Friday, October 1, 2010

Thankful for volunteering Thursdays!

Early last week Devin brought home a schedule for the parents who signed up to volunteer in their Kindergarten classroom.  I was very excited to see this.  Back when Hunter was this age, I was at his school two days a week.  I helped in the lunch room and library, but never in Hunter's classroom.  His teacher at the time, one who has finally retired, didn't want parent help.  She had been teaching that age group for over twenty years.  We actually thought at the time of Hunter's IEP meeting that her experience would be beneficial when actually she was stubbornly stuck in her ways.

Devin's teacher, Mrs. M, is a newlywed who passed out a parent volunteer sign up sheet within seconds of introducing herself.  She not only appreciates an extra set of hands for this age group, but she understands the excitement and love shown by the kids when parents suddenly appear at their classroom door.  Both times now Devin has been surprised when I show up, even though I tell him that I'll see him in his classroom at 2:00!

I left my house yesterday, really looking foward to being smothered by five year old bodies, smiles and questions.  They didn't disappoint!  When I arrived at the classroom with my crooked yellow Visitor's badge clipped to my shirt, the children were in two lines, one for boys and one for girls, playing a numbers game.  Devin saw me and his face lit up and he said, Mom, you're here!  I held out my hand to stop his sprint toward me and he sat back down in his line.

I sat down in one of the few adult chairs in the room and watched as a boy with a miniature green fly swatter and a girl with a red one of her own looked at their teacher and waited for her to say a number.  When she did, they looked to the dry erase board and, wobbling unsteady while keeping their toes on a masking tape line, they leaned left and right, back and forth, each false smacking at the numbers until one of the finally spotted the number.  Then their teacher would announce a point for whatever team and mark it on a small board in her lap.  The team that scored would throw their arms high, pumping them up and down without a sound in a silent cheer.  It was the cutest thing!  Then the boy and girl who had played that round turned to their classmates, passed the fly swatters to the next in line, then walked to the end of the line and sat down.  Before the game was over, they were asked to find numbers that come after what they heard and then what came before and they also mixed up their lines so it wasn't just boys against girls but red versus green.

All through his game, Devin would turn my way and give me that great big grin of his.  How could anything go wrong with that face in my life?  When he was told to go back to his seat, he took the long way around and with arms outstretched like a plane and taking off just as fast, he ran to me and I gave him the hug he was looking for.  I took my place at the green table and read a short and simple, copy machined book to the four interested faces looking at me.  The book was full of beginner words called Sight Words.  I read the book first, pointing at each word with my finger and they copied.  Then we read it together, still pointing with our fingers.  Simple sentences like, I am a little zebra and I am a little lion, etc.  Then I'd choose one of the kids to read the words while using their fingers, making sure the other kids follow along and then when they all had a chance to read, we got to color the books!  While they colored, I'd ask them to spell a sight word or ask how many letters a sight word had.  While at the same time the other kids were at other tables of different colors, playing games or reading their own sight words with Mrs. M.

Last Thursday when this was done, I helped out Mrs. M by taking the children's work down from the hallways and I cut some paper with the biggest paper cutter I've ever seen.  This week, though, she didn't have anything for me to do, so I was able to see Devin and his classmates sing a song about the five senses and draw two people talking since talking is something we do with our mouths.  It was at this point that the Devin I know started coming out.  He was going crazy with his oversized pencil, making it do all kinds of fight moves on his table instead of working in his five senses book.   Suddenly, his pencil went flying off to the side and softly clacked along the floor.  Instead of standing up to retrieve it, Devin jumped down and slid on his belly a good three feet to snatch it up.  He then stood back up, apologized for dropping his pencil, and got to work on his drawing.  I think Kindergarten teachers see just about everything, but they choose which behaviors to curb and what Devin did wasn't all that loud or obnoxious, it actually looked natural and how he just popped back up and apologized for loosing his pencil was just priceless!

In the picture above he is sitting with his classmates wihle five of his friends were given awards for having earned all green circles on their behavior charts for the month of September.  You might remember me writing about Devin scoring a yellow (green, yellow, red and bad, bad blue!) on his second day of school.  His friends were called up and got to choose something from a cardboard treasure box.  One boy picked play dough, another a small Cars frisbees, a girl a Cat in the Hat book bag.  Since that second day, Devin has brought home nothing but green which earns him some computer game playing time when he gets home.  In regards to his school work, he's earned many stars and stickers but also more than a couple requests to be a bit neater.  Tim and I are hoping that with more practice, there's hope he'll have better penmanship than either of us!
Devin also gets excited when I come on Thursdays because it means that he's a car rider.  Although he does love to ride the bus, on Thursdays, he doesn't have to wait for the bus call because he can leave right with me at the end of the day.  On this Thursday, he told me hi s eyes couldn't see.  So I offered him some help to make it to the van without that sense.  Once there he used his sense of touch to feel the open van door and climb into his seat and buckle his seat belt.  He contiuned to pretend until he heard the DVD player start, but he quickly clenched his eyes closed again when he caught me looking at him.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer 2010 in Pictures

Instead of taking many days typing up what we did this summer, I thought I'd create a picture slide show, similar to what I did for Hunter's 10th birthday.  There's a small amount of text to explains things a bit.  Much less time consuming for me!  However, the song choice was my second pick.  The video is only as long as the song and I needed more music for the amount of pictures I chose, although I did delete some, unfotunately!  If I had my way, you'd be sitting there for awhile still!  Hope this gives you a sense of the fun and love shared during our summer in Northern Michigan.

Create your own video slideshow at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School!

I have felt bad for my middle child the past week and a half.  He's the only one who hasn't started school!  It might be a bit confusing this year as I have three different calendars with three different handbooks!  What I mean is, I have three boys in three different schools!

Hunter caught the bus at 6:40 AM on August 23rd for his first day of sixth grade.  Middle school!  I have posted pictures of us at Tim's summer softball games before and the school you might have noticed in the distance was the middle school.  I stressed myself something awful all that day.  Even though I took deep breaths and told myself, Hunter can handle it!, I couldn't help thinking of combination lockers, three minute time limit and classes in different rooms.  Even though, as a student with an IEP, Hunter went on two tours of the school at the end of last year and we went and saw the school again when he was given his locker combination and class schedule.  At our end of school year meeting, I suggested possibly having another meeting within the first couple weeks of school because of these concerns, but the school is doing a wonderful job!  The Intervention Specialist, who is the same lady who worked with Hunter in 4th and 5th grade, is right on top of things.  When Hunter arrives every morning, he meets with her and at the end of the day he meets with her again.  One of the goals in his IEP is better organization, so I need to send thanks to the IS for making sure Hunter brings home his school work!  So, Hunter is doing so far, so good.  The first day he said he needed to ask for help with his locker combination, but other than that, no complaints.  In his words, he's "surviving".

