Monthly Archives: July 2012

And…we’re back!

What a great week!¬† (Can I go again? Please??) ūüôā

Where to start?¬† I only have one kid back so far, so we’ll start with him!

Colin was so excited about camp – we’d been talking about it since the Open House in April.¬† For those who didn’t see my previous post, the camp I’m talking about is Charis Hills.¬† We arrived and were sent to check in Colin’s meds as he was swept away for a mini-physical and picture-taking.¬† While in line, we got to speak to a couple of other parents – their kids had been campers there before.¬† They raved about how much fun their kids had and how much they loved this camp and everyone involved. It was really nice to have people set our minds at ease right away!

In the medication line, I couldn’t help but notice the bags other kids had.¬† Our doctor had told us that Colin wasn’t on as many meds as we might think, and maybe he was right. Some of these kids had enough to fill a gallon sized Ziploc¬†bag.¬† Colin’s four medications didn’t seem like much in comparison!

We double-checked his activities – apparently he and one little girl named Emily were the only ones signed up for dance!¬† I tried to sign him up for activities that didn’t involve sitting quietly or shooting anything (boating, fishing, archery and riflery were OUT!).¬† When we turned around, he was already on his way to his cabin!¬†

In the cabin, we helped him make his bed – top bunk! – and then it was time to change into his swim clothes for a swim evaluation.¬† He was pretty much pushing us out the door.¬† I think he must have said “Bye, Dad!” at least three times before we left!

One of my favorite things about this camp is that they have their own shutterfly account and they post pics daily!¬† That was really nice – we’d check out the site each night and see what he’d been up to.¬†¬† Here are a few:

in class – they had study time!

Testing out the water

Swim lessons! Colin earned an award for putting his head under water before the week was over!

I found it pretty funny when we picked him up that one of the first things his designated counselor mentioned was how early he would wake up.  Apparently the kids were supposed to sleep until 7:30am Рyeah right!!

¬†Otherwise, they said he did pretty well.¬† They sent home a little evaluation sheet that discussed how he did at meeting the goals we’d asked them to help him work on (assessing dangerous situations, developing a less inflated sense of self, etc).¬† They essentially said what we knew – that he doesn’t think before acting and will apologize after the fact, so he knows wrong from right, he just doesn’t have the impulse control to stop himself.¬† He got in trouble mid-week for touching/taking other people’s things, but he gave them back immediately without argument, so that’s good.¬†All in all, he had a blast.¬† He can’t wait to go back again next year!¬† We will probably hear about “sleep away camp” (as he calls it) for months to come.¬†—¬†As this blog has gotten fairly long-winded already, I think I’ll save my yabbering¬†and pictures on our kidless vacation for another post!¬† I need more pictures from the camera anyhow.¬† It’ll be like one of those old slide-shows your grandparents made you watch as a kid!¬† (I know, you can’t wait, right??)

Who’s getting away from whom, exactly?

I think our kids are more excited about this break than we are.

All three of them were up before 6am! (I don’t think Ryan’s wandered out before 7 in over a month!)

The “how much longer?” game has already begun!

My Husband is Awesome

He is.¬† In fact, I think I’ll run away with him!

Vacation time is near!¬† I’m so excited!

You know how those last few days of work before vacation just wear you down?¬† I think it’s the same thing with kids.¬† Those last few days before you’re about to get a break from them, they just get on your every last nerve!!¬† Unfortunately, I mainly mean Colin.¬† They’ve all been a lil’ stir crazy, but Colin has been balls-to-the-wall out of control most of the time lately.¬† He’s been destructive, reckless, and just…even more hyperactive than usual.¬† I think a lot of it has to do with the excitement/anxiety of camp coming up.¬† Yesterday, I bought the rest of what he’ll need for his week – sleeping bag, extra socks and undies, travel sized items, etc.¬† It occurred to me that with all three boys going in different directions for a week, we might not have enough socks and undies to go around!¬† I mean, that’s a minimum 21 pairs of each item of clothing.¬† And the boys have been outgrowing their undies and losing socks right and left, so it was time.

¬†Tomorrow AM, we’re dropping off Ryan with Rick’s brother – he and his son C (who is Ryan’s age) will be in town overnight, so the timing was perfect.¬† Then we’re taking Robbie (oh, excuse me – ROB) and Colin to the Special Needs Screening of Ice Age, followed by lunch with my mom, who is taking Rob with her after.

