Monday, August 14, 2017

Tubing and boat issues

The kids FINALLY got into a water sport, well, almost a water sport.  Tubing!!!  They actually like going fast and Reggie and Spencer even fell out a couple times and they wanted to do it again!  Maggie and Khalif were very nervous to go fast, so they went slow for a long time, but by the end of the summer, Khalif had no partner because Maggie was going fast too!  Unfortunately, Ryan ran the boat out of gas because the guy who got the boat ready for summer didn't fix the gas gauge as requested and Ryan didn't listen to my dad about putting more in.  Now know that when the fuel pump doesn't get gas it burns up, so no worky.  The bigger problem was finding a replacement since the boat was made in 1994 and the first kit we tried from Mastercraft didn't work and the kids were so disappointed.  What do you do when you don't have a boat to pull the kids, you use the party boat!  It wasn't quite as fast and somehow grandma, Aunt Jeanne, Dad and Liha (it was happy hour on the party boat so there was definitely some alcohol involved!) ended up going and it was a riot, until we went over a big wave and then that boat lost all speed.  The lower unit went out and that was a much more expensive fix.
Liha, Ainsley and grandpa video:  to view click (arrtwade.blogspot.com)
video
  Khalif's 10 seconds of speed
video
Ainsley, Spencer and Reggie video
video
Looking for the grandma/Aunt Jeanne pics.  I will post when the Rinehardts locate them.  Only 1 picture...video is on Facebook and I can't seem to copy it, but here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/irene.schroers/videos/10211924259735701/.  It was fun!

This happened right before our trip, so mom worked hard to find a fix.  Every lead seemed to dead end until she found a mechanic in Arlington who got a completely different fuel pump and got the appropriate connectors, so we were up and running the day after we got back.  The kids were soooo excited and we spent hours and hours tubing for the rest of the summer!

1st half of the summer

Lots of much deserved relaxation

 Jump off the dock onto the floatie game.  Lots of time spent perfecting this!


 Party boat rides.  This was before it warmed up
 Making pizza for dinner
 Biking around the lake
 Reggie/Ryan time at the races
 Playing in the sand.  Lots of that this summer
 I had to take a picture.  He assured me it is to rehabilitate his partial knee replacement.  I told him its o.k. to continue and be healthy by exercising!!!
 Regal movie day!  My kids only ate 3 tubs of popcorn!
 Hmmm.   A mystery.  Mom and I were driving and an owl flew over which was amazing and then I looked down and saw this on the window.  A drop from the owl?  Or a crawl out from the engine where it was living?  I was going to pull over and put the wiper on to get rid of it but mom flipped the wiper wand before I pulled over and it took flight over the top of the car, ha ha!
 Splash wars.  Lots of this and tag
 Warming up and resting
 Trampoline time!  Many, many hours spent on this.  Grandma surprised the kids with a trampoline this summer and it was so much fun for all the kids.  Stella and Ruby came over a lot and they had fun talking about Harry Potter, tubing and playing in the water

Drive to Washington

Mt. Shasta with more snow than I have ever seen!
We decided to detour on our way to Washington this year.  I have always wanted to go to Crater Lake, so that was our first stop.  We were very surprised to see all the snow in June!  It wasn't just a little snow, there were several feet and it was cold.  The scenery was amazing...starting with the pull-off where you can see how the flow of material and steam carved out a deep ravine and then the lake.  We watched the video at the visitor center, so we learned a bit about how it was formed and why it is so unique.  Ainsley was complaining much of the time...boring....cold.  I get it, but hopefully, someday they will appreciate it.


