Sunday, June 30, 2013

Seeing Green

Somebody forgot to check their pockets.

Our dryer is now a lovely shade of melted green crayon.

Don't know the extent of damage to the clothes yet. But it was mostly jeans so probably not too bad.

Just another day here at the nut house.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting Some Girl Time the (Grace)ful Way

Well, we had our first official ER visit.
 
And not with the either of the kids we would have expected.
 
It was Giddy Grace! Yup. Last night when she was dancing around the living room, Big Sister slipped, and fell backwards hitting her head on the hard floor. She cried, we hugged, and after a few minutes she was back to giggling.
 
When she came back in the kitchen a couple more minutes later I noticed a little blood in one nostril. She wiped it, and no more appeared. But I, of course, started googling.
 
Because it was so brief, and she was acting otherwise completely normal I took my normal wait and see approach. Aside from also getting bonked on her forehead by her brother's elbow, she seemed totally fine. No uneven pupils, dizziness, so I gave her ibuprofen for her head "that hurts on boff sides now!"
 
I checked on her several more times before she fell asleep. She was feeling better.
 
Then around 5:30 this morning she comes out of her room and says she threw up three times in a row. Daddy goes to check it out and is surprised by how much she threw up. That made my heart jump, so we threw on some clothes and she and I headed to the ER. She threw up again while she was getting dressed.
 
It was almost empty in the waiting room. Just two other people, and one was just waiting for someone. We hardly had to sit there at all. (It takes longer at the doctors office usually.) And the doctor came in right away.  Everyone was really nice.
 
 

 
He checked her all out, and said she would be fine. He didn't feel she needed xrays or a ct scan. Probably a minor concussion, but nothing to worry about. It likely affected her tummy because it was already sensitive from the stomach bug that she is still getting over. He told us what to watch for just in case, but said he's not worried. She might just have an extra sensitive tummy for a few days. And the nose bleed, he said, was just a coincidence, probably from being irritated by being sick, or the weather.
 
They gave her an anti-nausea chew which made her crinckle her nose as it dissolved under her tongue. And an RX for more as needed. She didn't even have to lay down on the bed!
 
 

 
Instead, we had an in depth discussion about fire alarms, and how we would get out of the room if there was a fire in the hallway just outside the door. (I have the weirdest coversations with my kids!) I can't imagine what the nurse thought when she walked in as I'm saying "...over our heads because of the smoke. Oh, hi." 
 
Yeah, we're not crazy at all.
 
Anyway, we were in and out in under an hour, and I think she probably brightened their morning with all her cuteness and that gorgeous smile!
 
We dropped the rx at Walgreens and picked her up a little prize for being such a good patient. She picked a paddle-ball.
 
 
Back home, and back to bed. But a much less worried Mama now. Whew!
 
Aside from the tummy ache she had while we were there, she liked it and had a good time. She even asked several times if I thought that her brother was going to be jealous, since he didn't even get to come.
 
I said he probably would be a little.
 
She suggested that maybe we should give him a candy to make him feel better about it.
 
I said sure, we could do that.
 
And as she watched the sun rising through the trees as we drove home, she giggled.
   

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Might Be A Mother When...

... you see your toddler is about to puke and you cup your hands under her chin to catch it.

... your toddler's diarrhea leaks out onto your lap, but you clean her up first.

... your not even grossed out by puke or poop anymore.

... you fully expect any projectile vomit to land squarely on you.

... a shower feels like a spa treatment. And clean clothes make you giggle when you smell them.

... you celebrate not having to wash her hair or yours for the fourth time in a single day.

... you actually go over the logistics of burning the couch instead of cleaning it.

... your lightning quick reflexes intercept and prevent any food item that isn't completely bland from entering her mouth.

... you walk around with a pot and towel like a bird of prey ready to strike any living thing that moves and catch any expelled bodily fluids. It's as if you can smell it. EVERYWHERE!

(As you probably gathered, we got hit with a stomach bug over the weekend. So far, only Kit has had it, but my gut tells me there's more about to emerge. Yes, pun intended.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer School

Here in our house we do school all year.
 
In fact, we probably do more school in the summer than any other season. This is because it's nearly 100° and 99% humidity for large portions of the day for several months. I keep the kids inside on most afternoons in the summer and send them out after five. It's still hot and muggy, but the sun is far less intense and its much more tolerable.
 
