I came across this today while reorganizing the computer room and had to share. It's a Mother's Day card drawn by my youngest son from a couple of years ago - my favorite Scarecrow and Mrs. King scene, from my favorite episode, "Stemwinder." So cute!!!
It's been a whirlwind of activity around our house this week. Joseph and Steffen continue to be involved in their school activities. Joey is just now learning marching band and has been practicing playing his snare drum and carrying a drum harness. I look forward to seeing him march in the Forest Festival parade in June. Steffen is participating in track and field and at yesterday's track meet ran his personal best times in both the 300m hurdles and 1600-meter run. Next week, marching band practice resumes and he continues to maintain his 4.0 GPA. He also turned the big 15 on Monday and is counting down the days when he can take driver's ed and get his permit to drive. Lord, give me strength!
The big news, of course, is Michael's mission call. We spent the last two weeks helping him pack, clean his room, put stuff in storage (since Steffen claimed Michael's room), went clothes shopping, had him fitted for a new suit, had pants hemmed, did lots of laundry, and made a trip to the dry cleaner and the barber. He also put in his two week notice to Walmart with Friday being his last day. He received lots of support from fellow associates who wished him well and hoped he returned to the store after his mission. Saturday evening, we threw him a going-away party and surprising although it was a little cold, the sun was peaking through the clouds and it did not rain on us. We had a great barbecue and thank the friends and family who came to support him.
On Monday, the stake president set him apart as a full-time missionary for the Washington-Tacoma mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then on Tuesday morning, we all drove him to the Tacoma Stake building. He went into the building with other new missionaries (some having just come off a plane from Salt Lake City) and senior missionaries. Grandma just had to wait around until Michael (whoops, Elder Riener) received his name tag to take a couple pictures. After picture taking and a quick hug and our good-byes, we headed back home.
Surprisingly, I held it together. So far it feels surreal. Maybe, because he is just across the bridge and not across the county, or maybe because we will see him in just 12 short weeks that it has not really sunk-in my baby is all grown up and moving on. I think when we take him to the MTC in July and we wouldn't be seeing him for 21 months - that transition is going to be harder on all of us.
My sources tell me his first 6 week assignment is not very far from us and that he is here on our side of the peninsula. We have also been told he has been paired with an amazing senior companion. I really, really am looking forward to his first email.
I am so incredibly proud of my son!!
Here's an abridged copy of the yearly (oh, heck, when I get around to doing it) family news, , , umm, rather brag letter. . . :D
Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas! Here’s the scoop on the Riener Family and what we’ve been up to this busy and CRAZY year.
Our family vacation this year was an extended weekend trip to Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Peshastin Pinnacles State Park, and Snohomish Falls. We especially loved Leavenworth, immersing ourselves in Bavarian culture and food. We also enjoyed the tour of the Snohomish railroad museum and seeing all the old trains.
We also made a trip to Grangeville, Idaho over the Thanksgiving weekend and had a mini-family reunion visiting Grandma Riener, Carleen, Richard, Richard III, Jodi, and Marty. We look forward to seeing more family at Christmas time.
In June, Anne and Ed celebrated their 20th Anniversary!!
-Ed, Anne, Michael, Steffen, and Joseph
Michael had a big year and it was fun watching him turn into a great young man (he turns 19 in January). Not only did he graduate from high school, but he also had 100% attendance for all four years of Seminary and earned the President's award. He also earned the rank of Eagle Scout!
He practiced all year and was finally able to take and pass the state driver's test, so now he is a licensed driver. Michael also was able to get a part-time job working at Walmart as a cashier.
Michael loves to perform in musicals, choir, and play his guitar. His dream is to live in Nashville.
He also has decided he wants to serve on an LDS mission and recently completed the paperwork. We anticipate he will be leaving us in the early spring, but don't know where yet.
Steffen is also a terrific young man. He's very intelligent, charming, talented, and likes to help others.
He's a straight ‘A’ student and especially loves math and science. When he grows up, he wants to do something with the sciences or possibly military intelligence. That's right - I'm raising a spy. :-)
He was in the honors program last year and was able to attend Project Citizen. The class project was on bullying. They won 2nd place at State. He plays trumpet in marching band, concert band, and pep band. He also won the honor of being in the top 10% of 8th graders in Mason county last year.
Steffen earned the rank of Eagle Scout, becoming the youngest (at 13) to earn it for our troop. Over the summer, he gave back to the scouting community by volunteering at Camp Hahobas for five weeks. He plans to return this year as a paid counselor.
Joey has decided he wants to be Joseph now, but he will always be my Joey.
He's struggling at school, but school has always been a challenge for him. However, we were able to get him an out-of-district transfer and he now attends a middle school that has been more recepetive to his needs and wants to see him succeed. He is currently being tested to see what areas he needs help. In the meantime, he has been receiving after-school tutoring in math and reading.
