Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy 7th Birthday

Our baby is growing up! Blue is 7 today!!!

In honor of his growing up, we are changing his name on the blog to Big C, which is his nickname from one of his favorite guys at church.

This little guy...he is amazing! He shares so, so much love without ever saying a word. (Although he is more and more spontaneously communicating verbally in his own way!)

There are many things - like putting on a coat, opening his lunchbox, getting in the car - that are still very hard for him. But it is the easiest thing in the world for him to give away smiles and laughter. He is gifted.

Big C, we thank God every day for you! WE LOVE YOU!!!

And as is tradition, below is his year-in-review birthday video. (Link is here)

Happy 7th Birthday from Amber on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

First Day 2016

Here are the obligatory first-day-of school pictures - 6th grade, 4th grade, and 1st grade-ish.
Can't believe we are old enough to have a middle schooler! So far so good with rotating to different classes each hour. J is not a big fan of getting on the bus an hour earlier than he did for elementary school, but it's nice coming home an hour earlier!
I think Tweety misses riding the bus with her big brother, but she's surviving just fine!
And Blue!
He was supposed to go to a special education school this fall, but we had a change of plans just a week or two before school started. He has been attending an all-day therapy center in August, and we could see huge progress in just a few weeks, especially in toilet-training and communication.

So...we decided not to send him to the special ed school so that he would have time to still go to the therapy center six hours a day. I never like making these decisions, but so far everything is working out great.
Not a big fan of having his picture taken!
He finally smiled when I started singing! Love him!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Paddle Boarding

Sometimes we have to tell the kids, "No, we can't do that." And while we might not say it to them, the reason behind the "no" is that Blue wouldn't like it, or it would be too long of a day for Blue or it would be too stressful for Blue or something along those lines.

So it was pretty awesome this week to get to take the kids paddle boarding BECAUSE of Blue.

A really amazing organization, Above the Wake, offered to provide an evening of paddle boarding for kiddos with autism and their families.

Take a look at their mission statement:
Above The Wake was started with the intent to give positive experiences on the water to children affected by autism, to aid in recovery as well to put smiles on faces.  We know that all children have potential and are not defined by a diagnosis.
Love it! And our family loved the event!

Well, I'm not sure Blue loved it, but overall he liked it. He was not too fond of the life jacket, but once he got over that, he liked watching his siblings in the water.
Blue really did not want to get on a paddle board, but finally Matt just picked him up, put him on the board, and took off!
 He was able to relax and enjoy the ride for a while with daddy.
 He wasn't so sure about riding with big brother!
 All in all though, it was a success. Blue got over his dislike of the life jacket, he rode a paddle board, and he had moments of fun!
 Plus it was pretty awesome to hang out with a bunch of other families on a similar journey.
 So thankful for organizations like Above the Wake!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Girl at the Park

It's a warm, peaceful afternoon at the park. Idyllic, at least until I hear the screams.

Before the screams, we meander our way through the swings and slides and spend most of our time walking the trail around the lake. That's where Blue wants to go, the ducks and swarming minnows captivating him.

I start to hear a smattering of comments about tired feet and feeling hot, and I know the park excursion is about to come to an end.

Then come the screams. Tweety is a few feet ahead of me, screaming and jumping. A yellow jacket has stung its way up her arm, leaving a row of welts.

I'm not a prepared-enough-mom to travel with baking soda in the car, so my go-to, homemade treatment for stings is 10 minutes away.

We hurriedly start towards the parking lot and home, Tweety still crying while we try to console her.

That's when I see her, another little girl, about Blue's age. She walks towards us and asks, "Did she get stung? I got stung, too." She points to a welt on her leg that mirrors Tweety's. Then she says, "Hi, Blue."

We chat a little more, but Tweety is still sobbing, so we say goodbye and continue on towards the car. "Bye, Blue," says the little girl.

"How does that girl know Blue?" asks J when we are driving home. I'm stumped.

In my rush to get Tweety home, it hadn't registered with me that the little girl knew Blue. That she knew his name. That she said hi specifically to him. And goodbye.

"I don't know," I say. "She must have gone to school with him."

J and I grin at each other. Blue saw a friend at the park! A friend who didn't have a teacher or a parent hovering behind her, prompting her to say hi to the special needs kid from school.

She just said "Hi" friend-to-friend. She wasn't nervous or scared or shy of his differences. I guess I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty confident that this is thanks to the effective peer-to-peer program at Blue's school last year.

My awesome, social, mostly-nonverbal little guy saw a friend at the park! And she treated him just like any other kid. Pretty cool!
Tweety is always doing hand stands - and Blue is her biggest fan!
"Helping" Aunt Jenna wash her car
The three cuties doing dishes!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spring Soccer

I just realized that I never posted this season's soccer pictures, so to keep this blog functioning as our family's scrapbook, here they are!

J had another awesome year. I love watching him play!
Tweety hasn't played soccer for several seasons, but now that she's no longer wearing bifocals (just glasses), she wanted to try again. She was one aggressive, very competitive little girl! So fun!
Blue once again had fun cheering for everyone, although some days we needed a little music to keep him happy sitting through two games.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Home and Home Again

We returned home to Michigan a couple days ago after a quick trip to the farm in Kansas. As always, it was super fun to see family and for the kiddos to reconnect with their cousins!
Building forts in a tangle of crab apple trees 
This visit, Blue was enthralled with his uncles, especially Uncle Kurt and Uncle Austin. He couldn't leave them alone! It was adorable!
 Uncles are awesome!
Blue thought Grandma was pretty fun, too!
Tweety took it upon herself to mother the younger cousins!
We found a used book store to visit that featured delicious smoothies and cute kitties. Tweety and I were big fans!
Introducing some of the cousins to Star Wars!
Extra bonus - Aunt Jenna came along on the trip!!
Four wheeling over the low-water bridge is always fun!
It's always so good to go home to Kansas. And it's always so good to return home to Michigan. Home and home again. Love these gifts from God!

Monday, July 11, 2016


Tweety's wish came true, and our cat had kittens in May - six of them!

They have provided hours of entertainment every day!

According to Tweety, best summer entertainment ever! We had to give away five...I couldn't imagine having a total of seven cats running around the yard. It was easy to find loving homes for all of them, and we still get to enjoy one kitten!