So with kids inside for large portions of each day, I learned early on that I needed to give them stuff to do. Having it be schoolwork is an easy and beneficial solution. We always have what we need, they always know what to do, or where to pick up from where they left off. And I don't have to sizzle my last remaining brain cells trying to scrape together new and appealing activities to entertain them. It also helps keep a semi-consistent routine.
 
This does not mean that they don't get time off. They get plenty of time off. They get days and even weeks off whenever we need/want it. If we want to have friends over, we take a day or two off. Same for if they go to a friend's house. Or if we have an outing or event planned or decide on one spur of the moment. And if we have an especially busy week or two coming up then we just take the whole time off.
 
I love our schedule because it allows me the freedom to grant their occasional wish of "I just wish I didn't have to do school today, I just want to play." Which is fun to get to do for them.
 
They've even gotten bigger chunks of vacation time periodically. Like when Kit was born, we took off about six weeks.
 
It also seems like it helps them view school stuff more as activities rather than something they must suffer through. If they are not enjoying it then they are likely not learning much from it. If that's the case, it just seems like a waste of all our time. And if we're going to waste time, then in my opinion, it ought to be fun while we do it!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Person of Interest: Temple Grandin

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dr. Temple Grandin, this is you chance to learn more about one of the most outspoken advocates of autism. Born severely autistic herself at a time when autism was completely misunderstood and mistreated, she overcame, persevered, and has become an inspiration to many families.

Several years ago, a feature film was made about her early life and how she used her determination and unique abilities to carve out her own special place in the world. The film, called Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes, followed her life closely and presets her challenges authentically. I found it very interesting and thought provoking.

Below is a special from the BBC about her. I hope it helps to provide insight into the positives of being on the spectrum.

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saying What We Mean

How many times have I uttered the phrase just this once.

But when I analyze that statement, when I am really honest with myself, I know that's not a truthful statement.

Really, all it is, is a desperate plea in the moment to restore things to my liking, routine, or expectations.

Honestly though, those are just words. Empty words.

I know this because what I really mean is from now on or from here on out or each time this happens.

Just this once seems good in the moment, diplomatic, but it doesn't do much for the long run. And I'm sure it's frustrating to the people we are saying it to. Because, really, they know we don't mean it either. They know what we really want is for them to do it this way always. To change.

And it overwhelms us because change is hard. And I think kids and adults alike are afraid to do something just this once, because inside we are afraid that it means we will be expected to do it from now on. Because so often, that is really what we mean when we say it.

So maybe, from now on, I will try saying what I really mean. And by stating what I really want, perhaps, I just might get it from those of whom I am asking it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

...Just Musing

When I was a teenager, I used to clean the kitchen late at night after everyone else had retired to their respective nighttime abodes. My family was ever gracious and indulgent of my teenage-ness. I would play mournful country love songs loud enough to almost make me feel like my voice blended in. And of course, played the same songs over and over and over again. Wow...were my mom and sisters tolerant! But it never really occurred to me then how special that time was to me. It was a gift they gave me, allowing me to just be myself, doing things my way, my alone time for the day.

Somewhere in the era of newlywed bliss, I let that habit slip away. And then babies and breastfeeding, and the sheer joy of the children of the house FINALLY being asleep and not wanting to disrupt in any way the whole house being quiet, further removed me from that wistful daily refuge. And while over the years I occasionally slip away, and do manage to carve out periods of alone time, I haven't ever quite hit upon that same combination of emotional outlet/restoration as those late night sing-alongs.

It was restorative not only because I was alone and had a release of all my big emotions, but also because of the how. I could mix my teenage tears with the soap suds and then let it all down the drain, or sing and scrub until my frustrations or anger dissolved just like baked on cheese. The fact that I was washing dishes and sweeping the floor was as therapeutic as my impassioned imaginings of country-singing greatness. Because, I was not just wallowing. I was accomplishing something while I wallowed (or soared with excitement!). Something beneficial to everyone I loved. Only I didn't know that back then.

Tonight, I played mournful country love songs as I washed dishes and scrubbed pots. With the music loud enough for me to not feel totally embarrassed to sing along. And like my family did back then, my family tonight gave me that time as well. They were in and out a few times, but eventually, Victor had the kids settled in bed and Kit in the bath, and I was free to have a little while alone. And it is still a gift. It was a great emotional outlet/restorative experience. And the satisfaction of a clean kitchen at the end of it is far more valuable to me now than it was 15 years ago.

