Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fall Catch Up

Another lovely fall season is about to come to an end.

Once again we loved soccer season - J's favorite sport!

Playing against one of his best friends!
 Tweety decided not to play this season - she was an excellent cheerleader!
 And C can never get enough soccer!
 So much walnut raking this year - the walnut trees were very prolific.
 Hunting together!
 The girls!
 C was Kylo Ren for Trick or Treating. He liked the light saber. He did not like the costume!
 Yes, one of my children hollowed out a pumpkin and stuck his head in it for his costume!
C has a hard time wearing traditional mittens and gloves, so a lovely friend made him thumbless mittens!!
 I think he approves!
 Hanging out with dad giving a little Monopoly advice!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trying to Explain What He's Thinking

C made several kids cry a couple weekends ago.

One friend cried when C pushed him into the little pond/marsh-puddle out behind our barn.

The next day C tried to eat a friend's snack during class at church. The friend cried as her snack disappeared.

Minutes after the snack-stealing, C took off his sock and stuck it in another friend's face. She cried, too.

In some ways, there's a bit of humor hanging out at the edges of these episodes. The pushing-friend-into-pond episode was probably AFV worthy.  And the sock-in-the-girl's-face episode - really, isn't that so typical boy!?

It's hard to laugh, though, when the other kids aren't laughing. It's hard to laugh when my little guy makes his friends cry.

Of course we try to explain to C's friends that he isn't trying to be mean.

To the friend in the pond - C likes to watch kids splash in water, and since his cousins were so great at humoring him in the swimming pool over the summer, C now thinks that every kid likes to be pushed into water. "If he pushes you, he likes you," I explained.
To the friend with the stolen snack - C likes snacks, and he doesn't understand that he can't eat whatever food he sees. He thinks that if food is sitting near him, then he can eat it.
To the friend smelling C's sock - Well, I didn't have a pacifying explanation for that one! I think he really was trying to tease her. I didn't even try the "If he makes you smell his sock, he likes you" explanation on her.

The thing is, as I was trying to smooth over C's actions to his friends, I was gut-punched with the realization that I had no idea if my explanations were anywhere close to what C would say if he could explain himself.

I was guessing. I'm always guessing. I'm always putting words in his mouth.

I think I know why C pushed his friend in the pond. I think it was a friendly game of I-push-and-you-splash-and-we-both-laugh, but I don't know that for sure. There's always the possibility that C really was annoyed with his friend. I prefer the first explanation, but maybe he was feeling grumpy.

As C gets older, and I see those wheels turning inside his head, I realize what a responsibility it is to speak for him and interpret his actions for him to others.

He's not a baby. He has opinions and ideas and games he likes to play. He wants to communicate for himself.
I see more and more the tightrope we walk as we advocate and translate for him while we also try not to overshadow who he is and what he's saying through actions or word attempts.

It was a sad weekend to see C's friends cry. I think it was one of the first times when my explanations didn't make a difference. C's friends walked away still crying, still upset with him.

It was a guilt-ridden weekend. I couldn't stop mulling over what I should have done differently to avoid the tears in the first place.

It was an eye-opening weekend in realizing that my well-thought-out explanations may be completely wrong.

Believe it or not, it was a good weekend, too. I'm more aware of the responsibility of translating for C. I'm more aware that his thoughts are probably not the same as mine, and I need to do my best to communicate his thoughts, not mine.

And really, that sock in the face - how can you not laugh at that?! Sorry his little friend had to deal with the smell (and we'll work on curbing that action), but it's awesome to see some typical boy antics! He's reaching new developmental milestones all in his own time!
And as always I am reminded that my thoughts are also not the same as the thoughts of my Creator. He is magnificent in his splendor, his wisdom, his goodness, and love. I cannot fully comprehend his ways or his thoughts. But he knows my boy's thoughts perfectly. I can rest in that.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday!

The baby turns 8 today, which means he's definitely not a baby anymore!

It's kind of ironic that the most extroverted of the family is also mostly nonverbal! C continues to fill our days with laughter and giggles, joy and smiles, a few words and phrases here and there, and always - dependence on God.
This boy loves being the life of the party! He also loves lawnmowers, tractors, cars, balls, cookies, and playing with J and Tweety.
 Happy birthday to the cutest eight-year-old I know!
As is tradition, here is his year-in-review video!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Hilariously Horrible Vacation

I am possibly exaggerating when I say our recent camping trip vacation was horrible, but it definitely wasn't perfect! However, the less-than-perfect elements had us laughing the whole time, so I guess we could also call it the Hilariously Awesome vacation - if by awesome we mean that we laughed like crazy and that it was a camping trip we'll never forget!

