Taking the Scenic Route

Easter Day with the Family

4th April 2010

Easter Day with the Family

Out to my parent’s farm for Easter.  It was a truly wonderful day.  Relaxed, happy, and a lot of fun.  We had a wonderful meal, great conversation (including some fabulous stories from the newest person at the table), and a windy, warm Kansas day to play in.

Upon arrival, Zora wanted to show off the box she made to Great-Grandma, who was, naturally, enthused that her great grand-daughter had a love of arts inherited from her.

After a wonderful dinner the kids were on a mission to find the Easter eggs hidden around the room.

The eggs at Oma’s had booty in them: candy and coins.

And the most fun of all, watching new love bloom.  It is so wonderful to see my brother so happy.  They are so wonderful together, comfortable together on a level that many people who have been together for years don’t get to.  Reminds me of when Zach & I were dating.  Happy times.

Steve spent considerable time pushing Zora around on the tricycle, much to her utter delight.

When we pulled the bicycle out we realized, much to our chagrin, that the tires were flat.  This is a “BIG PROBLEM” for Zach and I, who are not particularly good at stuff like that, but Steve and Nora took care of it for us.  (THANK YOU!)  They probably don’t even realize that it meant so much to us, but it did.

This picture would make me a bundle of nerves if I hadn’t seen it in person.  My dad is going really slowly and being very careful, which made this “hover mom” feel less anxious than I normally would have been about 2 kids, a 4-wheeler and no helmets.  lol.  If I remember correctly, Zora also talked dad into a ride in the tractor, but I was busy talking to mom and grandma when that happened.

They charged up the Hummer Remote Control vehicle, which was formally a point of contention when it was given to a toddler Zane (and was powerful enough to run over the Christmas tree when we tested it out after he got it).  It immediately was sent out to the farm because Zane was using it as a step stool to reach things and was too powerful (and complicated) for him to use at that time.  (plus, who would think a Hummer was the appropriate thing to give the toddler of two hippy type people?)  Now it is  a lot of fun to use, but I still have to laugh at the fact it takes many more hours to charge the batteries than it does to run (seems appropriate for a Hummer, doesn’t it).  At any rate, we had a ball with the Hummer, especailly when teasing the dogs with it.  (The dogs LOVED it…it was so much fun for all of us watching them chase it around the farm.)

And now the kids are both able to control it well, so they have a lot of fun with it too.

After the food had settled a bit, it was time to make dessert…homemade ice cream.  Steve has a great, easy recipe for it and always invites the kids to help make it.  Zane isn’t as interested in the process, but Zora sure is.  She will brag for days later that she helped make the ice cream.

Our favorite boy, with the hair that drives moms and grandmas crazy, was loving the feeling of the wind in his hair.

And then we attempted a group photo.  Apparently, it is asking too much for both kids to smile at the same time and pose appropriately.  Oh well, it is the real deal, which is better any way.

I can’t for the life of me remember the dog’s name, but she was beautiful and very good with the kids.  She also made me want to fall asleep just watching her stretch out in the sunshine.  Nora is a vet and the dog was abandoned by the owner after an injury.  Honestly, it was probably the best thing that could have happened because she has a great life now, including a loving owner and a new friend in Shelby (Steve’s dog).

Steve showed Nora this diabolical game from our Grandpa S.  (paternal grandfather) Nora worked on it for a while, making good progress on it, then Steve showed her the solution.  She fits great in this family…brilliant and nerdy enough to enjoy puzzles like the rest of us.

A fantastically relaxing and fun day for all.  We really enjoyed the day with the family, in more ways than we can say.

The vitality of our Savior risen permeated the jubilance of the day.  It was a fitting celebration, filled with love and peace.  I look forward to more.

posted in Autistic Life, Easter, Extended Family, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane, Zora | Comments Off

9th March 2010

Back at the Zoo

This time we went with my mom to the Zoo.  Since the kids go at entirely different paces (Zora wants to run from thing to thing, and was most interested in going to the playground, and Zane likes to linger and read the plaques and watch the animals) we split up.  Zach and I went with Zane, Oma went with Zora.

For Zane, it was “Map Day”.  He has always loved maps, but today he got to indulge his interest and we pointed out the street signs and how those coordinate with the map.  I think he loves the Zoo as much for the entwining paths as the animals.  He wanted to follow the map to the boat dock first.  It ended up still being closed for the season, unfortunately, but we told him that we would come back during the summer when it was open.

