Sunday, May 27, 2012

Snapshot Sunday

Silly by here we wander
Silly, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.

End of Days

For the first time in a long time, school ended before Memorial Day weekend (a mild winter with only one snow day, which I'm sure mother nature will repay in full next school year). The last two weeks have passed in a blur.

Fun Day (see here). Most lovable people party for first grade (see here). Class plays and class picnics for kindergarten (see here and here). Field Day for everyone (see here - and special thanks to Xander's amazing aide Mrs. G for sharing the photos). First grade walking field trip to the neighborhood park (which just happens to be the one down the street from our house - see here).

There were also a lot of teachers and aides and therapists and staff members to thank for such an amazing school year - and that means a whole lot of cookies and gift bags. It's not nearly enough, but it's a little something to let them know how much we appreciate all their hard work and effort in helping our boys through the school year. (See here).

And, of course, there is still Spring baseball four or five nights a week (see here and here).

And speech therapy every Tuesday. Assuming the boys are well enough to go, which after a week of passing around a nasty stomach virus, they were not.

We've also been working on adding occupational therapy for the boys. It starts in two weeks.

So, like I said, a blur.

Summer break has officially started. We're taking a few days to ease into a new routine. So far, that's involved days spent in pajamas (see here), movies, screens and hours in the backyard pool (see here).

I wish I could say that means a lot of sleeping in. But two little boys don't know how to do that. Ever.

Oh, and I really need to be working on a freelance project, too.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mommy & Me

It's been quite some time since Connor and I were able to have one of our "Mommy & Me" days. He's been in full-time school for two years now, and his brothers joined him in full-time school this year. We used to sneak those days in while he was in part-time preschool and his brothers were in everyday Early Start.

Thanks to Grammy and Pappy, who invited the twins for an overnight visit on Friday, Connor and I had an extended "Mommy & Me" adventure. Connor started the adventure by taking over the main desktop computer in our house, the one Xander unwillingly vacated to leave for the beginning of his adventure. It took some prodding to get Connor to give up the computer and go out for dinner.

The good news is that Connor could pick anywhere that he wanted. Well, except that he waited until almost 7 o'clock to give up the computer. At which point he realized he was absolutely starving to death. And at that time on a Friday night, in our fair city, you're going to have to wait. At least an hour, sometimes more. And that's pretty much at any sit-down restaurant, even the major chains.

His first pick was Fazoli's, an odd choice given that we hardly ever eat there and the last time that we did he didn't actually eat much of his food. Next was Cracker Barrel. I told him it would take 30 minutes to get there, and probably another hour on top of that to eat. He opted for something else, something he's heard Mommy and Daddy talking about but that he's never tried - Chipotle.

We had steak tacos. He just had cheese on his, but I had rice, cheese and mild salsa on mine. Mmm ... best tacos ever. We also had a bag of chips and salsa. He ate all the chips, and I brought the salsa home for later. We enjoyed a warm night on the patio, people watching and taking in the sights. We could smell the fresh doughnuts from the local Krispy Kreme, just a block or so away.

Our next stop was decided. We picked up doughnuts, eating a hot glazed right out of the box before we ever left the parking lot. And then we made our way back home.

On our way out to dinner, the neighborhood park was busy with Spring baseball games. We decided to walk back up to the park to see if we could catch the end of a game. No such luck, but we did find a minor league (ages 9 to 12) having practice. We climbed up the bleachers to watch. Connor ended up having a big time chasing foul balls for the team, tossing them back over the fence to the coach.

And I will take back some of my serious dislike for the league we abandoned after last season. This particular coach was the very essence of what you like to see in a kids' baseball coach. All of the boys were both trying hard AND having a great time. One of the kids, after taking his turn at batting practice and running the bases, did a cartwheel across home plate. The coach laughed, and at the end of practice, lined up the entire team to see who could do the best cartwheel. All of the boys were going through the effort and laughing at the results (only one or two boys could actually manage a true cartwheel).

The coach also did something really nice for Connor (and another little boy there at practice). After Connor had chased probably his fifteenth foul ball for the team, the coach asked him his name, and then if he wanted to come onto the field for batting practice. He asked one of his players to find a bat that Connor could swing, which the other player happily did, and then lobbed a pitch into him that he nailed into the outfield. He was having the time of his life, playing with the big kids and hitting it on the first try. He took his place on first, and a little brother to one of the actual players got to do the same. They both got to run the bases to end the team's practice.