Perhaps in time this tradition will find it's way back into our family flow. But even if it does not, tonight was good. It's nice to recognize the good when it's happening. It makes us appreciate it more.

And now, same as then, certain songs just capture me. Some take me back to other times and memories. Then there are those that take on a whole new meaning or depth than they used to have. This was that song for me tonight.

 



((hugs))

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blocks, Bubbles, and The Big Circus Robbery

We met up with some friends at a children's museum yesterday. It was a fun and blessedly air-conditioned outing.

With the heat of summer steadily pounding heavier and hotter everyday (heat index of 111° yesterday! NOT EVEN CLOSE TO KIDDING), the great outdoors around here veers uncomfortably close to actually being barbecued. So indoor, and inexpensive ($20 for me and the kids) activities are true sanity savers.

We had a really good time. It's not a huge place, but the exhibits are fun and really well designed.

We spent quite a while at the Bubble Zone. The ambulance. The dentist office. The toddler stations with blocks, Mr. Potato Heads, dominos, Legos, and trains. And we all liked the little café, where Grace immediately felt at home in her chef's hat, bossing everyone else around. Not meanly, but she was definitely in charge. Kit was in love with the dishes, especially the cups. Especially after all the other kids moved on and she had them all to herself!



 
 
 
 
 
 


We always have trouble in the morning and had a little over an hour to drive, so we ended up arriving nearly two hours after most everyone else. My kids were just getting started, but after an hour our so, our friends finally had to leave since they had some very hungry explorers. A few had brought some lunch which they ate outside, then came back in to keep playing. But we didn't get to visit cuz we had kids going every which way.
 
The next stop for my tykes was the miniature Winn-Dixie for some groceries. This was hands down Grace's favorite place in the whole museum. She LOVED it!  She would peruse the isles slowly, make careful selections, and filled her cart like an expert. And even more than that she LOVED ringing up her groceries on the cash register. She even got me a bouquet of sunflowers! She would have stayed there all day.
 
 

 
 
 

 
The transition from the café to the store was more than Kit could bear though, and she totally melted down. Finally Zak was able to get her interested in a package of fake donuts, and though she was very sensitive for a long time, she did follow him around and help put things in the adorable teeny tiny grocery cart. But every chance she got she bolted out of the swinging doors and off toward her favorite spot. The bubbles.
 
No, not these bubbles, though she did enjoy this station a lot.
 
 
 

 
But it was these bubbles that she would have stayed at all day. She ran back to this spot multiple times throughout our visit.
 
 

 

 
I finally contented her with playing in the walled in toddler area in the middle of the building so that I could keep an eye on her in there, Grace in the grocery store right next to it, and Zak as he flitted from one activity to the next so long as he could still see me.
 
Zak found his happy place in the newsroom. They had a real camera that broadcast his antics onto several screens throughout the museum. Needless to say my little ham was in hog heaven! He liked it in there so much that Grace even brought her picture she was coloring in there so I could keep an eye on everyone at once.
 
 
 
 

 
I finally told them one more room, and then we had to go cuz my stomach was about to eat itself. So we returned to the Circus Room that we had visited earlier.

It was empty when we arrived which was perfect because Zak and Kit both needed to get some serious energy out. Zak wrestled with the giant stuffed animals, though I mediated so that he wouldn't get crazy rough. Kit made herself a little circuit of jumping off the little boardwalk, trotting in a semi-circle back around to the beginning of the walk, and then skipping down the walkway to the end. Jump, trot, skip, repeat. And repeat. And repeat, repeat, repeat.

I knew we had hit our tolerance threshold the moment that Zak "robbed" Grace's cash register. She stepped away to get something and he raced over, emptied the entire drawer and started to run through the room, cackling a maniacal laugh, and tossing handfuls of bills in the air. She was chasing closely behind, shrieking horrified cries of injustice, and finally dissolved into tears at the complete lack of control. Kit, hardly noticed as she completed her circuit for the umpteenth time, she merely slowed her pace and cast the occasional raised eyebrow in their general direction. Yeah, they were done.
 
