Saturday, September 29, 2018

Rowan's First Field Trip

Rowan started at a preschool that caters to youngsters with autism earlier this month. He's been on the waiting list for this school since he was 18 months old. It's a great program that in addition to regular preschool activities they offer; ABA, feeding therapy, assistance with potty training, pretty much you name it, they've got it. Furthermore, it's consistent, the school goes 9:00-2:00 every weekday. 

Since it is a great (free of charge) program with quite the waiting list they require a few things;
-Parents need to attend classes held once a month.
-Parents volunteer 1-3 hours per week.
-Parents need to come to field trips (held once a month). 
-Children need to have at least 80% attendance.
Well, this week was the first field trip of the year. We went to a duck pond to feed the ducks and play at the park. Sometimes it can be hard to take autistic children out and about. These field trips also allow the parents to get to know each other (it can be very isolating at times). 
It was super cute and all planned out. The teachers brought a lunch sack filled with duck feed for each child.  Rowan had so much fun tossing food to the ducks. Some children couldn't stand the rough texture of the food and just dumped it on the ground. When Rowan ran out of his feed he went to the piles of food, scooped it up and put it into his bag. Then he'd resume feeding the duckies. 
After the food was all gone, the ducks swam away. Most children went off to find the playground. Rowan stayed put. You see, he had found a long, slim stick and began "fishing" in the pond. He'd wade a little into the pond, with his "fish pole" in the water for a minute looking for smaller sticks. Rowan would grab the sticks, come ashore and proudly declare "Mom! I got a fish! Fishing?" I would tell him he could go back to fishing. This little game kept him occupied for 15 or so minutes. 
Finally, we went in search of the playground where he had a ton of fun playing with his friends. He also found acorns and crabapples and gathered them up. Right now he's on my lap saying "Mom. Mom. Rowan swing and, and apple tree! It SO fun!" I think it's safe to say he enjoyed himself. 

I can't wait for the next field trip! It's on Halloween to a pumpkin patch. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Heidi Anne's First of Many Suicide Awareness Walk

I haven't written in a while and it's for a good reason; CHAOS. Our lives have been like walking blindly on a tightrope without a net nor any direction.
Today was the first time we walked in a Suicide Awareness 5k. I predict many more awareness walks are in our future.  Heidi got a tee shirt and everyone got some snacks for the walk. It was very insightful for Heidi Anne. She saw at least 4,000 people hurt by someone's suicide or their attempts. I just want Heidi to know we support her and love her, come what may. 
Back in May, the unthinkable happened. Heidi Anne attempted to take her life. Charlie was able to stop her and rushed her to the ER. Even in the patient rooms, she was begging people to just let her die or to kill her. That warranted a week's stay at the Pediatric Mental Health unit. (Basically, she was committed). 

It was rough having her gone. On top of that, we were only allowed to visit her for just ONE hour at a predetermined time in the evening. Well, I couldn't visit often. Charlie was able to take lunches early and he would visit her. Her Grandparents even came up to see her.  

She's been in day treatment pretty much since her discharge from the hospital. Our day treatment is for youth (aged 5-11) it's basically a hospital. They have it set up like a school.  They have classes in the mornings and throughout the day there are individual and group therapy. I love her therapist (all of them are pretty neat).  While it's done wonders for her, however, funding is a major issue. We may end up pulling Heidi even if she hasn't completed the program. The thought makes me sick. But such is life. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Heidi Anne's First Baseball Game

Last week I took Heidi Anne to her first minor league baseball game. Well, her first baseball game in general. In fact, the kid hasn't even been to a tee-ball practice...(poor deprived child). 

We went with the Girl Scouts, yeah, there was a Girl Scout Baseball night, over 100 girls plus adults for supervision. We even got to bring her Cousin A with us since Cousin A is a Scout, too. We were all supposed to spend the night on the field after the game, but our night didn't turn out that way. Anyways, I'm getting way ahead of myself.

We went down and picked up Cousin A, then we went to the ballpark for the game. We had to arrive by 6:00 (we were there at 5:20) to sign in with the Girl Scouts and get our tickets. For some reason, our seats were all split from each other. I figured we'd be able to trade seats and decided to worry about it later. 

We had 40 minutes to kill in the hot summer sun. I noticed a 7-11 across the street and thought a Slurpee would be a nice treat. We went over and it was crowded with lots of Girl Scouts and people trying to cool off while waiting for the game. I tried to get a Coke Slurpee but it was just flat slush. I ended up with Blue Raspberry (which turned my teeth blue, naturally). Heidi Anne got a Lemonade one that turned out to be extra sour. Cousin A got Captin Crunch Berries, that turned her teeth blue, too. 

