: Gamer's Edition; Timmy Failure: mistakes were made; Tuck Everlasting; Flawed Dogs; Heartbreak Messenger; Where the Red Fern Grows; Killer Pizza: the slice; A Day No Pigs Would Die; Stargirl; The Loser List: Revenge of the Loser; Julie of the Wolves; Snoopy: Cowabunga comic; Liar, Liar; and I, even, funnier!

Alex has also completed level 2 in swimming, and attended cub scout twilight camp. He had lots of fun, and got to do archery, bb gun shooting, arts and crafts and play games. He's read another 12 books since April, bringing his current total read to 29! The new books he's read are Nellie Oleson meets Laura Ingalls; The Georges and the Jewels; How to eat fried worms; Number the Stars; Galaxy Zach: Hello Nebulon; Arnie the Donut; Benjamin Pratt & the keepers of the school; Sisters of the sword: Chasing the secret; Encyclopedia Brown & the case of the exploding plumbing; Puppy Place: Rascal; I survived the Battle of Gettysburg 1863; and Amulet.

Both boys are currently reading Hidden Like Anne Frank, a collection of 14 stories.

As far as learning a second language, and learning to cook a couple of simple recipes,, there has been no progress for Ethan OR Alex. In fact, we haven't even attempted them as of yet. Volunteering with mom hasn't happened yet, unless you count picking up trash as a family with Alex's cub scout pack last week...

Ethan hasn't had an opportunity to take a video game design class, and hasn't started working on a comic yet. Alex didn't work on any belt loops but did get his new religious emblem book to start working on earning that. It's part of the Webelos requirements.

Ethan and Alex both added Start a new activity to their goals, and have fulfilled that by starting Choi Kwon Do this week (you can check out a short video on our Instagram or Facebook page!). I'm expanding that goal, by adding a secondary one of sticking to it for the rest of 2014! We signed up for one month to start, and they have the opportunity - if they go to a certain number of classes - to take their first belt test on the 30th. Alex also has another activity added: Attend cub scout pack camp out and fishing derby and he and Jason are going to that this coming Saturday!

Jackson is slowly working on potty-training. He's gone a few times in the last couple of weeks, and knows to tell us as soon as he goes in his diaper. We are working on him telling us BEFORE he goes and he has told me a couple of times - hence the reason he's used the potty a few times :). Jack didn't pass the level B swim classes, but was very close. Not sure when we will schedule the next session, probably a day-time class after school starts...

He is doing great with his colors, recognizes most of his letters now - sometimes he confuses I and L, and B and D but is doing good, knows part of the ABC song, and is still a little confused when counting to 10. Skipping numbers or repeating counting items. His goals are getting an added goal as well: Start preschool this fall. This one depends on age and potty-training. He has to be out of diapers with minimal accidents, as well as 33 months old, so the earliest will be October 3rd.

Now onto the other goals! I'm just going to do these in a list to make it easier.

2. Met my first goal of 10 lbs weight loss!!
3. Currently on my way (slowly) towards 20 lbs.

Diet-related goals
1. We have switched some things back - as previously noted - to organic. Also we have starting using coconut oil to cook with and that's all organic. Little steps here.
2. When I decided to do the Whole 30 back in June/July, I cut out all dairy as well as other things for 30 days. I had chosen earlier in the year to drop this goal and possibly revisit it. I'm glad to say it is back on the goals and technically DONE! Since July 25th, I've had little dairy and plan to continue that way. Not perfect every day, as we have had pizza twice but that is the most dairy I've had, and I see how it makes my tummy feel after. :)
3. I haven't been keeping track 100% but I'm pretty sure we've been keeping up with 2-3 new recipes a month. Especially from June 24 through July 24th! We tried SEVERAL new paleo/Whole30 recipes during that time and since. If we were "missing" the goal, we made up for it during that time for sure!

2. All three of the boys have had their yearly check-ups. Jason and I still need to go for ours.

Pay-off/Debt control
1. We refinanced Jason's motorcycle this month and in the process were able to pay off the mini-van. The "extra" money from that van payment (until we decide if we are replacing it) is going to pay down credit cards, as well as Jason's BAH he gets from the VA for going to school, come September.