Bryce was next to start school.  He doesn't have an IEP like his biggest brother, but he is considered speech delayed as he isn't talking as much as a three year old should (as my two year old nephew Landon proved to me last week while he was here with his mama).  With that in mind, he was placed in a preschool that would best fit him and it just so happens to be in a different district than Hunter.  We had an open house him on the same day Hunter started school.  We were a little late, Devin, Bryce and I, as the only entrance I knew of to the school ended up being on the backside (although they have a sign out front that makes it seems like it's a main entrance) so we had to walk around the school to find where we needed to go.  B's room is actually inside a portable classroom with wooden steps and handicap access. I had never been in one up till then.  There are probably eight or so other kids with one teacher and an assistant.  The classroom is on the smaller size of the rooms inside the school, but what it has the school doesn't is air conditioning!  It's just a window unit, but it was making a difference! 

Bryce didn't have any problems at all joining the kids among the toys and books while the other parents and I listened to what the teacher had to say. I also met the speech therapist who would be working with B.  later we walked hand in hand, we joined the other parents and kids following the teacher down the school hallway to see the gym and then the playground.  The next day was Bryce's first day!  When Hunter first started preschool...oh, let's not talk about that.  Those were some long, stressful times!  Devin didn't go to preschool but he did go to pre-k and most of the time he went without a complaint, but on some days he'd cry and whine.  I drove both Hunter and Devin.  It was about 12:15 when a white van with a school bus yellow School Transportation sign pulled into the driveway and sent Knight into a frenzy. Bryce had already helped me put on his shoes and rode around in his brothers Jeep while we waited.  He climbed out, let me put on his backpack, and then climbed into a car seat inside this strange van without hesitation.  He looked around with a smile and let the lady drive away with him.  It was kind of scary how easily he was taken away, but I know he was going to have a good time.  Through a communication notebook I have read how well he's doing, but I've been taking him to playgroups and such for a year before preschool, so I knew he was going to transition just fine.  Sniff.

You might think that Devin is going to the elementary school Hunter attended, but he's not.  If he were, I would only have two different school calendars, not three.  Devin is going to a school in another county because the kindergarten classroom he would be going to if I hadn't taken advantage of anothers open enrollment is having kindergarten classes only two days one week and three days the next.  For how much school's expect kindergartners to know these days, that amount of time is too small.  Devin was accepted, but he had to wait a week and a half after Hunter started before he could go, too.  Almost every day Devin was asking me why he couldn't be in Kinder Camp again, which was the two weeks, two and a half hours a day he attended earlier this month to help him get ready.  Then when Bryce started to go to school then, too...  Poor Dev!

Last night he went to bed with a smile on his face knowing that in the morning I'd get him up and it would be his first day of school!  Now, if you remember back to when he started pre-k, he was also excited about that.  He behaved about the same way the night before and in the morning, he was asking to go before it was time, but when we got there....  This morning, Devin didn't ask to leave earlier, he didn't really talk about going to school at all.  He ate his breakfast, got dressed, helped me pack his lunch and backpack, brushed his teeth.  He wanted to wear his sandals but agreed to wear shoes and socks when I reminded him he couldn't go out on the playground with sandals because of the wood chips possibly hurting his feet.  Then we got in the van with Bryce and headed to the school.  We saw two school buses and each one he needed to know the number of the bus.  One bus we passed had parked at a stop sign and we could see the driver standing up and facing the kids.  I assumed they were getting hollered at, but as I passed that way headed home, the hood of the bus was up!  The bus was empty though.

Devin let me take more pictures of him at the school and as you can see, he was his goofy self!  This kid is always smiling!  These first three days I can walk him to his classroom, but starting Monday, he has to walk into the school on his own.  His classroom is pretty easy to find as the kindergarten hallway is straight down from the school entrance.  Since we had brought all his supplies to his classroom open house the day before, all he had in his bag was his new Spideman lunch box, which I had taped a note of encouragement to.  Devin said his teacher read it to him.  He hung that up in his cubby and took his seat at his table.  After a few more hugs and kisses I told him I'd see him when the bus brought him to the house we baked a couple dozen cookies for and I walked away.  He called me back and I thought, OK, here it comes, but he was still smiling, he just wanted to know what he was supposed to do!  His teacher told him to go ahead and start coloring the picture she had put on his table and he went to it and Bryce and I left!

Since Devin is going to an different school, the bus can't drop him off at our house, even though there's a house three doors down that the bus stops at!  It was suggested by the school secretary when Dev was accepted at the school to ask that family if it was all right if we waited in their driveway to catch the bus.  After telling Tim this, he said bake them some cookies and go ask.  So we did and they agreed.  I'm only having the bus drop him off there after school though and that's probably a good thing because, even though he was happy to see me and told me a little bit about his day, mostly he complained about the walk to the house and wondering why the bus won't go to the house.  I tried to explain, but I don't expect him to understand.  It was hot today, over 90, and on the way back he asked me, in a tone that made it sound like he was on the edge, Can't you see I'm losing air here?  We made it back to the house without me giving in to a piggy back ride and without him passing out.  He brought home his first piece of kindergarten artwork and a great attitude about going to school!

Once again, going to different schools might cause a problem, but only if Devin finds out!  This weekend is the county fair.  Both districts that Hunter and Bryce are going to school in are in this county, so they don't have school the rest of the week.  Devin however does.  I don't think he'll notice as Hunter is usually gone before Devin wakes up and Bryce doesn't go until after lunch, so it should be OK and Devin might surprise me and not care because he wants to go to school.  It's a tease to me though because I had one day, today, where, for a few short hours anyway, I was ALONE!

Thanks for reading.


A little tutorial if you're new to geocaching.

I was asked some weeks ago to explain in more detail what I do exactly when I go out geocaching.  I didn't take the time, sorry!  Recently I read via FB that my cousin Carl and his family out in scorching AZ have turned on their GPS and now another cousin back home in Michigan is interested trying it out, so I decided to sit down and write something up and posted some pictures since I'm more a visual learner myself.  After all that, I posted the darn thing in the wrong blog! 

I do have a geocaching blog called The Cache Checkers, which is my username at the website, that I posted our hunts at, but I found it was too much work to go between both blogs.  Even though you can find my old stories at this blog, I decided to just post everything here, On Top of Mt. Laundry (and boy has the mountain appeared bigger these days!) instead of over there.  I can't just copy and paste what I wrote because I lose all my pictures, so instead, here is the link to my defunct blog and my sought after entry.

Get out and enjoy! Go Geocaching!! A tutorial.