That will give Rick and I some time alone with Colin to pack his suitcase, talk about camp, etc.¬† The camp gave us a great idea: pack each outfit – one shirt, one pair of shorts, socks and undies – in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag!¬† That way, he can just grab a bag each morning and he’s ready to get dressed.¬† I love that idea.

I really think Colin’s going to have a blast.¬† I can’t wait to hear how it goes.¬†

Another great thing they do for the parents and campers is they allow you to pre-write letters and cards, etc, for your camper! You drop them off after checking him in and then they can hand out mail throughout the week without worry of letters not making it in time.  You can also email your camper throughout the week. They print off the emails and pass them out after lunch.

We’re even checking our pups into a boarder¬†while we’re gone!¬† I’m still waiting for something to go wrong – I can’t believe how many different wheels are turning in the right directions for this to come together!

 

Once we’re all back together, we will only have FOUR WEEKS until school starts back up!¬† I can hardly believe it! We’ll come back from vacation and it will be time to start gathering school supplies and making sure everything is ready to go!

Going back to the title of this post… I want to brag on my guy for a bit.¬†

As some of you might recall (although I’ve taken down the posts) we had some drama with the neighbor behind us earlier this year.¬† Well, in the last couple of months, our shared fence had a panel come loose.¬† One of the posts broke off in the ground and the panel just kept falling over.

After a heck of a lot of inaction from the neighbor (we have actually run into each other a few times now – our dogs keep slipping into the other’s yard, etc), Rick decided to take matters into his own hands.¬† Yesterday, he went to Lowe’s and bought supplies.¬† He put in quite a few hours – and a couple of trips to the store – yesterday…and finished it up today.¬† I think he did a heck of a job.

I wanted to share a pic of his handiwork, but I’m having technical difficulties.¬† Just trust me – it looks awesome!¬†

¬†I hope everyone has a great weekend.¬† I’ll be around, but might not post again until we get back!

Operation Unplugged

A few days ago, we set up a new reward system that involved the boys earning TV/Wii time rather than having full access and losing it when they misbehaved. Basically, a full day of good behavior earns one hour of time the following day. Semi-good day = 30 minutes. Bad day? No TV/Wii the next day.

This means our TV is only on when the kids are awake for a max 3 hours/day now. Compared to the almost non-stop television/game playing we’d gotten into the habit of enjoying over the summer, this is a very drastic change. I was a little worried this would be more stressful for us than it would be for the boys!

This is only our third day, and you know what I’ve discovered?

Our boys are calmer. The stress level is MUCH lower in our house right now. They’ve been (*shock!*) using their imaginations more. They’re reading and playing with puzzles more. They’re enjoying those precious television moments more, rather than mindlessly sitting in the room with the TV going.

Today, we went to a local fair that featured various restaurants. The drive down was over 45 minutes. Usually, we’d flick on the DVD player in the van to keep the peace. I pointed out that was TV time and they’d used up most of their earned time already, so we left it off. You know what happened? They looked out the windows and asked questions about what we were driving past. Rick and I were still able to talk because the kids were calmer.

As I type this, all three just sat down together to put together a new puzzle I bought for them. (Colin could put the older ones together in under five minutes! This one’s a bit more challenging.) They’re begging me to let them play the new “popcorn game” they saw in the bag with the puzzle – I picked up both items from a local teacher supply store. The “popcorn game” is a word game – you pick a piece out of the box and it has an ending sound typed on it (ex: -ound, -ord, etc.). You then have to think up words that end with that sound.

Yes, I’m trying to trick them into learning!

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Oh my word! They're working together!

Robbie just made me pinky-swear that I’d show them the popcorn game when they finished with the puzzle.

We’ve been listening to a lot more music. I have a little speaker that hooks up to my ipod, but we keep that in the car, so Rick pulled out his old iPhone and we’ve been using that to keep us entertained when the TV is off.

Things were so nice and calm today, I even let the boys help me make dinner. Homemade pizza. I make pizza every couple of weeks. Usually, I just give the boys cheese pizza. It’s easy and that’s usually what they want anyhow.

Today, I offered options and let them top their pizzas. Colin just added some cubed turkey…which he attempted to pick off later anyhow. But Robbie and Ryan surprised me. They chose spinach, tomatoes and turkey. They even wanted some of my feta! Who ARE these boys?? They were so excited for the pizzas to come out of the oven and they ate every bite.

