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Thursday, June 21, 2012


Today was my most favorite day of our summer so far. The kids had a fantastic day. We putzed around this morning, Ella slept until 9am (!!) and the boys played video games together. We stopped by a garage sale to look for clothes for Ella, and then went to the gym. The kids were all getting along so well, I hardly recognized my family. We got home and made lunch, yummy things that everyone likes. Then the boys had an idea. They wanted to play Superheroes. 
See those muscles??
This was the best idea since sliced bread. They started by having me spray their hair with colors leftover from Halloween last year. Ella needed to get in on the action, so we sprayed the ends of her piggy tails. After that, the boys changed into the appropriately-colored clothing for their chosen superhero. Aidan was Batman, Jonah was Robin, and Ben was Flash. Ella was "Pixie", and then changed her name to "Flower" half-way through the afternoon. Ella's costume included wings, and at one point, hot pink high heels. She calls the wings "the fairies," so all afternoon Mama was called upon to "put the fairies on Ella." Ben, of course, had to wear his black suit for today's production. His suit comes out for all kinds of occasions. He especially likes to wear it when he goes out roller blading to impress all his neighborhood buds. 
Jonah asked if I could help him create a Robin logo. Luckily, my high school art classes are paying off. We worked on a logo together, then he made business cards for himself and his posse of heroes. Then he informed me he needed a mask. Again, luckily, I have mastered the art of making eye holes in many a mask. 

I also made logos for Pixie, Batman, and Flash. I was quite impressed with myself. We found ways to stick the logos on the heroes' shirts, and then we needed to find capes of various colors to complete the outfits. We took Daddy's t-shirts, turned them inside out, tucked the sleeves in, and safety pinned them around the boys' necks. Ta da! The Justice League is born again! The kids cooperated and played and imagined and colored and cut and had a blast for hours. They kept Ella involved, and made sure Aidan was part of the group too. I love days like this when they all get along and their sweet little spirits come shining through. I enjoy watching my kids so much when they have days like this. I love their laughter that crinkles through the house, their mad dashes down flights of stairs to "get the villains" and save the heroes. 

I love listening to how they come up with ways to make sure all four of them have important roles. I love hearing them rehearse for when Daddy comes home, so they can present the Justice League to him from "the balcony", as they call our second floor, when he enters the house at the end of his workday. This is the kind of summer day I live for.

We've had about three weeks of summer vacation, and we've already done so many 'sensory activities' I can hardly remember them all. We've done pearler beads- the boys have used tweezers to painstakingly make about a million little critters that I've ironed and peeled wax paper off of. The tiny beads are embedded into all the carpet in every room of the house. But it's great for fine motor practice. 

We took glowy sticks, cracked them until they glowed bright, and put them in the bathtub along with a bunch of water and a bunch of kids. We turned off the lights and had a glow-in-the-dark bath! That was very cool. Even Aidan wanted in on the action during that bath, and he is not a bath-lover. He did insist on wearing his swimming suit if he was going to agree to a bath, but whatever works.

I bought water beads at a flower shop, we put them in a small plastic tub of water and watched them expand. They're a crazy fun texture, sort of soft and a little slimy, but not really squish-able. The kids LOVE them. I made the mistake of thinking that if I left the four kids and the tub of beads alone for a minute while I did a load of laundry that they couldn't possibly get into too much trouble. Wrong. I should have known better. When I got back, there were water beads everywhere. Everywhere. There was water all over the floor. We're talking like flood waters, here. The boys said Ella had wanted to stick her feet in the tub. So the tub got moved outside. You would think I would have learned my lesson, but I left them alone again with the tub to make lunch. They had all kinds of kitchen tools- measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoons, ladles, etc. I figured they had enough to keep them busy for a few minutes without getting in trouble. When I came back to check on them, the boys all had wet hair from sticking their entire heads into the tub. They had water beads in their ears, hair, and stuck on their necks. I checked nostrils to make sure there weren't any hiding in there too. The moral of the story is, sensory tubs are great, but no matter how old your child is, they can still find ways to wreak havoc on the tub.

We've threaded pipe cleaners through pretty star beads to make bracelets and necklaces. (Pipe cleaners are easier for little fingers because they're not as floppy as yarn). We've also stuck pipe cleaners through a kitchen strainer. Pipe cleaners are so great for all kinds of fine motor skills! We've done play dough, of course, and painting. We've baked: measured, counted, stirred, concocted strange combinations of our own to smell and taste. We have rolled meatballs and cookie dough. We've been to the park and the pool to work on sensory issues and gross motor skills. We've played in the sandbox, again for sensory exploration. We've cut and colored superhero masks and logos. We've melted crayons to make color combinations in little muffin tins. We've painted with shaving cream tinted with food coloring in the bath tub. We've played with shaving cream on the kitchen table. We've explored with spaghetti noodles, and eaten some. 
And this is only week three. Thank goodness for Pinterest, or Mommy would be totally out of sensory ideas! I love the fact that the kids think we're just playing when we do all these things, and I think ha ha! I just got you to work on your fine motor skills! Or sensory issues! Or gross motor skills! Or communication skills! I feel so stealthy and sneaky. In a good way. I often feel like I don't do enough as a mom, especially considering the special needs my kids have. But if I sit down and think about all the things I do with the kids every day, I realize that we are actually doing a lot to address their areas of need. I think it's easy as parents to forget all that we do every single day to make sure our kids are growing up healthy, happy, secure, and independent. On days like today, when the kids use so many of their wonderful skills to just be kids all day long, I am proud of what we have accomplished so far as a family. All the therapies, doctor's appointments, struggles, worries, and work we've done has been worth it. I think back to how each of the kids used to be, months or years ago, and see how very far they have each come. So far, that today they can play like kids should; creating, imagining, laughing, cooperating, helping, caring, running, jumping, planning, having fun. That has always been one of my goals for each of my kids- that they just be able to have fun like kids should. 

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