Friday, December 27, 2013

St. Louisans Never Forget

Today the kids and I took advantage of the warmer temps to venture out to one of our favorite places -- the St. Louis Zoo.  While they never tire of viewing the butterflies at the Insectarium or hanging with the chimps at the Primate House, today we spent most of our time at the River's Edge exhibit.  We came to wish Raja, the first Asian elephant born at the zoo, a Happy 21st Birthday.  Every year zookeepers remember his special day by throwing him a party.  They fill half a dozen cardboard gift boxes with his favorite foods including peanuts, popcorn, melons and bananas.


Raja's gifts.  We sang Happy Birthday to him, but due to the crowds -- quickly headed out.

We had a much better view of Raja's daughters enjoying their party favors.

Raja is proud papa to four girls - Maliha, age 7, Jade, age 6 ½, Kenzi, age 2½, and Priya, age 8 months.

With crowds quickly rolling in, we opted to skip the cupcakes and cocoa in favor of trying a new local confectionary to hit St. Louis  -- Strange Donuts.  A friendly shop nestled in the growing business community of Maplewood. The shop features a dozen different flavors both classic and fanciful creations like Campfire, Fat Elvis and Strange Bacon.
They were all out of the "white fat Steve" (classic long john) so Nat chose a black fat Steve


With my chocolate lover son -- he had no problem making his selection - a chocolate cake with Nutella and chocolate drizzle icing.  I chose a peanut butter and jelly for Steve who eats PB sandwiches every single day.  For myself, I ordered a maple bacon glaze.  It was the last one -- apparently they run out of it every day.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013 Wrap Up

The day before Christmas Eve, our family was thrown a bit of a curve ball.  Noah began the day vomiting -- something I don't remember him doing since he was 2 years old. In fact, he was so surprised by the occurrence, all he could do was sit on the bed in shock and say, "What is this?...I don't do this." 

With Christmas plans hanging in the balance, I stocked up on 7-Up, Saltines, Jell-O and Lysol and prayed Noah would make a speedy recovery and that no one else would come down...er, up with it. 

Christmas Eve Noah was feeling much better, but wasn't eating much more than dry toast.  Natalie was bouncing off the walls in anticipation for Christmas.  She wanted to go to bed at 6 p.m. in hopes that Santa would stop at our house earlier.

The kids left out cookies, a letter and a box filled with two of their prized possessions - a crystal and a glass bead.

In case you aren't well versed in 1st grade writing - the letter reads "Dear S.C - We are giving you something very good. We hope you enjoy, Love Natalie and Noah."

By 9 p.m. both kids were sound asleep. But, it was more than an hour later before Steve and I had our Christmas morning scene set...
presents under the tree - check
Santa sacks and stockings filled - check
Santa letters written and signed - check
cookies eaten - check
coconut wrapped - check

Yes, a coconut.  For months, Natalie, with her zany humor, has been substituting the word coconut into topics of conversation.  For example, "Natalie, what do you want for breakfast?" - "A coconut." "Natalie, how'd you sleep last night?" - "Like a coconut."  So, Steve and I decided to buy one, wrap it and give it to her for Christmas.

At 2:50 a.m. I awoke to squeals of "Santa came!...He was here!"

I told the kids I wasn't getting up until the first number on the clock was a 6.

At 3:30 a.m. Natalie came into our room to tell me her stomach hurt.

I bolted upright, "What!  Are you going to throw-up? Where's a trashcan?!"

"No.  I'm hungry," replied Natalie.

(Phew!...followed by Grrr)

"Then go pour yourself some cereal," I said.

This was followed by an audible sigh from Natalie.  I think she thought if she could just get me up, then she could convince me to let her open her presents.

4 a.m. Natalie is back with "Noah pinched me!"

"That's it! Everyone back to bed," I barked.

Both kids got in their beds without complaint and it was "Silent Night" for Steve and I til 6:55 a.m.

Reading their letters from Santa. 

