Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Twas Five Days Before Christmas

I went to Brenden with the first line and a half and told him I needed help writing a poem and he took it from there.

'Twas Five Days Before Christmas
by Brenden Boehme - age 8

‘Twas five days before Christmas and all through the house,
The decorations not up and Mom scurried like a mouse.
We went to the Internet to find stockings there,
In hopes that St. Nicholas won’t have to use our underwear.

The children raced around, their faces red,
With the words “HURRY!” and “QUICKLY” stuck in their head.
Mamma insane and I in my thinking cap,
Trying to figure how to decorate in a snap.

Out in the garage there was such a clutter,
I went to find something and started to mutter.
Away to the store we went for some shopping.
The kids slowed me down, but there was no stopping.

There were hundreds, and hundreds of so many rows!
Of toys, trains, candies, and bows!
When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But the perfect star and our friend, Mr. Deveer!

Just as we finished, my brother got very sick,
And threw up all over the store’s St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, home we came,
But then there it was just more of the same.

We continued to clean and decorate in a hurry,
Then, we decided that it was worth all the scurry.
We made cookies to eat and left Santa some,
We’re all ready now, for the big man to come.

As I fell in bed the world was all right,
Merry Christmas to you and have a good night!

Background: We are in search of the perfect star for our 11 foot tree, we really haven't decorated, our garage is full of boxes containing the Christmas decorations, and Brenden helped me search for stockings online last night.  As for the end, we have not made any cookies and are in no way ready for the big man to come - here's to hoping that our day will end just like Brenden's poem.

**If you would like to comment on Brenden's poem, please follow the link to his blog on the right hand side.  It is called The Good Life.  You can comment there and it will go directly to him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The marriage of eggnog and pumpkin

Although I do not like eggnog, while trying it for the something-like-the-11th year in a row, I decided it might be okay if mixed with pumpkin.  That became this year's Thanksgiving challenge - create the perfect dessert to combine eggnog and pumpkin.  Tomorrow, or rather later today, we will be eating pumpkin eggnog swirl cheesecake.  That will be plenty of dessert for our family for Thanksgiving, but the next in line is a pumpkin/eggnog layered pie, perhaps followed by a layered pumpkin/eggnog pudding pie.  We're gonna be HUGE by the time this holiday season is over!  Hey, I used light eggnog and 1/3 less fat cream cheese - we're still being health conscious.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Royalties

Doug and I told Brenden that after he sells his first book, through a publisher, he can buy himself a DSi, otherwise, he was NEVER getting one because we're not buying it.  He has been marching around saying, "I can't wait until I get my royalties, I can't wait until I get my royalties..."  It has at least motivated him to finish typing and editing the book he wrote last year.
And while we're on the subject of Brenden, I just have to tell you how amazing my kid is.  He is currently reading at an 8th grade reading level, at the beginning of 3rd grade.  He was tested for the Quest (gifted and talented) program at school at the end of 2nd grade and we just met to discuss the results.  In order to be admitted to Quest, you have to earn 3 out of 6 points on various testing.  Rarely do children earn all 6 points, but Brenden did.  Some of the tests earn 1 point and others 2.

The first qualifying factor is general testing in the areas of math, reading, and other academic subjects.  Usually kids qualify in 2/3 areas, but Brenden had high enough scores in all 3, being in the 99.9th percentile in written language.  He loves to read and it shows in his writing.

Second is a drawing "exam."  They have several different boxes with different shapes of lines drawn and he had to the turn the lines into pictures and create an appropriate label for his picture.  The kid amazes me with the things he comes up with, I always wonder where it comes from.  It is scored on several different levels, but he did very well.

Another area is IQ.  Brenden is in the 99th percentile in his age group for general full scale IQ.  The score that truly amazed me was his 99.7th percentile in verbal comprehension.  VERBAL.  He is, on all measurable levels, deaf, but his score testifies to me the correct decision we made to give him cochlear implants.  Cochlear implants are amazing things and I couldn't be happier with the results he has had with them.

The last point is given because he has a "disability," so to be fair, not all children can get 6 points on the test.  The point is given in fairness to children with something that might have kept them from scoring 3 points in the other areas, so as not to dicriminate children with other things holding them back, like being deaf.  He didn't need the point, but it gave him a perfect 6.

