Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Sorry Blog

Dear blog -

I really like you. You're alot of fun. I mean to pay more attention to you, it's just so hard right now. See there are these 4 boys (you know, how you got your name?) who need something alternatingly every 2.7 seconds. When they don't need something, they are making ALOT of messes, torturing each other, and jumping from heights that would give most mothers palpatations.

Ethan is out of school, and although he purports to enjoy his time off school, it mostly stresses him out. Because the bus doesn't come, and there's no morning news or schedule posted, and we don't structure our day into 1 hour increments, his anxiety sky rockets and that takes a toll on all of us.

Because when Ethan's not happy - ain't no one happy! And it seems like Ethan gives license to everyone else to spiral out of control right along with him. It is hard to play board games, listen to a story, or hear your own thoughts, while Miley Cyrus, who is housed in his iPod, is singing at the top of her lungs out of my new Bose speakers.

See, Cesar Millan knows packs need a stable alpha leader. The pack needs a calming, centered energy that disperses to the whole pack - oh boy, am I in trouble. I don't need Supernanny, I need the dog whisperer - remember, we are talking a pack here.

But, just when the screeching of the banshee's reaches heights that I am sure will require human sacrifice to quell, everyone finds a groove and like cogs in a wheel a little humming can be felt.

Then there's a lull and all is right with the world. Ethan cracks a joke and settles down to read the phone book, Mikey & Gavin sit down to a quiet game of cards, Sean watches squirrels in the backyard and I peel the "kick me" sign off my back.

Hang in there blog - this too shall pass, and I'll probably miss it when it does.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hunting for Treasure

We have wanted to dive into Geocaching for some time now. It's an activity the whole family can do together, usually involves alot of walking, and occurs outdoors - doesn't it have 'Costello' written all over it ?! It is an all around fun thing to do, is used in the scouting program, and involves a worldwide community.

We were given the opportunity, by Dennis' cousin who works at Kittatinny State Park, to attend an introduction to geocaching at the park. Dennis, Gavin and Mikey got to try out the class while I had to chase Ethan and Sean through the park got to spend some time with my other two children. The park lent them these little units.

The handheld GPS gets you within a certain radius and then you are on your own to do the looking. Some caches give you more clues than others, but it really is a 'hunting' game.

After the park we were offered food, fun and frivolity at Dennis' cousin's house. It's definately the place you want to be offered food. Yum!

We carried on at home, looking up some caches local to our house. The little packages were well hidden in places we pass almost everyday. You would have no reason to know about them, unless you are playing the game.

Some we found, some we didn't and there is still alot to learn in the way of abbreviations, terminology and geocaching etiquette. We haven't purchase a heldheld GPS yet, but used this little app that did a great job.

Happy hunting, everyone!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

09 - Make a Bomb in a Bag

The 'bomb' referred to in this activity harnesses the awesome power of cider vinegar and baking soda. The fun of it was containing it within just the right amount of space to cause some cool results.

The goal was to keep the packet of base out of the pool of acid until you 'set off your bomb'. The boys had a good time redesigning their 'bombs' and coming up with additional ideas.

Seems like I found the explosions pretty entertaining ;)

Dangerous? Apparently, from the sounds of the videos, I was scared!

08 - Throw a Spear

We didn't have to look far for a spear around here - we're armed to the teeth! The book definately had some good tips on good form and increasing your likelyhood of hitting your mark.

In the book, there was data and facts about spears that prompted alot of 'Bing' searches.

Dangerous? Only to the pillow case we used as a target!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Great Adventure!

Buckle your seatbelts, kids, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Somehow, for us, taking The Boyz to an amusement park turns into an Act of Congress.

It began with the 2 1/2 hours it takes to just get breakfast in them and then clothes, socks and shoes, glasses, hats, & sunscreen on them. Followed by the holy ritual of "the packing of the cooler". This trip required two coolers because one was coming in the park with us (and that required day ahead phone calls and special medical clearance) and one that would be used for lunch.

The decision was also made to take two cars. We carefully weighed the chances of one of the four (some with greater statistical probability than others) having some sort of medical or emotional crisis. Think I'm overreacting? You haven't travelled with us. I knew it was costing us gas and I am glad that I did not factor in the extra $20 in parking because it would have clouded my judgement.

The Boyz and I earned tickets through GA's Read to Succeed Program. Without this deal, entrance to the park would have cost us $296.33.

Entering the park was like running an obstacle course. First we had to stop at "Guest Services #1" to have our tickets verified due to the fact that I could not produce teacher I.D., then off to "Security" to get clearance for our cooler, then "Guest Services #2" to find out if the park had any policies allowing Guests with Disabilities to gain faster access to rides (they did), and then to the "Height Station" to get measured, wristbanded and find out their policies regarding lost children (you're not going to ask why are you?)