Santa sacks - a few years ago the kids received the sacks and a letter from Santa that in an effort to be more green, he wouldn't be wrapping presents.  Instead, they are to put out their sacks for him to fill.

A pink scooter for Natalie and Skylander Wii game for Noah


Coconut -- $3
Look on her face when she opened it  -- Priceless

A Yoda clock it is.


Natalie smirks as Steve opens the gift she bought him with her own money.
Coal?!

Obviously thrilled with Steve's reaction to her gift to him.

We spent the day at my folk's house chowing down on a variety of red meats, deviled eggs, pies and cookies.  Diets be damned til the first of the year.

Mom cuts into one of my sister-in-law's pies -- coconut cream with a chocolate coconut crust and the other a peanut butter and banana pie with vanilla bean custard. 

Natalie was so excited to show everyone her coconut and insisted on having Steve cut it open at Grandma's house.  Having not ever opened a coconut before, Steve sought advice from the Internet.  Turns out 2 or 3 whacks on the "equator" of the nut and voila! It split in two. 

After we had all had our fill of food, we opened gifts from Grandma and Grandpa.  Here -- Jack only mildly affected by receiving a couple of new Skylanders.
Ethan, my teenage nephew, a sweetheart and very happy with receiving an iTunes gift card.
Ella -- very excited about learning to sew.
Dad had her guessing...he added one of his weights to her package.
Cousins!
L-R  Jack, Ethan, Ella, Natalie and Noah
Missing my sister's family in Colorado -- love to John, Renee, Olivia, Hayden and Griffin


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Musings From Natalie #85

"Mom, can I have a candy bar?...you are so close to being the best mom in the world."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Musings From Natalie #84

Me: "How is it all of your clothes are so dirty with holes in the knees?"
Natalie: "Oh!  That's because I crawl around on the blacktop. We play cheetahs at recess."
Me: Sigh...Can you still play it without crawling on the ground?"
Natalie: "I know!  I could  put my coat on the ground and crawl on top of that!"


Me: "Nat, your coat...it's filthy."
Natalie: "That's because we use it as a nest...my friends do it, too."
Me: "But then when you put your coat back on it's caked with dirt."
Natalie: "Mom, but I love nature and dirt is definitely involved in it."

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Know What You Mean #20

Natalie: "Mom, have you seen my happy sack?"

Hmmm...
Happy Meal?
 
No.
Sleeping bag?
No.
Hacky Sack!
Yes!
Ding ding ding! We have a winner

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to Have a Good Time in the Snow -- Mom Versus Dad

Comparing Playbooks:

Mom:                                                                                                                                 
1.  Good health and fun go hand in hand. 
Every inch of skin must be covered in layers of clothing labeled "Thinsulate"

2. Safety is #1.  Repeat these 3 phrases a hundred zillion times:
"Not in the face.  Not in the face!"
"Feet first.  Feet first!"
"Water is not a good idea."













Dad:

1. They have a "Tim the Tool Man Taylor" attitude and can be heard saying things like "With a little water this hill..."
2. They encourage creativity. They give their sleds names like "the rocket" and "the blue bomber"
3. Fun is where you find it.  Catching air while sledding is NOT an accident. 
4. They believe in teaching their children about other cultures like sledding "Australian style"



Today I am thankful my kids have the benefit of enjoying plays from both books.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #40

"I don't like cold weather, but I like snow.  I like it when it snows and we don't have school.  I also like it when it's warm weather and we don't have school.  When it's cold I hibernate.  I'm a hibernator."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Musings From Natalie #83

While tucking Natalie in with more than two dozen of her closest stuffed furry friends...
Natalie: "Mom, you don't have any stuffed animals, don't you get lonely?"
Me: "No.  I've got your Dad."
Natalie: "He's like your stuffed animal...only he snores.  Too bad he doesn't have an off button."


"Mom, I am SOOO itchy.  I think I might have the Chicken Bawks!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Musings From Natalie #82

Natalie: "Why did you write down what everyone gave me for my birthday?"

