Looking Forward…

This summer will go down as one of my least favorite times ever. It has been punctuated by doctor visits instead of long summer vacations and of worry-filled days instead of care-free days. Now that it is mid-August we still do not have too many answers in regards to the oldest boy, but we do have two appointments coming up (one at the end of August and one at the end of September) that will provide us with definitive answers. The boy and I are both looking forward to these appointments as living in limbo is not fun at all. 

This is especially true for me. I crashed this summer; the stress of a life-changing diagnosis for my son was just too much for me. I ended up in the emergency room twice. The first time I ended up on antibiotics for an infection, and the second time I ended up on anti-virals for shingles. I also saw my primary doctor for a complete physical, and after many tests, I received a clean bill of health with advice to get my stress under control. 

Now that it is August I am finally feeling better. I guess my body and mind have both adapted to everything that is going on around me. If the boy has a connective tissue disorder I feel that I can now handle that (He can too, as he is so strong and mature about it all). I guess I needed this summer to do nothing but worry, so that I could get to the point I am at now, which is a point of acceptance and, even more than that, a point of being pro-active about everything. 

I am also at a point of looking forward to our new school year. I have some more planning to do, but I feel very excited about everything. The twins are moving forward with their high school path, and the youngest boy is moving forward to his middle school years. I will post our complete plans in the coming week for everyone to see. 

This last week the twins and I took a short road trip up to Mammoth Lakes with my brother. It was so good for all of us, and I am so glad we took the trip. It was a nice break for everyone and seems to have re-charged all our batteries. The youngest boy also enjoyed his time at home. He was the center of attention for four days and was spoiled quite nicely by his grandparents. 

Here are a few pictures (actually quite a bit more than a few) from our short vacation. 

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Back to School?

I was all ready to have the kids begin school again, as I was getting tired of our summer routine. By the amount of fighting they were doing I thought they were also getting tired of it (even if they wouldn’t admit it).

But then the kids stopped fighting and did some of this:

and some of this:

We went to the used library bookstore, and we founds some treasures to keep us busy.

So I’ve decided we are going to have a few more weeks of this:

and this:

Summer Fun

I love summer because the kids have hours of free time, and in that free time they always come up with some great ideas. For instance Tru and Decca pulled out their Zoobs and got creative. Decca turned himself into The Statue of Liberty.

Tru decided to make some armor for Mr. Casey. Mr. Casey is a stuffed animal who has been in the family for over ten years.

This is the armor before placement.

And here is it on. Mr. Casey is now safe and protected from Kingsley.

Besides playing with Zoobs, Tru had been reading books. He loves to read, and he has discovered several new books this summer.

Decca has been obsessed with Scratch lately (even more than before), and he has been making several cartoons on it. He has one series called Max and Dirk about a boy and his owl.

He also has made a series called Lieutenant Buck which features a sidekick named Fezzy, who is a fez. It is quite cute!

Autry has been keeping herself busy with drawing. She can spend hours a day working on her art. Here are some of her drawings.

The last picture is a sketch of a young Lin Beifong from The Legend of Korra. The kids have been watching and re-watching this show all summer. I’ll admit I have watched it too. It is actually a wonderful show that I highly recommend for the whole family.

Another series we have been watching this summer is Lark Rise to Candleford. It is a BBC period series (so already I love it) that is appropriate for the whole family. It is available on Amazon Prime for streaming. If you like BBC period shows you may want to check it out.

The post office is the main setting for Lark Rise to Candleford.

So, what has been going on at your house this summer?

Finally Home

The twins celebrated their thirteenth birthday while we were on vacation.

We have been gone for over a month on a wonderful summer vacation. We took a train to Chicago, spent the next three weeks visiting family, and then we took a cross-country drive back home. The kids spent most of the trip outdoors canoeing, swimming, bouncing on a trampoline, and driving a tractor.

We also got to spend some time with my grandmother. She is 92 years old and still going strong. I treasure out time together.