Hope it helps you to understand this interesting hobby!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

End of May Update and Ready for Summer!

Hello all!

Update started May 31st about 8:00 PM.

I can’t believe another month of 2010 is over! According to the calendar, it’s not officially summer yet. Although there have been a few days it sure has felt like it, others are more seasonable and much more enjoyable. This past Memorial Day weekends started out at a comfortable 81 degrees and ended with a high of 87 and a thunder and lightening storm. In that aftermath, it’s going to be a the perfect high of 82, but too soon it'll be up there again.  Ugh. I won’t be outside of the air conditioning much, I can promise ya! LOL

There have been quite a bit of firsts in my boys’ life this past month. Two of which happened only yesterday. Every year we’re invited to the birthday party for the two boys of family friends. They were both born in the first weeks of April and then last year, a baby girl was born in the first week of May. In celebration of their births and Memorial Day, the family had a big birthday bash at their lake, which included a bounce house and a dip in the lake.

In the years past, probably because of their age, the boys didn’t go swimming in the lake. I wasn’t prepared for Hunter to want to go swimming with them; no swimming shorts bought that fit him yet and not enough life jackets with us for all the kids there. Hunter asked me again if he could join them in the lake, so I said, What the heck. Go swim in your jean shorts. I asked one of the boys to volunteer their life vest for Hunter and we strapped it on. But then, the moment of getting into the lake from the dock was facing him. First he thought he’d go backwards down the ladder. No. Then he thought he’d run in and jump like his friends had done. No go. He sat down and put his feet in the water, thinking he’d just slip in. Uh uh. Finally a boy emerged dripping from the water and offered to jump in with him. Another boy did the same and before Hunter knew it, he was in the lake, coughing up a bit of the water from his lungs. After all that worry, he had this huge smile on his face. Soon he was climbing back up on the dock and launching off the end like the other boys.

In other news , Hunter did well at the science fair. I’ll be honest with you and say I wanted to be a pain in the butt mom after the results came in! There were about 20 other science projects there and the majority of them got a first place ribbon. Hunter wasn’t one of them. It looked to me as if all the projects that had some sort of example along with the poster board presentation earned the higher ribbon. Earlier that day, Hunter told his judge about his project, The Moldy Investigation, but he doesn’t remember if he told them why he didn’t bring in any of his test subjects (I just had a shiver thinking about those tomatoes!) It wouldn’t have been healthy for anyone to open those sandwich sized plastic containers. I can bet that one of those kids would have indeed opened up a container and sent mold spores up into the air. Hunter learned allergies, respiratory problems and in serious cases, death can occur when exposed to mold spores. His poster board presentation wasn’t the neatest. The things he cut out were jagged and uneven, but it was colorful and had his two week journal on it as well as mold facts and pictures he took. This project was all his, from the subject matter (shudder) to the words, look and presentation. I’m so proud of him for what he accomplished.

We haven’t had any incidents where Hunter has hit or pushed his brother for being annoying. In the past he has done exactly that instead of telling Devin to stop or walk away. He hasn’t been walking away because Devin is Hunter’s shadow. Devin is at that age where he wants to be where Hunter is and do whatever he’s doing. Hunter is doing a great job of telling Devin when to stop and when he wants to be alone. But that hasn’t stopped Hunter from telling me how annoying Devin is and most recently he's told me that little brother’s need mute buttons.

A couple weeks ago, Hunter went with some other special education students for a field trip to the middle school. He returned again the following week with his fifth grade class. They were given a tour of the school, saw their classroom, met some teachers and did a mock drill to prepare them for the three minutes they’ll get to go from classroom to locker to classroom again. I haven’t seen that part of the school yet, but I’m told the sixth grade classrooms and lockers are all in one hallway and there won’t be any running from one end of the school to the other like I remember doing! Hunter’s current teacher has told me that all the sixth grade teachers were once elementary teachers, one actually came from Hunter’s original school that closed down. She also told me most of them have a background in special education. It helps to know this, but there’s no denying I’ll be a wreck come that first week of school in the fall!

Devin actually had two firsts to speak of over these past few weeks. Although he didn’t go far from the ladder, Devin also enjoyed a dip in the lake this past weekend. Also without swimming shorts, he eagerly put on his Tweety Bird life jacket and said he wanted to jump right in and swim out to Hunter and his friends. His dad tied a rope to the back of the life jacket and told Dev to go for it. Up until that final step, it looked like he would actually just jump in, but then he realized what he was about to do and stopped short. Tim lowered him in, but once there Devin freaked out, screaming he couldn’t swim. A fact I promise you I am very well aware of! Tim pulled him back out, but Devin really wanted to be in there. We coaxed him onto the ladder and at his own pace, he climbed down and was soon floating and bobbing in the water. He never made it out to his brother, but he was a very happy boy the whole time. I thought it was going to be a battle to get him to come out, but then the thunder rolled and he knew from the reactions of the boys swimming around him that it was time to get out.

The other first he had he’s been trying to do again! After a hard day of being almost five and almost three year olds, Dev and B were in the bath having a grand time when suddenly what should appear but an eruption of bubbles big and small. Devin moved over and said, What was that?! I smiled and said, What did you just do? He said, Um. I farted? I said, Yes, you did and that’s what happens when you fart under water. He thought that was so wonderful and kept trying to fart again until I told him to stop in case he accidentally poo’d in the bath tub!

T-ball has begun! Devin has had a few practices and one game so far. There is another tonight, but I’m hoping to get this posted before we go, but being in the company of a chatterbox and a climber, it’s always up in the air what I can get done! Devin is much more interested in playing this year than he was last. Although there’s no stopping any of the kids from playing in the dirt, Devin does it without standing back up and saying how bored he is and that he wants to go home. When a batter goes into the box, they are given a certain amount of pitches before the T is put on the plate and they hit the ball off that. Both times Devin was up to bat in his first game, he hit the pitches. No need for the T! Keep it up, Dev!

His last day of pre K is this Friday, the day after Hunter’s last day of fifth grade. Hunter and I are going to keep that a secret, though. If Dev realizes that he’s going to school, even for the half day, and finds out Hunter will be home without him…you can imagine the fuss and whining he’ll give me! I don’t have anything scheduled for Dev to do over the summer break. Hunter has his summer camp the end of July, but Dev will get plenty of playground and water park time with little bro Bryce, plus three weeks up north with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and this year we’ve decided to go back to the beach house in Oak Island, N.C. in August, so there will plenty for him to do! I can’t forget that Dev has already been assigned homework and Hunter will be meeting with the math tutor sometime this summer, it just hasn’t yet been worked out yet.  I’m thinking Bryce will be given some fun activities to do over the summer from his speech therapist on Thursday.

