Thursday, December 29, 2011

I have been loving this Christmas!  Vince has time off he has to use and we are home together as a family.  I don't remember the last time we could just relax and just enjoy our family at home.  Delightful!

The only thing I really haven't been able to do is take the kids sledding.  Where is the snow?!!

This past week I also made bedroom curtains, restained my nightstands, painted a wall in my bedroom and redecorated it.  I use the term redecorate fairly loosely (I'm still developing decorating skills).  I know--I need to have Eva take pictures and post them here.  But I'm not finished yet!

I know that the 23rd of Christmas is an odd time of year to be making curtains but on the night of the 22nd a neighbor stopped by to warn us of a possible peeping Tom so we decided to take immediate precautions.  We had window coverings but to be safe decided to improve them.  Of course, once the curtains were finished there were other obvious things that needed improving.

Last night, warned by yet other neighbors who were helping to watch over us we caught our guy.  He was caught laying down on the ground by my girls' windows.  Vince stood outside with him and a neighbor while I called the police.  Vince wrote a statement and the young man was taken away.  It is a sad story.  I feel grateful that we are cared for and protected and yet concerned at what this could become.  I also feel sorrowful for his parents.  When they were cuffing and patting him down I pictured a boy being cuffed.  The boy I remember when we moved here.  It's all so sad.  I'm grateful for free agency and yet bewildered at some people's use of it.  I know his parents have been working with him for years and have tried everything yet he continues to break their hearts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I've decided it's time for a long update.  I prefer short quick blogposts but I can never seem to find the time for any posts and I guess it's been so long since I've posted that this one will be long.

Vince was released from the high council to be the young men's president in our ward.  I guess it took the stake several months to let him go at our Bishop's request and even after he was released was asked to finish up some projects.  It was neat to see many in our stake express sincere gratitude for his work.  He LOVES working with the young men.  There was a 3-week lull where he had been released and hadn't officially received his new calling yet while they put his presidency together and he was at first very excited (talking a ton, if you can believe that) and then getting super antsy.  It was cute.  He has always wanted to work with the young men and/or be a teacher and this is almost the first time he's ever had the opportunity.  He's like a little kid and he wears the cute "little boy" grin a lot.  I love it!  He once got to work with Webelos for about six months but other than that he has mostly been in a bishopric or on the high council for most all of the 16 years we've been married.

I got a job at the elementary school as a literacy aide.  I love it!  I work for 3.5 hours each morning and then I have the afternoons off.  This means that most days I work at school then come home to teach at home or take Nathan to speech.  I'm still trying to figure out when I clean the house and exercise but that's going to take me some time.  Working at the school has been good for me in so many ways.  I work with two women that I have looked up to and respected since we first moved to Tooele.  I get to put into practice teaching techniques I've been learning from the speech clinic.  AND I get to take home anything I need/want to help Nathan with.  Which means that Nathan and I are very busy.  I can already see a difference in his reading level, mostly because of my access to leveled reading materials.  It's very exciting!  I think seeing his improvement makes my job most worthwhile, and then extra income is helping us keep him in speech.  The opportunity for this job came just after all the major car drama which was expensive and nearly caused us to take a "break" from speech.  Of course just after I was hired Vince's work had a company wide pay cut again due to the still weak economy.  His cut amounts to roughly half of my new income so we have definitely been blessed.

When I started working it became obvious that I could not keep up my schedule with everything and keep house myself as much as I have been and one of the first things we started was giving every member of the family a night to cook dinner.  This helped me a ton.  There are six of us so they all have a day and I have two days.  We've been trying this out for a couple of months now and it is kind of working.  What I noticed was a nearly complete lack of vegetables when the kids were cooking.  Shocking, I know.  The other week a solution came to me and I spent the first day of Christmas break setting it up.  For the next several months each child is going to cook four meals.  Nathan's meals are things like hamburgers and grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup and salad.  They get more complicated based on their skills--Ethan's making things like Enchiladas and Eva's cooking Chicken Squares.  They selected their 4 dinner items--and I did recommend that Eva choose some simpler things because a lot of her stuff is going to take quite some time.  Ethan selected things he could freeze ahead and wants to spend time over the break preparing 4 of each of the 4 dinners to put in the freezer.  I put all the recipes in page protectors in a small binder and made 4 grocery lists--one for each week that I can just print out and then cross off things I do not need to purchase each week.  Ivy's menus go something like this--1.  Before school take meat our of the freezer  2.  At 4:30 after your lesson, get the tall black pot and....   Very specific.  In four months time they will have prepared each meal four times and over spring break we will select new menu items and start a new rotation.  I'm hoping this will mean a real meal gets prepared even (or especially) when I'm not home because of speech to supervise and help.

