In the thick of things

Summer is here.

We have activities scheduled nearly every night. Yes, I said night. Baseball, soccer, music classes-all in the evening. Except for this week, when my boylie has his bike camp. We did bike camp last year, it was called “Lose the Training Wheels.” It’s a special, week-long camp for kids with special needs. It is designed to teach them how to ride a two-wheeler, using specially adapted bikes. You can see them in the photos. Last year he did great, although it was tough to keep up with after he finished, and we never really got him consistently riding. This year we’re going to follow up with some extra lessons and lots of practice at home. They’ve changed the name of the camp to iCan Bike, and the organization that runs the camps, all over the country, is called iCan Shine. These people are amazing. I can’t say enough about them. Even if he doesn’t learn to ride completely by the end of camp, the experiences of success and the positive feelings he gets from camp are invaluable.

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On Tuesday they got each kid on a tandem bike, to get a feel for what it’s like to ride a two wheeled bike, it helps them feel the turns, feel the breeze on their face, and also let’s the volunteers feel how the kids are doing on the bike. It’s pretty awesome.

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We have two days left of camp, today they are going to “launch” him on a two wheeler. Can’t wait to see who it goes.

Soooo, what’s up?

Yeah.

So, it’s been awhile. I decided to take a peek at the old blog to see when my last post was. I knew it was a long time ago. Nearly a year. Last June. I’m not even sure how it got to be so long. I think I got busy, and kept putting it off and then it got longerandlonger and I finally figured it was not. gonna. happen.

So, what brings me back? Not sure. Is not like things have gotten less busy. Most definitely it is the opposite. I haven’t miraculously gotten more organized. I think I missed the brain dumping that happens when I write stuff here, in this space. ‘Cause that’s really what happens here.

So, I’ve decided to give it another go.

So, see you soon.

Project Life-Week 5

Still. In. Love.

I’m having a blast with this project. Something that occurred to me while working on this week is how quickly the time is passing. It’s really flying by, and there are so many little things that we don’t notice, or forget because we’re always so wrapped up in our busy-ness. This project is helping me to stop and take notice, and I’m so excited that at the end of the year I’m going to have this awesome book filled with all of these little moments.

Anyway, here’s week 5:

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RIGHT:

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LEFT:

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Nothing too out of the ordinary this week. A couple of kids home sick (all better now), school stuff, haircuts, a couple of restaurant visits, and some beautiful weather for this time of year, especially in Chicago. I had to include a picture of the sunshine. Along the bottom right side in used both 4×6 slots to place three Instagram photos and a journal card from our restaurant trip. I didn’t get a shot of all of us, and the three pictures wouldn’t fit on one slot, so I added the letter stickers across the bottom to tie them together. I used stuff from my PL kits, and added some stickers and journal cards that I got while sneaking off to Archiver’s last week. Oh, and I added that card with the heart on it and a February sticker, because we changed months mid-week. I’m not great at keeping track of products, but if you want to know where something is from I can try to figure it out.

The Mom Creative

I’m linking up with Jessica at The Mom Creative. She has a ton of links to other PLifers, as well as her own fabulous pages for the week. Go check them out!

If you are visiting and have your own pages to share, I’d love to see them. Please link up in the comments!

I can’t believe we’re starting week 6! Still going strong!

Week 2

Well, we survived our first week back to school. It didn’t really count as a week, however, since we started on Wednesday. This, of course, left my mama brain dazed and confused for the rest of the week. By the time I felt back in the swing of things it was Friday, and the weekend had begun. Oh, I love a weekend, but getting into a routine again is nice, too.

On to week 2, this isn’t even a full week, technically. Kids have a half day on Friday, which means no school for the Kinder boy, Madelyn’s “half” day of school gets her out at 10:20, and Christopher is out at noon. And it’s a three-day weekend. So by the time we actually get a whole, full-on week of school? It will be nearly February. Routine, schmoutine.

But, I did manage to get some stuff done. Tree is down. I think it’s a record for me. Maybe I said that last year. Anyway. Even with the crazy week I got three gym days in and was back to my weekly WW meeting on Sunday. Don’t ask about that. It actually wan’t horrible. Nothing a couple of weeks away from the damn cookies of clean eating can’t fix.

One thing that I am excited about, besides all of my no crap eating healtified routine, is that I have started scrapbooking again. I was a big time, spend a ton of money on supplies and buy every magazine and book written, kind of scrapbooker. I started shortly after I got married, and had another burst right after the kids were born. I had couple of good friends that would gather together, mostly at my dining room table, and we would work on scrapbooks, and chat about life and the kids, and eat way too many M&Ms and pretzels. After kid #3 we kept going, but it slowed down a bit. I barely touched a scrap of paper all of last year. Recently, my little guy discovered my scrapbooks, and started reading them. He spent a load of time looking at pictures and asking me questions. I realized how valuable these books really are. So I decided to get back to the scrapping table.