Me: "So you can send thank you notes to everyone."

Natalie: "Oh yeah! I can't wait to do that...and then maybe they'll send me 'you're welcome letters' back."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Having a Blast in St. Louis

Apart from the time I spent away at college and a year stint working aboard Carnival's M.S. Fascination, I've lived my entire life in St. Louis.  And, just when I think our kids have seen and done it all -- in terms of local educational programs/attractions available, I discover something new.  This weekend we visited the Challenger Learning Center - St. Louis for their free 10th anniversary event. 

What a blast we had!

Literally.

The kids built and launched rockets, received a mini-astronomy lesson in a portable planetarium, created constellation cups, paper helicopters and much more.  In fact, our paper helicopter earned us 2nd place in a flight duration contest and we won a cool model rocket kit.

We met many enthusiastic and kind folks from a half a dozen local groups including the St. Louis Astronomical SocietyThe St. Louis Rocketry Association, and Academy of Model Aeronautics. In addition, the St. Louis Science Center's "EVie" electric truck was available and provided lots of hands-on science experiments.

Natalie told me, "It was the best day ever!"

The Challenger Learning Center - St. Louis located in Ferguson, is only 1 of 45 centers like it across the planet.  It is part of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, an international not-for-profit education organization founded in April 1986 by the families of the astronauts who died during the Challenger space shuttle mission. The center provides simulated space missions, science education and teambuilding programs for students K-8, educators, corporations, scouting groups and the general public.  Visit their website for a list of upcoming public mission dates at a reduced 10th anniversary rate of $10/per person.

Natalie stands on a solar system sculpture located at the entrance of the Challenger Center.

Greetings from Everyone's Favorite Space Explorer.

The kids get ready to enter the portable planetarium.
The St. Louis Astronomical Society hosts more than 30 free public star parties at many locations throughout the greater St. Louis area.
A pink rocket...shocker.
Noah and Steve work together to build a rocket.
 
Natalie created her own wind propeller.
Our entry into the paper helicopter duration contest.
Natalie crashed and burned many times...thankfully no one got hurt as her model plane piloting experience was all done using a simulator plane.
Noah and Natalie check out the cool hands-on science attractions EVie had to offer.
Ready. Set. Blast-off!


Friday, November 15, 2013

2,555 Days of Grace

7 years ago today...

* The number one song in the U.S. was Justin Timberlake's My Love.
* Our family car was a 2001 Honda Civic
* A gallon of gas cost $2.23
* Top rated T.V. shows included American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, House and Desperate Housewives.
* The Cardinals won the World Series

And, we welcomed a "chubby bunny" into our family.  We named her Natalie Grace.

She's tenacious, funny, witty, loving, thoughtful, creative and as her name suggests -- a blessing to us all.  I couldn't have picked a better little sister for Noah if I had tried. 

Happy Birthday Nat!





Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Musings From Natalie #80

While I was making dinner, Natalie came into the kitchen to ask for my help...
Natalie: "Mom, how do you spell dear?"
Me: D-E-A-R
Natalie: "How do you spell diary?"
Me: D-I-A-R-Y

She leaves the kitchen, goes to her room and closes the door behind her.  Next, she yells to me from behind her closed bedroom door...

Natalie: "Mom, how do you spell Isaac?"
(Dear God: Sometimes parenting is so incredibly fun.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Musings from Natalie #79

After Natalie jumped into my arms for one more hug...
Natalie: "Mom?"
Me: "Yes, Nat."
Natalie: "I just love being loved."

Because matching is so last week...
Six-year old's know that today's fashion is all about coordinating outfits that feel good:
butterfly top, poodle print bottom, butterfly motif boots. Perfect!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Musings From Natalie #78

After looking through her copy of "It's Not the Stork"...