I also prepared chore stuff which wasn't exciting for anyone.  In the past I've made some fun ones but now I think we're old enough to just get things done.  The trick has been in coordinating everything and everyone and I think we have a handle on that now.  We'll see.  Getting hired in the middle of school didn't give us any time to get organized and make plans for this stuff.  I was really caught off guard.

A quick update on kids.  Eva is loving school especially MESA and yearbook.  She especially loved playing church volleyball and even stayed after school to participate in some volleyball after school.  They do sports oddly here.  She still loves violin and piano although both of us are having a little trouble with 6:15 am violin lessons.  It was OK until it got colder :)  Her piano is especially advanced.  She is now memorizing a piece that my "great" student learned in college.  She is going to begin a longer piano lesson in January.

Ethan is still learning piano and guitar and still hating piano and liking guitar.  He played his guitar in FHE the other week as we sang silent night.  We all enjoyed that and we'll have to get him to play more for us.  He really, really wants to do sports and is counting down for junior high when he can participate in them after school.  He's in the early morning advanced math class but he doesn't like it as much as he thought he would.  He was looking forward to learning more advanced math but the State of Utah has a new Common Core law that makes it virtually impossible for them to teach the kids past the core curriculum.  I won't get started on our opinion about that.  Vince especially was a bit steamed about it.  I just shrug my shoulders.  The only way to get around it is to homeschool...  This law even affects Eva's education in the junior high.  I'll stop now.  Ethan's doing great!  He loves scouts and loves spending time with his friends!  I think he even likes that his dad goes to most of his stuff now.

Ivy is most excited that she gets to cook once a week!  She has always been interested in cooking/baking.  I'll never forget her as a 5 year old going to the adult section to check out cookbooks.  She did that for years and still goes over there to see if they have anything new.  Monday she made chili and cornbread--from scratch.  She used canned tomato sauce and canned beans but used a recipe and not a mix. She was in the kitchen a very long time because she's quite slow (at everything--Ivy just works on her own time frame) and she loved every minute.  She wants to learn violin but she doesn't want to practice.  She really excels on the piano.  She's almost caught up to Ethan and has started playing for pleasure--which is exciting.  That's when kids really start playing well. She reads all the time.  Her reading scores are VERY high for her grade.  But one of the assessments is a measure of how many words the student can say about a passage after they have read it.  This is a huge boost to Ivy's reading score!  That girl is a talker!!

Nathan is doing great.  He's starting to do more chores around the house, although it is difficult because he is so busy.  Homework, speech, and reading tutoring with me has him very busy.  He gets to play before homework many days when we don't have speech--I send him out while I'm teaching and we work after dinner.  He's learning piano but his progress is slow because I don't like to make him practice.  A big part of me hates that he's taking lessons but it's what he really wants so we try to get him just enough practice to get by.  He started the year at a reading level of F which is a level for the middle of first grade and he's advanced to an H now.  His assessments at school don't show any improvement but I don't worry about that because I know more about the test and they wouldn't show improvement--I'll have to explain that sometime.  By the end of the school year a second grader should be reading level L or M, I can't remember which.  I'm hoping to get there by the end of the summer.  Maybe.  Eventually I believe he will catch up.  It's hard work for both of us but very rewarding.  The difficulty is that at an H level he has to try to read things he can't even say correctly.  Which make sounding them out extra difficult.

