Thursday, December 31, 2009

School celebrations

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Here are a few pictures from the boys' parties at school before the break. I did a little experimenting with Scrapblog:









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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heart

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CB: "It's a heart, Mom. Dat means Looove."
me: "It's beautiful, thank you!"
BH: "Yeah, we worked really hard at school to earn dat so we could give it to you."
CB: "Aren't you glad you have us?"

More than you could possibly know... I am blessed beyond measure every day to have these boys in my life. I gave them each a big hug.

"Of course, I love all of you boys more than anything!"

CB: "I wuv you too, Mom. I wuv my whole family more den anyfing too. Even more den I wuv Pokemon."

I couldn't help but smile :). "Wow, that's a lot!"

"Yeah," he agreed, "cuz I wuv Pokemon a whole bunch!"


Have I mentioned lately how much I love my babies? :)

~~~~~~~~~

Oh, and that reminds me of another ring that Cuddlebug gave me recently, at his school's party a couple of weeks ago.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it before Bitty wanted to play with it and I never saw it again... but it's a funny story so I'll describe it to you.

It was one of those plastic rings that comes on the top of cupcakes, and it was huge. About 1 1/2 inches of green plastic lettering saying, "Ho Ho Ho!"

Cuddlebug presented it to me with a flourish and said, "I cweaned it for you, Mom!"

"Aww, thanks, I love it!" I briefly wondered how he cleaned the frosting off with no water nearby, and decided I probably didn't want to know so I didn't ask. I put the ring on my finger and showed it to him.

Maybe he read my mind, because he was eager to share exacly how he had cleaned the ring for me.

"I wick'd it, Mom! I cweaned it wif my tongue!"

I had to laugh. Of course he did. I smiled and told him, "that's kind of gross, but you did a pretty good job."

I left it on, slobber and all, the rest of the day (until Bitty confiscated it, that is).





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SEW & WW: Christmas Eve

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Hot chocolate
Christmas movies (The Grinch, old-school cartoon version, and Polar Express)
Candles
A warm fire
Three happy and excited boys (minus the one meltdown when I wouldn't let a certain 4-yr-old climb to the top of the cat post, he eventually got over it)

What more could a mom want on Christmas Eve?


Click here for more Special Exposure Wednesday. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here or here.





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Monday, December 28, 2009

Baking cookies

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These are from about three weeks ago, I was baking Christmas cookies and the boys wanted to help out :). It was quite the group effort, as you'll see...

Little Bitty loved sitting on the counter to help :). Here he was testing the spinning speed of the bowl while I got the ingredients ready, lol.


When it was time to stir, Bitty held the bowl while Bearhug did the stirring.


They called in reinforcements... Cuddlebug helped Bitty hold the bowl while Bearhug did the stirring.


Then it was Cuddlebug's turn to stir, while Bearhug and Bitty held the bowl.


Next up, Bitty takes a turn at stirring. In a show of strength, he did double-duty both holding the bowl and stirring at the same time!


And what's more fun than stirring? Spinning the bowl, of course!


A little more flour, and a little more stirring to finish it off...




While the cookie dough was cooling in the fridge, we made the frosting. Yum :)


Then it was back to the dough, cutting out the shapes to bake. Bitty had WAY too much fun with the flour, lol :).


When the cookies were ready, everyone helped decorate. Bearhug and Cuddlebug made these two cookies especially for me (yum!) They were quite generous with the sprinkles :).



It was much messier than doing it all myself, but it was nice to have that together time. Cuddlebug and Bearhug didn't have the attention span to stay the whole time but that was ok, they were in and out and helped with whatever we had going on when they stopped by. And for the first time, they listened when I reminded them not to put the shape cutouts on top of each other when doing the cookie-cutters (because it just doesn't work that way). Bitty's new favorite thing is sitting on top of the counters (fun) so he was more than happy to stay there the whole time :). All in all, a fun time that resulted in lots of yummy cookies!





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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family pictures!

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The last - and only - time we've had family pictures done was five years ago, when Cuddlebug and Bearhug were three years old and I was still pregnant with Bitty (so technically he's in the pictures, you just can't actually see him):



Taking our boys to have pictures done is such an ordeal, and one that I typically embark on by myself when I can work up the nerve to attempt it. I try to go at least once a year. Sometimes I take them separately rather than all three together. Convincing dh to come along for family pictures is another challenge :).

But seeing as how Bitty will be turning five soon, I figured it was time to try and have family pictures done. I made a deal with dh that I wouldn't drag him along again for another five years (hehe). There was much complaining from Cuddlebug and Bearhug, and a near-meltdown from Bitty that involved shoe-throwing and attempted stripping (finally calmed by some Baby Einstein books and Oreos). I was worried that they might not even go into the studio when it was our turn, but as luck would have it the photographer turned out to be someone we know from church. She is familiar with the boys' sensory issues and she used to be one of Bitty's nursery teachers, and I think it really helped the boys to have someone familiar. I didn't even realize she worked there, it's not the location we usually go to but it is closer to their school than our usual one and we had scheduled the appointment for shortly after school (I was off work for the afternoon to attend their school parties and we figured it might be better to go on a weekday than to try going on a busy pre-holiday Saturday).