Devin’s imagination is going as fast as his mouth. He’s always playing make believe or talking make believe. I posted on FB about the time I was pushing him on the swings and he said to countdown from three and blast off to Mars. Then he surprised me saying he wanted to go to Pluto. When I started counting backwards from three, he told me I had to start higher because, since Pluto was so far away, we needed a bigger count down. I’m thinking of painting his room, which has been the same since he was born, into a rocket and outer space theme and taking the glow in the dark planets hanging from Hunter’s ceiling and putting them in Devin’s with the glow in the dark stars.

This is his pre k picture.  That funny face he's making on the right?  That was the group picture sent home with every kid!  LOL

Devin is loving pre K so I have no fears about him not wanting to go to Kindergarten in the fall. He was hesitant of course, going to pre K at first, but, although shy, he wants to make friends and have fun more than anything. When he first started pre K, I had him signed up to go from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. He was all for it, but then he wasn’t so much because cartoons were turned on for the kids until 8:30 when the rest of the children arrived. Devin wanted to play, he didn’t want to watch TV. He explained it to me this way, with emphasis and a bit of a whine on the last word, I can watch TV at home. So we moved his arrival and departure back a half hour. Some mornings he says he wants to go before he even eats breakfast, but then I remind him that the kids are watching cartoons at pre K right now. He says, Yeah, it’s not 8:30 yet. Five minutes later he’ll ask, Is it 8:30 yet? On the drive there he’ll say, Don’t drop me off until 8:30 because I want to play, not watch TV.

Bryce’s first experience to share wasn’t fun for either of us. It also happened this past weekend. For those of you who have been in Bryce’s company, he’s an eater. If there is food out of his reach, he does his best to get to it. He has a very good relationship with food; he eats all his dinner and finishes off what Devin doesn’t eat and he has a huge sweet tooth. There isn’t much difference between Bryce and Devin in regards to weight and height and they are 22 months apart! When we arrived at the BBQ this weekend, I gave him a couple cookies to settle him down before the food was laid out. Yeah, yeah, I should carry apples, carrots and bananas with me…right. Bryce does love apples and bananas, but he knew he was gonna get some goodies that day and he was soon digging in. By the time we went to bed, he had more than his share of candy, cookies and cake. We were asleep in the camper when I heard Bryce coughing and then gagging and then puking. Poor guy was whimpering and heaving, experiencing his first too many sweets tummy ache. I got him over the tile of the little kitchen before he made a mess of the bed he was sharing with Devin. All Dev did was roll over. Once poor B was done, I got him cleaned up and he layed back down on his pillow with a sigh. I wiped down the floor and climbed back into bed myself. He seemed to be OK the rest of the night and the next morning.

Bryce had his third birthday this month, well, last month. He’s part of the reason my update is a few days late! Every time I sit down, he sits down with me and wants to cuddle not with me really, but with my arm! The little stinker takes the closest arm and hugs it and wraps himself around it. He likes to take my hand and rub the side of his face with it. He also does it when he’s hurt or upset, a new comfort thing for him. We didn’t really have a party for his birthday.  At Hunter suggestion, the five of us went to Chuck E. Cheese and had cake when we got back.  Unlike Devin who checks in with us every few minutes at Chuckie's, Bryce goes to where ever his eye wanders. He hasn’t learned yet that a drink on a table isn’t his just because it looks like his or to not try to take over a game of skeet ball, his favorite, because he wants to play. For those reasons I’m not that far behind him and for those reasons I can still interact with the baby that’s still in him but soon will be only a memory.

I tried to enter a video along the side of the paragraph above, but it doesn't work the same in a blog as it did on my website.  Please follow the link here and turn your head sideways to watch us sing Happy Birthday to Bryce.

I posted a couple weeks back on FB that I got B into a preschool classroom. It didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Back in November I decided to get my son evaluated because of his lack of speech. The program here in Ohio is called Help Me Grow and Bryce immediately began going to a social playgroup that was two and a half hours long and a speech playgroup for one hour. He loved it, never had a problem leaving me behind, so when I was told that the rules in Help Me Grow wouldn’t allow Bryce to continue with the groups after he turned three, even though there was only three weeks left in the school year, I started asking around for a place Bryce could continue interacting with other kids his age. He does have an IEP and I could get a speech therapist (ST) to come out to my house, but I wanted Bryce to be at a center so he could interact with other kids. First I was told, Take him to the park. I do take Bryce to the park a lot, it’s a great way for me to procrastinate, but it’s a guessing game if there will be kids there at the same time. Then I was told there weren’t any other playgroups that they knew of.

Finally the new director for the program invited me to bring B to a preschool in a town about twenty minutes from my house, only five minutes further down the road from the playgroup location. Of course I was all for it and waited impatiently for the ST who was working out of that preschool to call me. She told me what days she was there so we decided Bryce would come Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 12:45 to 3:00. So Dev and I took B to the school and then Dev and I went and found a geocache and then got some groceries before returning to pick up Bryce. As we walked down the hall a woman I didn’t know came to greet me and introduced herself as the woman in charge of the preschool. After that, the first thing Boss Lady said was, You can’t leave Bryce here like that. I was speechless for a second before she went on to explain that Mr. Director was misinformed. Her decision was the final one and she didn’t have room for Bryce, that she was full and even if she wasn’t, Bryce couldn’t be left here without emergency medical forms and other paperwork filled out.

That was understandable, I said, let’s fill out that paperwork now. I don’t know if Boss Lady was having a bad day or what, but I swear the smile she showed me was fake. She said it was too late in the year to be accepting a new child into her program. She said Bryce was welcome to get his twenty minutes of speech two times a week as is stated in his IEP, but it would be against the law to allow him to be in the preschool classroom. She was full at this time, nothing she could do about it, but Bryce was signed up and ready to attend in the fall. If I really wanted him to attend a preschool this year, then two other locations had room for him. Those places were much too far to travel to from my house and by the time I got it setteled with them and another ST, the school year would be over.

For those of you who know me, I am a shy woman who avoids confrontations. Although I’ve gotten much better, I still tend to bite my tongue and step aside sometimes. However, we were talking about my son and I didn’t agree here, so I had to say something.

