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Sunday, May 31, 2009

End of School Fun Day & BBQ

At Nathan's school, they have a Family BBQ on their Fun Day (formerly known as Field Day). Since Grands was here, he got to go along with us for lunch. It was a lot of fun.

Nathan was 'chillin' on the picnic blanket. Nothing like laying down to eat your hamburger.

As soon as she pretended to eat, Rebekah took off for the playground. She was totally determined to climb up onto this bench. After a LOT of trials, she finally made it. Then after many trips down the slide, she talked Grands into helping her dig before we left for home.

Friday, May 29, 2009

School's Out

Summer must officially be here when the school bells are ringing for the last time.

Our neighbors gave the kids a fantastic present. They rented a limo to pick up the kids from middle school and elementary school. You had to be on the honor roll to be invited. Both the boys were asked by attend. We went to elementary school to see the younger kids get in the limo--the middle school kids had already eaten DQ.

I sent the camera for Andrew to take some pictures. Here's a few of the shots they got on their two hour escapade.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

International Contest Winner Lives Here

It's true. I have the winner of an International Contest living under my roof. Andrew wrote a poem for Toontown about Jellybeans (toontown currency). It was one of the five winners. Since Toontown is an International Game---that makes him an International Contest Winner.

Click here to see the hoopla online.

Andrew's toon is Duke Spunky Octodoodle. He's a blue mouse. So if you play, you can always try to find him and be his friend. He's moved his way up the toon ladder and is a pretty powerful toon.

The poem:

When I met you, I knew the good cheer,
That would always come to me when you were near.
If I'm fishing, gardening, or feeding my Doodles,
The love I have for you would be oodles.
You help me get all my Gags,
To beat the big, towering Money Bags.
So now that I'm done telling all the things about you,
I'm going to defeat a Cold Caller, Level 2.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Attitude of Gratitude

I am partway through a show I saw on PBS done by Dr. Daniel Amen. He has a lot of amazing information on how to improve your life by improving your brain. (The show--and book--are called "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life".) While there is way too much information to share, I immediately gleaned one golden nugget out of his talk.

He was sharing ways to improve your brain and he has one of the points was regarding Positive Thinking--especially Gratitude. He said, "When you focus on what you love about your life, your brain works better." He explained that when you're focused on these parts of your life that you love, you're more coordinated because the parts of your brain are in a better balance of calm and awareness.

He went on to give an incredibly simple exercise to do at home. Every day, write down five things you are grateful for today. That's it. He even said that this exercise has been proven to decrease depression in people suffering from clinical depression. Now that statement really caught my attention! I'm not suffering from depression, but I know countless people who are. And to help ease depression, you just write down five things you're grateful for today?!?!?

Just writing it down (remember the importance of writing it down in goal setting?) on a daily basis helps your mind focus on the positive instead of the negative. When you turn your focus towards gratitude, you feel so much better about yourself, your life and situations you come across. It doesn't have to be big or giant things, just the things you are truly grateful for--the things from your heart.

Let me give you a few samples of how this Attitude of Gratitude has evolved for me over the past week.

I started with lists like: 1. Jesus, 2. Sean, 3. Kids, 4. Family, 5. Friends.

While it's a nice list, it felt sterile--even to me. I was writing what I thought I should write. Some days, that's truly what I'm grateful for, but I've been working on tapping my own heart a little better.

Now my lists look more like this:
1. I'm grateful today that Andrew still likes to give me a hug and a kiss...when nobody else is looking.
2. I'm grateful today that Nathan has moved past his germ-o-phobia to the point where I can kiss him and he will not wipe it off--and he allows me to kiss him on the lips.
3. I'm grateful today that Rebekah heard the door open after I went to the store and came running from the far reaches of the house to give me a hug and a kiss.
4. I'm grateful that Sean helped me put away groceries and dishes without being asked--so I could put my feet up for a few minutes.
5. I'm grateful today for my neighbors who have children to play with and that the kids usually play well together.