Despite all the stress, I think these turned out really good :). This was my Christmas present from dh and the boys :).



I really like this one of the boys together. It wasn't planned that way, she just snapped the picture when they were being silly. This is what they look like much of the time :).


This one's a little "calmer," lol. Love their expressions :). Bearhug is on the left in this one, Cuddlebug is on the right.


And she got some individual pics of the boys too:


We hadn't planned on getting any of just the two of us, but these turned out nice. The first one is my favorite :).



This one she took when Bitty and I weren't expecting it, I really like it. At the time, we were pretty much done and I was giving him a hug and telling him what a good job he did.



So now dh is off the hook for another five years, and the boys are off the hook until next year (they are growing boys, surely you didn't think I'd wait another five years for them? hehe). ;)





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Friday, December 25, 2009

For God so loved the world...

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(painting by Simon Dewey)


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6



If you have a few minutes to watch, this is a beautiful video with paintings of Christ's birth set to the Christmas song, O Holy Night (my personal favorite!). I love it so I wanted to share :). In case you can't see the video, I included the words below. I know it's one everyone knows, but the words are especially meaningful.


May each of you have a blessed Christmas filled with joy, peace, and love!




O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world1 rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, He guardeth us from danger2
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!







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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sleepover

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Cuddlebug and Bearhug have been having "sleepovers" by the Christmas tree every weekend since we put it up (they'd do it every day if we let them but we limited them to weekends, lol).

They had planned to sleep there tonight too but are still upstairs playing. I'm all for staying up late tonight, anything to encourage the possibility of sleeping in a little bit tomorrow (yeah, I know, not likely but a mom can hope right?).





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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Santa dilemma

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(Photo taken at Parents' Night Out)

Cuddlebug and Bearhug never really showed any interest in Santa Claus until they saw the Polar Express movie (I think they were 5). Even then, they were more interested in the train, but Santa had some relevance to them as the person the train was taking the children in the movie to go see.

That year, they kept asking if a train was going to stop in our front yard to go see Santa. I hated to disappoint them, but there really is no way to pull that one off. Then they asked if Santa was going to leave them a bell like he did in the movie, and *that* I could do so I got some jingle bells and red ribbon, and left one for each of them (even though Bitty was too young to care). On Christmas morning, they barely noticed the presents from Santa (they didn't really distinguish what was from him vs. everything else) but they were soo excited about those bells!

Last year, they were busy devising all kinds of plans to "prove" Santa's existence. We travelled last year for Christmas and I figured the game was up when they stumbled on the jingle bells I had hidden (not well enough apparently) in my suitcase. :/ But on Christmas morning they had either forgotten, not made the connection, or decided not to let on.

A couple of weeks ago, the topic of Santa came up again. They wanted to know if he is real.

"And tell us da TROOF!" they insisted, "because we don't fink he's real!"

They are 8 years old and in 3rd grade. They seemed to have already figured it out and I couldn't in good conscience not tell them at this point and risk them being teased for still believing in Santa at an age when many of their peers will already know he's not real (at least not in the literal sense, one could argue that the spirit of giving embodied in "Santa" is real but I digress).

So I 'fessed up. They seemed disappointed. Apparently they were very disappointed... because several times since then they have commented how much they wish he was real. :/ I told them he was based on a real person, St. Nicholas, and that seemed to cheer them up a bit.

The downside of filling them in has been trying to emphasize the importance of keeping it to themselves. Being that they have never been big fans of "pretend play" it bothers them to pretend that Santa is real when they now know that he isn't. And them being them, we knew they'd feel inclined to announce that to anyone they heard talking about Santa. So we had to explain how we don't want to spoil the experience for younger kids who believe in Santa. They didn't quite get that (how can you spoil it if he's not real anyway?) but they have fortunately not had many opportunities to set the record straight, at least that we have seen.








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Monday, December 21, 2009

Magic Marker Monday: Christmas crafts

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We have lots of creativity to share today, I couldn't choose just one and figured better to put them all in one post than still be sharing Christmas art two months from now (no I wouldn't actually do that. Or would I? hehe)

