Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas!!

Today begins my favorite part of Christmas when we can spend time together as a family and relax!  I've been looking forward to it for the past 5 weeks :) 

Christmas is a great time for reflecting on the past year isn't it?  I'll admit being on an emotional roller coaster since my last post.  After I posted about Nathan's last speech pathology assessment I googled "short palate".  Many times.  I kept coming up with cleft palate...finally I decided I'd better read what the search engines were giving me and it turns out that as far as I can tell a short palate is a submucous cleft palate.  And after reading details of a submucous cleft palate it turns out that Nathan had almost every symptom as a baby.  I'll keep you posted as we become more certain.  It's exciting and hopeful to be getting real answers but at the same time it's very disheartening for me as a mother to consider the possibility that my son has had a form of cleft palate that has been undiagnosed for nearly seven years!!  Most of the time I don't know whether to smile or cry and I'll admit to a lot of crying for the past two weeks...I think it's a grieving process.  Knowing and treating this years ago would have changed everything for Nathan's childhood, development, and a mother I can't help but grieve a bit.  I think I can finally write about it now because I'm beginning to move out of the grief phase.

This week I have been blessed with great friends and family....I feel so loved!  I know our Heavenly Father watches out for us and finds a way to put His loving arms around us when we are feeling discouraged.  We were able to go to the temple and perform sealings Wednesday night.  I don't think there is anything more beautiful than going to the temple and sealing family units!  We came home to find a sweet sister from the ward had come to stay with our three kids at home (Eva was babysitting at a friend's house so they could come with us).  This sister helped my kids clean in my kitchen and living room, played with the kids, brought a box of oranges, and cleaned and folded laundry.  She expressed how impressed she was with the three kids and told me I had obviously trained them well because she suggested they clean up for 10 minutes and the kids worked for 2 hours (it's Chistmas and I've been working on finishing projects, getting people places, and enjoying time with my family--in short I've been shooting for Mary, not Martha).  She said she saw an entirely new (to her) side of Ethan.  She was impressed that the kids knew how to do everything and work all the appliances,...  We hadn't been home five minutes when another woman from the ward called to tell me she had a book she felt I needed to read and she wanted me to have it that night and would bring it over.  It was very inspiring and I'll review it when I've collected my thoughts about it.  The next morning someone wanted to "spoil" Eva and took her on a special date.  I had phone calls from sweet friends and my sister...I hadn't been able to talk with them for a while.  Then Vince and I went to a Christmas party and had a wonderful night!  We came home to find another super friend and neighbor had left us a homemade pie.  I feel inundated and after being so discouraged for a while I just know that I'm not alone and that my Heavenly Father is looking after us.  I'm so grateful for all He gives us!!

I love how our Savior's love is expressed and felt so freely during this time of year!  Today I'm looking forward to playing games and watching movies with the kids.  I may start sanding the kitchen table this morning--that probably comes as a surprise but I wanted to start it a couple of days ago.  (I want to learn to refinish furniture so we can start collecting nice furniture for our home on the furniture budget I have--which is virtually nothing.  I decided to start with the kitchen table because I can't make it worse than it is so it'll be a great learning piece.  Surprisingly, Vince is entirely supportive of this venture!!)  I want to take the kids sledding today--we've been twice this week already but there may not be enough snow today.  I should rephrase the "we've been sledding" to the kids went sledding and I crocheted in the car...with the heater on at times...  I've never really enjoyed sledding!  Then I imagine we'll have lots of hot cocoa today and a yummy ham dinner--Eva's cooking.  There's a story I should probably tell sometime.  And we'll make cookies and open a few Christmas Eve gifts--the traditional PJ's and ornaments.  Then we have everyone's favorite part (OK--it's my favorite but I'll admit that all the kids may not be mature enough to think this beats sledding, movies, or cookies...) when we turn off all the lights, turn on the Christmas lights and light all our candles and review the Christmas story and sing a couple carols and have family prayer.  It's very relaxing and peaceful and the kids think it's very special to light candles!!  Christmas Eve day is generally my favorite of the year.  We pack it so the kids will sleep well and it works for us :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Funny Nathan

Nathan has been gaining confidence since school started this fall and is becoming quite a talker.  I'm finally feeling like we are getting to know Nathan, similar to when we got to know Ivy when she learned to speak.  I don't know if his personality will "blossom" as drastically as Ivy's but these past few months I can see something start to happen.