We went back to the ball field, sat in the shade near the Girl Scout booth and enjoyed our Slurpees. Around 6:00 the gates opened. We had to meet near the Home Plate entrance by 6:40 to meet with the other Girl Scouts. They were getting to march around the field before the game as part of Girl Scout Night. Heidi Anne was super excited about that. 
Once again, we had 40 minutes to kill. We set off to find our seats. Heidi Anne was supposed to be 5 seats away from me on the same row and Cousin A was one row and 3 seats behind me. That wasn't going to work. However, no one was sitting or gathered around either spot for me to ask for trades. We walked around the gift shop and then set off to find what to eat for dinner. There were things like hamburgers, hot dogs (of course), ice creams, BBQ, pizza. More options then I expected. 

At 6:40 we went to where we were supposed to meet everyone. But no one else was there. It had me worried that I was in the wrong spot. After a few minutes one of the activity planners showed up and I was assured we were right where we needed to be, it was just early. (It was really 6:35). Sure enough other troops, groups, and Girl Scouts began to trickle in. 
Around 6:55 we headed down to the baseball field. One troop of just Brownies decked out in full uniform (they were so cute) were picked to hold the banner. Everyone else got to be in the parade and wave. I felt a little bad for them, there weren't many people in the stadium yet. But I don't think they noticed, the girls waved and shouted and everyone got to be on the big screen. The audience and even some of the baseball players from both teams waved and shouted back. Everyone had fun. It took us about 10 minutes to make our way around the field. 

After all that the girls were hungry so I decided we'd get some dinner then go to our seats and beg for trades. Heidi Anne got a hamburger, Cousin A got a huge hot dog, and I got cheese fries. Everyone satisfied with what we got we headed down to find all 3 seats taken over by some troops of girls and no one would trade or move. I found the very back row of the Girl Scout section and the girls and I sat there for the game. Which worked out so all 3 of us could sit by each other. (There was lots of seating confusion and even a hostile takeover on a row by some older scouts that happened). 

I don't know much about baseball. We just cheered when the home team hit the ball or made good catches. We also would check the big screen and it would tell you how fast a pitch was. One cool thing that happened was a baseball bat broke into 3 pieces when the player hit the ball. Also, our home team made at least 2 home runs. Oh, I almost had a foul ball, my hands were on it, but a teenage girl yanked the ball and got it instead. 

Around 9:00 pm the girls were getting bored and tired. I got them some ice cream in novelty bowls as a pick me up. Nothing like lots of sugar when you're young to keep you up. 
Remember those cute Brownies I told you about, the ones picked for the banner? Well, sadly one of them was hit in the head during another foul ball. She got to keep the ball, and different players would come by and sign her ball. Then the mascot came by to sign her ball as well. 
He was then surrounded by Girl Scouts looking for him to sign their gear. Heidi Anne felt left out but then she remembered her ice cream bowl. She went down and got her bowl signed and was pretty content. 
It was around 10:20 with the game still in play that the girls had enough. They decided they just wanted to sleep, not play on the field until 2:30 am. I tracked down the planner and told her we were heading out but the girls wanted their patch for the activity. She helped us get their patches and we headed out. On the way, we caught a picture with the mascot. Heidi Anne had plans with Grandma the next day and she was invited to spend the night at Cousin A's since they live much closer to Grandma. From what I heard the girls immediately crashed and went to bed.

We'll try this again next year! Next time with more prep, like a nap or something. We're also thinking off doing the Snore N' Roar at the Natural History Museum around April, it's where you get to spend the night at the museum.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Heidi Anne's 10th Birthday Celebrations

Okay, an honest moment here. If it weren't for pictures everything since July 1st would be one big blur.

On July 1st we went to Aunt Em's to celebrate Heidi Anne's 10th birthday! (I feel so old). Anyways, they had a cousin's sleepover and Aunt Em volunteered to host a BBQ at her house for the whole extended family. 