I gave them a five minute warning just as Grace recuperated her stolen funds and placed them back in the cash register, which she had earlier taken to the snack booth so that she could sell both snacks and tickets instead of having it spread out in two separate booths. It was right about then that about six or seven other kids made their way into the room and gladly assumed roles as customers, and performers in the tiger act that Zak had moved on to creating.
 
 
 

 
Since my kids had seemed to have gotten out the majority of their frustrations and energy during "The Great Circus Robbery", I went ahead and let them play awhile longer as everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves very nicely.

It was during this time that we had our only negative interaction with anyone else there, and the kids I'm sure probably don't even remember. I probably only cared because I was tired and my stomach had now moved on to attempting to consume the rest of my organs.

The whole intent of the entire museum is to spur imagination and help kids become familiar with real life scenarios in a fun and no pressure way, but some people sure know how to stifle that. Take, for example, the 'No'-Lady, that works there, who walked in while the tiger act was in full swing and the concession stand was bustling!

 
 
 
"This is a great show! Even better with my fifteen-scoop ice cream cone!!"


'No, no...don't play with the curtain." (I'm fine making sure my kids follow the new rule, but I'm confused, why there is a curtain hanging within reach of children inside a museum designed for children to touch everything if they are not supposed to touch it?)

'Oh no! You don't have your shoes on! Better put those back on!' (He took them off to put on the clown shoes provided in the costume area. I kind of thought that was the whole point. Right? Hmmmm.)
 
'Uh oh! You're missing your shoes too! That's no good!' (She couldn't possibly have really been directing this at my one-and-a-half year old, even though she was saying it to her. It really felt like a not-so-sugar-coated reprimand toward me. I ignored her. My baby needed a well deserved break from her shoes, and this was the most practical room to give her that break in. And again, the only dress up stuff that I saw was in this room. Maybe she just got done trying on clown shoes herself, Lady!)
 
 
 

 
Then she really annoyed me.

Does it really matter if the cash register is at the ticket booth or the snack booth? Apparently it really mattered to her.

That's good Lady, interrupt a free flowing game that multiple children are playing and cooperating in together, happily imagining and creating, so that you can feel better by moving the most integral piece of equipment (said cash register), and telling them that 'it needs to be over here, so that they can buy tickets over here'. (They were having no problem buying tickets and snacks at the snack booth. They really had everything totally worked out.)

All of their progress and flow completely dissolved and the game came to an abrupt and completely unnecessary end, because an adult walked in and decided for them that they weren't playing thier game right. None of the other parents had seemed the least bit disturbed by the way the kids were playing. Most of them were enjoying the show or helping kids get costumes on. I didn't see any signs that said "DON'T MOVE THE CASH REGISTER". Aren't these things designed to be played with? Ugh, so aggravating.

At any rate, the children began to disperse and I informed mine that our minutes were up. We packed up and headed home.

Overall, we had a good lot of fun, and beat the heat at the same time.

Many museums offer either a discounted or free day once a month or so. If you want to find out if any do where you live, just type "free things to do in (your city's name)" into your search engine. You might find some really cool stuff to do!


 
  
 

Stay cool, people! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Meet Rosie

Autism and Asperger's from a few different children's point of view:

 


 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Mind-Blindness


 Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
 
Todays subject:
 
MIND-BLINDNESS
 
This video explains this aspect of Asperger's much better than I can.
 
Zak certainly displays some difficulties with this, but not as intensely in some areas as in others. he is very capable of being empathetic. Many times spontaneously, especially in regard to animals. Other times he needs to be reminded or have someone's feelings or reaction explained. When helped to reason through a situation, he makes empathetic choices with ease. But it will take continued practice before he regularly does this without assistance or prompting.



 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Level-Up or Game Over

Last night, in the beautiful silence of the big kids being in bed and Victor giving Kit a bath, I sat down to take a few minutes and just do something completely unproductive but fun. I had a sink full of dishes and laundry to fold and piles of stuff to go through. But I ignored them, and played Candy Crush instead.
 
I've been working on the same level for days, and was unsuccessful in completing it last night as well. And as I read the message on the screen a light bulb of sorts went off in my mind. About encouragement. Specifically in regard to our children.
 
You're probably scratching your head saying she's nuts. And that's probably true, but I'll explain.
 
The message on the screen when a level is not completed reads:
You failed! You did not bring down all the ingredients. (Or get rid of all the jelly. etc.)
Yes, the exclamation mark is really there!
 
So why does this make me think of how we encourage our kids?
 