Last Friday was our last night of speech at the U of U for this term.  As we were driving Nathan was talking a lot.  Nonstop.  I was trying to listen to him and participate a bit but I was also trying to listen for traffic reports (this habit has saved us many headaches).  It is difficult in our big Expedition to hear people clearly from the back and it's still challenging to understand what Nathan was saying and last Friday he was persistent.  He kept saying "Did you hear that Mom?"  "Aren't you listening?"  "Listen to what I'm telling you!"  And I was really trying but I was also driving and there was traffic and it was getting dark and I couldn't hear the radio and I was trying to watch the road and turn slightly so I could hear what he was saying when I missed the exit.  We finally do make our way to speech (after turning around and missing another exit--I'm still rolling my eyes).  Nathan spent the rest of trip saying "Are you sure this is the right road?"  "Do you know where you are going?" "Shouldn't you call Dad and ask him where to go?"  When he gets in the room with the clinician he was asked about his day and promptly responded "It was pretty good but my Mom doesn't watch the road when she's driving". 

This came on the heels of last Wednesday's speech appointment when he was asked to make up a question using the word "spoon".  Nathan replied, "My mom spanks me with a spoon".  And he totally nailed the sp blends--there was no mistaking what he said.  (In my defense I swear it's only happened once or twice.  In his life.)  Last Wednesday his teacher had made a card holder with him by taping a plastic salsa lid in half--it's a clever idea.  She had tried this before and Nathan wouldn't use it because it smelled and so this time she had cleaned it and thought it was fine.  He sniffed it and told her it still smelled and she smelled it and said she didn't smell anything so he told her "You have to put your nose all the way in it!"  Both the girls working with him giggled about that for a while.

While relating these stories to a good friend she told me a sweet story about Nathan from this summer.  She said she was very impressed with his diplomacy and that it gave her a bright spot for the day.

This summer, my doorbell rang frequently with small children on bikes wanting to use my tire pump. One small bike (belonging to Sam, who may have been 3 at the time) had a punctured inner tube that needed to be repaired or replaced, but as no solution was forthcoming, Sam and whomever he'd been with that day (siblings or friends) had come to my door daily wanting to have the tire repumped. By the fourth day, I had lost patience, and Sam happened to have come with Nathan.

In frustration, I cried, "I just don't have time to pump up this tire every day!"

Nathan, who acted as spokesperson, stood unperturbed by my frustration, and with calm composure stated rationally, "That's no problem, because I can pump it."

I averred, "Yes but every day I have to stop what I'm doing, get the pump from the garage, bring it here, wait while it gets pumped, and then put it away, and I have a pile of things to do!"

Nathan, undeterred and unflappable, continued his line of reasoning, "I can pump it up. Don't worry. You won't need to do anything."

Softened by his poise, maturity, and obvious interest in Sam's plight, I went to get the pump. And Nathan did do very well pumping it up.

His diplomatic, intelligent, and charitable approach had humbled me. And Sam got a new bike after that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

CDC Testing

A few months ago we began a process of testing at Utah's CDC (Child Development Center).  There is a long waiting period for each appointment so it's a very long process.  We began by meeting with a developmental pediatrician who recommended meeting with a developmental psychologist and speech pathologist, to test for apraxia and other things.  I was happy with the pediatrician--I felt like he really wanted to hear what I had to say about Nathan and what my concerns were, specifically.  Finally!  There is a part of me that is so sick of hearing other people tell me what they think Nathan's issues are while giving our thoughts and opinions a cursory glance at best.  That is the most refreshing aspect of the CDC--EVERY professional has spent a copius amount of time getting Nathan's history from me...even after they have read the previous person's report.  The developmental pediatrician talked with me for about 90 minutes, as did the psychologist and the speech pathologist spent another 90+ minutes recording my recollection of Nathan's history and asked more questions as the testing was conducted.  SO refreshing!

We met with the developmental psychologist last month and didn't really learn anything yet.  She wants to spend a lot of time getting to know Nathan and playing with him in order to make an accurate diagnosis.  We have two three hour appointments in January to accomplish this.  Six hours!!  Such a different approach than when the school district psychologist passed a diagnosis without meeting me and spending less than an hour with Nathan. 

Today we met with the speech pathologist and it was fascinating and exciting.  The fascinating part was when she spent almost 10 minutes looking and feeling in his mouth.  She said that Nathan has a short palate.  I think the palate is the roof of the mouth and Nathan's doesn't extend all the way towards the throat as a normal person's would.  People with a short palate have extra challenges in articulation but they can be addressed.  She also said that his uvula doesn't hang down like normal and that's a little strange and presents articulation challenges.  In addition she said she can feel a small bump at the back of his palate but she's not sure what to make of it.  A lump or bump back there can have a real detrimental effect on articulation but she's not sure if this one is big enough to cause concern.  She said it's probably not big enough to cause trouble but she wants a second opinion so she had me sign a release form that gives her permission to call the supervising professor that's been working with us at the University of Utah speech clinic to have him check this as well.  Nathan also has a mild nasality which means that some of his sound is coming through his nose and should be addressed in treatment.  I think this makes sense given the rest of the information about his mouth.  It seems so commonsense to check all the anatomy affecting speech and yet I don't remember anyone doing this before--and adjusting treatment plans to accommodate anatomy makes them more effective. 

