Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

I'm not sure how it happened, but it seems Rachel has turned five years old. It seems like just yesterday I was bringing this tiny little person home.  I guess I must have blinked and she grew up.  She has friends outside of just Byron and me.  She has her own little sense of humor and her own (admittedly strange) sense of fashion and style.  She's amazing in every sense of the word.

We had her party yesterday at the sub-division pool with some of her closest friends. None of the kids drowned, got kicked out by the lifeguards, peed in the pool (that we know of), were struck by fly balls, or ran away crying.  I'd say it counted as a successful party.

Of course it wouldn't be a party without way too many pictures to even talk about. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Camp

I was so excited on the day that CJ finished baseball camp because I'd gotten some pretty good pictures and wanted to blog them. Then Liam got hit with a baseball on closing night, and well, it just didn't get blogged.  I hope you all can understand that I often find myself busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest and my blogging goes by the wayside.

With all of that said, this camp  meant the world to CJ so I'm coming back to blog it right now.  It's not so much that he gained a new skill in the game of baseball. On the contrary, I imagine he's still about as clumsy with a ball as he ever was, and that's fine.  What mattered most about this camp is how "normal" CJ felt. His team leader was Deaf, his coaches were Deaf, his FRIENDS were Deaf.  Some spoke with sign, some were oral, and some were like CJ using a little bit of both. Some had hearing aids. Others had cochlear implants.  In the grand scheme of things, though, none of that mattered.  At this camp, they were all just kids looking to have a good time.

I noticed that with each passing day, CJ's confidence grew a little bit more. Don't get me wrong. He's certainly not shy, and the kid has more charisma and spunk in his pinky finger than some people have in their entire bodies.  CJ has always used his outgoing bubbly personality to distract people from the things he's not good at like socializing with kids his own age, gross motor activities, and really anything requiring him to step out of his comfort zone.  Little by little, I noticed that he was realizing that he could do anything he put his mind to at camp.

It goes without saying that his favorite part of the camp was lunch and snack. He was pretty impressed that there were watering stations at each field, too.  Each day he came home and told me in great detail about each and every snack or lunch he'd eaten.  I know the majority of the food was donations from local restaurants and those sponsors are to be commended for a job well-done.  If CJ liked it, it had to be good.

There were some pro ball players that came now and then to meet with the kids and sign autographs.  I asked CJ if any famous people came to the camp to visit.  His response? "Yep.  Some firemen came to show us their truck. I got to sit in it, but it's not okay to honk the horn or turn on the siren. I'll remember that for next time."  So, I don't know if any true celebrities came to the camp, but in CJ's mind they did.  That's what really counts, right?

On the last day, CJ got to be part of an awards ceremony. He was pretty sure he was the camp MVP. We'll let him keep living in that little dream world.  He did get a medal for having the furthest hit. I think the camp directors were being generous in granting him that honor, but he sure was proud.

That evening, we got to march into the minor league ball field (where Liam had his little incident) with the Energizer Bunny as a family.  CJ was pretty sure he'd met a true celebrity with that silly pink rabbit.  He was just as proud as any kid could ever be.

He's already talking about going back to camp next year.  While I'm a little nervous about someone getting clocked in the head with a fly ball, wild horses couldn't keep me from letting him go anyway.  For CJ, this truly was a Fantasy Baseball Camp.

 Nothing is more thrilling than having a giant bird pitch you the ball.
 Could he be any prouder?  I think not.

 CJ wanted a picture with his new friends from his team. Drezden decided he needed to be in the picture as well.
 He was on a little team of just little guys. They'll grow, though.  
 He's pretty sure that trophy is going to be worth big bucks some day.
 Team picture with coaches and team managers. He LOVED that little group.
 It took me forever to realize that Energizer was a major sponsor because Deaf kiddos need hearing aid batteries. I'd like to thank Energizer for the one dozen batteries they gave CJ. Yay!
 CJ proudly wore his ears as he marched onto the field with a giant pink bunny.  
 He couldn't control his excitement. Check out that look of triumph.
Rachel was also proud to march in with her giant pink ears.

Transportation Museum

While Liam is at school and I'm forced to kill time with Rachel and Drezden, I usually try to find fun things to do. Some friends from church recommended a local museum all about transportation. I didn't have a ton of time to devote to walking through it, but I wish I did. It was actually more interesting than I expected it to be. While we didn't find Thomas the Tank Engine living there (Thank goodness! He bores me to tears.), we did find lots of his relatives.
U.S. Air Force Fighter Plane. The kids weren't real impressed with this. I thought it was pretty neat.
This was an old dining cart that the museum is working to restore. The kids weren't impressed with this, either.
We spent some time in the "Creation Station".  The lady working there was a little goofy, but seemed very sincere in her love of her job. She made me laugh.  The kids LOVED her, though.
Here is our Creation Station helper. She's VERY into her job.
Don't ask how a veterinary kit has anything to do with a transportation museum. I couldn't tell you, but it was there and Drezden is ready to spay or neuter your pet now.
They waited like real champs to ride the tram that would take them to the train. Who needs Disney Land when there is a transportation museum within 100 miles?
"Mommy, are you sure this tram will take me to the train?"
Bob the Tram Driver took us to the train driven by another driver in an equally cute hat.
Drezden felt that the tram driver had better driving skills than me. What does he know? He's three.

Learning Through Osmosis

We get some zoo magazines every now and then. We recently got one from the Saint Louis Zoo, and I told Drezden he could have it. Apparently Liam was also very interested in learning about insects. Every now and then, I'll find him sleeping in funny places, but this one just made me giggle.