After a brief meeting with these caped crusaders, any hassle was forgotten. We commenced the business of thrill seeking.

Happy to say all six of us rode this together, proud to say I was able to peel my hands from the safety bars at the end.

Everyone was brave and rollercoasters were conquered by everyone! We took in a dolphin show and and Looney Tunes Dance Contest. We were super-glad for our cooler when an unplanned trip to the concession stand produced a bill of $25 for a slice of pizza and a refillable soda.

We noticed Ethan seemed to most stressed out by going from ride to ride and we guessed that maybe it was genuine fatigue. I often forget, because he looks like such a strapping young man, that Down syndrome comes with excpetionally low muscle tone and everything is twice as hard for him. We rented a wheelchair not knowing if it was the answer. Bingo! He was actually glad to sit in it and made the afternoon much more "fuss free".

The hours ticked away and we added ride after ride to our 'done' list. We practically closed the park. Although the the day (and the beginning of this post) started off pretty tedious, the day ended with happy, tired boys who can add things like El Torro and Bizarro to their amusement park resumes. Some people would say it was just too much work, but Dennis and I share a deep desire to raise our kids in a way that they are able to experience, see and do as many things as we can possibly provide - and share an inordinate amount of energy!

Are you tired yet?

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Little 'culture for My Boys

Agriculture that is! We make a yearly pilgirmage out to our county's 4H Fair. It is interesting, inspiring and delicious. The boys say things like, "I didn't know kids could sew", "can I join a robotics club" and "can we have a guinea pig?"

It's a place where kids come to show off their wares, animals, clubs, creations, cooking, and countless other things.

So quaint, right? You wouldn't even know he's from North Plainfield with a yard the size of a postage stamp!

The boys tried juggling, spinning plates and hula hooping with the folks from The Circus Place. I think we will need to take a class or two there.

The animals of every shape and size are always the hightlight - even though they see them every year. Sean was at the cutest age to come across cows lounging in a tent!

There is a food tent, and we always look forward to the hot, buttery Jersey corn. It has been dinner on more than one occassion.

Today is the last day in Somerset County - bet there is still corn to be had.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This is the wall directly behind the head of Ethan's bed. Self-esteem issues? I think not.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mikey has fun at the library.

It was a particularly exciting trip to the library. First of all, you would have thought that Jack & Annie, The Wimpy Kid and Jack Sparrow were all there in person by his reaction - "Please mom, take 'our' picture!" I obliged and ended up with these.

The real highlight of the evening was the "PAWS 4 Reading" program, where kids can spend a few minutes reading aloud to therapy dogs provied by St. Hubert's Animal Welfare.

He couldn't decide - "Go, Dogs, Go", "Balto", or "All About Wolves". He really thought they'd like to hear about themselves. Why read to dogs? They don't correct you or judge you and really are good listeners.

He always made sure he showed them the pictures.

The day after I posted this entry, this story was posted:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Up, up & Away!

Every year, New Jersey hosts the Quick Check Festival of Ballooning and each year we go out to watch. We do not pay to go see the concerts or enter the grounds but have found a secret (and free) location from where to watch ;)

At first, balloons start dotting the horizon and are best seen with a pair of binoculars, but beautiful to the naked eye.

When they have all made their ascent, on a beautiful clear night like last night, it is really a remarkable sight. Every color, shape and size. From the ground you can hear the faint roaring of the fire that is the only fuel that keeps these massive balloons afloat.

We then change locations to try and see some of these giants up close, skimming residential neighborhoods and treetops. It was clear that several would make there descent in a distant park.

We followed on foot after that, waiting for several to touch down. It is really amazing to see these baskets lower completely in control and so softly. The balloons hover for as long as the pilot keeps it there until a member of their team pulls a cord attached to the top of the balloon and lays it on the ground. Many teams do not want 'hands-on' spectators - lucky for us, the boys came across Mark Fritze and his Freedom Flyer. Once he landed, he made it clear that even the smallest spectators were welcome to help him pack up his massive balloon.

He methodically instructed the kids to roll carefully, with no sharp objects in their hands or pockets to completely deflate the balloon. They were also given a chance to handle it and pack it in it's sack.

He answered every question that Gavin could throw at him and gave these kids a fabulous experience. Add to resume - packed a hot air balloon!!

At the end of the evening, the boys recieved a "Freedom Flyer" balloon trading card! They also ran over and got one from the Pepsi balloon. I think we've found a new collection to pursue :)