The exciting part of the visit was the testing.  Today Nathan is about 6 years and 8 months.  She did a test where she would say a word and Nathan would have to point to the correct picture.  You really had to pay attention and look at all the pictures because if she said a word like canoe there would be four boats and only one of the boats was a canoe.  Some of the words were really big words and I was surprised that he knew some of what he clearly knew--I'm sure I've never heard him speak most of the words.  He did well on this test--his score would be normal for a 7 year 10 month old child.  Go Nathan!  She said she could understand 75% of what he was saying as opposed to a year ago when our speech pathologist said he was 90% UNintelligible.  Nathan's been working so hard and it's nice to see him make such great progress!!  She wants to meet with him again by the end of January to run at least 2 more tests.  One of them may explain why reading is a little challenging and may offer some ideas to help him learn to read better.  Nathan was getting a little tired at this point.  He did finish another articulation test and she said most of his articulation was great there were only a few sounds that he was missing and/or saying incorrectly. 

She also asked about a note in the file that said there had been concern about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  I told her that we really weren't concerned about that but that the school had really pushed it and tried to diagnose him with it last spring.  She was relieved that we weren't concerned about ASD because she said she doesn't "see it".  She said a few things that I would use to explain (or try to explain) why we weren't worried about that and then she said something that I had never really thought about but which is quite true.  She said that a child with a severe speech delay who is very intelligent will often purposely not look people in the eye or at their faces  because they don't want that person to engage in conversation with them.  How logical!  I think about when I teach any class at church and it's "prayer time" and most every person in the room will look at their shoes or scriptures, or their hands in their lap,.....anywhere but the teacher because they may not want to give the prayer.  Yes, my last major experience teaching when I had to call for prayers at church was teenagers....  But adults do it too.  I've done it...

It's nice to get good news for a change!  :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mother-Wit Enigma

The impossible mom question

This is a new word/term to me:

Mother-Wit  noun; meaning "innate intelligence"; Synonyms include commonsense, faculties, innate common sense, intellectual gifts, nous, senses, wits

It's nice to know there is a real term for it isn't it? 

So I guess it's due to my mother-wit that I have the commonsense and innate commonsense (it really says both of those in the definition)  to suggest wearing coats and footwear in the snow.  And that people (and by people we all know I mean the people whom I mother) should brush their teeth.  And blow on their hot food.  And wear a sweater if they are cold.  This is my favorite, though, from a few days ago.  One child came to me and said, "Mom!  There is a tube of toothpaste in the toilet!!!"  I thought to myself....well use your imagination.  What I said was, "Oh" to which the child replied, "What should we do?"  and I said, "I guess you should reach in and take the toothpaste out and throw it in the garbage" to which the child said, "That's GROSS!"  And I said, "Right...that's why I said put it in the garbage."  The child said, "I can't put my hands in there--it's disgusting!"  And I said, "That is why you should wash your hands when you are done."  Mother-wit, I tell you.  And I guess I can't be upset if my offspring don't have this commonsense  because they are, after all, not mothers.  (FYI:  I'm assuming that the child decided the toothpaste in the toilet wasn't their problem because I had almost the exact same conversation with another child not 10 minutes after that)

While I am proud to posses commonsense and innate commonsense, I have to admit that I am puzzled by "intellectual gifts".  This is probably because of things like forgetting to remind child #4 to take his backpack to school.  Four days.  In A. Row.  I had to drive to school and back TWICE four mornings.  In a row.  Four consecutive mornings.  It almost seems like I was lacking some commonsense but in lieu of the practical handling of toothpaste in the toilet I'm totally taking credit for having innate commonsense and commonsense and just flat out admitting I question my intellectual gifts. 

I have been giving a lot of thought about my slacking intellectual gifts (I had a lot of time to think while I was driving in the car) and I have a theory.  You know when a woman is pregnant and will sometimes say, "The baby took my brain!"  No?  Maybe it's just me.  I was fond of saying that once in a while when I was pregnant but thinking it frequently.   Or at least thinking of it way more frequently than I said it.  Anyway--that's my theory.  I believe this is the reason the kids can do all kinds of remarkable things that I can't seem to figure out anymore.  They also have fantastic memories--they can even remember who put what ornaments on the Christmas tree last year!  I try to be honest about it, though, and I tell them that it's quite amazing the amount of information they are able to store and recall because I certainly can't.  They are decidedly, and perhaps understandably frustrated with those kinds of comments, though.  And just for the record, I don't think you have to have experienced pregnancy to live through "the baby took it" phenomena...I swear it's getting worse as they get older. 

"Hey kids--enough already!  You should consider leaving what I have left of my brain so you won't have to support me when I'm older--yes, I am going to get even older!"