Bitty made this cute ornament at school as a gift for us... clearly his teachers helped with the details but the handprint that makes the snowmen is all him :)


Bitty also made this Christmas tree at school, it has since lost most of its beads because he wanted to play with it but that's ok.


Cuddlebug made this cool candle jar at school, it's made with tissue paper and the picture doesn't quite do it justice but the colors / shapes really stand out when the candle is lit.


Bearhug made this ornament for the tree, he put it up but I can't find it so he might have taken it back down to play with... good thing I took a picture of it on his desk at school ;).


Bearhug and Cuddlebug have been busy making things at home too. And what might two 8-yr-old boys who really, really want Pokemon cards for Christmas and just can't wait decide to make?

Yep, homemade Pokemon cards :). I love their attention to detail. Just like the real cards, they've included a picture of the Pokemon (some of these are their own made-up Pokemon characters too), its level, attack moves, stats, etc. and the Pokemon logo on the back :).

(click to view larger)

They also made Pokemon-themed paper ornaments for the tree. This one is Cuddlebug's. Those are dragon-type Pokemon ornaments hanging from his tree. (I'm pretty sure Bitty is responsible for the clump of ornaments hanging together below that):



And this is what is left of Bearhug's... I wasn't fast enough with the camera :(. It was a tree complete with star and hanging Pokemon ornaments, with a "Merry Christmas" sign hanging from the bottom. Apparently part of it tore and so he ripped the whole thing up except for this piece, so I asked if I could at least take a picture of that.

Consider it a Christmas greeting from our family to yours :).






For more Magic Marker Monday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.




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Morning help

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Thought I'd share in case anyone has similar struggles.

We figured out a new strategy for helping the boys get up and moving in the morning (especially Bearhug, and I feel his pain because I am not a morning person either). Mornings have been especially hard lately with it being dark outside and cold. After trying a few other things with little or no improvement, we asked Bearhug if it would help to have warm clothes to put on in the morning. He liked the idea, so we had him pick out his clothes the night before and the next morning we put them in the dryer for a few minutes. Sure enough, he popped out of bed with no problem to put his warm clothes on and then he was good to go.

Cuddlebug wanted to try it too, and we figured Bitty might like it too, so now every morning we put three sets of clothes in the dryer in the morning and deliver warm clothes to three sleepy boys... and our morning routine goes much more smoothly now :).




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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The countdown continues...

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The boys are all excited for Christmas and it's been so fun having Bitty into it. He is making up for lost time, singing Christmas songs (in his own way) and he keeps pulling this one present out from under the tree wanting to open it. "Opeh... 'Bitty' opeh da book. You wah opeh?" Have I already mentioned that I need to be a little more sneaky with putting things into boxes before I wrap them next year? Anyway, it's always the same present and each time we remind him, "no open til Christmas" and then after tugging at the tape a bit he'll take it back to the tree saying "no opeh tih Cwismah."

Bearhug and Cuddlebug can hardly stand the wait as they are pretty sure they are getting a lot of Pokemon cards :). They *may* be right about that, guess we'll just have to wait and see, lol ;). I admit, we are kind of milking the whole "gotta be good because it's almost Christmas" thing... it's not exactly "super-effective" (to use a Pokemon term) but we only get to use that once a year!

I remember when they used to refer to Christmas as "The 25." That was during their calendar-obsession phase (it lasted quite a while) :).





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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spell-a-pa-looza

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Yesterday both Bearhug and Cuddlebug handed me their spelling lists so we could work on them. Since they each seemed eager to have me quiz them, I opted to alternate having each of them spell every other word rather than go through the lists one at a time. So we got into a rhythm where I'd call out Cuddlebug's name and a word from his spelling list, he'd spell it and then I'd say Bearhug's name and one of his words, and so on. As we were going back and forth Bitty came up to me and interrupted (loudly and with a big grin on his face) "'Bitty'! Cow! C... O... W!!" So cute, he wanted to join in the spelling fun :).

As it turned out he wasn't satisfied with taking a turn every third time, so in order to keep him from shouting over his brothers I had to give him a turn every other time. Bearhug - Bitty - Cuddlebug - Bitty... lol. He was so excited about spelling his words, and you know what? He got most of them right (cow, dog, cat, pig, car, box, fox, and he was close on horse). :) Bearhug and Cuddlebug did great on their words as well, of course ;).





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What's in a name?

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Cuddlebug and Bearhug decided a few weeks ago to start calling me "Mom" instead of "Mama." I think some other kids may have given them a hard time about saying "Mama," who knows. They made the switch overnight... one day I was "Mama" and the next? Suddenly I was "Mom."