I said I understood that Mr. Director had the wrong information. He had met Bryce at the playgroup and agreed Bryce would benefit from this setting and the school year was still in session. Mr. Director went above and beyond for my son and I was very appreciative. I asked Boss Lady to talk to him so this wouldn’t happen to another parent who was just looking for a place for her child to get speech without having one of her people drive way out to our house and my not having to go way over somewhere else just to be able to have my kid interact with other kids. I asked her to reconsider this situation.  Bryce would only be there for about five sessions and he is a child with an IEP. The school year is still going on and he needs services. We talked about it some more and came to a decision. Bryce could continue to come on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, but not for the full two and a half hours and I couldn’t leave the property. So Bryce is there for 45 minutes and Dev and I either play on the playground or watch a movie in the van until he‘s done. Hope the Boss Lady is a bit more sunny in the fall.
Although Bryce isn’t talking in sentences, he is using more and more single word and two word phrases. He is also imitating like crazy! The ST is working on pointing and identifying items that Bryce will need or do in a days activity and saying hi and bye to people he interacts with. A few things he’s done at home is wait at the door with the dog, but instead of silently hoping and staring at the door like Knight does, Bryce will stand there and say over and over, Go outside. Go outside. Go outside. Another time he was being very loud while looking directly at me. I thought he was just exercising his vocal chords for the enjoyment of my ears, but then he comes up to me, grabs my finger and puts it up to my lips and makes a slobbery Shh sound. He wanted me to tell him to hush. LOL One other thing is while we were outside blowing bubbles, Dev picked a dandelion and gave it to me and I tucked it behind my ear. Bryce saw this and maybe because there wasn’t a dandelion in his immediate area, he choose a small bubble wand and practically shoved it in my ear canal! I helped him to put it on my ear and he was happy with the result.

A few time lapsed pictures of my boys at the cook out:

Tim has been busy with three times a week softball games. We can only attend the Friday night ones as the others are too far away on school nights. After school is out though, we might attend them all. Devin likes to go and although he gets bored with the game, he’s quick to retrieve any foul balls that fall on our side of the fence. Tim has more responsibility with his job and will be traveling more. He tried to get a manager’s meeting up in Traverse City to show off his home town area, but flying twenty people in from different states ended up being too costly. So he’ll be going somewhere in New York in a couple weeks for a few days.

I was going to tell you all about what I’ve been doing around the outside of my house, but this update is already lengthy and I haven’t even put the pictures in I want to share, so I’ll save that for another post in a few days. Someone also asked me why I don’t use my geocaching blog anymore. I don’t because, by the time I do that hobby as well as my new hobby, entertain and tend to my boys, housework, errands, etc, etc, and more etc., I just don’t have the time to keep up with two blogs. So when I can sit down and write, I’ll do so all here, in one spot. That way those of you who like to read what I write will get it all in one place. I do want to share some of the cool finds I’ve made geocaching. It’s a great outdoor hobby I like to do and Hunter seems interested in going with me again!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Thanks for reading!



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Science Projects, Pre K Tests, Don't Forget the Dogs!

I don’t know what the weather was like in your neck of the woods, but here, it was the perfect day weather wise. With hardly a cloud in the sky, there was just the hint of a breeze and the sun was so warm and comfortable that Bryce and I spent almost the entire day enjoying it. We went to two different outdoor playgrounds today as well as playing in our own back yard. I even filled up the small water table we have for him outside! Tomorrow morning (May 1st) we’re going to spend the morning outdoors because the forecast goes down hill fast after the lunch hour and it‘s being said it may last three days. I’ll definitely be listening to our weather radio tomorrow.

Hunter is doing so much better in school. His latest report card came back with all grades but math above 80%, but even math, at 76, was much better than the 68 recorded for the previous grading period. Math was not my subject, but Tim and I have been helping Hunter and his determination is what brought up his math grade. We are in touch with a tutor recommended by Hunter’s teacher, but as the tutor is a senior this year, he doesn’t have the time right now to start helping Hunter. With us being gone for some of the summer and the tutor taking his own vacation, the two of them won’t be able to get together until August. After talking about possibly finding someone else or just waiting until then and doing what we can with our son over the summer, Tim and I think that Hunter meeting up with the tutor in August and have a good couple weeks with him before Hunter begins 6th grade will be a good thing. So it’s all working out.

For those of you who are my FB friends, you may remember the picture I took of Hunter while at the Arrow of Light ceremony a few weeks ago. Hunter is no longer a Cub Scout. In front of the other pack members, parents and visiting representatives from the local boy scout troop, Hunter and two other boys stood straight at the front of the room as our pack leader read a prepared speech about the different arrows of light. She lit a candle for each color and each time she started, a line of that color was drawn across each of the boys’ cheeks. Right now we’re not sure if Hunter will join the boy scouts. Some of the reasons we’re still considering is the drive to a different town for the meetings. They meet more than once a week and they do many more activities, all year round. Tim has more responsibility with his job and had to miss a few meetings so far this spring. However, I did talk with a mom of a boy who is participating in his first year of boy scouts and she tells me it’s not as much parent participation as it was in cub scouts. She tells me her son is having a blast and I think that’s because he was also enjoying cub scouts. Hunter went because we wanted him to go. Having a blast isn’t how Hunter would describe the experience. Stay tuned.

As you all probably know, Hunter is an avid bookworm, just like his mom. Actually, I think he is even more of a bookworm, but, honestly, if I wasn’t going here, there and everywhere, I’d have my nose in a book more often! Hunter always has a book in his hands and they aren’t just fictional. Most of the time he is reading facts and figures, albeit the information is mostly under a weird and crazy catagory! Some of the things I have learned, thanks to him telling me every time we drive any where, are; jellyfish eat and poo using the same hole. They are teaching elephants to use a toilet in Thailand, if you like doughnuts, thank Hanson Crockett Gregory for putting a hole in them (because he couldn't get the insides to cook without burning the outside). There was a woman who slept for 47 years (in a coma) and a dog who ate 23 golf balls...and lived. Some hero's you may not know about are: Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, is to be thanked for bring to the U.S. from Italy the first macaroni machine. If you like macaroni and cheese, thank President Jefferson! Then you can thank Augustus Jackson for experimenting with ice cream and inventing all kinds of different flavors!

Hunter will be participating in a science fair at his school in May. The final judgment will be on May 10th. I’m not sure how many ideas went in and out of his noggin, but he came out with a decision and a title. Hunter’s 5th grade science project fits him perfectly. Maybe you can guess at what it might be if you think of his personality. He is going to show his classmates and those judges what happens when you don’t take care of the dishes of food that you’re too lazy to bring back to the kitchen! Called, The Moldy Investigation, Hunter has selected some foods and placed them in sandwich sized containers and tucked them into a dark corner of the pantry. Every day after school he checks on them and writes down his observations. He’s even taken a couple pictures. Out of his six subjects, the strawberries and tomatoes are already showing mold and are smelling awful. It’s only been a few days! His other choices of bread, sliced carrots, and an orange are different in texture, but the last subject, half a Twinkie, isn’t different at all! (I’m not surprised.)