The grizzly bears were out and active, so we stopped and watched them for a while on our way to the Jungle/Rainforest building.  Zane later said that was his favorite part of the zoo that day. The bears even did a little playing/roughhousing for a while, including growling at each other and running.  It was very cool.

We let him direct where to go, and here he is confirming the map route with the signs.

Instead of racing through the jungle like we do when Zora is there, we got to linger a lot more.  Zane read the signs, matched the birds sitting around (they are a lot more “out” when it isn’t busy…on paths, on the benches) with their names, and watched the bats flying around (a zookeeper or maintenance person was messing with one of the major branches in the giant solarium that we have seen them on before, so they were swooping all over the place).  He also loved the part of the path that goes under the pond water and lets you see the fish.  We stood in that tunnel watching fish for quite a while.

After we finished up, Zane suddenly was interested in finding Zora again.  We assumed she was at the playground and decided which path to take to get there (we went on the slightly longer path through the “North American Prairie” and gradually made our way back to the playground area.

It is a good thing we took the longer path because Zora had taken my mom to the opposite side of the Zoo to the Children’s farms and while watching the tigers a bit, near the playground, I suddenly heard Zora’s voice coming from the “wrong” direction as they were heading back to the playground.  Zane was excited to find Zora and Grandma.

We headed back to the playground, both kids played for a while and I dug out the snacks and drinks and we hung out for a while before leaving to head back across town for the traditional “ice cream with Grandma” and then swimming lessons.

Zora also had a lot of fun.  Here is a quote from my mom’s comments:

When I took Zora and you took Zane at the Zoo the next week, she was very…VERY clear to leave the geese alone!!! And that is bamboo, and there are the penguins, etc, etc, but mostly, “Where is the playground???” We found it and she enjoyed playing there. When the tram came by, she wanted to go on that, so we sprinted to the next stop and got on. I don’t know if she was expecting a more exciting ride, but she could hardly wait to get off at the next stop. Then she wanted to go to the American farmyard. We did that, where she told me all the animals, and informed me that those (goats)were sheep, because goats lived in the forest. Next we went to the African farmyard. As we approached it, she saw one of the zoo employees w/ a lawn rake, raking the farm grounds. Zora came to a dead stop, looked at him and proclaimed, “LOOK, Oma, It’s NEW McDonald!!!” It was such a fun day!

posted in Autistic Life, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane, Zoo, Zora | Comments Off

2nd March 2010

Tuesday: Oma Day

Tuesday was packed with activity.  The day started with Zora at preschool (as usual) and Zane doing a bunch of literacy/comprehension testing (not usual).  Since both kids were occupied, and mom was slated to come up that day, she came early so that we could go out for breakfast (very unusual).  It was a really fun morning for us.  A wonderful, relaxing breakfast, followed by some quick shopping, then back to pick up the kids.

Zane requested Ci-Cis for lunch, and since he had worked so hard all morning, we went there over Zora’s objections (she wanted McDonalds…for the playground.  Zane doesn’t like McDs burgers and Zora often requests Ci-Cis herself, so he won this round).  Both ate well, then, in reverse of the normal procedure, Zane and my mom went to play (Exploration Place) and Zora went with me.  I had a WIC appointment to get that reinstated and she had to come with me.  The appointment took most of the afternoon, most of it in waiting rooms.  She was a trooper though.  She didn’t even cry when they did the iron test (finger prick) and it was almost alien for me to have a child that easily followed directions (like where to stand to weighing and measuring).

By the time we got out of our WIC appointment, Mom and Zane were leaving Exploration Place to come back to our side of town for some ice cream at Braums.  Zora and I picked up Zach and met her there.  Zora wanted chocolate chip ice cream, Zane wanted birthday cake flavor and orange sherbet.  Zach was in the middle of a project at home, but he stayed long enough to eat and socialize a little before heading back home to finish up his project on the computer.  (he met us later at swim lessons).

Here is Zora right after showing us where she got her finger prick, and not quite sure why the adults started laughing like 12 yo boys when she enthusiastically showed us her finger.