Enter Project Life. It’s an easy to use scrapbook “kit” that helps to document an entire year. I’ve actually thought about doing this for the past two years, but I think I’ve finally figured out how to make it work. So many other scrapbookers are doing it, and it’s been fun to follow their blogs and check them for ideas on how to work it into a busy life. I’m excited to get going and will try to post some pictures as I go along.

I know this is a long post but I’ll just end with some pictures from our week…

Eleven

Today, my oldest turns 11.

This was taken yesterday, after I took her for a big girl haircut. She looks so grown up it scares me to death.

It blows my mind that I’ve been a mom for eleven years. That I’ve survived, that they’ve survived. She’s an amazing little person. Smart, funny, confident, competetive, curious, fun, sometimes too sassy for her own good. She’s still not at the boycrazy stage (thank God), although I know she does notice them more. She doesn’t like the girldrama that’s going on in middle school. Luckily, she’s still talking to me about all of this stuff. Sometimes I look at her and see a flash of grown up, like when she says, “Hey, mom?” and tosses her hair back like a girlie girl.  Other times I see that same little face that she had when she was just a baby.

We celebrated this past weekend, with a not-sleepover girlie party on Friday night. Nine soon-to-be sixth graders invaded my home. The high-pitched squeals were deafening for the first hour, then settling into whispers and giggles. Saturday we had some family over for more celebrating. She got a whopper of a present this year, finally ditching mom’s old ipod for one of her own. She told me, “I feel special.”

You are special, sweetie. I hope you always feel that way.

Happy Birthday, Monkey.

Peace

The day didn’t go exactly as I thought it would. It started out pretty normally, got boylie on the bus for summer school, got myself and the other two ready, and headed out for some errands. All was well.

I was thinking to myself that I was feeling this sort of peaceful feeling. The day was moving along smoothly enough. I had some plans to take my girl over to a friends for a playdate, and then back home to finish up some chores. Simple.

Here’s where it starts to go crazy. I load up the kids in the van. This is the van that we just brought home from the dealer where it has been for the past four months. It was called in for some recall work that took forever, and we’ve been driving a rental, but that’s another story. Anyway, I turn the key and it starts, and makes a sputtering sound. I turn it off, restart, same thing. One more time, ’cause I’m in denial, and this time it just cranks and won’t start. Crap. *deepbreath* still gonna try to be peaceful.

So kids come back in the house, we’re not going anywhere. Guess I’ll start on that housecleaning I had planned. Pull out the mop to get the kitchen floor. I hear the girlie holler at one of the dogs. Crap. Well, not exactly. But, still a doggie mess, up in one of the bedrooms.

Remember that scene in “Finding Nemo” where Marlin and Dory are feeling all happy ’cause they see that angler fish with the pretty light. And then when they get a close up of what it really is Marlin says, “Good feeling’s gone.”

After that things just sort of rolled outta control. My dad came over and got the car started, but thinks it’s a fuel pump. So we have to take it in because I can’t chance getting stranded. I load up the kids to take it back to the dealer, we pull out of the garage, phone rings and husband says, “wait, I might be able to take it tomorrow, this other place has a better deal anyway.” Okay, kids, we’re not going. The kids grumble and moan because we’re getting out of the car AGAIN. By the way, this is all happening right around 4:00. What’s for dinner? I decided to splurge on some Happy Meals. Somebody’s gotta get happy up in here. We head over to the Home of the Happy, get the meals, and the phone rings again. Husband: “Go ahead and take it to the dealer, the other place can’t have it ready til next week.”

GRRRRRRRR.

Okay so I settle the kids and they eat their treats in the car on the way over. We get to the dealer and youdontwannaknowhowmuchitsgonnacost. But they give me a nice, fancy rental with all the bells and whistles. You know, so when I get my clunker back I’ll love it even more.

Somehow, though, we make it back home without a meltdown. And the kids were real troopers, too.

Peace out.

Why I love Disney, a word (or many) to the haters.

I read something today that got under my skin. A blog post (which I will not link to) which spoke of some people’s “addiction” to Disney, and compared it to an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the point of the blog post, but it still irked me, because it reeked of judgement. And I felt the need to defend myself. Brace yourself, it’s gonna be a long one.