We ended the night with a little major league baseball on television before bed time (an hour or so past his usual). We both got to sleep in (a little), as brothers were not home to wake us up at the crack of dawn. My alarm still went off, because Connor had a baseball game at 10:30 that morning, which meant his coach had asked the team to arrive by 9:45 for batting practice and warm-up.

Connor and I had a good little adventure. Special thanks to Grammy and Pappy, who took the twins on their own special adventure (playground and Cracker Barrel on Friday; doughnut shop, indoor pool and Chick-fil-A on Saturday) before bringing them back home.

A Season of Baseball

... mobile phone version ...

Snapshot Sunday


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Most Lovable People Party

Why He Loves Me by here we wander
Why He Loves Me, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Today we were invited to Connor's first grade class for a "Most Lovable People" party. Here is why Connor loves us. The answer is ... just because he does.

Ms. M hosted the party for parents, the students waited on us while we sat in their seats, and at the end sang us several songs and poems they had been working on.

Have I mentioned we're big fans of the boys' school? Ms. M is just one of the reasons why. And who knows, we might just see her again next year. Connor does have two little brothers who will be moving into first grade next year.

School Fun Day

Think of it as a school carnival with food and games. If icees count as food, and if bounce equipment counts as games. The boys considered it a good time, regardless.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Tale of Two

If you're wondering where I've been lately, I can tell you. Mostly I have been at the grocery store. And when I haven't been there, I've been at the baseball field. Or speech therapy. Or school. It's been a busy few weeks, and with the end of school quickly approaching, it will only get busier.

And in my spare time, I've been diving deeper into the gluten-free-casein-free diet for the twins. That means quite a bit of online research, and of course, even more time at the grocery store. There are no more simple trips, because now I have to read labels with a fine tooth comb. I have to research before I even leave, make lists of brands and potential items that make the cut, and also lists of brands and potential items that have hidden gluten and casein. It's involved, to say the least.

I feel like I live at the grocery store these days. We have always shopped at several different ones for several different things. It used to be just Wal-Mart or Kroger every few weeks and Sam's once a month. Now it's Kroger every week, Wal-Mart every few weeks, Sam's every few weeks, and we've added one more. Whole Foods. Because while the larger Kroger does have quite a few items, it doesn't have all of them. And certain things are less expensive at Kroger, but other things are less expensive at Whole Foods (which came as a little bit of a shock, I must tell you).

So we are a few weeks into our experiment. The boys still have "cheat" days, and probably will until school is out in a few weeks. Just today Sawyer came home with cupcake icing all over his face (a classmate had a birthday). And that's okay. It's one reason I wanted to test the boys on the new diet over the summer. I don't want to have to further exclude them from activities at school if I don't have to. So we're going to take the summer to try the diet 100 percent. If we see improvements, we will continue. If we don't, then we will go back to adding some of the gluten and casein back in. Though we might still limit the amounts. It all depends on how the summer goes.

Right now, I can tell you it's been a little bit of a tough sell. Both boys reach right for the things they're not supposed to have (bread, milk, yogurt) on a regular basis. Sawyer is trying the new items (and liking most of them) pretty well. Xander, as usual, is kicking and screaming his way through the transition. Or perhaps gagging is a better description. He will place new items up to his mouth, take the tiniest of pieces into his mouth, and then proceed to gag on everything he tries. And then wipe his mouth and tongue with a napkin for good measure.

Have I mentioned Xander is the opinionated one?

There are some bright spots. Almond milk is passable to Xander (though not so much to Sawyer). You cannot put it in a plastic sippy cup (perhaps the smell or the look), but in an open glass, he will gladly drink it. Rice or corn based spaghetti is working for both boys, though Sawyer is more enthusiastic than Xander. Cinnamon Chex are good for both, though Xander leaves the uncoated pieces in the bottom of his bowl. Last night Sawyer ate nearly all of a semi-homemade GFCF pizza (gluten free frozen crust, pizza sauce, casein free cheese, and pepperoni). Xander gagged, of course.
Both boys were hesitant about the gluten-free pretzels, but Sawyer eventually came around. I think Xander eventually will, too, as they taste pretty much the same and sooner or later he's going to have to get tired of eating the same exact thing EVERY SINGLE DAY. Surely. Sawyer liked a GFCF granola bar that I found. Xander gagged and said "No thanks!" very emphatically. Soy-based yogurt was very slowly approved by both, though it took some prompting and several small bites to be convinced.