Natalie: "Mom, did it hurt when they cut the cord?"
Me: "Not a bit."
Natalie: "Mom, will I have a car by then?"
Me: "When."
Natalie: "When I have a baby."
Me: "Uhh...yes. I'm sure you will."
Natalie: "Well, I'm stopping at the store before I go to the hospital."
Me: "What are you going to buy?"
Natalie: "A baby carrier."
(And I thought I was a planner.)


Natalie: "When I grow up can I stay with you?"
Me: "As long as you like."
Natalie: "Can I borrow the car?"
Me: (puzzled look)
Natalie: "Cause I don't want to have to spend my own money."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Musings From Natalie #77

Natalie: "Mom, can we play kitties?  I'll be the kitty and you be the old lady who takes care of the kitties."

Me: "I'll try...but it'll be a stretch."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #38

Noah: "Mom, what are your hobbies?"
Me: "Oh, I have lots!"
Noah: "Like Facebook?"
Me: (BAM...stammer) "Well, hmm, um, more like... organizing parties and special events, writing stories and crafting."
Noah: (excited) "Well, if you like crafting, you should try Minecraft. You would really like it!"



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Musings From Natalie #76

Noah: "Mom, I'm worried about driving...I don't think I'm going to drive.  I'm going to take the bus."

Me: "Noah, not to worry.  You are only 10.  You can't even practice for at least another 5 years.  But, if you don't want to drive, you don't have to -- there will be plenty of other options."

Natalie: "I'm not going to drive a car either."

Me: (surprised) "You aren't?"

Natalie: "Nope.  I'm going to drive a MOTORCYCLE!"
(Sigh...Look, here's my surprised face.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Musings From Natalie #75

No matter how gentle I am, brushing through Natalie's tangled tresses often elicits squawks of protest. So, I shouldn't have been surprised by the convo that followed after I trimmed her hair.

Me: "See, I only trimmed it.  It looks so much nicer and was pretty painless."

Natalie: "Actually, it kinda felt like my hair was burning when you were cutting it.  It really did.  I could feel it burning."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Musings From Natalie #74

"Mom, tomorrow please don't put chips in my lunch because it distracts me from eating my vegetables."

Musings From Natalie #73

Natalie: "Mom, if I get married will I have to kiss him on the mouth?"

Me:
"Um, of course not. But, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure you'll be able to work out all those details beforehand."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Musings From Natalie #72

Natalie: "I can't wait for the half day at school today.  My teacher is probably crying right now."
Me: "Why?"
Natalie: "Because she just loves school."

Natalie: "Can we adopt a kid?"
Me: "Uh, I don't think so."
Natalie: "Why not?...How much do they cost?...They're precious."

While listening to Adele's song, Rumor Has It...
Natalie: "Mom, what is she saying?"
Me: "Rumor has it."
Natalie: "What's a rumor?"
Me: "A story going around."
Natalie: "Aww...I thought she was saying Umer has it.  I was hoping it was a person."
Me: "Hmm...what did you think Umer had?"
Natalie: "A piece of gold or something."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Deep Thoughts from Noah #37

"I really wish we could start school with P.E. then have lunch then have recess then go home.  I really wish that.  Besides lunch is very important."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Musings From Natalie #71

After getting moved for talking in class yesterday...
Me: "How'd school go today?"
Natalie: "Well...I'm still at it."
(Looking on the bright side...at least she's honest.  Maybe her gift for the gab will one day lead to her own radio or T.V. show)

While walking to the playground, Natalie overheard a boy say he hated his sister...
"Mom, he hates his sister?!  That makes my heart burn, I tell you."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Musings From Natalie #70

"After recess my back is like a carnival of sweat!"

"That rollercoaster scared the guts out of me!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Musings From Natalie #69

Natalie: "Mom, do you think I'm a fairy?"
Me: "Hmmm...you certainly are cute, but I don't see any wings."
Natalie: "Yea, well...they just haven't sprouted yet."

(If you wrapped up a box of horse manure and gave it to her, she wouldn't be upset -- she'd just want to know "where's the pony?")