Devin is still in the run for the Happiest Boy in the World award. He’s also trying for the World’s Most Annoying Brother, having been nominated and judged only by you know who. Hunter has started to put an electronic toy lock on the knob of his door again, something I thought was long ago lost in that bottomless pit that he calls a bedroom. If he wants something in there, he can usually find it. But he has to want to find it. If it’s me wanting him to find something, he almost always comes back empty handed. Dev doesn’t quiet have the steady, careful hand that’s needed to avoid activating the alarm. I’ve had to tell Devin quite a few times to stay out of Hunter’s room. During the times I don’t catch him, Dev often puts back what he takes out.

He’s been complaining about growing pains recently. Just the other night he was putting on his PJ’s in his bedroom and was saying his legs hurt. He conned me into carrying him to the couch to watch some TV before bed, then two minutes later, he was jumping off the couch, rolling and flipping across the floor. That night, though, I could hear him whimpering in his sleep and as I massaged his calf muscles, I could feel them tighten up. Poor guy. It does seem like he’s been growing over night! He’s now about 47 pounds and I a few days back I wasn’t prepared when he came running and I about broke my back catching him!

His time at pre-K is going great! I don’t think he’s complained about going once in the past two weeks. His whining would start when I announce it’s time to go and Hunter gets to continue to watch TV. We leave less than ten minutes before the bus picks Hunter up, but to hear Devin talk about it, we’re leaving Hunter behind to watch the same cartoon for all the day! Once we get there though, he enters with a smile and he leaves with a smile (after I get a great big hug). The center has a huge playground behind it, divided into fenced off areas for the different aged kids who stay there. Some kids arrive at 6 AM and are picked up at 6 PM. I’m so thankful mine aren’t in that situation!

Devin’s enrollment in Kindergarten at the school that is only a few hundred yards behind his pre-k classroom was up in the air until last week. I choose to go the open enrollment route and requested an application at a school that is about the same distance as the one Hunter is currently going to. The biggest difference between the two is this school has Kindergarten all day, every day, while the school Devin will go to next year for 1st grade, only has two full days one week and three full days the next for Kindergarten. The other difference is school size. If you don’t remember, Hunter’s first school was closed the summer he finished his Kindergarten year. That fall, the K-5 from his closed school and the K-5 from another closed school all went to one school that already had K-5 students. This school was then downsized in class level only. It became K-3 and the older building in front of it, which had been until then the STARS program (special needs kids), was designated 4th and 5th grade. Just typing this out for all of you is making me feel better about sending Dev to a different school!

Anyway, I got a call last week that Devin has been accepted for their Kindergarten program and asked that I bring him in for what they called an interview. Since this was my first typical Kindergarten experience (Hunter had already been in the school system for three years by this time) I agreed and brought Devin into the school office after a day at pre-K. The same woman who gave me the enrollment package those weeks before took Devin to a room without me and there she asked him to write his name, showed him a list of letters and numbers and to tell her which ones he recognized and ended with him drawing the shapes of his choice from a sheet she put in front of him. Although Devin is singing the ABC song and counting the steps he takes, any animals he sees and other things, I haven’t really sat him down with worksheets. I wasn’t prepared for someone to give my son homework before he even started school!

Now to Bryce. He will be three in about two weeks! That‘s my first thought about him right now, the second I have to share would be that he hasn’t broken anything yet! At this age, Hunter was attached to my hip and wouldn’t even attempt climbing any playground equipment. Devin at three would do it, but absolutely not without the help of an adult. Bryce…Now and then he’ll stop what he’s doing and come over to you for a hug or a kiss, but other than that, he goes on any and all equipment. Nothing is too big or too high for him. If he can’t do it himself, he’ll eye it from all angels and then look at me for help. Once conquered, we share a high five and then he’s off to the next adventure. He loves being outside. Having the rear of the house made up of all windows, looking down on the fenced in back yard, is the perfect set up for Bryce and I. I can come in and make a meal or clean up a bit and he is just a look out the window away.

With Bryce turning three, it means he can no longer attend the two times a week playgroup he’s been enjoying. Help Me Grow is very strict about the age cut off. Next week I’ll be meeting with the team that recently gave Bryce his speech and language impairment diagnosis to discuss objectives and goals for his IEP and which preschool he’ll be attending. The only concern Bryce is showing is a delay in expressive communication. He’s not talking in more than just a word or two. Some of you might be wondering if there is a possible autism diagnosis in his future. I say no, as Bryce is only mirroring Hunter with the lack of speech and stimulating behavior. Then again, no child with autism is the same, but each child evaluated to be on the spectrum is put there using pretty much the same check list. Where Hunter had quite a few marks on that piece of paperwork, Bryce only has two; lack of expressive speech and slight stimming behavior. When excited, Bryce shakes his hands a bit. He doesn’t flap, he shakes. It’s like, when you’re pushing your arms to lift that barbell just one more time and your muscles shake and shiver with the exertion? That’s what B’s hands look like. Hunter’s arms flapped like a bird at this age, from his elbows to his fingers and over the years that has tapered off and is mostly gone. You might be thinking it’s still the same thing and you might be right. This is my opinion comparing my two son’s together, but it is also the opinion of the same psychologist who worked with Hunter when we first moved to Ohio and who has played and evaluated Bryce in his playgroup setting. I suppose it’s another thing to stay tuned for.

Tim has been traveling a lot so far this spring. He spent a work week in Colorado Springs, a few days in southern Florida, is right now in northern Michigan and then comes home just to drive over to Sandusky the next day for four more days. This time of year is always busy for him, but he also enjoys talking with the customers and going on a ride along with the sales people. With all this time he’s on the road added to the times the boys and I travel out of the area, I do consider myself lucky that I’ve only had to call out for a rescue twice. Once I ran out of gas after dropping Hunter off at school when we still lived in Michigan and once I blew a tire while traveling back to Ohio from Michigan. Then there was this past Wednesday and the fact that my rescuer was 1,400 miles away!

Bryce and I were on our way home from playgroup with about 45 minutes to go before picking Devin up at pre-K. On a stretch of busy road, a dashboard alarm suddenly went off. My temperature gage was all the way up to the H! I pull over without any real worries about blocking the lane of traffic because cars share this road with Amish buggies, so the shoulders are paved and wide. I didn’t want to push it so I turned off the engine and called my insurance company to see if they had a number for a tow truck. Once that was done, I dialed 411 and got what I thought was the Enterprise car rental a couple towns over that Tim uses. The number I paid to be connected to ended up being their fax machine! Then I called Tim down there in sunny Florida and told him what was going on. He had me send him pictures from under my van’s hood and had me look on the pavement underneath. At that time, I didn’t see any leakage, but when the tow truck took my van, there was radiator fluid coming out. Even being that far away, my hubby came to the rescue by having a friend contact me to see if I needed a ride. By then I had been in touch with Enterprise and had learned that they couldn’t come pick me up for two hours! To make a long story short, we picked Dev up on time, got a rental car without too much hassle and my van was fixed less than 24 hours later. Even though it all worked out, I don’t want to do it ever again!