We left there a bit later than I thought and it was a long drive to the hotel near Portland.  Ryan was working the next day and I requested a hotel near I-5 since I knew we would be tired from our long day, but he decided to book a hotel near where he was going to work.  It was a bad idea.  We were toast from the car ride, listening to Ainsley push Khalif's buttons and then him yelling at her in irritation.  Then it went from that to Ainsley laughing at him for miles.  It was a very unpleasant few hours and when we finally got to the hotel, 45 minutes west of I-5 they didn't have his reservation.  Or they did, but it was at another hotel a few miles away.  Unfortunately, he was trying to be efficient and unloaded the car since the check-in line was long, so we loaded up the car and headed to the other hotel.  It was almost 9 o'clock by this time, well past Khalif's bed time.  We arrived at the other hotel and Ryan couldn't find his wallet.  He left it at the front desk at the first hotel!  So, we had to go back.  I was laughing a bit at this point because it was such a mess, but Ryan didn't think it was so funny.  It was nearly 10 by the time everyone was in bed and I told the kids if the clock said anything before 8, to close their eyes and go back to sleep.  This has been a real challenge for the boys, so I wasn't optimistic, but I woke up at 8:00 and it was quiet.  Ryan snuck out at 7 am.  Unfortunately, this hotel had a frosted glass barn door for the bathroom, so I couldn't go to the bathroom without waking up everyone, so I laid in bed and waited and waited.  Finally, at 8:45 I had to get up and sure enough the light woke everyone up moments later.  That was o.k. because we had to get down to breakfast before it ended.  So, I now know that they can sleep in!!!  After breakfast, I had a long talk with them about the day before and that life wasn't all about them anymore...mom and dad get to do things that they enjoy and they will tag along with positive attitudes.  And, we will be kind and respect one another and not have anymore of their nonsense.  They apologized and things were definitely better, but that could have been because we left there and went to Great Wolf Lodge and had an amazing time on the water slides.



That was the first time that I've had motion sickness from water slides...Ryan too.  It was a good workout and we were happy to be moving after sitting in the car for so long.  They had a wand game that the kids also enjoyed doing, but it is clear that Reggie is hitting his teen years and not interested in doing as much as he used to.  Just wanted to hang out in the room and play video games or read, so we had yet another talk.  It was important to me to get this figured out before the summer started and we went on our trip overseas.  It made for a very rough start to the summer, but I think Reggie accepted the summer reality after about 4 or 5 days.  Not a whole lot that I expected....Reggie had to work out every other day, they had to brush their teeth everyday and Reggie and Ainsley were planning meals and helping prepare them.  I got so much grief for this, but I think it is about time that they start helping and learning to fend for themselves.  They don't have the time when school starts to do this, so summer seemed to be the perfect time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spring Trimester

It was another learning experience this spring with Reggie.  I thought he had the school thing figured out, but his grades kept falling and fast :(.  It was shortly after Ryan rewarded him for good grades by allowing him to buy the Nintendo Switch.  He was not real happy, but it did slip out that many of his friends were in the same boat with losing privileges because of poor grades (much stricter than we are!).  At one point he had a C, 3 B's and 3 A's.  All screen time and his game systems went away, along with "homework" sessions with his friends which clearly were not helping his grades.  He had different issues in his classes and it took some time sorting out what he needed to work on, but he figured out he can't walk in PE with his friends that can't run, he had to organize better (we kept quizzing him in Spanish from pictures of the words that his friends sent because he could never find his own study sheet.  In math, he didn't know the assignment and felt bad bugging his friends because he did all the time, so he guessed and did the wrong assignment, then didn't bother to turn a quiz over, so got a 33%).  In reviewing his assignments and scores on homework, it was clear that there were a few recurring problem areas that instead of bringing his grade up, were pulling it down.  So, we talked through the importance of looking at our grades and understanding the expectation of the teacher and if we don't, then its important to speak with the teacher to better understand what they are looking for.  These are a few examples of the things we were dealing with.  It was like his brain fell out and he was a disorganized mess yet again.  He also learned that when you go on vacation and miss school, you can't make assumptions about what happened when you were gone.  I asked him several times what he missed and he kept telling me that he missed nothing, but zero's kept popping up and I made him go talk to every teacher and it turns out he had quite a few things to do.  He also learned if a teacher offers extra credit, you do it whether you think you need to or not.  There was a lot of opportunity for this and he didn't take advantage.  He is very lucky his teachers are nice!  I hope he remembers these learning experiences and chooses to make better choices next time.  It is clear that when he tries, he is highly capable, but the effort and concern about school was not there.  I did ask him if you took us out of the equation, what he would be satisfied with, all B's?  C's?  He said he did care and wanted A's, but it was really hard to tell that he cared at all.  It is easy to want A's, but a little harder to put the effort in to get them.  We ended up helping him get back on track which wasn't fun for any of us, but in the end, he pulled it out!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Schools out!