It was a great summer break, but I am happy to be back home again. I am no longer tired or sick with mono, and I am feeling quite energetic about the new year. I am looking over the books I have purchased so far for next year, and I am getting excited.

Some of Decca’s books for next year.

And here is some of Tru’s books.

I am going to spend the rest of the month planning out our next school year, and then we will begin school on August 1st. I can’t wait!

Weekly Update

We are on a very relaxed schedule now, and we will probably be on this schedule through July. We do this every year, and it works out for all of us. By May the kids, and truthfully I, are all burned out and ready for a break. I pull way back on what I expect from them, and they spend most of their time doing what they want.

This doesn’t mean that we stop all academic work. Tru is still working through his algebra, as he wants to have this done by next September. He is also reading Shakespeare and keeping up with his French (Rosetta Stone) and history. He plays golf 3 to 4 times a week.

In his room working.

Decca is working on Dreambox math, and he is reading everyday. He is also keeping up with his piano.

In addition he is working on his Scooby Doo story that he is writing, and my mom is illustrating. He takes this very seriously and is on page 33 right now. He hopes to have it finished by June.

The cover of Decca’s Scooby book

With all this free time what have the boys and I been up to? Well we have been swimming nearly every day this week. It has been so nice out, and we felt we had to take advantage of this wonderful weather by being outside.

We have been going on many walks enjoying the nature all around us.

The boys have been working on their Scratch projects, and they both are excited about Scratch 2.0 coming out.

Tru’s latest Scratch project

The changes to Scratch look amazing, and if you haven’t downloaded Scratch for your kids yet, now would be a good time. Here is a video explaining the new version.

Autry was very busy last week with school. She had a concert and a competition. She did an amazing job in both, and she was so happy to find out this week that she has passed the first round in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival, and she will be competing in the second round in September.

Arriving for rehearsals for the Bach Competition.

She sang her songs in English for the first round, but I think she will have to learn them in German for the next round. She is happy that she has all summer to work on them.

Picking up Autry from school on Thursday.

School seems to be winding down for her too, which works nice with our schedule. She only has two more weeks of conservatory and four weeks of academics. Homework is very minimal right now because most of the kids at OCHSA are busy with concerts and shows, and this is great. Autry has been able to come home from school and just relax with the rest of us. In her down time she has been working on writing songs and drawing comics.

Autry’s song Ode to Purple

A comic Autry has been working on this week.

And that is our week in review.

Summer Reading

I have been trying to put together a list of books I want to read with the kids this summer. We have always read books together, but this year I have not been able to read as many books as I would like to. As my kids get older it seems I have less and less free time to spend how I want. Instead of reading to my kids for hours a day, I am in the car taking them to or from various activities. Because of all this running around, our read-aloud time has been severely shorten. I am lucky if I have time to read them a chapter or two a night.

And I miss all the reading we used to do. Even though my kids are getting older, they all still love to sit in front of the fireplace or cuddle on the couch and listen to a good book. This summer I want to go through as many books as we can to make up for our lack-luster year.

So far I have chosen a mix of new books published within the last year and older classics. I have also tried to pick out books that all three kids will be interested in, which can sometimes be a challenge considering the kids are four years apart.

Here is what I got so far:

  May B.Wonder

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Lions of Little Rock

Treasure of Green Knowe

Five Children and It

Swallows and Amazons

This is the list I have so far. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. I am always looking for a good book, whether it be a classic or something modern. I love to discover wonderful books to share with my children.

Things we say before we have kids

My brother and the kids having fun together.

My kids and I spent a week with my younger brother this summer. We flew out to New Orleans to see him, and all of us stayed in his little one bedroom, shotgun house. To some this might not sound like the ideal vacation, but everything worked out fine, and we all got along.  It was one of the best vacations that I have had in a long time.

Together when we were much younger

My brother Jim and I are very close, and he enjoys spending time with the kids and me. And he has been around the kids and active in their lives since the beginning.