I also am finding it hard to stop at five things. Sometimes, I let my list keep going. And you know what--it does make a difference in my outlook and attitude.

Take a moment each day to make a Gratitude List and see how it might change your life, too!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Honoring those who went before...

Remember the reason for Memorial Day.

While it's meant to remember those who died serving our country--please remember to thank a member of the armed forces or thank a veteran today (and every day).

Freedom isn't free---many men and women give their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. To those who are serving or have served, my family thanks you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brunch with Grands

Grand-daddy is in town visiting us. We've been having some fun. Sunday we went to brunch at Village Inn and Rebekah was a hoot...a challenge and a handful, but a hoot. She insisted she HAD to have a cheeseburger. No, I don't like pancakes today! Yada yada. Well, the food comes and she eats fries, but will not even pick up the cheeseburger. "I don't want that cheeseburger, let's go to Burger King."

So Daddy shares one of his pancakes with her and Andrew & Nathan share hash browns and scrambled eggs with her. We told her next time she doesn't get a choice, we're getting the Village Inn Funny Face breakfast for her!

Here she is eating her pancake with her fork.

Once home, we got pictures of the kids with Grands before they got out of their good clothes. Rebekah would only be in the photo if we promised she could take photos afterwards.
She took one of 'the boys' and then Andrew's shoes.

By then, Sean is insisting she needs to give the camera back. Here's what she took at that point.

After a time out and lots of tears, she said she agrees that she should obey when we tell her to give the camera back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: One Little Word, part 3

One Little Word--did you take my challenge earlier this year? If you're not sure what I mean, check out these posts about my One Little Word for this year. My 2009 word is Cherish.
We're getting to the midway point of the year and I'm one who likes to reflect along the way and make sure I'm accomplishing what I set out to do. While I know I stumble some days, I think I'm getting closer to my desired goal with Cherish. I also believe the Lord is leading me to an even deeper understanding about why this is my word for the year.
I'm learning that now, more than ever, I need to take my family and circle our wagons. With all we've been doing and working on with Nathan and the gifted/autism challenges, I'm pulling us together as a family. (For more on Nathan's 2E/Twice Exceptional world, check out Nathan hasn't faced very much opposition to him, but I do get resistance from friends and educators and health care professionals. By pulling us together as a united family and helping each of us cherish the others in the family, we're becoming a united front. Each of us becomes the mama bear if another one is threatened (or harassed or teased). While there's still sibling fighting at home, they reserve that right for themselves. You will not have the privilege if you aren't one of us.
This is also true for my parents, my sister and my in-laws. I've talked more to my in-laws this year than I have in a very long time. I've been working to revitalize my relationship with my Mother-In-Law. I've made a point of telling her how grateful I am that when MIL's come up, I have no complaints. She has graciously gone out of her way to be a wonderful friend and helper to me throughout my entire marriage. Now my folks and my sister would tell you I haven't talked to them as much lately, but we do manage to keep up on each other.
My friends was another area I wanted to focus on. I've cut back over the years with my busyness to make time for family. I'm now extending some of that time to friends. I've reconnected with friends through dinners, lunches and phone calls. Even Facebook has helped me reconnect with people I haven't seen in years. I'm working at picking up the phone when I think about these friends. I'm still not perfect, but I feel closer to some of my friends than I have in years. It's been extra nice to have a neutral sounding board as we consider all the options before us for our kids, but especially Nathan.
The Lord. Since He was the one who gave me the word Cherish, I knew I needed to put Him into my list for this year. I've been working to be open to His plan and carrying out His will for me. I know I've messed up on more than one occasion, but I'm grateful that God forgives me and lets me try again. The boys had a challenge put to them from their Sunday School teachers. They managed to earn a pizza party for reading their Bibles. Now they are continuing on the daily readings. A chapter a day (M-F) gets you through the New Testament in one year. They are now doing their daily readings which also helps me. It's tough for Nathan to get through all the words, so I read him his chapter. It's been good for both of us to hear the Word of God read each day. I'm really enjoying this time with Nathan and it is strengthening my relationship with God as well.
Hope you've enjoyed your One Little Word this year. Give yourself a check up and see how it's going.