The last day of school was on Thursday and it was a drizzly, cool day.  I don't think we've ever had rain in June since we've lived here!  At least it wasn't too hot for field day.  The kids got out early and we headed to the Williams for a pool party.  Not the best weather, but at least the drizzle stopped and it was a bit warmer.  It was so much fun!!!  Well, except for Reggie, who has been quite the party pooper lately, especially if he doesn't have a friend there.




Reggie and Ainsley have been soaking up their friends the last few days since they won't see them all summer.  Reggie spent the day with his good buddy David and Ainsley went to Menchies with her BFF and then had a sleepover with a couple of other friends!  Khalif wasn't invited anywhere, so he got the shaft.  No time for me to have friends over here....too much packing and organizing!!!
 On a side note.....Reggie sounds very different.  He woke up one morning this week and his voice changed.  He is growing up :(.

Khalif can hang out with us!  He asked me today if there were chores he could do since he was bored :)!!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Band

Ainsley had band this year and was assigned to play the clarinet.  She never practiced but was able to learn what she needed.  I'm guessing her knowledge of the notes from learning piano helped her a lot. Here's a video....
video

Monday, June 5, 2017

Khalif's birthday party


I decided to do his birthday party early this year since we'll be gone in July and it is a little harder to get in touch with school friends when it is summer break.  There was an auction item at our school fundraiser back in March that was a lego party and I thought it would be perfect for Khalif, so I bid and won!  My excitement soon fizzled when I told Khalif.  That isn't what he wanted to do for his birthday and maybe I could sell it.  Really????  This is what he and Reggie do for hours and hours!  I guess I should have known that I might get this reaction since it wasn't his idea and he had no control over the situation.  Selling it wasn't in the cards, so I told him we were just going to have to make it work.
When I called the place, they asked me where I wanted the party to be which was confusing because I thought they had a store, but apparently, they come to you (they also have after school programs at our school).  I knew I didn't want it at the house and I asked what they recommended and they said parks are great.  So, I found one with partial coverage over the picnic tables...you never know how hot its going to be here in June and we went with it.  We figured out what friends he wanted, although he told me that they didn't like lego's.  I met much resistance and heard many negative comments about the birthday party over the last several weeks and am very happy to have it done.  It really made it more difficult to put all that effort into something that was not appreciated.
And as it turned out, the party was amazing!  Khalif thoroughly enjoyed himself!  Probably one of the better parties we've attended or hosted.  Thank you Bricks 4Kids!  They got to build Star Wars figures/ships and they had motors, so the older kids were also interested and Reggie and David built a really cool thing that twisted and twirled.  They hooked the tie fighters and x-wings to fishing line and made them "fly" and had lightsaber battles, along with a craft.  The weather was perfect too...80 and breezy.

 He built Darth Vader


 Reggie and Khalif's half-brother
 Opening presents :)

It was a busy weekend.....Khalif''s family came to the party and then he left with them to spend the weekend there.  Reggie spent a lot of the weekend with David because Ainsley had her gymnastics show and her banquet.  Glad its Monday!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Passports

Ryan has to travel to China for work and mentioned that it might be fun if I join him.  Since the kids are enjoying new travels, I suggested we all go!  This was last month and you can't book flights without a passport, so I quickly got on the passport situation and had no idea how crazy it was going to be.  I went to the post office to pick up the paperwork and saw the group waiting to get their passports.  I got some really good information and decided to wake up nice and early on Saturday to get in line.  Everyone has to be present, so that seemed like the best day since I didn't want to take them out of school.  It opened at 10 and a nice lady in line said to get there a couple hours early to get a spot, so I got there at 7:45 and the lobby was full.  All 12 spots had already been taken, so I asked the lady in the front of the line what time she got there and she said 4 a.m.!!!!  Are you kidding me?  There are a few post offices and places that make appointments, but they were booked out way far or they never pick up the phone, so I'm not sure how you make an appointment.  There's a place in San Francisco that will allow you to do the whole process quickly, but it has to be within 2 weeks of your travel date and if you don't have a passport, you can't book your travel.  Anyway, who knew it would be so complicated???  So, Ryan bit the bullet the following Saturday and got there at 3:30 and was 3rd in line!!!  They didn't open the doors to the post office until 6 am., so he was out in the cold and I think he was really thankful that's not a regular thing.  The rest of us arrived at 9:30 and were done around 11:15.  I still wasn't sure it would come together because we were planning to go in July and if it took 6-8 to get our passports, then it would be too late to book airfare.  But, our passports came in record time, 2 1/2 weeks, so it seemed our fate was to go.  After many revisions of where we would go and for how long (Ryan has to work in 3 locations in Asia), we booked our airfare last night!  I will be taking the kids to Hawaii on July 11th on the way to Japan for 3 nights while Ryan works in Taiwan.  There was no extra flight expense for us to stop in Oahu and since I don't want to take the kids with us to Maui, this seemed like a great way for them to experience Hawaii!  We will then meet up with Ryan in Japan for 3 days and then fly to Hong Kong for another 3 night to finish the trip.  Should be memorable!!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Therapy update

