Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's Been Going On?

Hubby mentioned the other day that I haven't been putting much on here lately.  I have actually been writing daily on my personal journal blog instead. The many frustrating events of the last few weeks have left me a bit downtrodden and I try to keep this one as cheerful as possible.

I do have two incredible adorable boys though that not only forgive me for my surplus of grumpiness lately, but also make me laugh daily at the creative ways they try to amuse themselves.

We have replaced our old family tradition of watching America's Funniest Videos together with watching the semifinals of American Ninja Warrior. Either you know this show...or you don't. But if you have a little boy (or several) then this show is a must. It's basically a big old obstacle course, and when they miss, they fall in water (You can see why Aaron would love it). Because of the many evenings we have spent as a family watching this, Aaron keeps creating "courses" of his own, both at home and away. So it was no surprise when he spent our time at the park the other day doing a course across the bridge.

The boys have also been developing their fort making skills around the house. This started as Steve set up one of our tents in Aaron's room a couple of weeks ago. The funniest part was that Aaron ended up being freaked out and slipping into his bed to actually sleep. It kind of makes me glad that we have a cabin rented when we go to Wabasis for camping in a few weeks, rather than tent camping this year. Noah's latest was quite developed, and of course all of his favorite sock monkeys were all snuggled in ready for bed:)

Aaron fulfilled his lifetime dream a couple of weeks ago as we went to a community event that featured a DUNK TANK. To most kids this would just seem like a fun little event. But to Aaron, who has been obsessed with dunk tanks for the better part of 3 or more years, it was a dream come true and he got to spend three hours dunking and throwing. It will be what he will talk ab out for the rest of the summer I'm sure.

Noah often sits back and watches as Aaron does all of his silly little ideas of ways to make fun around the house. While Aaron is creating strange courses or dunks, Noah is usually sitting and drawing comics in his room or reading a book in a corner. So I always laugh when I come into a room and find Noah somewhere that I'd normally find Aaron,. This blue bucket seems to wander around our house for various activities every day but I cracked up when I was outside and Noah asked , "Mom, can I have some grapes?" and I came in to find him happily snuggled down into the bucket, minding his own business eating grapes. My boys are just so funny sometimes.

So we haven't had any big events this summer.  And due to the developments of my jobs lately, it looks as if the things we had planned are not likely to happen. So given these new circumstances, I am glad that I have two boys who are creative, fun, and willing to make their own fun.

And I have to admit, I love having fun with them. We played catch with the football all afternoon yesterday and again today. Will these be memories they will remember someday? I'm not sure. But I know that I will remember.

PS I got an email a couple of weeks ago offering a giveaway for my blog readers. I am so excited since it has been so long. I know my reader comments have become  way low since I have posted less often but I hope that if you are still reading you will stay tuned. I will be using the product for Noah's birthday party next week and then giving one away to a lucky reader :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Getting the Job Done

Noah makes me laugh so often.

He tries to be a clown and those are the MANY moments where I definitely DO NOT laugh. But it's the times when he is just being his normal funny self that I absolutely adore.

Back over Christmas vacation, Noah had to get his tonsils out and I made him a blanket to take with him to the hospital. He picked out Sock Monkey fleece and the night before the surgery, I surprised him with a sock monkey "buddy" to go with it.  The nurses even let Sock Monkey go into surgery with him and even the doctor commented on it when he came to check on him later.  Noah says that Sock Monkey helped him through his "darkest hour" (yes, his words) and therefore is extra special to him.  He was in love and decided that he wanted to collect sock monkeys from then on.

Since then he has collected several more. He has a tiny beanie baby one, a baby blue one, and even a Easter bunny sock money. He tries so hard to be the "cool kid" but in reality, he is just such a softie and I love this sensitive side of him.

The other day he discovered that there was a huge string "leaking" out of poor Monkey and I was pretty impressed that he knew enough not to pull it or trim it. Instead, he brought it to the kitchen and asked me to fix it.  In a very bad mommy moment, I forgot about fixing him for a couple nights in a row. A couple of days later, he asked me again to mend his Buddy and I STILL forgot. (Yes, I am THAT bad of a mommy).

So the other night, as I was reading in bed just before turning out the light, I looked over at the chair in our room and saw Sock Monkey. I thought it was rather odd and wondered how he got all the way upstairs. At that moment, I noticed something white on his tummy. I smiled, thinking that my funny Little Guy had put a band aid on him and placed him upstairs as a reminder to fix him.

So I went over to check and see him and I found this:

Needless to say, I immediately went downstairs, grabbed the sewing kit and went to work.

Noah could have nagged, whined, or complained. But he didn't. He used his own creativity to get the job done.

And Sock Monkey is again out having fun. Since his little "surgery" a few days ago, he has had some spins on the trampoline, taken a car ride to the library, and been loved by an almost ten year old each and every night.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Another Year Done

I just sent my two boys off to their last day of school. Noah was absolutely right last night when he said this was the fastest year ever. It really did seem to fly. Each year seems to get easier in many ways, even though new challenges arose as well.  I love to sit back at the end of each school year and reflect on how far the boys have come.