His speech has improved a ton but when you listen to him and realize you can understand everything he can say you may not realize that he only uses words that are comfortable for him.  It's sort of like running around the ball in tennis so you don't have to hit a backhand.  And then there are language and grammar challenges that small children learn when they learn to talk that he missed.  It's overwhelming to think about.  The reading and speech interventions are symbiotic--they support each other.  But I don't think I will ever believe the progress is as fast as I would like.  These things just take time.  And like my sweet sister said on her blog it is most often two steps forward and one step back.  It seems like it's always that way unless I look at 3-6 month intervals or more.  I know life isn't fair but it I don't know if I'll ever be entirely comfortable with the fact that these kids have to work so much harder than everyone else.  It really isn't fair!  And then by most all measures and standards they have little to show for their efforts.

So there is the long update on what's been keeping us busy!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ethan

Ethan was selected by his teacher as CEO (Chief Example to Others) this month.  Mr. B. writes:

    Ethan is one weird kid!  I don't mean that in a bad way.
    Interesting or  unique might be more politically correct terms to describe Ethan.  He is a chief example to others because he things independently while respecting everyone around him.  He loves to add to the conversation in the classroom and often provides ideas that I haven't even thought of.
    He loves to read, and I think reading has unlocked a storehouse of funky ideas in his mind that he doesn't mind sharing with others.
    He takes responsibility for his learning by completing all of his assignments without complaining.  He makes our class a more interesting and fun place to be.

Way to go Ethan--we think you're great!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Nathan Update

A couple of weeks ago Nathan asked his teacher if he and another boy could do their work in the hall because the classroom was too noisy.  I was excited for several reasons: he recognized he couldn't concentrate with the noise, he talked with his teacher about it, he successfully articulated his concern, and he recognized that someone else was also having trouble and tried to help them.  It was a proud mom moment for me.  Of course this summer an audiologist emphatically suggested that we get Nathan some headphones to block background noise for this very reason but the principal and teacher had some concerns so we decided to wait and see what would happen.  Nathan was thrilled when I went to school the day after his teacher told me this story and scored him a set he keeps on his desk.  I did have to do a bit of talking to make that happen but let me tell you a child saying they can't concentrate on their work makes my job tons easier!  The first day with the headphones was good but he did say that he was annoyed with his partner during centers who kept talking to him and he was close enough that the headphones wouldn't block it out.  The second day he was thrilled when he was able to block out this boy's talking.  (I was excited about that too because maybe the headphones will help him be able to do that somewhat effectively without headphones someday.)  I've talked with another parent volunteer and she said that when it's work time Nathan puts those headphones on and gets his stuff done.  This is exciting, as he hasn't yet been able to successfully complete work at school.  It looks like auditory processing testing is a given and I can't wait to see someday what else we can learn specifically about Nathan and how to make things a bit easier for him!!

His clinician at the U of U this term is amazing!  Every student clinician up there has been excellent but up to this point we have been fortunate to work with 2 that really understood Nathan and developed a plan that suited his needs perfectly.  This term we get to work with a third talented clinician.  Her name is Amanda and I love her approach.  She rarely has to redirect Nathan--he has a good time but he doesn't get too wound up or off topic.  I pretty much think she's brilliant.  

Sometimes progress seems slow and expensive in time and resources.  During the car drama we were tempted to set an ending date for speech.  That week I also had an opportunity to volunteer with Nathan's class and had a moment with the other little boy Nathan took in the hall with him that day.  Let's call him Tom.       When Nathan and Tom were in Kindergarten they both had trouble but Nathan was much more severe--all around.  I don't know what happened between entering Kindergarten and now with Tom because I've been pretty busy working with Nathan. Nathan and Tom have similar histories.  Tom has had hearing loss associated with fluid in the ears, has trouble communicating verbally and nonverbally with other people (probably confidence related), has a submucous cleft palate (fixing Tom's palate wasn't an option due to severe allergies and asthma), ... The other week when I was at school I worked with Tom a little bit and I was surprised that I couldn't understand him.  Given my experience with Nathan and Ivy I can usually pick things out but I got nothing from Tom.  I was shocked.  I know Tom's parents have worked hard to get him help and to help him.  I believe the difference is that Tom gets private therapy twice a month for 30 minutes in Salt Lake and Nathan gets therapy twice a week for 60 minutes.  Last year I talked with Tom's mom about Nathan's therapy and suggested we could save money on gas by carpooling and they weren't really interested.  This time I've talked to Tom's dad and offered to just take Tom and his mom with us--we're going anyway.  He said to get him the paperwork and I'm praying it works out for them.  It broke my heart to see and hear Tom because I know how hard it is for him.  It also made me grateful that the Lord has directed us in Nathan's therapy and blessed us.  It was a bit of a tender mercy to see precisely where Nathan would most likely be if we had decided the sacrifice was too great.  And it was a poignant reminder of how hard Nathan has worked and how much progress we get to celebrate!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthday!