Aunt Em has an awesome playground at her house. The Littles were drawn to it like a moth to the flame. 
Rowan climbed up the ladder with ease. He was like a little mountain goat. Then he'd go down the twisting slide. He was set on repeat mode. 
Anastasia was confused as to why she couldn't get up past the first rung of the ladder. (She's going back into Occupational Therapy in August because she's delayed in these and other areas). She contented herself with standing at the bottom of the slide and making her voice echo or have Rowan crash into her. They would both laugh and repeat the game.
After a wonderful BBQ, that took everyone's dietary preferences in mind. There were nearly 20 people, including kiddos there. To have something that anyone and everyone could enjoy is no easy feat in this extended family.  
Aunt Em presented a beautiful Red Velvet cake, which is Heidi Anne's current favorite cake.  Aunt Em made the cake from scratch - not even from a box - but really 100% homemade cake with homemade cream cheese frosting topped with fresh fruit. It was amazing and so delicious. 
Every 4th of July for the last few years Char has posted this meme on FaceBook. I figure it finally deserved a place on my posts.  
July 4th we went down to Grandma and Grandpa's house to help make Raspberry jam and have a lunch BBQ. I got some cute pictures of the kids on the way down.
Here's Rowan on the drive down. His shirt says Mr. Independant. We didn't dress very festive this year. But my friend, Valerie, did an amazing job of painting fireworks on plain white tee shirts. Oh, she added pony beads on the girls' shirts. I might give that a shot next year OR maybe tie-dye white tee shirts red and blue. (We did that on Heidi Anne's 1st 4th of July.) 
Charlie had work that night we wouldn't be able to make the dinner BBQ. By the time we got there (10:30-ish in the morning), they had pretty much finished making jam. We helped clean up instead. 
We brought Cass the dog along for the journey, too. Everyone brings their fur babies in the family, so it wasn't weird to bring one of our dogs down to Grandma's house. Yeah, Cass is like a small pony and only 6 months old. Here he's just resting his chin on Char's knee.
Since everybody began to trickle in, Grandpa decided we'd have a big BBQ lunch with the whole family around 12:30-ish. He even got me turkey burgers! Anastasia was snacking the whole day until lunch.
Rowan played on the piano a little bit. Yeah, I don't have many pictures of them outside. It was so hot out there that the kids didn't stay out very long to play. We were even planning on eating outside but the heat changed our minds. 

When Uncle M came he showed everyone what he had made for the very first time with his 3-D printer. It was a little Yoda and a big hit with everyone. (He later made 3 beautiful butterflies for Heidi Anne's birthday). 
The kids played outside and in the water a bit. Everyone was everywhere. Some kids were in the playroom, some were outside. I was more occupied with monitoring the kiddos then taking pictures. 

We had to leave pretty much after lunch since Char had to get to work. It's not fun being the first to go at most gatherings but for Char duty calls, and we tend to have quite a drive ahead of us. At least we try. 

On July 6th Heidi Anne got to open her gifts from us because she'd be spending the night on July 7th at Aunt Em's and Dad had work that night as well. 
She got some Girl Scout gear, here's her uniform sash, she wanted it on right away.
Plus a Girl Scout tee shirt (that was on sale at an affordable for even my kind of price.). 
Pearler beads and bases.

It's not much but we're trying to focus more on activities with her versus just presents. Her activities were to go to a fun swimming pool, get her first mani-pedi with Aunt Em and the cousins, and a matinee movie with just Dad (thanks to some gift cards we had).   
July 7th was officially Heidi Anne's 10th Birthday. Grandma, Aunt Em, and her girls came up to go to the aquatic center with us. This was Rowan and Anastasia's first time at a pool EVER. *Little Reminder - These 2 children HATE baths and water.* We planned on being there anywhere from 30 minutes to hours upon hours. 

Everyone meet up at the pool and we thought we got there early, but there was already a line. With more people streaming to be in the queue.
Anastasia did amazing for not liking water. There was a toddler section of the pool where the water went from your toes to 18 inches deep. She loved it and went down water slides until bigger kids showed up.    

Rowan wasn't a fan at all of the water. He went in deeper than Anastasia but he was only in for like 15 minutes. He had enough and began to meltdown. Once on dry land, he just froze - almost like a shock victim. Finally, he decided to give the splash pad a shot. That was just the right amount of misting water for him. 
Anastasia would come out of the pool occasionally, and run through the splash pad with him. Those two really get each other. 
Heidi Anne had a blast playing with her cousins in the pool and eating some pizza for lunch. They floated a lot in the lazy river. After a few hours, the littles had enough. We left but the others stayed a tad longer to enjoy the pool. 

Later that day Heidi Anne got her very first Mani-Pedi with Aunt Em and the girls. On top of that, they had sushi for dinner, which is Heidi Anne's favorite food. She had a great 10th birthday week. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bear River Refuge

On Saturday I was very brave and took all 3 kiddos to the Bear River Bird & Wildlife Refuge all by myself. It was the last task Heidi Anne needed to complete for her Animal Habitats Badge.
Unfortunately, we got there an hour early. I decided we'd drive around Brigham City to kill some time. However, Heidi was worried we'd get back to the refuge late and it would be crowded. She took a lot of reassurance that everything would be fine. It finally got close to opening time and Heidi was thrilled to see we were the first visitors there. 
Heidi checked out a free Junior Ranger backpack (it contained items to gather bugs, binoculars, butterfly nets, and a variety of field guides. She also got a booklet of activities to do. If a child in either Boy or Girl Scouts completes at least 5 activities they qualify for a fun patch. Naturally, Heidi was determined to get that patch. 