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #36

Me: "Noah!"
Noah: "Stop taking my name in vain."
(Ok, God.  I can take a hint...we haven't been to church in 3 months.  We'll be there today.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #35

"Mom, what was it that I was going to say? Because Natalie interrupted me and now I forgot."


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Musings From Natalie #68

While riding in the car, Natalie suddenly shared, "Mom, lying is awesome!"
I turned off the radio.
"What?" I said.
"Lying is awesome," she repeated.
"Lying is not awesome.  I don't understand," I replied
"Well...say there are two boys -- one is a liar and the other is a trufer.  And, there is a girl who is wearing ugly shoes and the trufer says to her 'your shoes are really ugly'.  But, the liar...he says 'your shoes are really nice!" explained Natalie.




Friday, August 30, 2013

Musings From Natalie #67

"Mom, besides me...what do you love more than anything in this world?"


Natalie: "Mom, should I have a husband?
Me: "I don't think you need to worry about that for at least 25 years."
Natalie: "Well, I don't think I'll get one until after my dogs die."


Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Know What You Mean #19

Natalie: "Mom, what causes an erection?

Mom: "What?!"

Natalie: "An erection...you know when you break out in red dots on your skin."

Mom: "You mean a reaction...an allergic reaction." (PHEW)
(At that very moment, I think I almost broke out in red dots...because I'm allergic to some topics of conversation with my kids.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Strength in Numbers

Five years ago...
We discovered Action for Autism St. Louis -- a newly formed organization dedicated to helping families like ours, affected by autism.  At the time Noah was in kindergarten and either melting down or shutting down nearly every day.  Initially I was nervous to meet with the founders to discuss Noah's challenges and our family's circumstances.  However, within the first few minutes of talking to AFA President, Brad Buechler and VP, Sheila Charlton, I felt my anxiety slip away. During that interview, I learned they not only talked the talk...but they walked it, too.  Two of Buechler's grandchildren are affected by autism. 

Five years ago...
Statistics showed that one in 110 children had an autism spectrum disorder.

Today...
Statistics show that one in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder.

Today...
My family and I were among more than 250 people who came out to participate in Action for Autism's 5th Annual Family Fun Walk. Since 2009 we've enjoyed the tradition of having our picture taken next to the foot marker featuring Noah's sweet freckled face.  We look forward to devouring pancakes and a generous helping of egg casserole and fresh-squeezed orange juice, compliments of The Original Pancake House.  We celebrate how far Noah has come and with each step...we realize how grateful we are for this group of caring people. 

A special thank you to all of our family and friends who made a donation to Action for Autism.  This year you helped us raise $962!  So much good will come from your generosity.  We know...because we've experienced it firsthand.



A bit jealous at seeing Noah's face on the foot marker...Natalie asked, "When I grow up will I have austism?"

Way Cool Balloons enertained the kids with, well...you know -- way cool stuff.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Musings From Natalie #66

"Mom, when I grow up I'll have two dogs and they'll each have their own room and they'll be able to scratch as much as they like."


"Mom, I love you more than strawberries and aliens and cupcakes."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Musings From Natalie #65

"Mom, I love you...but I like dogs a little bit more."

"I don't get it -- there's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day and a Grandparent's Day...when is it Kids Day?!"

"Mom, when I grow up will you be okay with being a Grandma for my dogs?"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Musings From Natalie #64

Natalie is at it again.  She asked me to transcribe a note for her.  She is really hoping this time a fairy will listen to reason...

Dear Fairy:
Please let me catch you.  I won't cause any harm.  You can pack whatever you like to pack.
-Natalie F.
A table set for a tiny friend complete with rock seat.
To view previous fairy adventures with Natalie click here, here and here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #34

In an effort to reduce the clutter,  I pulled out some of the toys that the kids have either outgrown or no longer play with.  I explained to them that I would try to sell the toys on craigslist and any money earned from the sales would be given to them to purchase toys that they really want.  Initially Noah was okay with the plan, but as the days have passed, he's come up with a new plan.