Maybe there was another test in there too, but if there was, I can't remember it.  This meeting was immediately following 3 parent/teacher conferences, so tests and results were running together at that point - and Cameron was about 4 hours late for a nap and showing it.  Brenden's love of reading has really made him who he is.  He wants to be a writer and 99.9th percentile in written language will hopefully get him there.  He might have to be a NASA scientist on the side though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Glue

Our family seems to be having a rough time lately.  Doug's work schedule is terrible and the kids and I are having a hard time with it.  The saddest thing I've heard lately though was Sunday afternoon.  As Brenden was bawling, he said, "I feel like the glue that holds our family together is melting."

Cameron, after one year and one week, has learned to crawl.  Whew!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Brenden's Blog

Brenden is starting a blog today.  Beware.  I don't know what will appear.

Brenden's Blog

I asked him what he wanted to call it.  He said "Pokemon!"  I said NO.  Then he came up with The Good Life - specifying THE Good Life, not A Good Life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Butt Dial

Doug butt dialed me this morning while taking the boys to school.  I didn't answer and it went to my voicemail.  I listened to the whole message.  This was my favorite part.

Doug: Ethan, please hold his backpack while he gets buckled.  Brenden, please help him buckle.
Brenden:  GET BUCKLED!!!!!!
Doug: I asked you to help him, not yell at him.
Brenden: I'm helping him by yelling at him!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ethan’s First Day

Cameron has become a lizard.  He loves his tongue.IMG_9476

I guess maybe he learns it from his brothers.IMG_9439IMG_9425IMG_9391IMG_9343IMG_9372IMG_9339IMG_9322IMG_9308IMG_9284IMG_9282IMG_9277IMG_9251IMG_9258

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School Time?

Ethan has been DYING to go to school.  He has Nolan's classroom and teacher from last year.  When we dropped Nolan off last year, Ethan ran ahead every day to announce Nolan's presence to the class.  Ethan is thrilled to be going to Ms. Pala's class.  Tonight, I was hurrying him along with his shower, dinner, and bedtime routine to make sure he got enough sleep before morning pre-k.  After getting up for the gazillionth time to go to the bathroom, he was tossing and turning in his bed, so I went to tuck him in one more time.  He couldn't hear me coming and didn't see me coming, so I kind of surprise him and he jumped a little and said, "What!?  Time for school?"  I wonder if he'll sleep at all tonight.  I'm sure he'll pop right out of bed in the morning.  He can't ride the bus for two weeks, which will probably kill both of us.

Nolan had a huge grin plastered on his face when he got on the bus this morning.  He's never ridden the bus TO school, so he was pretty pleased.  I had to pick him up from school yesterday after I told him he was riding the bus home, and I thought he was going to cry.  He is enjoying kindergarten so far.  He recited all the bathroom rules to me last night, one of which is "No touching poop."  They have a kid in kindergarten that is allergic to peanuts, so Nolan can't take pb&j for lunch.  That limits our lunch selection.  I guess Nolan will have to have it on the weekends, because he's a big fan.

Right now Nolan is out fishing with Doug.  Only the second day of school and already we are late for bedtime.  Nolan is a great fisherman and will tell anyone that shows any interest, all about the huge salmon he caught last week (and will include over and over again that grandpa's salmon was tiny).  I love how when he tells the story, he says, "It was big and I'm just little and I caught it.  The string (fishing line) kept coming out and out and out."  Nolan is patient and even enjoys the days that they don't catch anything.

Brenden jumps right into school like it's nothing new.  I had to pick the kids up from school yesterday because we got a call that the optometrist had a cancellation and could see Brenden.  He sees about 20/40 with his eyes individually and 20/30 when he uses them both.  It's not bad enough for glasses yet, but I think we know what's coming.  He was horrified that the doctor might say he needed glasses.  He really doesn't want them.

Brenden asked me at the beginning of the summer if he could have a credit card.  I told him no and that he could get one when he got a job.  So, Brenden started his own business selling sticks.  He whittled them and sold them as weapons - some as much as $23!  He was disappointed I wouldn't spend over $2 in his shop.  One day he asked me again if he could get a credit card.  I told him no.  He responded, "But I got a JOB!" with a whiney inflection in his voice. 