At the visitor's center, they have a little porch in the back of the building. It was surrounded by cliff swallows and their little colony of nests. 
The back porch is also the beginning of a 1-mile hike that even I could manage (so anyone can do that "hike") while pushing a double stroller without much difficulty.
On the hike as learned an important lesson, it's best to visit the refuge in spring or fall. We found a blue heron, cliff swallows, a few ducks and LOTS of insects. At least most of the bugs were dragonflies and butterflies. I promised her we'd come back around September.  
The "hike" took us about 90+ minutes. However, we'd stop at each bench along the trail so Heidi could work on a task. We had nothing but time and the Littles were fairly good. Except Anastasia kept trying to throw her shoes in the marsh or toss them in the tall grass and cattails. Hence, she has no shoes in this picture. I love this picture, everyone is mostly looking in the same direction and Heidi is searching the skies with the binoculars. 
After 90 minutes outside in the hot summer heat the Littles became cranky. Fortunately, Heidi Anne completed her last task. She got a certificate and earned the patch. Since it's a bonus fun patch to get, it'll be placed on the back of her uniform. Apparently, some National Forests have a similar program, Heidi just has to find one and help make a plan on how to get there. All the Scout things are Heidi driven, I'm just encouraging her. (Also I'm taking her to these places / activities.) 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Our Busy Week with LOTS of Cute Pictures

I have been doing other things besides Girl Scout related activities this summer as well. (Doesn't seem like it, but it is true). Here's a lot of pictures from the last week. 

One day Rowan had ABA therapy. I needed to take all the kids with me, normally we end up a little late. Somehow on this day, I was way early. So I took pictures of everyone. 
Only this one of Anastasia clapping while I sang "Baby Shark" to the Littles to keep them entertained turned out. Getting a good picture of my kids normally takes at least a dozen shots and maybe one or two will turn out well.  

On Thursday we decided Heidi could go camping with Grandma, Grandpa, and some of the Aunts, Uncles and ALL the cousins on Friday night. It was her first time camping in nearly 5 years and the very first time for 1/2 the cousins as well. 
Heidi had a good time. That afternoon she went Kayaking with Grandpa, who said she was a pretty good paddler. Heidi even got brave enough and decided to take a paddleboard out on the lake by herself. She even stood up on the board and paddled. Now, this is a child who can't properly swim. But getting up on a paddleboard-apparently is no biggie to her. Aunt E sent us the photo of Heidi.  
Rowan noticed that the night before Heidi went somewhere with her sleeping bag. He kept asking for a sleeping bag. I got out our other sleeping bag for him. He was all smiles and giggles once he got in it. Then asked for a pillow. Shortly after this picture, he moved onto the sofa with the sleeping bag in tow. Who knew that hardwood floors aren't that comfy to lay on? 
On Sunday I went down for a Father's Day family get together at Grandma's house. (Char had work). I packed the Littles' swimsuits just in case there was water in the wading pool at Grandma's backyard. There was water so I put the kids in their swimming suits. I LOVE Anastasia's face as she runs away in this picture as Rowan is about to slash the water really hard and far. Anastasia is slowly growing accustomed to water but isn't a big fan of it yet. 
Rowan took a break from the water briefly to go down the slide. Anastasia dutifully followed him. However, this slide is a little higher than our slide at home. She struggled a tad bit but got up in the end. 
Later they decided to play on the trampoline together. They can be anywhere from thick as thieves to "don't even look in my direction." Mostly, they get along wonderfully and are as close to twins as I'm ever going to get.
Later everyone came over for the Father's Day BBQ. I somehow convinced Rowan to get back into day clothes. Anastasia decided to stay in a swimsuit. Since she would randomly go over to the wading pool and slash around, getting soaked I chose not to fight her on it. Cousin A sat got on the swing with them, swinging for over 15 minutes straight. The whole time Anastasia said "Weee!!" or "Ride!!" or "FUN!" Rowan would giggle and copy what Anastasia was saying. (I would include the cousins in the picture on this post but I don't have parental approval, I always forget to ask.)   
On Monday, I was attempting to do laundry. Rowan and Stacy commandeered one of my baskets to sit in and watch their kindle (which is named Turtle for some reason that only they know). Why they didn't choose the bigger blue one with more room, I'm not sure. However, I put it to good use. 
Tuesday evening there was a Swimming Party for all the Girl Scouts in our community. I renewed Heidi for next year while at the party. She is just loving Girl Scouts and it's exposing her (and me) to so many different subjects, activities, and potential hobbies. I wish I had enrolled her when she was younger. I'm so putting Anastasia in Daisy's when she's 5.  
On Wednesday we had a doctor appointment. The Littles had a blast in the waiting room since it had new toys to play with. They would go to each other showing their new discoveries. 
Rowan fell in love with this big helicopter. He looked up and said "Cheese!" which now means "Take a picture, please." Then went back to happily playing with the helicopter. 
Today Rowan and Anastasia would come up to me, say "Cheese!" then rush over to try to look at my phone for the pictures. I got a really cute one out of Rowan.