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Nom nom nom

All in all, I’m really enjoying this. I love the star system – giving them a warning before removing a star really helps them become more aware, I think. So far, Robbie and Ryan have kept their stars. Colin had one bad day and two ok days – lost one or two stars.

I really hope this holds up when Kay is here tomorrow. I told her about the plan and she is on board, so…fingers crossed!

Discipline & Seeing Stars

Monday morning, I threw my back out.¬† I’d pushed myself a little harder than usual the day before at the gym, which probably greased the wheels for what happened.¬† I was drying off after my shower, twisted to the right, and suddenly there was shooting pain.¬† It was all I could do to get to the bed and lie down.¬† Thankfully, Rick was due home soon, so I didn’t have to worry the boys or anything.

Long story short, I stayed home Mon, the 2nd half of Tues (I tried going to work and just couldn’t make it all day) and all day Wednesday.¬† Thanks to my chiropractor and my GP doc, I’m doing much better now.

Monday and Wednesday, I learned a few things.¬† Monday I was in too much pain to sleep but couldn’t get up and do anything, so I was just lying in bed…listening.¬† Kay was out there with the kids, Rick was asleep next to me.¬† And the things I heard coming from the living room shocked me.

My children were acting like little monsters!!

It was constant back talk, hissy fits, rudeness to each other and towards Kay.  I was flabbergasted. 

Around noon, I tried to get up. The naproxen was working and I thought I was superwoman.¬† I couldn’t even bring the pizza from the freezer in the garage back to the kitchen.¬† It was too much.

While I was out there for my brief stint, I apologized to Kay.  I told her I was sorry they were having such a rough day.

She raised her eyebrows at me. “Um…this is a good day.”

Wait…WHAT!!??

I told her they don’t act that bad with us and I can’t believe they’re usually WORSE with her.¬† How has she not quit by now?¬† Good grief!

I’m not sure what all went on Tuesday – I was at work when she was there.¬† Between the hours of about 2pm Tuesday until roughly noon on Wednesday, I slept somewhere around 18 hours.¬† I still can’t believe I slept that much.

Wednesday was not a great day, either, but I only caught the tail end of it.¬† More disrespect, back talk, etc.¬† More picking on each other, being mean to each other.¬† Just the opposite of how we’ve been raising our boys to act.¬†

Thursday morning, as I was getting out of the shower, I overheard one of the boys say something along the lines of, “Don’t do that! He’ll get sick!” Then I heard Colin say, “He’s going to throw up!”¬† (Vomit is one of Colin’s obsessions – if you so much as cough, he thinks you’re going to throw up and freaks out.)

I snuck around the corner to see what was up.  Ryan was on his way to the kitchen, but he stopped and held his cup of juice out to Chloe!  WHAT?? I lost it.

I’ve told them more times than I care to count that they are not allowed to give the dogs anything.¬† Main reason?¬† They don’t know what’s good/bad for dogs.¬† There are more than a few foods that are safe for humans and dangerous for dogs!¬† I pulled Ryan aside and asked what he was thinking.¬† He did his typical mumbling-with-mouth-closed thing.¬† I asked him if he thought he could just do anything he wanted if Mommy and Daddy weren’t looking.¬† That seems to be the case.¬†

Thursday during the day, Robbie had a horrible time with Kay.  He got in trouble and it just snowballed from there.  He refused to sit in time out, threw a pillow at Kay when she tried to discipline him.  He was sent to his room and when she came in to check on him, he chucked a shoe at her!  And every time she tried to talk things out, he made talking hand motions and made fun of her.

Something had to give.

I thought about punishments – Ryan had already lost his Wii privileges for 2 days due to a meltdown on Wed.¬† Robbie had lost his privileges through Sun. But this isn’t enough.¬† It’s not enough to just react all the time. I want to be PROactive.

 

We have a reward chart we were using during the school year.¬† We’d gotten awfully lax with it over the summer and essentially stopped using it altogether.¬† I decided it needed an update.

Before, they earned prizes for having “green” days at school.¬† Now they will be earning TV/Wii time.¬†

This is now a 7-day/week chart. If you have a green day, you get one hour of TV or Wii time (or some combination of the two).  A yellow day only earns you 30 minutes.  If you have a red day? No Wii or TV time the following day.

I wanted to make the rating system a little more concrete for them.¬† At school, they don’t always know what their color will be until the end of the day.¬† I wanted to give them a visual aide, so I added stars on a cork board next to the chart.

If you have all your stars by the end of the day, it was a green day!¬† If you lose 1-2 stars, you’ve had a yellow day.¬† Lose all the stars – red day.