And another thing about this theory--anyone who knows our family knows that we have four very intelligent, bright, fun children.  They are all quick learners and hard workers.  And you would also know that the oldest of the four is ultra-responsible, as most oldest children are.  When considering "the baby took my brain" theory you must remember that the first child gets the first pick--so in all honesty I can't feel irritation that the others can't remember to take their backpacks to school...

Here's the enigma in a nutshell...."Where and how do we get mother-wit while we're losing our brains to the offspring?"


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Santa Pictures!!!

HI!!!! This is Eva.

SHHHHH!!! My Mom doesn't know I put this up here, so don't  tell her!!!

When Mom rushed to take Ivy and Nathan home from the Santa parade, she took the camera bag, and left the camera with me.... So, I put it with my music. I dug it up a few minutes ago and Voila!!! the pictures!!!!!! I even fixed them up for her!

Notice Ivy's cute little hat that Mom made. She made Nathan a brown on while we were waiting in line. That's how long we waited. I'm serious.

How's This Photo?

Remember I said something about a New Year's Resolution to put a photo on every post?  I'm still considering it--so seriously, in fact, that I went to get the camera.  YAY! 

So why are you looking at that free generic photo of Santa instead of cute little Nathan and Ivy sitting on Santa's lap?  It's true that I have trouble getting pictures off the camera onto the computer and from there to my's pathetic really because Eva can do it so fast!!  But that's not why.  The truth is...


I dutifully took it to the Santa parade and tracked it the whole time, even when Ivy took the camera out of the camera bag to put candy from the parade in the bag.  I still knew where it was...Eva had it...and she took pictures of the kids on Santa's lap.  I'm sure they are fabulous pictures!  After that, I don't know where the camera went.  I hurried to run Nathan and Ivy home while Eva played piano during downtime (between performances) at City Hall and then ran back to finish playing piano during the downtime, accompanied the violinists and then ran home.  I have NO idea where the camera is!  Maybe Eva will...

BUT Nathan saw Santa twice last weekend!  The first was at the grocery store.  We were all alone in the frozen food section and Santa snuck up on him and talked with him and gave him a candy cane and then we watched him saunter away into the refrigerated food section--good times.  I'll write more about the other time after I've quizzed the kids about the whereabouts of my missing camera.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We are all caught up in Christmas activities and fun!  We have finished the fall/winter recital schedule and all the kids performed beautifully!!  Eva has performed her first Christmas program of this year on her violin at City Hall last Saturday.  Vince has performed about three times with his choir.  On Saturday we were able to build gingerbread houses with the Olcotts and it went super well--no houses fell apart.  (This was additionally remarkable because I had to build them)  Vince took Ethan and his fellow scouts on a campout in the snow--the boys had a good time and no one had any sleep! 

This week Vince will perform with his choir three more times--I get to watch him/them Saturday night.  Eva performs with her orchestra Thursday and at the Joseph Smith Memorial Bldg on Saturday.  Nathan will finish up this term of speech--YAY for a break!!!!  Next week Ivy and Nathan will perform with their choir at the elementary school!  After that we can enjoy ourselves as a family and wrap/make gifts we have left.  It's a nice time to enjoy each other's company and RELAX!  I'm hoping to get to the temple several times during the break. 

I'm considering a New Year's Resolution of posting with pictures--still having an internal debate about that.  I probably just need some practice!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Last night Ethan came home from Scouts telling me he needed a coat, snowpants, warm hat, and boots. By Friday. When his FATHER, who incidentally never mentioned this a week ago when snow pants were on sale for $11, is taking him on a scout campout. Sigh. So I went to the second hand store and guess what? They had one pair--they will be big but they will work. I also bought him a coat, and yes it really is December and he really doesn't have a warm coat yet. I ordered one last week and it should be here but it's taking a while and I don't want it to go camping so I bought a warm used one. I spent $23 on snowpants, a 2-piece coat (zip out lining), and warm knit hat.

Then I had a magical idea but before I tell it to you you must promise NOT to tell my kids. Or husband. I had a BRILLIANT idea a couple of months ago. I hid the Wii remotes, which is of course not new or brilliant but I had been attempting to hide them for a long time without success. I'm not a good hider. Generally. But NOW I keep them in my lingerie bag. No one in this house has or will ever look there. I am sooooo proud of myself.

Today is the most magical idea ever! There is a giant bag of chocolate chips in our house and I was feeling a bit cranky because this means there are buckets moved in my laundry room and they are in the way because people shorter than I have been standing on the buckets to eat chocolate chips. As I was putting the buckets back I thought of a new amazing hiding place. I put those chocolate chips in my cleaning bucket which is on the top of those cupboards in my laundry room. They can't be seen and truthfully NO one is going to look there. I am certain. Not even me...