Monday, May 18, 2009

State Music Festival, Here We Come

We made it through the District Music Competition (times two). I had the pleasure of being their room monitor. It's pretty nerve-wracking for the mom to sit outside and listen to your child play. Andrew & Nathan have worked their songs since February/March and we've heard them hundreds of times getting ready for this moment. Andrew went first and I missed his first song (getting Nathan ready). In Andrew's second song, I heard a memory error and to me it was glaring, but he kept going and she must have missed it.

Nathan went in and when he did his scales, he was coming down with his left hand and stopped with two notes left in the scale. WHAT!?!?!?!? Then he restarted the scale coming down. I'm cringing. I guess he made a fingering error and didn't have enough fingers left to finish--so he restarted. YIKES!!! He played his songs flawlessly.

I was proud of both boys, but kept telling them it might be a 2 rating. FYI--Superior rating is 1+, 1 or 1-. The ratings go downward from 1-4. We thought it took a Superior rating to go to state (plus a good score on theory test), but somebody told us a 2 could still go to state.

Well, I'm pleased to announce our scores. Andrew was #95 and Nathan was #96. BOTH boys got a 1+. What an honor. They are thrilled with their medals. We get their theory tests back Friday, but their teacher took a quick look over and both had enough right to go to state. Woo Hoo!!!

Here's what Nathan did while waiting for his turn to play. Totally relaxed (go figure) and playing with his magnetic game. Eventually, I think another boy joined him to play while they waited.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother's Day Memories

I had such a nice Mother's Day. After church, we took pictures, had lunch and I took an afternoon nap. My gifts were as sweet and as individual as my children. (In case you are confused, we took photos in front of our neighbor's house. Her flowers are blooming and mine are not. Besides, it shows off her porch so nicely and we live with porch envy.)

From Andrew: I got a video presentation of his speech. He had to write about an influential person. He picked me. It was filled with his thoughts about how I influence him and his life. Of course, I cried.

From Nathan: At first, I got tears because he didn't make a video and he felt a video was a better gift than his. We had trouble making him understand that each gift is precious to me and none are better than others. I told him the thing moms want most of all is a kiss and a hug and "Happy Mother's Day---I love you." After putting everyone to bed, he came running out of his room in tears again to hug me and say, "Happy Mother's Day, I love you, Mom."

I didn't get my physical gift from him until Tuesday. At school, the teacher printed up a slightly different version of the Hand print Poem and had his precious hand prints on it. She also added a picture of his beautiful face and sweet smile. It's so precious to me, just as special as Nathan himself...of course, I cried.

From Rebekah: She (with Dad's help) picked flowers from the neighbor's lilac bush and gave them to me. After her nap (and mine), she practiced until she could run up to me and say, "Mommy, Happy Muvers Day." (Mother is tough to say when you're 2.) Of course, I cried.

It was a quiet day at home. Nice.

Here's Rebekah's Photos of Mom & Dad. She's a brain surgeon in the making...don't you agree?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Stop the Comparison Game

***Robyn's Note: Sorry this is so late getting posted. It's been 'one of those days' for the last four days. Better late than never.***

Do you ever hear yourself playing the one-up game? You know what I mean. The mental game where you one-up the person talking. We all do it...but we seem to get extra uppity regarding our children.

Why is it that when somebody has a brag about their child, we feel compelled to put them in their place by informing them of our child's accomplishment that is even better? I started calling it the Comparison Game.

A very wise friend told me when my first child was born to never make comparisons. Huh? I'm looking at the cutest child ever born and she says don't compare him to the ugly babies others had? She went on to tell me that her belief is, "A comparison is meant to put somebody down." Ouch. Not exactly what I wanted to hear at the time. However, her comments stuck with me and I've worked hard to stop the Comparison Game.