Home Management
1. The boys have been pretty good about doing their daily chores: empty/fill the dishwasher, feed/water and let the dog in and out, clean their room and the basement playroom, make their beds, pick up the living room (toys, books, etc), take out the recycling and also putting their folded clothes away. They also help when asked to do other things like help Jack pick up his room. We are adding new chores this week: Wipe the kitchen counters, bathroom counters, kitchen table, vacuum their room, help fold laundry. They have done those things, but it will be added to their daily chores as a consistent item. And honestly, I haven't been consistent on having them do everything, every day.

2. To be honest, I've been slacking with using the MOMO app, and doing more than the quick, general clean-up around here. I'm getting back on it this week!

5. Added a new goal of Declutter! I'm getting rid of things, whether donating, trashing/recycling or giving to someone we know that can use it, and finding proper homes for other things in our own house. If we decide to move to a different house, I really don't want to move a bunch of things we don't need or want! You would think after all the moves we've made in the last 13+ years - 7 different times of packing and unpacking, not including the short (long) hotel stay when we first moved to Maryland and the couple of months we lived at Jason's parents when we moved pack to Ohio and all of our things were in storage! - we would have done that a long time ago. Actually, we probably did and have just accumulated more STUFF.

My personal goals 

1. My reading total: 6! The Remains; Destined (by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast); The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall; Deep and dark and dangerous; Animal Farm. Currently reading 4 books...
2. I haven't been spending any time knitting, so I'm dropping my goal of finishing my project.
12. I've been better about writing or posting at least once a week.
14. I completely FORGOT about this one! Pinterest has tons of great ideas, and I need to spend a little time on there this week and pick our August item, and maybe make up a few months' worth as well ;)
16. Still working on the genealogy, rather inconsistently though.

Most of my goals have not been achieved or even attempted! I think this fall might be a good time to attempt a photography class and an additional enrichment class, as well as a volunteer or pay it forward opportunity.

I'm not updating on Jason's goals really, but maybe I can have him look over them and tell me where he thinks he is on them. I do know he took the summer off from classes, took 2 of 4 weeks' worth of vacation so far, and did well in his Spring semester, although I'm not sure what his GPA is. He is currently registered for 3 classes set to start in Aug/Sept.

Well, that's all for now!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Month of Ethan - July TBT #5 AND (a slightly late) birthday post all rolled in to one!

12 years. That's how old our boy turned on Tuesday. TWELVE! I know that's not super-old or anything, but when it's your first-born reaching that milestone, it can feel like it. The years have flown by. We are so proud of you, Ethan!!

July 29th, 2002. Ethan's delivery was a little difficult. My labor had slowed somewhat, and I was put on pitocin to speed it up. My ob's office had 2 different doctors, and of course the one on duty that night, for most of my labor, was horrible :( She THREATENED me with a c-section if I didn't hurry up and push that baby out. Not that a c-section is a bad thing, it was just the way she treated me and said it to me. I was 21 and having my first child with no family around besides my poor tired husband! Thankfully, not long after that there was a shift change and the other OB came in. She was much kinder and respectful. We were concerned because Ethan's heart rate was dropping, but, she told me, not enough to do a c-section. Once he was born, we quickly realized why. His umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck twice cutting off the circulation some. He was fine though, and didn't need any interventions. Apgar scores were great and he was crying loudly.
Me, 7 months pregnant with Ethan, and Jason's Grandma (my baby shower)

My sweet boy and I. Just a few minutes old.