He likes to ride his bike, play video games, and perfom comedy. Joseph is very creative and likes to make stop animation videos. He also likes to do scouting activities, but doesn't really care about merit badges. He recently decided to follow in big brother's footsteps and joined band - as a drummer.
Being a parent of an autistic child can be a challenge, it is doubly challenging when Heavenly Father blesses you with not one, but two special needs children. I don’t understand why he did. I am not a very patient person. I most definitely do not have the patience of Job. And anyone who really knows me – knows I am like a bottle rocket when it comes to controlling my temper.
I love my youngest son, Joey, but there are days when it is a struggle to reach him - when it comes to doing chores, he’s good at disappearing. It also has been a constant battle with him to get him to do homework. I have to pick battles with him. He is a very sweet boy, who has a wicked sense of humor, is very creative, and loves to make people laugh. Unlike most children with aspersers, he is very social, although he often does not behave properly in social gatherings—he hates attention of any kind. He does not care for sports, whether it’s basketball, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, or karate, although he does love to draw, ride his bike, and play computer games. He also likes to make stop-animation videos with Lego’s and the camera we bought him for his birthday.
I could not be more proud of my boys these past few weeks. My youngest, Joey, finished his first year of homeschooling. If you asked me a year ago if I would ever home school one of my children I would have given a resounding, "No way." Followed by, "I would kill the child before the school year was done." Actually, it went better than what I thought it would. Joey has focus issues, so it took a lot of redirecting, but he completed all the tasks I asked of him. We didn't get as far as I would have liked (just felt we did a lot of review to catch up), but he did increase his reading level. In addition, we had a lot of fun on field trips. We went to the King Tut Exhibit, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook Air Musuem, Squaxin Indian Tribe Museum, and went on a tour of two World War II bombers. Due to loss of funding for the home school program we were in, Joey will be going back to public school in the fall, but he will be in a out-of-district middle school, with much more resources for children with special needs.
My oldest, Michael, graduated from high school last week. We are very proud of him and how he was able to finish high school and with good grades despite his learning difficulties. His German teacher wrote on his report card, "he was sorry Washington assessment standards do not allow A+ because he deserved one." I also ran into his Sociology teacher and he told me, "Michael was a great young man and brought a lot of thoughtful discussion to the class." Michael also did a wonderful job in the musical production of Oliver! the high school drama department presented, and he did a great job at the high school talent show.
Steffen, my middle child, has had a great year at Hawkins Middle School. He participated in Honors, band, and Product Citizen. He was in the top 10% of 8th graders in Mason County. He was part of the marching band and participated in a trumpet trio and earned a superior at the contest. In addition, he received Student of the Trimester and was presented with a certificate at a year-end assembly last week. All his teacher comments included the words, "responsible, thoughtful, dedicated, helpful, dependable, respectful, capable, and talented." His science teacher wrote, "The answer isn't will he be successful. The question is what will he choose to do."
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is about.” ~ Erma Bombeck
I drove up the driveway and parked. My oldest son climbed out of the car and opened the back door for his date. (Yep, I had raised him right) and I watched them both ascend the stairs to her front door, then I adverted my eyes, offering them some privacy, and maybe to a deeper degree not wanting to know whatever or not he was going to kiss her good-night. I'm not ready, I tell you!! ! Not ready to let him spread his wings and fly.
When he folded his large frame back into the car, I caught a glimpse of the five-year-old boy he used to be, whom then transformed into this young man sitting next to me and I have no idea how this happened. In a few short months he will be reaching a new milestone as he crosses that threshold into adulthood (well, an adult in legal terms accompanied by privileges, as well as, other serious implications—old enough to vote, and old enough to die for our country) and I wonder why I am afraid.
Why is it hard to witness these new milestones in his life when I had no problems with the other firsts—first tooth, first word, first day of Kindergarten, but first dates, first kisses, and graduating from high school ties me up in knots? Maybe, it’s because motherhood started with him, or maybe it’s not he, but I, who is not ready to grow up.
Once a month my mother drags me along with her to a ladies lunch group, sometimes we meet at someone’s house and other times we meet at a restaurant. Hey, free food, and I don’t have to cook, so always a bonus!
Last week, we had lunch at a neighbor’s house with all the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings. A new sister from the Ward, who had just moved to the area, introduced herself and her chubby-cheeked six-month-old son, then asked me about my boys. “They must keep you busy,” she queried.
I smiled, and then after taking in a slow deep breath, I relied, “Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Young Men/Young Woman activities, Sea Cadets, gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling meets, swimming lessons, basketball, doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments, Drivers Ed, voice lessons, choir, band, guitar lessons, concerts, drama productions, and Seminary. I’m not a stay-at-home mom; I’m a stay-in-the car mom.”
"Hey. . . it's me."
I live in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains, in the State of Washington and I love camping, boating, hiking, and hanging out with my husband, our three boys, and two Bernese Mountain dogs.