I've discovered that no matter how beautiful, smart, funny, fast, or whatever it is you're looking at for a measuring stick; there is always somebody who is more beautiful, smarter, funnier, faster, etc. Remember when the four-minute mile was considered impossible for humans to achieve? I do. I also remember when men living in space was a Sci-fi tall tale, but I've met an astronaut who lived on the International Space Station.

My tip today is to stop comparing yourself and your children to others. Let's work to lift one another up. Life is challenging enough as it is, we don't need to tear others down. Let's rejoice in each person for who they are and what they can accomplish. If we would all take this attitude, can you imagine what our country and our world would be?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jeff Dunham & Mother's Day

Sean & I went to see Jeff Dunham, the ventriloquist, for a fantastic date night. My kids were hoping the next special would be videotaped at our show. It was not...

However, there were Mother's Day greetings recorded by Jeff & Peanut to share with you. They also taped a little of the audience and some weird, disjointed things for the opening clips of the next video--due out in 2010.

While filming these cards, Peanut adds to one of them, "This is one sick crowd!" I don't think he expected us to be quite so rowdy and fun in Po-dunk-ville. We were the biggest crowd to date on the tour and it was a bit electric. I laughed until I cried.

On behalf of Jeff, Peanut and the gang, we wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Two Freebies--Wednesday Only

From Oprah --- Coupon available for printing from 9am CDT 5/5/09 to 9:59pm CDT 5/6/09. Coupon is redeemable at participating KFC® locations in the U.S.from 5/5/09 to 5/19/09, excluding 5/10/09.

After printing, hit "back" and the coupon will print again. You should be able to print 4 coupons.

Wednesday only, go to Walgreens and you can print one free 8x10 using the coupon code MOTHER at checkout.
Offer is only valid online.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: SMART Goal Setting

I was recently reminded that it’s “that time of year”. You know what I mean---Goal Setting Season (or actually, it's Goal Up-Dating Season for me). I have a twice annual goal setting session. When back-to-school time rolls around, I set my annual goals for my home, my personal life and my spiritual life. Now that school is almost out, I like to reassess and redefine, or tweak, my goals. I know priorities change over summer vacation so I try to account for that in my goals.

I’ve learned that without a goal, I’ll never arrive. I'll keep heading in a direction but never know if I've made it. I’ve learned even if I have a goal that I miss, it gets me closer to where I want to be in life than not setting any goals at all. Many people do New Year’s Resolutions, but those don’t work for me. I find running with the school year makes it easier to achieve---and New Year’s is a midpoint to check and see how I’m doing with my goals.

You should always make a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal. S—Specific, M—Measurable, A—Achievable, R—Realistic, T—Timely or Tangible. Another key element is to write your goals down. Seeing them on paper makes you much more likely to achieve them. My goals are a little briefer in scope each year. For the summer months, I have to redefine or even drop some of my goals. I will continue trying to trash or donate at least one box a month out of our home, I will continue to work on daily devotions. However, I know that my exercise goal is usually not achievable in the summer. I modify my goal to move instead of working out. I'll go back to working out when school starts in the fall.

So, here we are with another school year about to end. Where are you at in your life? Did you accomplish anything you set out to do this school year? Do you know where you want to go? Set a goal or two and see how it changes your life!

This poster says:
GOALS--To get started, you must have a destination.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Dino-mite Time!

Also managed to go to a cool dino museum with Poppa & Grandma. It was nice because there were interactive things to do and hands on exhibits and activities. The kids (young and old) enjoyed digging for bones in the fossil cases. It was fun to use the brushes and search for bones.

There was also lots of fun at the crayon rubbings table. We had fun doing rubbings and guessing what they were.

Lots of cool models of what we thing these animals looked like.

Just a relaxing and fun time.

Here are a few photos Rebekah took before we left. She insisted that she needed a turn with my camera. Since she was doing a good job, Sean let her take a dozen or so photos. Here's a few of the "Best of Rebekah" photos:

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