After a while, Zane picked up the camera.  Here are some of his photos:

And then Zora wanted a turn:

And me, from my cell phone

We had so much fun, but the adults were WORN OUT by the end of the day.

posted in Autistic Life, Giggle, Photos by kids, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane, Zora | Comments Off

21st January 2010

Another Grandma/Oma Day

Mom came up again today (the kids are being spoiled, they have seen Grandma (and usually Grandpa) almost every day since Saturday for one thing or another. Today it was Grandma who came up to watch them while Zach and I went to the dentist. She also took them to Speech Therapy, and then to the McDonalds play yard to burn off some energy, then back to the house to play some more while we finished up some errands. (it was almost weird for us to go out together on mundane tasks. It was the first time we have walked into Dillons together, without kids, since I was pregnant with Zane.)

posted in Autistic Life, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | Comments Off

17th January 2010

Pooched Computer

A seriously bad virus and/or trogen infected my parent’s computer and they brought it up today so Zach could work on it some more. They brought us yummy Three Brother’s BBQ while Zach worked to find out if was a quicker fix or an overnight stay. After working on it for a while, he decided to do a complete reinstall, so it is staying here for the night. Robert is here too, so it gives him some company while he deals with it.

The kids were thrilled to see them again so soon, and Zora kept her Oma occupied the whole time they were here.

posted in Computers, The 2 Opas (J's Parents) | Comments Off

10th January 2010

Early birthday dinner

For my birthday dinner we went to Il Vincini, our new favorite place.  Dad wasn’t able to make it because he is sick, so we missed him, but it was really great to finally meet Nora, Steve’s new friend.  She seems like such a neat person and I can’t wait to get to know her better.

So, for my birthday, the three ladies had a Menage a Trois.  lmao.  What a hilarious name for a wine.

Everybody had pizza, except me, who had an awesome salad.

It is so good to see my brother happy again.

It was a great dinner, although we all agreed that I can’t possibly be turning 40 in a week.

posted in Birthday, Extended Family, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids, Zach & Jennifer | 1 Comment

25th December 2009

Wonderful Christmas

The weather cleared long enough for my parents and Steve to make it here.  (although it wasn’t clear enough for Steve to go where his heart was this year.  ;-)   ).   It was low key and relaxed, as usual, and we all had fun.  The food included the 6 cheese crabmeat lasagna that has become the tradition, bone-in ham and green beans with bacon, lots of veggies & some dip, fudge, toffee, and almonds.  (and sent a lot of planned leftovers home with everyone)

By the time Christmas got here, I think we were more excited for it than the kids so we could see their reactions to things.  We did almost all our buying the week before Christmas, and with that, you would think we could find everything easier but we still ended up on scavenger hunts all over the house trying to find a few missing items.  (stashed too quickly, without thinking beyond “will the kids find it here”).

The kids woke up to their stockings and Santa gifts on the mantle.  I know that it took his elves a lot longer than they were anticipating to put those suckers together and did not get the sleep they were anticipating, even though everything else was wrapped.  lol.

Zane LOVES marble runs, and Zora loves having toys like her brother’s (and she likes marble runs too), so this was a huge hit.

Stocking booty!

When everybody arrived I was pleased to see that both kids were more interested in giving their gifts to grandma and grandpa than they were to open their own.  Grandpa got a beeping tire gauge with a big readout screen (easier for his eyes) and Grandma got a butterfly stepping stone the kids made for her flower garden.  They were so excited about the stepping stone, and Zora told grandma all about it several times, but since she can’t speak very clearly, and Oma didn’t have a reference for it, “bu-by tone” (butterfly stone) wasn’t making any sense, so she still didn’t know what she was getting, despite Zora’s inability to keep a secret.

The big hit of the day were the gifts that Steve and Dad made, and Mom decorated.  I sent them this idea I had seen in a few therapy catalogs a few months ago, with the comment that I thought the kids would like it, but how insane the price was for a relatively small woodworking project.  They came through in spades.  They were awesome.  They not only made it, but they made each kid a one-footed one and a wider two footed one, PLUS a balance board.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Zora stomped on it hard and the ball smacked her in the face, so I went to our massive ball collection (for a few years, that was the only toy Zane would really play with, so we ended up with quite the collection of them) for some lighter balls and they used those instead of this heavier one.  They also use them by making an obstacle course where they walk over them and all sorts of other creative uses.  They really are a great open ended toy.

Here Uncle Steve made Zane a very happy kid.