So, we were hoping after the adoption a lot of the behavior issues we experience with Khalif would resolve or at least diminish.  We didn't find that to be true and after being in therapy for over 5 years, it was getting a little bit old and frustrating.  He was given an anxiety diagnosis last summer and his body awareness and ability to feel things (when he has to go to the bathroom, when he is tired, when something is bothering him) is absent much of the time.  It is heightened in new situations, so travel is a real challenge and even somewhat dreadful.  He also struggles with impulse control and has had ups and downs at school this year and unless he makes some major progress, this will likely get worse since the expectations grow each year.  He also has a strong desire to be right and point out when I am wrong or just disagree with me to regain "control".  Control is a biggy for him.  These behaviors come and go which has been challenging for us because when they are gone, we think, this is it!  He has finally overcome these early childhood experiences.  What I have learned is that his brain is wired differently because of these experiences and he's in survival mode much of the time (even though he is safe and has been out of that environment for 6 years).  He can be thrown into a bad place from a feeling inside that may surface at any time.  Ryan did a little experiment with him and Reggie....they were in Hayward and he challenged them to get him home without using Reggie's phone GPS and Khalif was able to get him back to the freeway in a place they had never been.  This seems like a great thing, but when you peel it back, it is kinda sad that he can't just sit in a car and be a kid....he has to make sure he will be able to get where he needs to go.  I understand where these behaviors come from and why they are present, but it has been so incredibly challenging to see such little progress in some areas over such a long period of time.  I heard about a different kind of therapy called EMDR which uses eye movement as you are reliving the trauma, and in a sense it rewires your brain.  We started this in February and they are slowly working through his memories (that are so vivid from before he was 20 months old!!!).  She took a little break because he had built up a lot of protective walls and wasn't working with the process, but he seems to be on track now. We had some forward progress for sure, but since then a lot of regression which is to be expected given that he is drudging up all these memories.  But, we can deal if it means progress!  We are hopeful and praying that this will heighten his body awareness, change his thought process and his strong pull to the negative.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mud Run


The kids did a mud run in Livermore and it was an experience for sure!  Ainsley had her gymnastics buddy, Haleigh, and Reggie and Khalif did it together.  Quite a difference between the two groups.  The girls were off to the races and really enjoyed themselves.  The obstacles were nothing like the Rugged Maniac, so I am very glad Ryan and I did not participate.  It was a good first experience for the kids, but on the milder side for sure.  Reggie had a horrible allergy attack and was a mess beforehand, but was a trooper and did it anyway.  The boys detoured much of the obstacles, not wanting to get dirty or climb (Reggie's fear of heights), but they could not avoid getting dirty on the last obstacle which was a long trench filled with mud!  Reggie took one step and lost his shoe and shortly thereafter, lost the second, so he finished in his socks.  I am very glad they all wore junk shoes!  Khalif had a very hard time with the last obstacle and thankfully, Reggie is a good big brother and helped him out....he was stuck in the mud :).  The worst part was trying to get clean afterward.  The mud was so thick and it was hard for them to get enough water spray to get clean and once they were wet, they got really cold because the wind was blowing.  None of them want to do it again, but it is an experience they won't forget.
 The obstacle the boys skipped....it was a good 20 feet high
Last obstacle.....

Waiting to get clean....not too efficient