I grew up in a family of five children, four very active, younger brothers and myself. We didn’t have a lot of money. We survived on one blue-collar salary while my mom went to school to become a nurse. She started when I was very young and graduated from nursing school when I was in college. It wasn’t easy. Once she started working things got better financially, of course, but I was already up and out of the house. Needless to say, we didn’t take vacations. It was a big deal if we went to McDonald’s. I can count on one hand the times we went to a local amusement park or carnival. We went to Six Flags as a family once. We packed our lunch in a cooler and ate in the parking lot to save money. It was a big deal.

Fast forward to my 20s. I worked as a secretary and was invited to help out at a convention in Anaheim, California. The convention center was walking distance from Disneyland. I spent about 3 hours there with some friends. I went on Pirates, Matterhorn Mountain, Space Mountain and, of course, Small World. And I saw Fantasmic. I was in my 20’s, yes, but felt that joy and excitement as if I was 7 years old. It was thrilling. I told myself that someday I’d go back and see more. So when we were talking honeymoon plans, I picked Florida. I wanted to see Walt Disney World. We had a blast. It was June, it was hot, it was awesome. I truly did feel like a little kid. And I figured that someday, when we had kids of our own, we’d bring them back.

I didn’t think about it much for a while after that. Three children later, after listening to some friends talk about their trips, we finally took the leap. I was nervous. You see, my middle son, who is 8 now, is on the Autism spectrum. He has big time issues with noises. Where on Earth is there a place noisier than Disney? And the plane ride? I was scared he’d lose it before we even got there, and we’d be kicked off the plane and on the 10 o’clock news. He couldn’t verbalize well back then, he was around 4 1/2 years old, and had a really hard time with language. At the time he was about a year into a full-day intensive special education program. We weren’t sure what kind of progress he was going to make with language. We were unsure about a lot of things then. But we booked the trip, and off we went.

Let’s just say, they don’t call Walt Disney World the most magical place on earth for nothing. Not only did my son enjoy himself, and every second of that trip, he exceeded my wildest expectations. He found his voice. He bravely stood in line and wanted to try as many rides as they would allow him on. He sat through shows, noisy restaurants, fireworks, you name it. And when we came home, he TALKED about it. For days. With whoever would listen. Just look at this face.

There it is. Joy.

Of course, my daughter and younger son enjoyed themselves, too. Very much. As did my husband, who after the very first day started talking about going back. I knew we made the right choice in going. And we’ve been back three times since. Four times in four years. The blogger I spoke of earlier said she knew of families from her “former life as a suburban soccer mom” (guess she’s not anymore) who went every year, and never take their kids anywhere else. So far, the only other place we’ve been outside of our state is the state next door. And for now, that’s okay. Most of my friends laugh along with me when I say that I don’t need to go to Europe, ’cause Epcot has an Eiffel Tower. I joke, of course. Someday I do hope to visit other places. But not now. Right now this is what we love. We enjoy the time we spend there as a family. We see something new each time. It’s not just the rides and the characters that define our trips. There are lots of little things. Every single meal we eat together, which is next to impossible at home. Sitting on a bench, people watching, sharing popcorn, laughing about something we saw or heard earlier. Holding my husband’s hand for more than two seconds while we walk through the parks, watching the kids bouncing ahead of us. Yes, all of these things could happen at so many other places. And someday, sometime, they likely will. But there’s something about this place that makes us all so happy, right now. All of us. Together.

We’re skipping our trip to Disney this year, for lots of different reasons. And we’re all a little sad about it, but we are looking forward to next year. The kids often talk about the things they want to see and do next time. And there will be a next time. And most likely, a time after that.

I don’t think what I have is an addiction. It is a love, for sure. Right now it’s a love that I share with my wfamily. It’s not on my mind constantly. I am always willing to talk about it, and I love when people ask me for trip planning advice. Do I have a secret dream of someday moving to Florida and becoming an annual passholder? Yes. Am I packing my bags today? Of course not. There’s real-life stuff to deal with. School and therapy and meetings and teaching my kids about life. Disney is an escape for us. It’s also a place where my son can do all of the same things that all of the “typical” kids do. They all have fun. I don’t need to hold him back. He knows exactly what to do.

Everybody has something. Some people like to follow old British pop stars around the country, they find something meaningful there. What makes your books, or music, or travel plans better or more meaningful than mine? Perhaps you’re envious. Not of my life, per se, but of the fact that I am happy with my life. I don’t need to move halfway across the country to find what I’m looking for. My idea of a happy family and quality time spent with them may be different from yours. I don’t judge. Whatever makes you happy. Leave my happy alone.

So yes, I drink the Kool-Aid. And I do it proudly from my refillable resort mug. So back off.