My addiction to geocaching has gotten better in my words, worse in my hubby’s. But on the other hand, he says he’s addiction to slow pitch softball is a good thing and I’m thinking when he travels an hour to get there and play, gets home past 11:00 on a week day and repeats that twice a week, soon to be three, although the third one will be closer, I’m saying, not so much! I’m thinking I need more time for my hobby. I can do it during the week, but only one or two if they are kid friendly and easy to get to. Tim has been having practice on Saturday’s and games on Sunday’s (and don't forget the weekday games)…when do I get to satisfy my need? If I have your vote, post a note on his FB page. LOL

The other members of our family, rat terrier Kit and black lab Knight, are doing great. Knight is showing some grey on his muzzle and is slowing down after a dozen or so retrieves. Kit is still a bundle of energy. She goes just about everywhere with us, even if she ends up staying in the van. She's my little vacuum cleaner; all I have to do is clean up the bigger things in my van and she hops in and sucks up the rest (cereal, french fries, chicken nuggets, etc.) That's why she's so eager to go with us, there's always something on the van floor! But she also gets to go walking with us in the woods when we go geocaching. Her I can let off the leash, not so much with Knight. He never really listened to me anyway because I'm not the one who takes him hunting. I guess play and food from me aren't high enough on his list next to hunting and Master Tim. Knight is also going deaf, so a leash free walk no longer works for Knight and I. I almost adopted a cat, even though the hubby was texting in the negative from another state. Unfortunatley it wasn't meant to be...right now.

I hope this update finds you all healthy, happy and stress free. Spring is the time for new growth and as we watch the trees bud and the flowers bloom, I'm wondering if any of you need a fresh start? Do something again, maybe start something over? Or maybe just try something new? My crazy, ahem, oldest sister Karyn is going sky diving. Over the past couple of years she has taken a look at herself, made some changes, accepted some things she couldn't change, and is just loving and appreciating life. She is one wonderful lady and I'm glad I can call her family.

Take care everyone and thanks for reading!


I finished this the morning of May 2nd and it still hasn't rained. It certainly does look nasty out there!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 Update :)

Hello again everyone! I thought I'd type up an update before we leave for the Easter weekend.

Hunter -

For those of you who haven't read my updates in some time, my son is 12 years old! I can't believe it, but he did indeed have his twelfth birthday on December first. We didn't do anything huge to celebrate. He chose his dinner and activities and invited a friend over and they stayed up way too late!

Life seems to be going pretty good for him, but he still isn't telling me too much on his own. I've been playing 20 Questions with him for some time, trying to learn what goes on at school and inside that blond head of his. Often our conversations go like this:

Me: So, how much trouble did you get in today? Your teacher and I have been discussing how it might be helpful to hang kids by their toes...or...Did you kiss so and so yet?

Hunter: No. That's not going to happen. Mom!

But then he tells me about some of the things he did and tells his dad again over the dinner table. The teasing gets him to loosen up.

His last report card was better than the previous. He brought his grades up in social studies, science and math, but they are still below 80% (he's not failing). Remembering vocabulary words aren't easy for him and I can't always make the definitions silly or gross, which is something he's always enjoyed. I'll mention that in the next paragraph, but I wanted to tell you that we've begun looking for a math tutor for him. His dad and I aren't much help to him with math. It wasn't my best subject to begin with and now we have the school system changing around the way the kids are learning what we already know. I end up taking time to look through his math book to remember, then I have to learn the steps he's doing to be any help. One night Hunter brought his finished homework to me and I looked at the answer sheet provided by his teacher and discovered that almost half of what he had done was wrong. I called him back and we sat down to see what happened. Hunter has always had trouble doing something differently than the first time he was shown. In this instance, he was dealing with exponents, parenthesis and nesting parenthesis. Working with just exponents, he knew what he had to do first, but when you toss in parenthesis, it changes the order. I'll just say he left the table and shut himself up in his room. I gave him a bit to settle down. He doesn't like people to see him when he's upset. Finally I got him to talk to me about it and he said he doesn't understand why he got them wrong, that he did his best on his homework and how math is so hard.

I felt so bad for him. I knew I was doing my best, too, but I also knew that I could be holding him back because I wasn't confident in what I was doing, either. So Tim and I talked and decided to find him a tutor. There are no learning centers in our area like Sylvan, so we inquired at the school and his teacher provided me with the name and phone number of a high school senior who she believes would be a good fit for Hunter. The cons are that this person is a senior this year and that he'll only do it during the summer. I'll probably ask him to help Hunter over the summer, but after I'll have to look elsewhere. A home schooling mama I know also has a son on the spectrum and she suggested a tutoring company that would probably come to our house and since Hunter has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) the school will either pay for the cost or be able to help me with it. So I'm going to look more into that.

Hunter had his Pinewood Derby last Tuesday. His car, edges rounded and painted to resemble a blimp in a game he and his dad play, did OK. He didn't place in the top three, but he wasn't last. He didn't really put much effort into his car and honestly, he doesn't put much effort into scouts. This is his last year as a cub scout and we're not sure if we'll continue with boy scouts in the fall. The older boy group does much more activities and actually meets twice a week compared to the handful of events and one meeting a week the cub scouts do. Depending on the time of year, Tim sometimes has a hard time taking Hunter to the Tuesday night meetings and now Tim has even more responsibility with his job and doesn't think he can participate with Hunter in boy scouts. If Hunter was more into it than he is, I'd be more upset, but he's not. It doesn't look like scouting will be in my son's future, at least not until Devin can join when he starts first grade. I'm OK with it. No matter how much I want him to enjoy something I'd like him to do, I'm not going to force him. I will keep mentioning all the fun and awesome things he could be doing, but if he says no, what more can a parent do but ask they try? And he did.

Hunter is into anything gross, crazy, silly, weird, disgusting or shocking. He has our DVR recording shows like Dude, What Will Happen, Destroy, Build, Destroy, Monsters Inside Me, The Most Extreme, Fatal Attractions and Untamed and Uncut. The last few I mentioned are based on real life stories! One even had Hunter a bit teary eyed. You can't talk to him when he's like that, but we talked about it after. He couldn't believe that someone could make such a bad choice and have such fatal consequences. Besides agreeing it was terribly sad, I remember telling him that sharing this person's story with us educates us on what not to do and avoiding that kind of situation. One show, though, The Lost Tapes...not so real...or they could be, I suppose, if you believe in Big Foot. But I doubt a huge octopus is living in an Oklahoma lake. He was arguing with his friend Steve that it was true. When I read on Facebook that my cousin's hubby was going to be featured in an episode of MonsterQuest that was about the Dogman near Manistee, Michigan,

I recorded it for him. He enjoyed the mystery of it all...and now wants his own fake guts.