It all started when Kara, Matt's sister, asked earlier this year if we wanted to go camping with them. Matt and the older kids sometimes go tent camping, but I haven't gone in years. However, we decided to give it a try as a family this year.

Originally C was going to come along, but after seeing his dislike for Camp Barakel, we decided to let him keep his daily routine and get spoiled at Grandpa and Grandma's house. He liked that a lot! And, once we got into the very much less-than-perfect camping trip, I was really glad that C had stayed behind in the comforts of non-camping.

So, the trouble began when we had to pick a camping date months in advance in order to get a camping spot. Of course when you pick dates months in advance, you have no idea what the weather will be like. Well, we got one of the rainiest, coldest two days of the summer! And, if you know me, I really, really hate being cold!

If you want a rundown of the "horrible" elements that had us laughing:

  • setting up the tent in the rain Thursday afternoon
  • finding out via wet sleeping bags that the tent leaks Thursday night
  • trains rumbling past the camp site (and blowing their horns) after midnight
  • being cold - we felt a little homeless all day Friday as we looked for dry, warm places to hang out!
  • heavy winds the first night that had our tent bending in almost to our noses!

During the heavy downpours, some of the group chose to work out. And some of us chose not to!
Since this was an RV park, there weren't a lot of spots to find shelter out of the rain. Most everyone was nice and dry in their campers, which we didn't have! We also didn't have a big enough tent for everyone to hang out in; plus, as previously mentioned, one of the tents leaked! So the awning/porch connected to the bathrooms was our shelter!
Not what I want to see!
When it wasn't too windy or cold, the pavilion by the pond worked out for shelter! Farkle was the game of choice. Of course the kids loved all the crazy things you could say using "Farkle" in a sentence!
A rainy morning meant Cops & Doughnuts was the perfect spot for breakfast!
Pretty much the entire Friday was spent trying to find dry, warm places to hang out! Bowling, hanging out in the break room for the staff at the RV park, coffee at Biggby, games...not exactly the same as hanging out at the beach like we'd planned, but oh well! We laughed lots!
So nice that the kids are old enough to help with food prep and clean up!
We were so, so happy to see the sun!!!!
The morning before we headed home, it was finally warm enough to go to the beach. I thought it was way too cold to get in the water though!
a little game of Kubb
So there you have it! The hilariously horrible vacation was really quite hilariously awesome!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Camp Barakel

One of our favorite places is Camp Barakel! Over the years Matt has occasionally been a speaker at Barakel. The first time he was a summer speaker, we all tagged along. That was in 2011. Camping at Barakel as a family was a unique, fun experience. We loved it!

Well, most of us loved it. C did not, so that was the first and last time we experienced Barakel all together. Until this past week.

Matt was the speaker, and after much discussion, we decided to try the family experience again. This time we brought Jenna along for extra help with C, and we planned for me and the kids to leave early with Jenna if C didn't like camp.

Here's a little peak at the week...

My favorite Barakel speaker!
 The first full day at Barakel dawned with a clap of thunder and rain, so the game room was the main attraction for that soggy day!
 C thought air hockey was hilarious!
 These guys take chess very seriously!
 A game that involves rolling balls in a box? Yes, C would like to play that game over and over!
The second day was gorgeous, so those who were old enough got to try out the zipline. No surprise that I had one unhappy 10-year-old who wanted to be 12!
Here are the zipline conquerors - at least Tweety got to document the event even if she was too young to try out the thrill
 C didn't seem too bothered by the fact that he was too young to zip
C's favorite spot was the waterfront! J could've enjoyed swimming in the deep water, but he wanted to spend all his time with C. These brothers melt my heart!
 While I spent a lot of time with C keeping him happy, Jenna made sure Tweety had a good time!
So, as depicted in the pictures, C had some fun moments. But, sadly, he once again was not super fond of camp. And he was even less fond of sleeping at camp. Not sure what we would have done without his music phone.
Jenna, Tweety, C, and I ended up heading home early. I was a little disappointed but not too surprised, and we're thankful for the many good memories we made. Barakel is an amazing place full of people who love Jesus and love kids. (And they spoil their speakers!! They were so kind in working to provide any accommodations we might need to make C more comfortable at camp.)

So we had a fun couple of days with memories to hold on to. Now to catch up on sleep!