Do you see the pattern? Sawyer tries, and for the most part, will eat. Xander tries, but in dramatic fashion, rejects almost everything. This might explain why Sawyer now outweighs Xander by nearly five pounds. One is determined to eat, even if he's not always happy with the choices. The other one is determined to have only what he wants, which means he eats a lot of the same exact thing or he simply doesn't eat.

It's still very much a trial and effort on our part. I am doing some online research (mostly blogs, as I like to hear what has worked for other people and what to avoid). This week I did the first major GFCF grocery run, with a stop into the organic section at our big Kroger and a stop at Whole Foods. $150 later, I had a few things to try, though not nearly enough for that amount of money, I assure you. Most items are about twice the price of regular food. Perhaps we should thank Xander for refusing most of it.

The boys still have their staples. Fruit and applesauce. They can have a few chips they have always liked, namely Wavy Lays (Sawyer) and Tostitos (both). Trix are okay, though some would argue the artificial colors and sugar may do as much harm as the gluten in other cereals. Sawyer eats most types of meat, just not breaded (though I have a mix to try sometime soon, probably on some chicken tenders).

I have always felt like a short-order cook with our meals. Now I feel even more so. Not only do I often fix two meals, I sometimes fix three or four. Connor eats a lot of what Josh and I eat, but the twins rarely do. What Connor likes, the twins don't always like. And what Sawyer likes, Xander doesn't always like. Finding common ground is nearly impossible. Adding GFCF into the mix for the twins guarantees that we have multiple meals. It's either that, or our grocery bills become more than our mortgage payments.

So we do two meals, like the one you see above. One is regular spaghetti with frozen meatballs and sauce (for Connor). One is corn-based spaghetti with sauce (for the twins). I think Josh was working that night, and I ended up eating a bagel with Nutella for my dinner. So, we ended up with three meals for four people. And we won't even talk about how frequently the boys have their meals. Because they eat so few things, we do the things they will eat pretty often.

So in between school and therapy and baseball, that's what I've been doing. Making lots of different meals, researching and grocery shopping, and trying to figure out what I'm going to feed the kids all summer long. Because if I think it's hard to feed them now, what am I going to do this summer when they try to eat all day long at the house.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Fish Bowl

The Fish Bowl by here we wander
The Fish Bowl, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
As part of their ongoing science lesson about animals and classifications, Connor's first grade class studied guppies. Lots and lots of guppies, which were in a classroom aquarium.

The end of school is quickly approaching, and the classroom guppies needed new homes. Connor's teacher, Ms. M, sent home a note last week that said any student could have one to three guppies if a parent signed a permission slip.

Guess how many times we heard about the guppies over the weekend? There was a lot of pleading and begging. We eventually agreed, but Connor had to pay for the fish bowl.

One day this week, I stopped by the pet store to pick up the supplies. Thirty-five dollars later, we had a simple fish bowl, a fake red plant and a few embellishments. The "I'm Crabby" is a testament to Connor in the mornings, if you're wondering. The river rock were confiscated from our recently completed landscaping project. Other miscellaneous items included in our purchase were a fish net (for when we have to clean the tank), fish food, and some water treatment chemicals.

We will not talk about how Sawyer managed to dump the entire tank on Connor's bed and Connor's bedroom floor yesterday, before the guppies even made it here. We had filled up the tank just to get the water ready for the fish to come home. So the good news is that no fish were injured in this little incident. Sawyer says he was just really, really thirsty and no one would give him a drink, so he had to improvise. Really. And that meant water all over Connor's bedroom.

No, we will not talk about that.

Today the guppies came home. Connor has been talking about them all week, wishing it was Thursday so that he would have his guppies. I have heard about nothing but baseball and guppies all week long. He is so incredibly excited about his guppies (see here).

Now he has five - three big ones and two tiny ones. We think Ms. M may have miscounted, as he was only supposed to bring home one to three, but there are very clearly five of them. Or perhaps Connor sweet-talked her into more and just isn't telling me about it.

The guppies are happily settling into their new home, and they are currently swimming in the bowl on Connor's desk. We have locked them safely behind his bedroom door for the rest of the afternoon.

I don't know about you, but I don't think the guppies would care much for Connor's bed or the carpet. And I really don't think they want Sawyer to drink them either.