Hello my friends, and Happy July! 🎆 I hope your new month is off to a great start!
I'm popping in today to wish you all well and share a little bit of our past few weeks. Now, here's your fair warning - this is a very BIG post with a LOT of pictures and a few (ok, a lot) of notes. I feel like too much time and too many events are passing and I hardly ever get to pop in here and say hi and share with you all what's going on with my family. And that's always been the heart of my blog, really - sharing our days and the big and little moments for which we are so grateful. 💛
Back in my blogging heyday (say, mid to late 2000s) I was blogging ALL the time and pretty much "reporting in" every day! Well, time is not as flexible for me these days, though I refuse to say my energy is not what it once was - ahem! But anyhoo, enough of my babbling, here is a look at some of the things we got up to last month! It was quite a fun and busy June!
First we start with this ...
Our Crackerjack GRADUATED!!!
On Saturday, June 16th, our second son, Crackerjack (this boy!) officially finished his homeschooling journey. (Please excuse me while I sob for a moment.)
Now, not all homeschoolers have a graduation ceremony when they are done with their high schooling, but we were very grateful to be part of a beautiful one. For many years we've been members of a wonderful homeschooling organization, a place that offers small classes for middle and high school-age homeschoolers. Crackerjack took classes here for seven years - Art, Spanish and, just this past year, Karate. We will miss this community so much now that we no longer have kids enrolled here ... but I dearly hope that perhaps someday Little Bear will be ready to join!
Anyhoo - all to say, above is our young man walking in to the ceremony hall. There were 12 kids in all who graduated, and the event was entirely organized by the kids themselves and their parents. It was so fun to be part of the planning!
(By the way, the kids chose to walk in to this song instead of the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance.")
We were very blessed to have many family members attend Jack's graduation, including ...
Mum and Dad, and Bill's Mom and Dad - aka, Nana & Papa, and Grandma and Grandpa!
And here's the rest of our crew, awaiting the start of the ceremony:
Bill, his folks, my brother Matt, my folks, and my Auntie Marcia and Uncle Karl.
(Bookworm had Little Bear outside, "keeping busy" - aka "quiet," lol.)
Here is our young man, giving a speech called, "Reflecting on the Year."
And here we are with our graduate, presenting him with his diploma and sharing our pride and joy in a speech given through a few tears!
Each pair of parents came up on stage to talk about, and to, their beloved child. And as you can imagine, the speeches were very personal and moving! Another nice touch, the kids all handed their mothers a flower before leaving the stage. We had discussed getting roses or daisies for this activity, but happily, our own peonies were overflowing our garden! So plush, pink peonies it was!
Here are two of my fellas ...
One who'll be off to college in the fall, and the other who's just starting his homeschooling journey!
A note about my dress - I had all of about 20 minutes one morning to pop into Macy's and find SOMETHING to wear to the graduation!! Amazingly, I found this one in about five minutes, and tried it on right away.
A. it fit, B. it was marked down, and, C. ... triple bonus! ... the colors matched not only the graduation but also Cj's college's colors as well!
(You all know I'm all about color-coordination, lol!)
Here is our Earlybird who was kept company at home during the ceremony with his ABA therapist. (It would have been very hard for EB to sit through the graduation - too much noise and way too much emotion!) But while EB and Hannah waited for our return, they baked some lovely graduation cupcakes!
It was such a wonderful day, a lovely way to celebrate and honor the end of our homeschooling journey with our son. It was (and still is) very hard to grasp that "new reality" - but two days later he was off to Emmanuel College for Orientation! And we now have the Summer to enjoy being "done" and prepare our son for his freshman year ... meanwhile, I have a few scant months to prepare this mama's heart for the big changes to come this September!
Ok, are you up for more stories?? (I warned you this was a big one!)
Speaking of Earlybird, he's been doing very well with his therapy (and med) and making some nice strides with community outings! Here are some pics from a recent Stop 'N Shop trip ...
He's even been making his own lunch!
Now, this being (almost) Friday, I'm going to include a little "full disclosure" in my post - because I just had to walk away from this draft for over an hour. Earlybird had a very hard time today - the heat is brutal, his therapists are on holiday break, he's had way too much down time, not to mention, screen time - and it all added up to a bored, hot, restless, grumpy, tech-addicted kid, and he just now had a really ugly, 45 minute meltdown. The kind that involves shouting and crying and stomping and has us sending Little Bear downstairs with his brother because it's just way too upsetting for him to witness ...
So, you see, EB's making some awesome progress and the good times (and good moods) are stretching out longer and getting more complex - in that, he can handle more challenges now - shopping at the grocery store, getting a haircut, walking near a busy street, listening to his little brother sing "Bingo" in the car - but it's not all figured out just yet. Not even close. I'm not sure it will ever ALL be figured out - his special needs and challenges will change through the years just as they have up to this point. But I share both sides of the coin with you in this post because I want other special needs parents to take heart not just from our good times, but also from our not-so-good times. We have them, too ... and we struggle a lot. (And it's just as easy to feel disheartened by someone else's good times in light of one's own curent struggles.)