He was born on a Monday. Ethan and I stayed in the hospital until Wednesday, and I'm genuinely glad we did. It was discovered early Wednesday that he had a heart murmur. Many times it is an innocent murmur. In E's case, he has Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole in the septum of the ventricle of his heart. It was small, but there. Over the years, he has seen a cardiologist many times to monitor it. At first, he had a lot of trouble gaining weight, eventually (after we had a hard time breastfeeding and he was put on formula) being fed higher calorie formula. He has been very lucky in that he has never needed surgery or medication for his heart condition, and the hole has been slowly closing all this time. He still has a murmur and the hole is currently still there, but he only goes to the cardiologist every 2-3 years now. (Ethan does NOT like getting echocardiograms done :( )

Mommy, Daddy and Ethan (around 3 weeks old)

Summer 2003

Cake and ice cream, 2nd birthday, 2004

Ethan and Grandma O, National Zoo, Washington, DC, May 2005

Ethan and his 5th grade teacher, Mrs. L, Halloween 2011

Alex and Ethan, after his first spelling bee win, Feb 2012

Ethan with Jackson, April 2012

Being silly before his middle school dance, 2012

Age 3

Ethan and his first friend Jocelyn, about 18mo-2y

Ethan and Jocey, they were about a year old

Ethan and daddy (top 2: around 4 or 5 months, bottom: about 2)

Over the years, Ethan has had his fair share of struggles and triumphs. At around 18 months, he was diagnosed with communication delays, and we suspected Autism. He received in home services from then, until we moved from Maryland to Ohio. Around 3 he finally started to speak, and promptly started reading!! In Ohio he started preschool for a couple of months, with special services, and went on to half-day kindergarten that fall. During that time he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and was given his first IEP.

We moved to a different house, and unfortunately he had to switch schools. Full day kindergarten, many phone calls home, and difficulty with bullies made for a tough 5 months. After finding out more than a month into the switch that they "didn't know about his IEP", I was furious for him. It was most definitely given to them, by myself and the old school. They did "find" it though. The next few years of school were all over the place for little E. We tried a Catholic school for first grade, but he was essentially kicked out due to lack of services available (I get it, but they did know prior to him starting about his diagnosis and said it was ok. I didn't appreciate the teacher saying he was "RUDE" because he would throw tantrums and yell "at" her or correct her. In all honesty, it was part of his Autism, and while not okay to disrespect others, we were still trying to figure out how to help him respond appropriately. Yelling at him, or sending him out of the classroom constantly was not helping... but I digress) We decided to send him to a special school for kids on the spectrum, and he excelled. In fact, they were the first to realize - besides us, of course - that he was brilliant and bored with the classwork. They moved him to second grade in November, and by January he was being "mainstreamed" into the typical classroom, with an aide. It was around this time, we took him to a psychologist and got the new diagnosis of Asperger's, which is still on the spectrum like PDD-NOS, and possibly ADHD. After given the choice to try medication (risperdal) and doing some research, we declined.

Over the summer, we moved yet again, to Michigan where daddy works. For third grade, E started at a charter school, and while that year was a tough one, he made a lot of progress. Since then E has done amazing, not only in school, but socially he's taken so many steps in the right direction, in part thanks to the amazing teachers he had in 4th-7th grade. He won the school and charter school spelling bees two years in a row, making it to the regional bee for the Scripps' National Spelling Bee and although he didn't make it to the end, he did well and managed his emotions also.

In the past year, E has made some amazing strides. Back in September, we went to a neurologist and after some discussion, with Ethan's approval, we decided on some medication to help with his anxiety. Not only has it helped with that, it has helped his focus. This year, he met 1 of his IEP goals by June (his runs Oct-Oct) and made a lot of progress on all of the others. He only had social/behavioral goals this year, which is different from the previous ones.

Ethan is an amazing, caring big brother. His empathy for others is quite astounding. He wants to make sure you are happy, and will sacrifice his own happiness to do what his brothers want many times. Ethan is kind, funny and so smart. Be careful telling him things, because if you are incorrect and he knows it, he will not hesitate to correct you! His favorite subjects are Math, History, and Science. He has mentioned wanting to become a teacher or an actor! Some of his favorite things to do are draw comics, play minecraft and other video games, and read books. He's especially loving James Patterson's middle school books right now.