And Zora LOVES her new cars from Uncle Steve too.  This time he got her a convertible Mustang so that she didn’t have to break out the windows to stuff her little play figures in the car. She also got an RC car, but we need to get batteries for it.  (off to the side you can see those boards…Mom actually drew a Mario on Zane’s wider board…I was impressed.)

Now, I knew the kids were taken to a “paint your own pottery” place here in town to make us “something”, and Zora’s inability to keep a secret let me know that it was a cup, but I just was not prepared for the tear-jerking presents that they presented.  Mom had been telling me that Zane was VERY SPECIFIC about what he wanted to put on each of our cups, but not what he put.  (One side of the cup is Zora’s handprints, the other is Zane’s specific picture).  Get ready for the kleenex…..

The big gift for Zach Zane, a Lego Mindstorm Robot kit.  In a year Zane can join the Homeschool Robotics team, which uses Mindstorm robots (although presumably they are much bigger, more elaborate sets for the team), and we thought it would be good to get him familiar with them so that he had half a shot at participating.  Plus, and this is the main reason we went ahead and put the money in this year instead of waiting, the robot is programmable.  Now, for kids it has a drag and drop type programming interface because Mindstorm competitions have more emphasis on building the robots, but it can be programmed in C (and others most likely) and it has a host of sensors on board (and with a mechanical engineer brother and a Radio Shack, we can add anything else we need), so Zach can use it to continue his autonomous robotic programming research.  I think Zach about went crazy waiting for it to be opened.  Zane was very excited too.  It was one of only three things he asked Santa for, and was very thrilled and spent a lot of time exploring all the writing on the package as soon as he opened it.

The happy aftermath.

Other notable gifts:

From Grammie:  A big playmobil horse farm/stable thing for Zora, Magna-Tiles building toy for Zane, and both of them got an Etch-A-Sketch.

To me from my folks:  2 covered pie plates…one pumpkin, one cherry/apple and a hat to match Zora’s hat & a cool coffee themed apron.

To Zach from my folks:  a propane tank for the grill.

It was a very nice, comfortable Christmas.  We are very blessed.

There are also more gift coming with Grandma Zandra, who planned on driving up this Christmas with Great Grandma Jackie, but wasn’t able to make it because the weather got so horrible.  We were disappointed she wasn’t able to make it, but it just wasn’t a good idea to drive through a blizzard that was in between us and them.  Hopefully she will be able to make it out soon.

posted in Christmas, Extended Family, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | Comments Off

20th December 2009

Cookies with Grandma

Another holiday tradition around here…Grandma/Oma comes up and plays and decorates cookies with the kids while we finish up our Christmas Shopping.  She wears them out (and the feeling is probably mutual).  And yes, that is a pumpkin in the background.  The kids didn’t want to toss it after Halloween and it.won’t.die. lol

posted in The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | Comments Off

26th November 2009

Thanksgiving 2009, at my parent’s farm

One of these things is not like the others….. (I found myself short one pie dish and had to get creative.)

Zane’s favorite part of the meal…CHERRY PIE!

Ms. Cutie Pie

When everybody finished dinner it was time to go outside and play with the remote control car Zane got on his 3rd birthday.  (we keep it at the farm because it is far too big for our apartment when we got it, and still too big for our place now)

Zane was making a game of trying to get it to go in between his legs and playing chicken with it.

It was a wonderful family Thanksgiving. Great food, Great conversation, Great fun.

posted in At the Farm, Extended Family, Thanksgiving, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | Comments Off

24th October 2009

Fall on the Farm

Last Saturday we went out to the farm for a few hours while Zach worked on their computer. Dad was helping one of my cousins with harvest, but Mom made it a special day for the kids.

Waiting impatiently for us to finish putting lunch on the table. Mom made a pork roast, carrots and potatoes, and, of course, her incredible Zweibach. (She makes the BEST Zweibach)

After lunch, Zane is ready to be outside.

It was like the kid’s own personal “play with big machines” day. First they convinced Grandma to take them for a ride in the new John Deere.

Then they played around with the grader. (but didn’t take this one for a spin this time)

Then the old crane. I am not sure if this even runs, but it was fun to climb on.


A fan bigger than Zane

And the evening winds down.


Wonderful, relaxing day.

posted in At the Farm, Autumn, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | 1 Comment

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 18 years, 10 months, and 2 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 14 years, 10 months, and 6 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds. — JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002

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