Hunter has a great sense of humor. His teacher has told me many times of his antics and teasing in the classroom. She says he gets along great with all his classmates and that his humor and interests help in that area. In the past he has scored poorly on oral assignments because of his tone of voice, but this past assignment, a poster board book report in which he advertised a book of his choice to his class, the teacher could hear him all the way at the back of the room where she purposefully put herself. I really like Ms. D and would love it if she were able to go with Hunter into middle school in the fall.

Devin -

Ohhhh...the four year old! If you ever need a reason to smile you can just think of my son. I have never seen a little kid happy so darn much! When I come into the living room at seven in the morning, he's there, "invisible" on the couch, laughing the entire time. His imagination takes me to the ocean, where's he's catching some waves on his surfboard (the soft side support from a travel bed), performing rolls, head stands and balancing acts in a recliner big top circus, he's a friendly dolphin in the bath tub.... I could go on and on. He is a very active little boy who shows love for his brothers, his dad and I and his dogs.

Devin is also loving his Pre K program. I'm thinking of paying for another day a week because he asks me every morning if he's going to Pre K and how much he likes to be at Pre K. He goes on Wednesday and Friday's. On Wednesday a woman who plays many different musical instruments comes to the center and now that it's warming up, he can play in the huge fenced in playground in the back. When we ask him the names of his friends he says he doesn't remember, but he is telling us what he does and gives us the whole lunch menu. He says he eats it all, so it appears he's eating better for them than he is for us!

Devin is the most helpful child I have ever met (but I've heard all about my niece K'ryn's recent do gooding!). On the weekends I get let out to do some grocery shopping on my own, Devin is almost always the first one to greet me and he carries the bags to the kitchen without having to be asked. When he's not causing havoc with his brothers, he's helping them by telling me what they need. For example, if Bryce needs a new diaper he tells me and also gets me the supplies I'll need. Devin also acts as the go between for Hunter and I, mostly at Hunter's request!

Devin's favorite form of communication is using Skype on the computer. He talks about calling people all the time on it, but once you get him sitting and facing that person on the screen, my little chatterbox clams up and acts all shy! I don't even listen to the radio while we're driving in my van anymore. Devin talks and asks questions constantly. One day I listened and answered, listened some more and then he said, That's all the questions right now. Of course I have to mention the day he and I were waiting with a couple other parents, watching Bryce from a one way mirror play with a little girl at playgroup. Devin turns to me and asks, Does Brycee's friend have a penis or not? So I explained very briefly that Bryce's friend did not have a penis and thankfully that answer was acceptable.

Devin is very excited about spending the weekend at his Aunt Amanda's house. On the way back to our house just this morning I said to him, We need to start getting our clothes and toys ready because we're leaving for Michigan Friday morning. He asked, What we will be doing there?, to which I replied, We'll be staying at Aunt Amanda's house with Rayne, Randi, Emma, Landon and Aunt Tiffany. Dev threw his arms and legs up in the air as much as he could while being strapped into a car seat and explained, Yeah! I like them!

Bryce -

As I type this, my almost three year old angel is doing what he loves to do best, drawing. My husband mentioned something about painting the walls while the boys and I are gone. I think it might be too early for that, but maybe not as I, in a frustrating day, threw away all the crayons, markers, colored pencils and banished all the pens and pencils to a secret place little hands don't know about. Hunter has his own supply and I warned him that if any of his writing and drawing stuff comes out of his room, they will be thrown away! Bryce has left his artwork on the walls, windows, TV's, counters, table tops, doors, furniture and even bed sheets! Where Devin prefers to continue his pretend play until his coloring or painting resembles chaos in color, Bryce prefers to cover his paper in circles, squares, rain clouds and now letters. Thanks to an episode of Blue's Clue's where Joe (Steve's friend who replaced him) goes on an alphabet hunt, Bryce wrote the word JOE! He also can say J, O and E and he can count to ten!

Two days a week Bryce attends a playgroup at a clinic built for special needs kids. Although Bryce hasn't been evaluated for anything, I do have him working with a speech therapist because he isn't talking as much as I think he should for an almost three year old. For those of you who remember Hunter's earlier years and the concern then, Bryce is his opposite. Where Hunter didn't want to let go of me in a social environment, Bryce can't get away from me quick enough. Where Hunter had tantrums and would hit in frustration because he couldn't communicate his needs, Bryce just tries to do it all himself.

Bryce does have some of the same stimulating behavior that Hunter had at this age. Bryce does flap his hands when he's excited. I don't know if he learned this from Hunter or if it's his way of showing excitement, but he is doing it. I probably will have Bryce evaluated for autism when he gets a bit older. It's in the family and he's not talking. I don't think I'd be doing right by him if I didn't.

Life in NE Ohio is going pretty good. I finished my new flower beds and now just need to go get some flowers to put back in there. This year we may actually pave our driveway so we can put up a basketball hoop. My plants survived the winter, hooray!, and I'm going to get more for the indoors. Our small pond though isn't doing so well. The neighbor's ducks have been living there. It wouldn't be such a big concern if it wasn't pretty much just a big mud puddle. There is no natural flow or spring so the duck poo is making for a pretty ugly scene. Tim called the neighbor and they talked about it, but it's been three days now and the ducks are still at the pond.

My addiction to geocaching is growing! I have found 16 caches since the snow has melted, bringing my count to 114 found. Dev and Bryce are usually with me, Kit almost always. I took out the hide I did back in October and changed out the container. I was inspired by Hunter to create a more surprising find, one I hope to read comments about as other geocachers find it. With this hobby I've met three other ladies who also geocache. I've been out quite a few times with one and plan on finally meeting up with the other two and possibly my first cacher friend as well on April 10th for a geocaching marathon!

Tim has a busy month in April. It looks like we'll be seeing him on some Fridays and just on the weekends. He has to go to Sandusky, Colorado (without me this year. Sigh.), Florida and Michigan. We're looking forward to watching him play in the first slow pitch softball tournament on the 17th and 18th. If any of you would like to come and visit while he's gone, maybe change a few diapers, definitely share in the laughter, then come on out! :)

My email, does not work. My website doesn't exist anymore. Feel free to send me an email at or text me at 440-781-5151. I can also be found on Facebook. Search for Yolanda McPherson Gallagher.

Have a great Easter!