I have loved watching him grow up to become this wonderful young man he is now. It's not always easy for him, but he tries so hard to be positive and he's learning to express himself when he's having a hard time or needs something specific. Whether it's a hug or time alone. In the coming year, E plans to try a couple of new activities. The dr tested his cholesterol yesterday, after it being slightly elevated last year, and found it to still be elevated. He eats pretty well, but doesn't get much exercise. While he is most definitely not overweight (4'9" and 82.6lbs), he needs to move more. After some discussion, Ethan has decided he would like to try Karate, and possibly yoga, as well as more swim lessons. I'm going to do my best to encourage him and help him. Not just for the cholesterol, but because I think emotionally the more he moves the better off he will be. Plus it will be just plain fun and he can meet some new people!

Mom and Dad love you, buddy. Keep up the good work, and just think, in one year, you will be a teenager! Time flies, so enjoy being a kid this year!

Monday, July 28, 2014

MPM: 7/28 - 8/3

This week is an eclectic week when it comes to our menu plan, as well as our schedule! Tomorrow we have a birthday. Wednesday is a yearly physical for the birthday boy. Thursday we have our first ever chiropractic appointment. Then on Saturday, we have my husband's family reunion to attend. It's a very busy week for us, compared to lately. Throw in some last minute grocery shopping and clothes shopping (for mom) today, and we need to find something laid back and fun to do this week!

The Michigan weather is all over the place the last week. Saturday was warm and a little humid, but yesterday was really hot until around 4:30 when a huge thunderstorm rolled through. We were actually in the mall at Sears, when they directed all the shoppers and employees to take cover in the hallway as a precaution! That was a little scary, especially to Ethan. He gets worked up quickly during tense events and can panic. I'm trying to teach him not to panic, but to assess the situation, follow directions of the adults or those in charge if necessary, and find the safest thing to do. I'm terrified if there's ever a truly dangerous situation that he'll either freeze and do nothing or just start screaming, and get injured :( Such is the life as mom with an Aspie. I just don't know what to expect or how to prepare him sometimes. And that's ok. I just have to be here for him, and try to guide him.

On to our menu:

We actually changed up our plan last week and didn't end up eating the pork tacos yet. I did FINALLY manage to get the nearly 8.5 lb pork shoulder in the crockpot first thing yesterday morning, but we had cheeseburgers (hamburger w/o a bun for me) last night instead, as the ground beef was in the fridge and needed cooked. That makes for a super easy meal tonight though, since the meat is already cooked and partially shredded!

Monday: Crockpot pork tacos (decided not to use the recipe I shared last week. Instead I put the pork shoulder in the crockpot along with about 6 T wildtree taco seasoning and filled it up with beef broth. It cooked on low for about 12 hours. Fell off the bone!), homemade guacomole w/ wildtree guacomole seasoning, coleslaw mix/lettuce/pico/salsa/onions/cheese, plus tortillas for the boys and green leaf lettuce for me.

Tuesday: Birthday boy's choice. Ethan picked Stevi B's pizza buffet (...) along with a chocolate chip cookie cake, summer berry cobbler and chocolate chip cookie dough ice creams. (Since I'm going to be eating some pizza and a small slice of cake, I am planning to pick up a quart of coconut ice cream and having a HUGE salad at the restaurant. That way I'm not going completely off track, while still indulging in the birthday celebration for my big kid :) )

Wednesday: Aidell's chicken and gruyere sausages, roasted potatoes and salad

Thursday: Steak, roasted sweet potato and roasted broccoli

Friday: Coconut-crusted chicken tenders, roasted cauliflower and baby carrots

Saturday: Reunion (hamburgers and hot dogs) We are taking a couple of sides this year: a veggie tray with baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, a watermelon, and Nom Nom Chocolate Truffles of which I'm making a double batch. We will just use cocoa powder, not coconut flakes to roll them in. One batch will be dark chocolate, the other will be mint chocolate! Honestly, I cannot wait to make and try these!

Sunday: Leftovers or breakfast or something easy for dinner tonight!

That's all I've got! Enjoy your Monday, and make sure to go to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more meal ideas.