The kid who is a full year younger than most of his class (and two years younger than a few) definitely held his own this year. Going into this year, he and I both believed that it would be better for him to repeat first grade rather than advancing to second, in order for his social skills to catch up with his academic. In truth, I will always think it may have been better to hold him back. But despite our reservations, Aaron proceeded to second grade on his teacher's recommendation and really did rise to expectations. He ended the year as the second highest reader in the class, even while being the youngest by 1-2 years. Both of my conferences this year were "lectures" from his teacher telling me to stop worrying about him. His handwriting is still way behind, but we will spend a lot of time working on that this summer. This was his first year receiving speech and language services and I was amazed at how much he improved. He no longer stutters (or "bumps" as they call his particular form of stuttering). We are going to continue services into the start of third grade however just to make sure there is no back slide. He grew a full two inches his year, which is crazy. He also had his first major disappointment in a failed drama audition but handled it impressively well and is looking forward to trying again.  The biggest growth we've seen in him this year is in his confidence. He is becoming much more willing to try new things and handles his frustration so much better than in the past. Unlike last year at this time, I have very little concern about him advancing to the next grade level. His charming smile and joyful enthusiasm for life continue for all to see.

4th grade definitely brought new challenges for Noah but also a talent emerged in him to a higher level. Noah struggled this year socially, mainly because the girls in his class who have always been friends with him are starting to enter puberty and creating much confusion for this sensitive kid.  But luckily some new boys moved into the school and he was able to branch out and make some new friends as well.  We spent most of the year working through the social difficulties and I think he has handled it pretty well. Noah developed his comic writing ability this year, with many thanks to a teacher who not only encouraged his creativity, but even LET HIM DOODLE during instruction time since he had straight A's anyway and she knew he was listening and taking it all in while she was teaching. Pretty impressive for a first year teacher. I am wondering if this will become a problem next year but we'll deal with that in three months. Noah also played basketball this year. This was huge because although we have tried pretty much every organized sport, none of then have ended in a positive note and it is exciting for him to have had a good experience and is even looking forward to next season as well. Noah continues to struggle with self esteem but we will continue to help him with this and I hope that someday he will come to believe in the amazing person that he is.

I was disappointed that we didn't do scouts this year. Noah was definitely not into it and even though Aaron wanted to continue, he never mentioned it again after we stopped.

As we head into the summer both boys are pretty excited about next year. Their classrooms will be right next to each other next year and in a separate wing of the school from everyone else. Both of their teachers for next year are awesome which makes going into the summer a little less worrisome.

I have high hopes for this summer. I did have to drop my hours at work, which will significantly chop our income, but this is nothing different than any other summer, which is difficult every year. They will be spending a day and a half at work with me each week at gymboree, but the other three and a half days will be ours.  A few VBS programs, a couple little mini-camps, a rented cabin for our annual camping trip in July, a birthday party for a boy entering double digits, and hopefully a couple of day trips as well. I am hoping to just be with the boys and enjoy them this year. We are on borrowed time until the boys no longer want to do ANYTHING with boring old mom. As a matter of fact, Noah is already planning his play dates with some of the new friends he made this year. And with his gal pal attending our church now, that will definitely make him happy this year as well. For Aaron, all I really have to do is keep our homemade dunk tank operational and he will be happy as a lark all summer long. I imagine we will continue our Sunday weekly trips to the state park beaches as weather permits as well.

Okay, so after writing all of this, I have a confession. I am always happy AND sad on the last day of school. I am always so proud of how far each of the boys have grown, but my eyes tear up every single year at the last day awards assembly. I have no idea why I get so emotional every year, but I do. The kids all get their own individualized award from the teachers and I can usually accurately predict the awards they will receive. Aaron will probably receive Best Reader and Noah will probably receive some sort of Creativity award.

And then we will come home.

And play.

Here's to summer!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Festival Weekend

I am here with a much more positive post than the previous one. Huge sigh of relief from all :)

I just want to say that Grand Rapids is a great city near which to live. It has the wonderful experiences that you'd find in a bigger city with a small town feel. Every time we're downtown for an event, I marvel at how lucky we are to have a city like this. We have a top notch symphony (with which I am honored to perform several times a year) and quite a few events that bring thousands of people into the downtown area to just experience the life. We have had many awesome experiences downtown such as ArtPrize, museum visits, bike racing through the streets, and so many more than I can think of.

And this past weekend was another one that we've experienced several years in a row. Festival of the Arts is an all-volunteer arts festival in Grand Rapids that runs for three days with four different stages of acts running continuously all day and evening.  In addition, there are kids activities and about two dozen different food booths sponsored mostly by local churches.

Hubby's singing ensemble performs each year and we head down to enjoy the ambiance.  Steve sang the opening solo and the second one as well, which was kind of neat. This was the group's second year performing on the "main" stage so they were pretty excited.

Meanwhile, the kids spent time, as they do every year, climbing a pyramid sculpture downtown and sliding down it, climbing trees in the nearby courtyard,  and basically running around in the beautiful weather.

Following Daddy's performance, we headed over to kids activities. This is fun because I have pictures of the boys participating in this activity every year since Noah was four. They started out with wood working and then followed by painting. This activity center is pretty cool since it is a "No Adults Allowed" center and kids are allowed to create to their heart's content. The sculptures this year were pretty cool.

Then it was time to find something to eat. At that point we were all pretty grumpy but as we were all grumbling in hunger, the boys' attention was caught by a nearby acting troupe and while they were looking on.

Hubby went in search of some vittles. He came back with a skewer of chicken. After giving me a small taste I decided that I too NEEDED one :) And after sharing a small bite with Aaron, he too decided he NEEDED one. And after he had inhaled his chicken on a stick, he spent  the remainder of the weekend (yes, I said WEEKEND) talking about his chicken on a stick and how he wanted some more.

No trip to Festival is complete without a ride in the HUGE tire swing. Since the boys were the biggest boys in their group, they both took the ends and Daddy got a major workout with another dad getting them going.

It was a fun visit to Festival. Every time we go to an activity downtown, I just think about what a cool city we live near and all of the things we do as a family in this city.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post. I just really like hanging out downtown :)