So far, it’s been great.¬† Granted, I’ve only had it up for one morning so far, but it worked well for me this morning.¬† Colin was messing with the dogs this morning and I said, “Colin, you don’t want to lose a star, right?¬† Please stop messing with the dogs.”¬† Of course, he was back at it in 5 minutes, so I said, “Colin, this is your last warning – if you don’t stop messing with the dogs, I will take away one of your stars.”¬† He stopped!¬†

Ryan and Robbie both woke up excited about the new chart, even though they knew they weren’t getting any Wii or TV time today.¬† I explained that Kay can take away stars just like Mommy and Daddy can.

Fingers crossed that this works.

 

Oh, also?¬† Not sure if you noticed, but the names on the chart and stars are, “Colin, Ryan, Rob.”¬† My baby has decided he wants to be known as Rob, not Robbie.¬† *sigh*¬† I told him it’s¬†his choice, but he had better be sure about it before school starts next month!¬† He seems to be sticking to his guns.

He’ll always be MY Robbie.¬† ūüôā

Keeping a Close Eye

Just like most moms, I worry about my kids.  I worry about their social interactions, bullies, etc.

I worry more than usual – for good reason – about Colin.

Whenever we’re in a social situation with other children, I can’t help but keep a close eye on him – not just because I worry about him running off to chase something sparkly, but because I am acutely aware of his surroundings.¬† With adults, I’m usually more concerned that Colin with bother¬†someone with his incessant questions and non-sensical “conversations.”¬† Around children, I worry he will be made fun of, misunderstood…possibly hurt.

Children don’t have the filters and patience that most adults do.¬† One time at an indoor pool, Colin was pestering some kids who were trying to play a little game of water basketball.¬† At one point, one of the kids backed into him, essentially pushing him out of the way.¬† He had this look in his eye that said one more annoyance would likely get an even worse reaction.¬†

Colin doesn’t¬†understand those looks. He has no idea when he’s pushing someone’s buttons.¬† I swooped in and pulled him away from that group of boys before things got worse.

Last night, we went to a local Independence Day celebration.  There was a band playing, a bounce house, kids playing on the playground Рit was a great night.

At one point, I saw Colin go up to an older boy – I think he must have been somewhere between 13-14 years old – and start asking a million questions.¬† The kid had a smile on his face and I thought, “Oh, great – he’s about to be told off, probably made fun of. I hope he backs off when that happens and he doesn’t push the issue!”

But something else happened.¬† This kid started playing with Colin.¬†¬† On a playground covered with roughly 40 kids, these two seemed to understand each other.¬† He let Colin boss him around and laughed at his jokes.¬† He’d wander off for a while and then come back to the playground for long stretches.¬†

I don’t know where his parents were – maybe he was there alone – or what his story was, but he definitely seemed a little “different”.¬†¬† I actually thought he looked familiar…then had to laugh at myself when I realized why.¬† He looked like a young Jessie Misskelley (of the “West Memphis Three“), minus the crazy hair.

He wandered back over to us just before the fireworks started.¬† Colin was sitting next to him and they shared a few laughs and talked about the fireworks as they went off.¬† Then Colin looked at him and said, “Can I sit in your lap?”

Ugh.

I called out to Colin that it was inappropriate to ask that.¬† I felt bad interrupting their momentary friendship, but I knew this boy was enjoying Colin’s company – he had made a friend that didn’t think he was “different” – and he would probably have gone along with whatever Colin asked.¬† No matter how innocent their friendship was, my 8 year old sitting in the lap of a stranger just made me uneasy.¬†

When I called out to him, he got up and came over to hear what I’d said – the explosions overhead made it difficult to hear.¬† That was the end of their exchange.¬† Colin sat/stood/played near us through the rest of the show.

The boy got up and walked off quickly after the fireworks ended.¬† I wanted to say something to him.¬† I wasn’t sure what.¬† “Thank you for being nice to my boy,” just didn’t seem like enough.

There’s not enough kindness in the world.¬† You realize that even more when you have a child with special needs – one that doesn’t quite “fit in”.¬† I find myself wanting to thank people for acting human and decent.

Squeeeeeak!

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At the local Independence Day celebration and Colin’s discovered a new favorite activity – releasing air from a balloon in a way that makes an obnoxiously loud SQUEAK! He’s showing EVERYONE. Beautiful night having fun with our boys. Happy 4th of July, everyone!