Because it got me thinking about the recent "positive parenting" movement, and "helicopter parents" and all that jazz.
 
I'm a firm believer that kids should be treated like people, respected, and treated with consideration. And I feel that kids should be kids, not miniature adults.
 
There are times when kids should be protected, defended, and even sheltered from this big ugly world. But there are also times that they should be involved, informed, and prepared for it. It's hard sometimes to know the difference.
 
It's hard to know sometimes when to just hug a kid and say it's ok, I'll take care of this, instead of tough cookies, babe, try harder next time.
 
In this matter I think we parents could take a lesson from video games.
 
In principle, video games are a lot like life.
 
  • First of all, you usually can't see what's coming up very far ahead, we just have a general idea, so that means we are going to have many surprises along the way.
 
  • Second, they start out relatively easy, some even with tutorials (parents) that kind of teach you the basics. But with each successive level the difficulty increases. So do your skills though.
 
  • Third, sometimes it takes multiple attempts to gain mastery in a certain area. This means that we are going to fail. Repeatedly.
 
It's this area that we might examine our approach to our own children's failed attempts and successes. Video games are blunt about failure. When you fail they simply say so, either in words, or by having your character fall of the screen like in Super Mario Bros. If you get hit by a turtle shell as a little guy, you failed. If you touch one of those flower things that comes out of the pipes, you get shrunk or loose your fire power, failed again. You just have to keep going or try again.
 
 
 

 
Kids inherently understand this. They don't typically fall to pieces when the screen announces GAME OVER. They simply beg for more time because they are just sure that this time they are going to get it!
 
Yet when our kids fail in real life, often times we rush in to save them, taking over so they don't have to feel the sting of failure. In essence we are grabbing the controls out of their hands and telling them, you'll never be able to do this on your own. But instead of empowering them, or even consoling them, we have made them feel like an even bigger failure. And instead of spurring them to keep at it, eventually they just stop trying all together.
 
Sometimes we do this just to save time and energy, which is understandable, and sometimes necessary. But we should make sure that our kids have ample time to tackle their challenges whenever possible. Even if it means that it might not be done as well as we would prefer it. (Accepting this is easier said than done as this is a big challenge area for me.)
 
When this happens, we can remember that in a video game, any given level has an optimal number of points and bonuses. Yet the level can can be successfully completed with out acquiring all of them. Maybe you don't get quite as high a score that time, but you did succeed.
 
 
 

 
And we can learn about encouragement as well. Why do you think video games have coins to collect or points to accumulate. So that we keep trying!  They are little rewards on the way to a bigger success. Motivators. At home these could be as simple as hugs or more elaborate like tokens to earn extra privileges. Anything that helps keep your kids headed toward the ultimate goal.
 
And in video games, when a level is completed, there isn't usually a big hoopla. The character usually just jumps up and down or does a flip. If they complete a series of levels or the entire game then there may be an award ceremony of some kind with a few fireworks. And again, remember, you don't have to collect every coin to win the game.
 
So we should reward our kids. Most definitely. But for the most part, our genuine "Woo-Hoo!", and a high five makes them feel great. And perhaps a set reward they earn for things like chores or school work. And for the big stuff like passing a big test that they studied really hard for, or meeting specific behavior goals for the term, or learning to tie their shoes, then go ahead and break out the ice cream sundaes, or make a special trip to the movies. Everybody appreciates a reward for their hard work.
 
And hugs. Lots and lots of hugs!
 
Because love is the ultimate power-up.
 
 
 
   

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Quotes

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
 
Todays subject:
 
FUN QUOTES!
 
 
I seriously don't know how I would make it through some of my days without a hefty dose of humor. I like sweet, tug-at-your-heartstrings quotes and sayings. But I prefer to laugh rather than cry (though I still do plenty of crying), and I love a good tongue-in-cheek quip with a dash of sarcasm.
 
 
So here are a few things I've found over the last few weeks that have made me smile, or even laugh out loud. Some are about Asperger's/Autism, some are about parenting, and some are just funny!

 
 

 

 
(Italics are excerpts from the source article)
 
Read the full interview here.
 
Rudy Simone, a San Francisco singer, writer and stand-up comic, didn’t learn that she was on the autism spectrum until her mid-40s. Simone has Asperger syndrome.
 