I was not prepared for how weird it would feel or how long it is taking to get used to, but I am slowly getting used to it. They have always called me "Mama" and now they sound so grown-up, calling me "Mom." sniff :(

Something tells me it won't be any easier when Bitty decides he's too old to say "Mama" :/





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Friday, December 11, 2009

A glimpse...

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Every now and then we get a brief glimpse into what Little Bitty is thinking about. The "inner Bitty," if you will. As I have mentioned before, truly spontaneous speech, unprompted and unscripted, is rare. On the other hand, there is insight to be found in speech of the prompted and/or scripted variety too, of course. I have a whole other post coming together on that ;).

So, we've been helping Bitty learn to pray, now that he is beginning to show interest and even wanting to participate in family prayers for the first time. It's very cute to listen to him, although a bit painful on the ears as he likes to shout his prayers, with ear-splitting emphasis on the last word in every phrase (think Dick Vitale on steroids and with a bullhorn, and you're at least getting close, lol).

Since we started out by helping him with what to say and letting him repeat each phrase, he quickly took to saying the whole thing on his own, with every phrase said twice, lol. Just the way he heard it, right?

The words are hard to make out, but I know that Heavenly Father understands every word :).

Somewhere along the way (because we hadn't gotten to the step of teaching him this part yet) he figured out that part of praying is expressing what you're thankful for. He hears his big brothers giving thanks for everything under the sun in their prayers (I soo love listening to them :)). Maybe he interprets it as listing things that make you happy, who knows, but the result is pretty much the same. Because the other night, that's what he started doing, all on his own. He even stopped screeching as he said:

"(mumble mumble) Cwow nie... ["Cloud 9" is the name of a game he has that he likes to play with]
(mumble mumble) Thomas...
(mumble mumble) books...
(mumble mumble) chwocka miwk...
(mumble mumble) Appoo Jacks..."

I interpreted the indecipherable mumble to be something along the lines of "I'm thankful for." He finished it off with a rousing "Ay-MEH!!!" (had to bring the screaming back to finish up strong, lol) and dh and I just looked at each other.

"Did he just list the things he is thankful for?"
"Yeah, I think he did!"

If we had asked him, "Hey Bitty, what are you thankful for?" he would not have been able to answer. The most likely response would be, "fay-thul por" (thankful for).

And yet, in the context of offering a prayer, he was able to share some of the things he is thankful for. It was a blessing to hear him.

He hasn't done that again since, but he has *sort of* toned down the shrieking when he prays, and that is a blessing too ;). I'm sure the neighbors down the street who could probably HEAR his loudness think so too, hehe.






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Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas (lots of pics!)

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This year has been especially fun getting ready for Christmas, thought I'd share some pictures of our tree-decorating escapades...

First there was the trip to Walmart to pick up a few remaining decorations that we needed. Aside from climbing everything in sight (which I did not get pictures of, too busy trying to get them down), the boys tried on some festive headgear :). Little Bitty and Bearhug tried out some Santa hats while Cuddlebug tried on some antlers.




Then it was off to Lowe's to pick out a tree. It would have been fun to go to a tree farm to pick out a tree, but Lowe's is closer and less expensive... :). We tried to go as fast as possible, knowing that we were already at the limit of overstimulation thanks to having to stop at Walmart first, not to mention just the excitement of the whole tree-adventure.



Bearhug took a break from tree-hunting to climb the fence :/





This is what happens when I ask the boys to stand together for a picture...


And when I clarified, "umm... try standing *next to* each other... and smile!" this is what I got (lol):

At least they managed to stand next to each other long enough for a picture of all 3 together, it's rare!)


Then the boys and I waited in the car while the tree was loaded on top.


As we pulled out, Bearhug asked, "was I good in there?" We shrugged and said, "pretty good." (all three of them were pretty wired and pinging off the walls by the time we were ready to check out, but they stayed in control and no meltdowns, so we considered it a success. Bearhug said, "thanks for not yelling at me, because if you did I would've had to hit myself in the head." Uh... well, I'm glad we didn't have any need to yell then (I'm glad we didn't need to yell anyway, we don't like to but sometimes it's the only way to get their attention).

Then it was back home for decorating. I didn't actually get to take any pictures until we were almost done (and dh was busy outside putting the lights up). It was pretty chaotic for a while there, the boys couldn't wait so they kept running in and out of the house while I got the decorations out of the boxes (they were joined by our neighbor's dog at one point, our cat was unimpressed, lol). The three of them practically smothered me as I put the hooks on the ornaments... I couldn't get those hooks on fast enough! Finally we reached some ornaments that already had hooks on and I was able to snap a few pictures :).






I really love these two pictures of Bitty. In this one, he's inspecting the almost-finished tree with his hands clasped in excitement...


And here I just like his expression looking at the tree in the soft light.



And a couple of tree pictures. Of course we have a Texas longhorn ornament :)








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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.

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