Uncle Jimmy and Autry

But he is in his twenties, and he is single. Most of the time he lives a care-free, kid-free life, and this led to some funny moments and lively debates between the two of us during our vacation.

First there was the famous toilet paper incident. Towards the end of our stay with him he was shocked, and I mean SHOCKED, to find that all the toilet paper was gone. Jim just couldn’t believe that we had gone through two roles while we were there. Now think about this: there were five of us living at his house for a week (actually eight days), and he couldn’t believe that we would use two rolls of toilet paper in that time.

In all fairness, I was just as shocked that he was shocked. He was in such a state of disbelief that I decided to do a search on the internet for how much toilet paper a typical family of five uses in a week. After checking the facts (I love the internet for times like this), I found we were not toilet paper offenders, and we actually used less than most families of five. After a few minutes Jimmy and I laughed about the whole incident and chalked it up to him not having a family yet. It is now an inside joke between us and the kids, and he loved spending the rest of the trip telling the kids how he is only going to give each of his children one roll of toilet paper a month to use.

Another time during our visit with Jim we took a small road trip about three hours away. This long drive allowed my brother, the kids, and I to discuss and debate various topics. One topic we got on was booster seats. I am not sure what led to this discussion, but he had plenty to say about booster seats which led to car seats which led to children sitting in the front seat which somehow led to a talk about laws vs. personal happiness. It was a great debate that all the kids got involved in (even Decca via Deccanesse), and I got it all on video.

Here are a few excerpts:

I know I have said many things before I had kids that I wished I hadn’t. But the truth is you just don’t know much about parenting until you have kids. I am just glad no one was around to document all I said. Unfortunately for my brother that is not the case.

TADTown How I Have Missed You

So I  have been on break from my blog for summer vacation, but just like summer vacation, I feel that I have had enough. In the beginning it was liberating to have a break, to not feel the pressure to write, but now I am just bored (much as my children are on their break), so I have decided to start blogging again.

The twins coming home from the hospital for the first time. How did twelve years past so fast?

Now that I am sitting here I am not sure what to write about today. Hmm…The twins turn 12 in a few days. We are going to Vegas for their birthday, and I am taking them to see Phantom of the Opera. They have been wanting to see  the Phantom again for so long, so I thought it would be a perfect birthday gift. It worked out great because we got free Phantom tickets with our room. In anticipation of seeing the Phantom, Decca has been walking around in his phantom outfit.

What else has been going on? The kids and I went up to the mountains for a week and stayed at my parents house. We had so much fun up there enjoying all the beautiful outdoors. We were hoping to see a bear, but we didn’t this time.

Up in the mounains.

Decca turned eight a few weeks ago. We had a nice party, and he received some great gifts. I got him a spark scooter, which is a scooter that sparks when you press the brake. Some people (I won’t mention names) thought it was a dangerous gift, but I knew he would love it. What kid would not love a scooter that sparks?

I made this for Decca with the blocks.

He also received a huge set of CitiBlocs. I wasn’t sure about this gift, I thought maybe it would be too young for him, but he and the twins have been enjoying them all summer. It has spurred on their creativity, and they have been building some great creations. Autry made an opera house and several towers, and Tru made a great base for some Lego figures he also made.

Autry and her tower

Tru and his base

Tru has been making several short films this summer. He taught himself to edit in iMovie, and he has been having a good time with that.

Grandma assisting Truffaut on making his film.

Autry has been working hard on her singing. She is very excited about starting OCHSA in the fall. She also misses her singing class from the spring. She took a class at Orange Coast College and enjoyed it so much. Here is  her final performance from the class (sorry for the spotlight).

Decca has been keeping himself busy writing songs on the piano, shooting nature videos, and writing a new series of book. They are called the Kingsley Kelley Mysteries, inspired by the Scooby Doo books.

So this is what we have been up to lately. We are off to Vegas tomorrow morning, and then we go to New Orleans on the 4th, then up to Chicago (via Amtrak) on the 12th. I am sure I will have many pics and stories to share from our trips. Until then…