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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Ninja and the Banana

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How 5th Grade Boys Roll

Uno betting with candy corns, (root) beer, and Pringles.
I didn't even know you could bet at Uno!

Never could get Steven to let me get his photo, but Anshuk, Joshua and Niel were game.

As I drove everyone home I took the opportunity to ask about important things like favorite music, girlfriends, Harry Potter, and Miley Cyrus.

This crew has no favorite music ("just whatever is on the radio"), have no interest in the whole boyfriend/girlfriend drama, are excited about the new Harry Potter movie, and think Miley Cyrus is for 3rd grade girls.

Not sure I could ask for better friends for my 5th grader!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quizzes, Therapy, & Really Amazing Friends

On Facebook recently there was a lot of conversation about an Autism Quiz that you can take.  Several friends took it and we had some interesting discussions.  Since my hubby isn't on Facebook, I had found it online and he took it.  Then I decided to have both boys take it, and the results were enlightening.  I was shocked at how self-aware Brennan (8 1/2) is about his strengths, challenges, and preferences.

There are lots and lots of Autism Quizzes out there, but this one comes from the Cambridge University Autism Research Center - a leading authority.  It is not intended to diagnose Autism, but to have you consider your own preferences and where those might overlap (or not) with adults who have been diagnosed with Autism.

Check the test out here and let me know what you think of the results!  I'm an 11 by the way.

David and I have recently decided on a new form of therapy for Brennan.  He was diagnosed with Asperger's several years ago and has completed speech therapy and a number of social skills therapies through the school corporation, making tremendous progress.

Random kids I found on Google Images

Brennan's main challenge is growing more confident in his social skills. There is no way to improve without practice, practice, practice. He gets a lot of that practice at school, at church, in his extracurricular activities, and when we invite friends to our home. Where he needs more practice is in social interactions that are not scripted, and where I am not involved.

Really Amazing Friends
So, I reached out in an email to several families in town with kids in K-6 grades, asking if they would invite Brennan over once/month to play with their kids.  While hopefully this would seem like a playdate to all involved, it would actually be therapy for Brennan. 

I explained the situation and pressed send before I could chicken out.  We're all so busy these days.  I hated to ask for this kind of help, especially from some of the people who know me well but don't know Brennan that well.  But I had to try.

I was OVERWHELMED with the response.  Within an hour of my email I had 3 families committing to help.  Within 4 hours I had 9 families.  By today I have 14 families who have said they would love to help!  I just can't believe it.  It's fantastic and will be so great for Brennan. 

Since we live hours from our family, it's really wonderful when friends are so willing to be a part of your family's lives in such a critical way.  We are blessed and are optimistic that this new "therapy" will make a tremendous difference for Brennan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, David!

Happy Birthday #mmmmm to David! 

You are the best Daddy and Hubby.
We love you!

Just a few random favorites ahead...

2004 - Mexico (with Grumpy Thomas)

2004 - Mexico (with Grumpy Brennan)

2005 - Indiana 

2005 - Indiana 

2006 - Mississippi

2007 - Mississippi 

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Works

Yesterday we took the boys to Apple Works in a small town near our home.  Somehow we have missed out on this great place since we've lived in Indiana.  A lot of classes come here for field trips but we hadn't yet made it.


The boys loved this cool, long slide plus the rope swings inside the barn.

Loved playing on this huge hay pyramid.

We enjoyed the petting zoo - this guy was so friendly. 

Brennan never misses a chance for a good photo op (good boy!)

Lots of pumpkins - we came home with two of course.

We're calling this one a tomato pumpkin.

Pumpkin Heads

We really enjoyed the apple picking, which was a first for us.

For breakfast this morning we sliced up the apples we picked yesterday and ate them with Apple Works apple cider and warm sourdough bread with apple butter we got yesterday too. 