Noah: "Mom, I have an idea."
Me: "What's that?
Noah: "How about we divide these toys into two piles...one in the keep and the other in the want."
Me: "What's the want pile?
Noah: "Want-to-keep."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Musings From Natalie #63

"Mom, can I raise puppies...like as my children? And, I'm going to give them human names like Annie and Oscar...and put wigs on them."


While watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days...
Natalie: "He's kinda cute."
Me: "You think Greg is cute?  Or did you mean his older brother?"
Natalie: "Um, actually I was talking about his Dad."
(Dear God: You better send two guardian angels for this one.)



I Know What You Mean #18

"Mom, I don't like fake songs...can you find a real one for me?"

(Hmmm...Instrumental music is hardly fake.  But, I know what you mean)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Know It All

Okay...I admit it.  I can be a bit of a "know it all".  But, in my defense, I always try to use my powers for good.  I love nothing more than to help a friend -- whether it's finding the best deals for "back to school" supplies, sharing where free family events are happening in our area or providing the name of a trustworthy plumber.  In fact, I actually enjoy coming up with creative solutions...for other people's problems.

So...your kid is 4 years old and will only poop while wearing a pull-up?  Have you tried having him/her wear one while sitting on the toilet (but don't let on that you've cut a hole in the bottom of their pull-up?)

So...you've forgotten to play tooth fairy and now your kid is a crying heap?  May I offer up some reasons for a tardy tooth fairy: perhaps her wing got tangled in a cobweb, or maybe she got caught in a rainstorm and can't fly with wet wings, or you've heard on the news that the price of glitter has skyrocketed -- forcing many fairies to use grasshoppers and dragonflies to complete their tooth missions.  But, those silly bugs can be so unreliable!

My bestest bud, who always follows recipes to the letter, calls me when her cupboards don't hold all the ingredients she needs.  I am a maven-at-making-do.  While another friend likes to challenge my party planning capabilities. A typical instant message from her on a Saturday morning, "Andrea - I have 15 family members in town for the weekend -- I need a plan!"

I love it!

What I don't love? Not having all the answers for my own dang problems.  Sometimes I'm such a hypocrite.  I tell my kids - if you don't ask for what you need, how can you expect others to help you? Sigh...I'm still a work in progress with this.

In the fall of 2008, I began a journey in asking for help from others. At the time, I was at an impasse -- I felt like I'd exhausted all of my resources in terms of books, teachers, therapists and what I could physically do for Noah. I was in a race, not only to reduce the gap between him and his peers, but also to close the emotional distance occurring in my marriage in part to the added stress. I was introduced to Action for Autism St. Louis, a not-for-profit organization created to help families fill in some of the gaps.  They offer financial support to families seeking therapies, summer camps and social skills classes not otherwise covered by insurance, but very much needed to address their children's developmental delays.

And, thanks to the generosity of people like you -- who have supported Action for Autism St. Louis and other charities like it -- children are thriving. Though Noah still has a long road ahead of him, his future and that of more than 200 children helped by Action for Autism, is also brighter.

On Saturday, August 24th, our family will be participating in Action for Autism's 5th Annual Family Fun Walk & Kid's Carnival to help give back to an organization that has given so much to us. If you are interested in joining us email me at andrea at therapyonwry dot com  Cost is $25 per person and includes a t-shirt and pancake breakfast compliments of The Pancake House.  Our family's fun walk goal is to raise $500 to help more children with developmental disabilities in our community.  If you would like to make a donation, message me or make a secure, online donation here.  Please put "Felgenhauer" in the comments section.

Thank you.
"We're finishers!" said Natalie
2012 AFA Family Fun Walk
Noah proudly shows off his medal
2011 AFA Family Fun Walk
Our family was chosen to help lead the walk.
2010 AFA Family Fun Walk
Stopping to give thanks and admire Noah's picture featured on one of the mile markers.
2009 AFA Family Fun Walk
My team...my family...my everything
2009 AFA Family Fun Walk