To help make up for the lack of resources available to girls with Asperger’s and their families, Simone wrote Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome. 
 
This was my favorite part of her interview:
 
"[Psychologist and Asperger's expert] Tony Attwood says, ‘You don’t suffer from Asperger’s, you suffer from other people.’ [Suffering is] only in the mirror of other people who see our uniqueness as a flaw. That’s because they’re the majority.
 
'Maybe someday being neurotypical will be a diagnosis: ‘Oh, poor thing's they have less focus and no special interests and a pathological need to socialize — maybe they need a support group.’"
 
 
 
 

 


 
Another one I stumbled upon:
 
“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool?
 
You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” 
 
― Temple Grandin, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger's
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 Happy Wednesday everyone! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Le Petite Gourmet

 
This post is over a week late because of technical malfunctions. Nevertheless, it was a fun morning and the food was delicious!

This week on Le Petite Gourmet:
 
Breakfast Biscuits with Bacon and Cheese
 
 
Okay, last Monday night my children conspired against me, I think, in order to ensure that I did not sleep a wink all night! One after the other kept waking and needing things, ALL NIGHT!!! By six in the morning, I had two girls in my bed and the knowledge that at this point, all my chances of any real sleep were gone. So I got up.
 
A little while later, Grace followed me, unable to sleep because her allergies were really bothering her. I told her that since we were both up when we didn't want to be, we should at least have something delicious to eat for breakfast! And so she and I made a yummy, but very simple breakfast, while we enjoyed the sunrise together.
 
When it was ready, we woke Daddy and Zak and asked if they would like to come eat with us, and they did! The four of us had fun just visiting and laughing over breakfast, a meal that we all don't eat together very often. Just the four of us rarely get to do anything just us, so it was a nice little moment for all of us.
 
I did get a nap a couple hours later at least. So all in all it was a lovely morning.
 
Here is our recipe:
 
 
 
2 cans of refrigerated biscuits (though you can certainly use your favorite recipe, we just had two cans that needed to be used)
 
1 package of bacon
 
cheddar cheese slices
 
butter (if desired)
 
and fruit (we cut up a cantaloupe)
 
 
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lay out biscuits on a cookie sheet.
  3. Cover second cookie sheet with foil.
  4. Lay bacon strips evenly on foil.
  5. Place both sheets in the oven, with the biscuits on the middle rack and the bacon on the lower rack.
  6. Cook biscuits the recommended time, around 12-14 minutes, then remove when tops are just starting to brown.
  7. Turn the bacon with tongs and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or to desired crispiness. Remove.
  8. Slice desired number of cheddar slices. (We did this while waiting for everything to cook)
  9. Place a slice of cheese, and several bacon slices (cut to fit) on each biscuit (add butter if desired).
  10. Serve sandwiches with fruit!
 
There are plenty of delicious additions to this delectable dish, such as eggs, cottage cheese, or any other favored breakfast items. We were out of most of these things on this particular morning. But it was tasty even so.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
Bon appetite!

Stargazers (Because Planet-Gazers Just Sounds Weird)

Finally! After forgetting about it several nights in a row. Then remembering too late at night a few more. Then several cloudy nights. We got to see two of the three planets that are visible and lined up right now!
 
The big kids and I did anyway. It has been our quest for the last few days.
 
Last night while driving around looking for a good spot to stargaze I did catch a brief glimpse of all three. From top to bottom, Mercury, Venus, and  Jupiter, all in a diagonal line with each other! But Jupiter is only visible for a few minutes after sunset, and it is very low on the horizon, so it is easily obscured by trees, buildings, or even lights in a far away horizon.
 
Tonight though our obstacle was very low laying clouds along the horizon. But we got to see the other two beautifully.
 
We found the perfect spot atop a crosswalk over the interstate! So while we waited for the planets to emerge through the beautiful sunset, the kids entertained themselves by signaling the under-passing truckers to blow their horns. And they got plenty of nice, loud honks!
 
It was a fun evening! And free (except for the ice cream cones). If you feel so inclined, and can find a spot that you can get a high enough view of the horizon, all three planets will be visible in the western sky during and just after sunset. Jupiter will only be visible for a few more days.
 
Happy stargazing!
   
 
 
 
Totally giddy with every honk!
 
 
 
 
Venus was the only one bright enough to get a picture of. You can see it in the middle of the legs of the top clouds shaped like an X.