Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to School 2012

Asher is in 2nd grade, Noe is in 4th grade (if you couldn't tell)

We are back at it! The start of the new school year has gone well.  I'm loving both Noe and Asher's teachers and their curriculums.  Living in Northern Virginia has its shortcomings, but the top-notch schools make up for a lot.

Portland Trip: All the Rest

We had an epic trip to Portland.  Lots of new adventures mixed in with family and friend time. But it's time to let go and move on.  Here are some of my photo favorites....

At the Oregon Coast with cousins.  My SIL's parents kindly
loaned us their gorgeous beach-front condo.  It was a fun
few days spent on the beach.
The boys finally saw a real mountain up-close and personal (Mt. Hood -
just 45 minute drive from Portland).  We even hiked up to the ski area
and touched the snow!  

On one of our hikes in the Gorge.  After our hot NOVA summer,
it felt so good to wear hoodies throughout the trip!
I had a good time with some of my bffs!  We have known each
other for so long and have been through so much together....
braces, bad breakups, babies and everything in-between!

I am so glad that my boys are getting to know their wonderful
great-grandparents!  On this trip we were able to attend their
70th wedding anniversary party with family!

Playing the bongo drums at the Portland
Zoo the day before we left.   Best zoo trip ever!
Building big sand castles on the beach with Grandma! (Oregon Coast)
Sometimes Uncle Dave has to come over to Grandma's in his police
uniform and police car to make sure everyone is behaving themselves.
Ever since we ran into this giant chess set in
Downtown Portland, Asher has been obsessed with playing chess!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Portland Recap: Grant Park

Asher met his favorite storybook friends at Grant Park in NE Portland.  Although we read aloud some of Beverly Cleary's books in preschool, this summer he devoured the series starring Ramona, Beezus, Henry Huggins and Ribsy on his own.  I love the Portland references dotted throughout Cleary's books and the nostalgia her stories evoke.  Asher thinks Ramona is hilarious (especially in her younger, more precocious years) and he loves reading Henry's adventures.

Asher: Mom, can I have a paper route like Henry when I turn 11 years old?  I can deliver the papers that Papi writes on my bike to all the neighbors.  

Me:  I'm sorry, Honey, but newspapers might not even exist by the time you turn 11 years old.

We even found Klikitat Street!  Asher is ready to move in!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Portland Recap: Portland Children's Museum

Noe in his water element

We spent one of our first days of the trip at the Portland Children's Museum. For River's birthday present, we let him choose an activity and he chose PCM over bowling AND Chuck E Cheese (thank goodness!)

Noe (of course) loved the water room most of all but also enjoyed other activities.  All of the kids really enjoyed the clay room where they got to shape globs of clay into treasures.

Afterwards we headed to Burgerville for burgers and berry shakes (nothing says summer-in-Portland like a marionberry shake!)

Asher is one with the tree
I put Aunti Kelli in charge of all crafts

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I sure love this kid.  I don't write much about him.  At least not as much as I do about Asher.  It is hard for me to share our successes and failures with Noe on this public blog.  This is sacred space in my heart.  I don't want others to judge him on his limitations.  I don't want others to judge me on my limitations as his mother.

I'll try now.

The past summer was pretty great with Noe.  He has been smiling more than ever.  I love his smile, and even when he isn't smiling, he possesses a new level of comfort around us.  He wants to be near us.  He doesn't hide himself in far away rooms to stim anymore.  At least not nearly as often as he used to.  After we have successfully communicated with each other and I start fixing the snack he has asked for, or I open a tight lid to a toy he wants, he smiles really big and does a little happy dance where he giggles, claps and jumps up and down.  Probably not age appropriate, but very cute.   I'm glad that as hard as communication is for him, he can find pleasure in it.

Noe is my newest running partner.  He is a great partner.  He likes to run in the morning, but not too early, like me.  He won't get pregnant on me and quit.  I don't have to hear about his financial or in-law or relationship problems.  He doesn't accidentally slip and tell me that I would look "really amazing" if I just "lost those last 10 lbs."  Instead, we run in perfect silence.  Sometimes we hold hands.  We never pass up a sprinkler or mud puddle in our path.

I love how his mind works.  When I ask Noe to put his pants on after a shower, he will put on his underwear or pajama bottoms, but never both.  I don't think it makes any sense to him why we wear two pant layers.  When the sun got in our eyes while walking the other day, he just turned around and walked backwards.  Problem solved.

As long as he is well-fed and well-rested, Noe is tons of fun.  We play board games like Perfection and Jenga.  He is always first out the door to hike or bike or go to the pool.    He is the only one who will willingly keep me company on a trip to the grocery store.  Our day-long trip to the Portland Zoo last week was especially memorable.  He patiently and attentively looked at every zoo exhibit.  He willingly shared a soda and pretzel with his little brother.  When it was time to leave the geyser that sprayed up water (his favorite) he did not even grunt in disapproval.  Four years ago I would have been chasing him through Washington Park the entire day. Two years ago (or even last year) he would have tantrumed at the water geyser until I threw him over my shoulder and carried him away.  We've come a long way, baby!

I love his new-found sense of humor.  When we went swimming over vacation, I kept throwing Noe into the deep end of water, much to his delight.  After deciding to take a break from our little game, I felt little hands pushing me from behind into the pool water.  Noe had pushed me into the pool!  It was epic!

As my friend Ami wisely observed.... Noe just does what everyone else WANTS to do.  Like sitting down at a strange family's picnic table at the park until they hesitantly but graciously served him a plate of rice and chicken (mommy fail...I thought he was at the splash pad with the other kids), or ripping off his swim trunks to run into the ocean waves, or eating around the layers of cake to get to all the frosting.

When Noe was diagnosed with autism, I can't honestly say this is how I wanted things to turn out seven years later.  I held grand delusions that once we had proper therapies in place, Noe would be able to shed much or all of his autism.  It would have been crushing for me to know back then that as a fourth grader, Noe would still have very limited verbal skills and spend most of his school day in a self-contained autism classroom.

But I don't feel crushed.  He continues to learn and progress with the help of truly talented autism therapy professionals and a caring school community.  They echo what Noe's father and I have always believed.... Noe has a bright future ahead of him.

And I'm pretty thrilled to be along for the ride.