Truth be told, special needs parenting is the hardest thing I've ever had to handle in my life ... hands down. Thankfully, God blessed me with the support team I needed - a loving and understanding family, amazing therapists, and most especially a strong and nurturing marriage. I don't know how I'd ever do this alone ...
But, let me say this: I am SO encouraged by how much EB's been able to handle and the new things he can do. I KNOW we have only more progress to make in the days (and years) ahead. I try not to let the tough times (like this past hour) rattle me too much. Tomorrow is a new day and our therapists will be here and we will get back on track ... in fact, as I continue to type, EB is here with me in the family room, and all is calm. All is going to be alright ...
We're all in this together, after all! Case in point ...
All six of us at my cousin's party on the 4th of July! What a GREAT day that was! (More pics below.)
Ok, here I am with the older boys, my folks and my brother enjoying a birthday lunch for Bookworm last week ... and eep, can you believe he turned 23?!
Honestly, how is it I now have a child who is a TWENTY-THREE YEAR OLD MAN? #holymoly #timeflies #toofast
At 23, I was engaged to be married and only three years away from motherhood ... and seriously, all of that doesn't seem that long ago ... sigh. But don't get me started, on the whole where-has-the-time-gone thing, lol! That's a whole n'other post.
So in this pic, we had just come from seeing Jurassic World: Fallen World - which was really good! - and tucked in to lunch at Legal Sea Foods - also really good! (And Bookworm's favorite restaurant.) Bill was working at home so he watched the younger boys ... but I plan to take him to dinner next week for HIS birthday! :)
Ok, forward we go - on to the Fourth!! And how was your holiday, dear (American) friends? I just LOVE this holiday, and it was a really nice one this year. Of course, it was hotter than blue blazes here in New England but just lovely all the same. Sunny, breezy and everything was just so green and bright!
I love to celebrate even when it's "just us," so before the boys woke up, I arranged a festive breakfast buffet ...
(My 4th grade music class book!)
And flowers from the yard - picked by Little Bear (still in his pjs) and me. We searched for "red, white and blue" blossoms!
It might be all small potatoes in the scheme of things, but I just love doing this kind of stuff. (Hence, my homemade planner so I can work these kinds of things into our busy family schedule!) I think it will make for nice memories ...
But then, in the afternoon it was time to head over to my cousin's house for our family's annual 4th of July party. Mike and Krista host a fantastic party, and we always look forward to this get-together! And this year, Earlybird's therapist came with us to support him - help him socialize and handle the heat. (It was in the 90°s!) It was wonderful that he was able to join us!
Here are some peeks at our day:
EB keeping his therapist, Hannah, cool. :)
Little Bear, who decided to "sit with the girls" and come to their rescue with his battery-operated misting fan.
My older boys! Bookworm (23) and Crackerjack (18).
Beautiful holiday signs made by my cousins, Emily and Elizabeth. 💙
The tree swing is always a big hit with my boys!
Bill with my Uncle Karl. :)
Little Bear with handsome DumDum, wearing his holiday finery ... :)
Lovely to see my Auntie Marcia, Cousin Sue, Auntie Pat, Mum, and my cousin (by marriage) Vicki.
My lovely Mum with my dear cousin, Kara. This beautiful young woman was my flower girl!!
Dad (on the left) with his brother, my Uncle Dave. 💙
And ohmygoodness, he was SO pleased to be allowed to eat cheese puffs!!
Some more yummy things from the party ...
My mum's "triple-layer brownies." They are legendary ...
A gorgeous and delicious strawberry trifle made by my cousin, Elizabeth. (This was the dessert I chose, and there were a LOT to choose from!)
Krista's beautiful dessert station. The cake in the front center was Little Bear's contribution! :)
This here is Hannah, who is Earlybird's ABA therapist and, without a doubt, an angel sent from heaven to guide us. She has such a beautiful way of reaching our son, guiding our journey, and showing us how things can be ... she has also become dear friend. 💙
More swinging!! What a fun day this was ...
It's such a gift to be able to attend an event like this, all of us together. Usually we have to spit up and take shifts, or one of us (Bill, myself or my mum) has to just sit out an event if EB's having a particularly hard day. Thanks to Hannah, we felt confident we could bring EB and we could relax while we were there. Happily, our boy not only handled the party beautifully - he ENJOYED himself, too!
And just look at that smile!!
💙 💙 💙 💙 💙 💙
Alrighty, I think I should wrap things up now, seeing as how I've kept you here so very long! I'm so grateful you joined me, and allowed me to share a little bit of our June ... and my rambles!! I'd love to hear from you, too, if you have a moment!
A quick bit of business before I go: our next Mitten Strings book study will be delayed ONE week. (I'll bet you're not surprised, lol.) I just have not had a chance to re-read the chapter yet! ("Nature") My posting goal is a week from Sunday - July 15th. (St. Swithin's Day!)
Ok, I'm off for now, truly - but I wish you all well, and a peaceful day (or evening) ahead. Thanks so much for stopping by ...
I will see you here again very soon!
p.s. BIG planner news coming next month!