Brenden kind of loves money.  Who doesn't?  Evidently his teacher "pays" them for doing homework and being good class members.  They can buy school supplies, like mechanical pencils (which they're not supposed to have accoring to the school supply list, so it's something special) and erasers.  They can rent a workout ball to replace their chair for the day.  They can also rent the teacher's chair.  He is pretty excited and I'm hoping it will teach him a little bit about finances for the day he gets himself a credit card.

Cameron had an appointment on Saturday with the helmet doctor.  He was impressed with Cameron's progress and says Cameron will probably be done with his helmet on September 16.  That was fast!  I am beyond thrilled, but in my opinion, things probably would have worked themselves out without the helmet.  Once he was sitting up and off of his flat spot, his head started shaping up.

Tomorrow we will likely have super cute pictures of super cute Ethan to post!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to school 2011

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Ethan’s first day is Thursday, so his will come then!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What did you do this weekend?

15 weeks ago I set out to complete a triathlon.  Yesterday I did just that. 

I think it may have been March that Doug told me about our local Kenai triathlon.  I was so excited until I found out it was on a Sunday.  I got on the internet and started searching for Saturday triathlons and the Why Not Tri in Wasilla is what I found.  It's over 4 hours away, but still "local" considering our location.  I even looked at flying to Utah so Brenden and I could do a triathlon together.  The Kenai triathlon had a kids' race and I wanted so badly for him to do it.

And so, for the last 15 weeks, I swam, biked, or ran 6 days a week.  I had forgotten how much I loved to swim, developed a new obsession for biking, and a tolerance for running.  I still can't say I love it, but it is what it is.  As I said before, it is a good thing it is light in the summer in Alaska until all hours of the night, because there were many nights that I was out riding my bike at midnight or at the track at 11:30 - because I might be able to out-bike a moose (I doubt it), but I certainly can't out-run one.  Doug gets home around 10:00, so that's about the time my training started.  Next time around, I might opt for getting up early, but I can't guarantee it.

Friday we drove the 4.5 hours to Wasilla, with a stop at REI, the store that my children groan when we pull up to.  (Brenden once told me that I wasn't ever allowed back there because I wasted 3 hours and $400, so now we couldn't buy him any more Pokemon cards.)  We drove the bike and run routes and found the incredibly nice triathlon coordinator to ask all of my questions.  I have heard it said before that triathletes are some of the nicest people on the planet and I truly believe it now.  That night, the coordinator, who had to have been stressed out of her mind, put me at ease and two volunteers, who happen to also be triathletes, looked through my lists and mentally walked me through my transitions.

We found some dinner, headed to the hotel, and then I decided I NEEDED a lap-counting watch, so I went to Fred Meyer at 10:30, when I should have already been asleep.  I found a watch, went back to the hotel, freaked out for a while, and then tried to sleep.  And tried.  And tried.  And tried...  And Doug snored.  And snored.  And snored.  Finally, around 7:00, I got up, showered, had breakfast... and freaked out some more.  Doug dropped me off at 8:30.

I set up my gear like REI.com told me (with some help from lots of youtube videos too and the friendly volunteers).  And then I stood there and stared at it while I freaked out quietly inside.  Eventually I asked the girl next to me if she had done a triathlon before and successfully made a friend to spend my day with.  The race meeting was at 9:30, with a start at 10:00.  When you end up with number 330 though, you get to stand around a lot.  Stupid me, I actually STOOD around instead of sitting and resting.

My new friend and I went in search of food around 11:00.  I would come to find out later that this was a bad idea.