It was all sooo delicious! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

3rd Grade Field Trip

In Indiana third graders study "Our Community".  Our school's third graders took a walking field trip earlier this week and I tagged along as a chaperone.  We had a really good time and were all worn out when we got back to the school 6 hours later!

Near our school is the local airport, 3 colleges, and a brand-new fire station, all within walking distance.

First up we went to the Air Museum at our local airport.  Back in the day it was an Air Force Base.  A retired general who commanded the Base still lives in town.  The museum has a lot of local volunteers who have built it up and who happily toured us through.

 First up we watched a video in the media center about the gliders that were built at our Air Force Base and people came to train to fly them.  The media center itself is built to resemble the inside of a glider.  The kids were super-impressed when a screen came down behind the gentleman speaking to show us the video.

The benches some of us were sitting on are actual recovered benches from WWII gliders.

We were honored that Gus Potthoff was at the Air Museum the day we were there.  He was a WWII slave labor prison camp survivor.  Mr. Potthoff was instrumental in the production of the film "Lest We Forget" that honored those he served with who died alongside him on the Burma-Thailand "Death Railway" and the "Bridge Over the River Kwai".  Please click here to learn more about Mr. Potthoff.  He spent a lot of time with Brennan and me on our visit. 

Photo of Mr. Potthoff receiving his Emmy

One of the paintings that Mr. Potthoff created of his time during WWII.

Brennan and Sean in front of an authentic re-created glider.

Jacob, Ethan, Rogan, Brennan, and Sean

Ms. Norbeck is the great-great aunts of one of Brennan's classmates (Jacob above). 

Two of the squadrons of the Tuskegee Airmen were stationed at the Air Force Base during WWII. 

And then it was on to the Fire Station!  Officer Williams was a terrific guide!  We got to see where the three crews of firefighters sleep, exercise, cook, eat, hang-out, work and train at the Fire Station.

Officer Williams got all geared up for us.

There is a celebrity working at Fire Station #2.  The second firefighter from the left is Allen Smith who was on last season's Biggest Loser tv show.  He was a great competitor on the show and did Columbus proud.

Then it was off to the Center for Teaching and Learning and Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus (IUPUC).

The CTL houses some beautiful artwork, including this Chihuly on the ceiling that I could look at for hours.  We've seen quite a few pieces of his including here and here.

Those who worked at the universities we visited gave us great tours.  We saw what the libraries are like inside a college.  We got to sit in computer and auditorium style classrooms and ask lots of questions about how college will be different from elementary school.

This moving water globe was a huge hit!

When one of the science professors asked the students if they wanted to see a real brain (in the jar in her hand), Brennan was the first to line up, with a huge smile on his face.

At one of the large sculptures outside.  A student ambassador came out to talk to the kids about college.  He did magic tricks as well and was a big hit with the kids.  He had an important message about studying hard and being curious and one day going to college to learn even more.  The kids would have done anything he asked them to at that point. 

I'm so glad I get to be a part of these days with the kids.  I learned so much and really enjoyed getting to know Brennan's classmates and some of their parents a little better.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He's a Bear

I mentioned last month that Brennan had joined the Cub Scouts this year for the first time.  3rd graders are Bears.  He's had a great first couple of scouting months.  He shares this activity with Dad and Dad takes photos with his phone, so excuse the fuzziness!

The Den had a bike safety course a couple of weeks ago.  Mr. Kahlenbeck from the bike store where we have bought our bikes came and talked about bike safety and then the boys showed their skills by completing a small obstacle course.

 There's Brennan at the front.

And he's off

In addition to a number of other educational programs, the Pack took a camping trip this past weekend while I was in Chicago.

They went to Dayton, OH to the Air Force Museum at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  After tours at the museum, the scouts set up camp.  This was Brennan's first camping trip and he was soooo excited.  I'm so glad the weather cooperated!

The next morning.  I was so glad David kept me updated with photos!  We were all 4 in different states this past weekend and it was an odd feeling! 

We're proud of our Scout!