I had to be on the swim deck at 1:00.  I waited in line (again, freaking out quietly inside) until there was an open lane and then did my thing, totally forgetting to start my lap counting watch that I HAD to have.  Somehow, in my opinion, I ended up with the worst lane.  It was connected to the diving area and the kiddie pool.  My depth perception was off and I completely missed the wall once on my flip turn.  I was getting waves from both directions and I just felt sloppy.  My swim time was significantly slower than any time in the last 2 months and I was disappointed.  (Actually, I hopped out of the pool, my timer told me my time and instead of nicely thanking her, I said, "Oh, that sucks.")
The swim to bike transition is included in the swim time, which is why I wanted the special watch - so I could keep them separate.  I ran to my bike, got dressed and rode off.  I couldn't get clipped in, I couldn't get my breath, and I couldn't make my legs move as fast as I wanted them to.  Within the first half mile, I was re-tasting my sandwich.  I got into the groove a little over a mile into it and felt pretty good for the most part.  I would like to try a longer bike race someday, 9 miles is about the point where I feel like I am really getting into it.  And then it was over.
I rode back to my transition area, changed to my running shoes, and I was off again.  I really wanted to run the whole thing.  And then I saw people walking and I thought, "That looks really nice, and this is a really big hill."  So, I caved to peer pressure and walked briefly.  I'm not kidding - it was a pretty big hill and the turn around was at the top.  I ran all the way back though.
Along the bike and run, I kept seeing my white suburban drive past, with little people yelling, "Go mom!"  During my first transition, my whole family was standing nearby yelling, "Great job mom, get going!"  Doug pulled off every now and then and hauled everyone out of the car to stand on the side of the road and cheer me on.  During the run, the boys hopped out, gave me high fives, hopped back in the car, drove ahead, hopped back out and gave me more high fives.  I had several people comment on my cheering section.  I couldn't have done it without them.  I know it was a long day for Doug, but it really made my day feel more special to know he was there with the boys rooting for me.  I dressed everyone in orange so I could pick them out easily.  I bought myself a pretty orange bike jersey and decided to call us team orange.  They were such an important part of my team and I love them for all they did for me.
I finished and my kids swarmed me.  They wanted to see my medal and they told me over and over how proud of me they were.
I looked over the results right before I left.  With only maybe 5 people left out on the course, I was 1st in the swim (including the transition), 8th in the bike, and 20th in the run putting me 8th in my age group.  I kicked myself for walking, but I was pretty happy with the whole thing.

We arrived home very tired around midnight.  I walked in the house and the smell of natural gas hit me.  We have smelled it off and on for a while, but as soon as we thought it was bad enough to call someone, the smell would go away.  It was bad enough this time.  We called the gas company and they sent someone out who told us that basically every connection, valve, knob, whatever on the boiler and water heater leak - and probably have for a while.  Even the meter outside was leaking.  He took everything apart and we are without heat (glad it's summer) and hot water until we find a plumber and new appliances.  The joys of home ownership. 

I did sharing time today.  I am tired and now it's early Monday morning and I am not asleep.  Goodnight!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Helmet Head

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Cameron got his helmet last Wednesday.  He doesn’t seem to mind it, but has to wear it 23 hours a day.  I have a friend with a vinyl business, so we’re going to have to talk d├ęcor – it’s pretty plain and boring.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My little bank robber

About 2 months ago, I took Cameron in to get a physical therapy assessment and they decided that yes, he needed PT.  During the assessment, the physical therapist shared her concern about Cameron’s head shape.  Doug had been concerned about it before as well.  He has a flat spot on his back right section which is in turn pushing out the right front and back left section of his head also making the front left slightly flat.  This is also causing his ears to move with it and they are extremely uneven.  They referred us to a “helmet doctor” as I like to call him. 

Cameron’s head shape is either cause by a condition called torticollis or his torticollis was cause by his consistently turning his head to the right.  Either way, the muscle issue has been worked out.  He has balance issues and is still learning to support himself appropriately while sitting and reaching.  Those are the main reasons for PT.  He is developmentally behind in mobility, but so were the others, so I know it will come eventually.

The helmet doctor’s office called to set up the appointment for two weeks later.  The doctor is from Anchorage, but comes down to the peninsula every other week.  On the morning of the appointment, a Friday at the end of a long week of driving 45 minutes to Soldotna once, if not twice a day with 4 kids, I got all of the kids out of bed, dressed, fed, and out the door to Soldotna once again.  We arrived about 2 minutes late for the appointment.  When I walked in, there was the receptionist at the desk and a bald man sitting at the desk behind her.  I asked if I was in the right place for the helmet doctor and she told me I was.  We then talked for 10-15 minutes about the boys’ hair (they currently have mohawks), their outfits, life with 4 boys, blah blah blah until we ran out of things to say and were staring at each other.  Finally, I asked, “Is there some paperwork I need to fill out?”

She turned to the bald man and said, “I don’t know, Steve, is there some paperwork she needs to fill out?”  He replied, “For what?”  His office had failed to “save” the appointment in the computer after scheduling it.  He asked me if I had the referral and when I had called to make the appointment.  A) I NEVER had the referral, the PT faxed it to them and B) HIS office called ME to set up the appointment.  Anyway, he didn’t have the equipment he needed to scan Cameron’s head because he didn’t know Cameron was coming.  He saw us briefly (you know, cause then he can still bill me for my wasted 45 minute drive) and made another appointment for 2 weeks later when he would bring his scanner.

That appointment was Friday.  Guess what.  No scanner.  Apparently, it quit working sometime last week.  So, he said we would have to do this the old fashion way.  Apply a cast and cut it off.  He warned me, “Cameron won’t like it… and he’ll cry.”  He did WAY more than cry.  Cameron hates pretty much anything on his head.
Cameron fascinated by the doctor’s stuff
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Layer 1: I don’t like you.
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Layer 2: I hate you.
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Marking the bank robber mask: Yep, still hate you.
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Applying the cast: I couldn’t hate you more.
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Cameron hates hats
Cast being cut off: I lied, now I hate you WAY more!
Removing Cameron’s cast
He came out of the whole thing very, very sweaty.  We will have the helmet fitted while we are in Anchorage in a week and a half for our 8 audiology appointments.  Also last week – Wednesday – Cameron failed his vision screening and is being referred to Anchorage for an optometrist.  I haven’t been contacted yet to set that up.

I went to the doctor for myself last week and my experience was just as bad.  I left there crying and in awe at the doctor and her attitude.  I will be filing a complaint with her office and the hospital they are associated with – and that’s really not like me.  I can’t even explain how she made me feel, but it was a very low, low feeling and I will never see her again.

I am to the point where I expect everything to go wrong and Friday, after Cameron’s casting experience, I called my mom laughing.  It can only happen so many times and make you cry before it gets really, really funny.  It seems we’re always forgotten or canceled or something fails.

Brenden went to drama camp for the last two weeks.  I wish I could post the video of his play, but it is too long.  It was hilarious and Brenden was amazing.  He played the part of the hero very well.

Brenden and Nolan are in soccer again this year and doing a great job.  They are having a great time.  Ethan is totally bummed ALL the time that he just missed the birthday cut off to play this year.  If he had been born 2 weeks earlier, he would have been on Nolan’s team.  He wore cleats 2.5 sizes too small to all of the boys’ soccer practices because he wanted to play so badly.

Nolan is still in gymnastics for the summer.  It seems he never quite got all of his skill back after the last leg break, but he is having a good time and getting better.  It is just taking longer this time.

Ethan’s highlight of the week is speech.  He loves his therapist and from what other people tell me, he has her wrapped around his little finger.  He is quite the charming, silly little man – when he is not being totally defiant.

Brenden and Nolan are obsessed with Pokemon lately.  They are training Ethan to feel the same way.  I really, really strongly dislike Pokemon and I have since about 1997 when I babysat a little Pokemon obsessed boy every day for an entire summer.

Cameron has physical therapy once a week and is being evaluated monthly for occupational therapy.  He is supposed to stay out of his car seat as much as possible (because of the head shape thing), but it just isn’t happening.  He likes to flip his hearing aids off his head and loves to eat them.  He can’t wear them unless he has my 100% full attention and, let’s be honest here, how often is that?  Not very. 

Cameron has the silliest personality.  Doug sees it more often than I do, but Cameron like to tease Doug.  Cameron loves to give his daddy kisses, but he only says mama.  Cameron lights up every time he sees Nolan.  He isn’t a busy boy.  He is laid back and happy.  He likes to show off his 4 teeth and is especially proud of his new top two.

In general, it is a busy, but good summer.  My mom comes tomorrow and Ethan asks daily (many, many times) how many days until “gwamma” and “Howie” (Halle, my niece) come.  Ethan says, “I wuv gwamma and gwamma wuvs me” in a very matter of fact way.  I have more to share, but for now, I must get ready for gwamma!