Last Thursday Eva turned 14!  Now she can go to dances--except our Bishopric ran out of dance cards :(

It's hard to believe that in a year she'll start driving!  Seriously I can't wait.  I'm looking forward to another chauffer :)

We are so proud of Eva--she's a remarkable girl!  I'm going to brag about her a bit :)  She works so hard to develop her talents, be a good friend, help her siblings, etc.  She is an accomplished musician--she gets to start playing Beethoven's Pathetique (a piece I learned in high school) and she's working on her Suzuki book 6 in violin.  She loves working with the yearbook committee and participating in young women's.  She's nearly finished with her first personal progress medallion.  She has a beautiful testimony of our Savior and His place in her life and finds joy in reading about Him in her scriptures.  We sure love having Eva in our family!!

For Eva's birthday she got an i-home, a new SD card for her camera and......her own room!  We spent the weekend moving Vince's stuff into the room that will one day be a bathroom, Eva's stuff into Vince's old space, Ivy's stuff upstairs to the boys' old room and the boys downstairs to the girls' old room (yes, the one with the pink carpet--and Ethan is NOT thrilled about pink carpet :))  I'm hoping all this moving explains the late birthday blog :)

It's amazing how clean everyone's bedroom is.  Everyone's!  The boys really did need tons more space.  Eva and Ivy each claimed that it was the other one making the mess in their room.  I guess they were both right?!  Maybe it's too early to tell.

In other news--a week before Eva's birthday Vince's truck broke on the way home from work.  His front passenger tire was sideways.  We felt super blessed that going 75 mph on a busy highway during the commute, when people drive to close, that no one bumped him and he was able to get off the road without rolling.  He left a long indentation in the highway and apparently there were many sparks.  After a tow, 2 new tires, 4 new ball joints, and some controller thing under the car that was damaged we have his truck back.  BUT while we were waiting for that work to be done the Expedition broke down--right before the weekend.  So we were a small one-car family for a weekend.  The Expedition sounded Really Bad and we were thinking it might be time to say good bye or replace the transmission but our wonderful new neighbor looked at it and said it needs a new CV joint which is really not a big deal :)  We were thinking Vince would fix it but after looking at his schedule and taking into account that he's not very comfortable with that plan we took the key to the mechanic and are now waiting for that vehicle to be towed.  Thank goodness we had our super old 1993 Subaru to tie us over!  The irony of that was not lost on me but when I pointed it out to Vince he muttered something about that one being sure to break down now.  It was a bit of a stressful weekend around here....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eva Sewing

Ok. my Mom asked me to post pictures of the new dress I made, so here they are!! I was hoping this sewing project would take 10 hours so I could count it for my Integrity project, but it looks like I'm going to have to make another thing. Anyway, here the pictures of me in my beautiful new dress and haircut!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Performance

Last night was my big performance at the assembly hall--my family was really excited.  For it to be over.  Eva put it succinctly when she said, "Finally!"  The whole thing turned into a much bigger project than I ever would have imagined and I had a few 4+ hour practices as well as my practicing at home, attempting to write modulations, key changes, and accompianments.  Most of this was well over my head and I was clearly out of my league.  The soloist has a beautiful soprano voice and is a fabulous performer but I think she would do better with a pianist who could play by ear--it would be a better fit for her, I think. 

BUT I had a great time--especially last night!  By that time it was clear there was nothing I could "do over" or "do better" so I decided on the drive in to Salt Lake that I was just going to enjoy myself and enjoy the assembly hall and enjoy being with the friends I had made during the project.  And I did just that!  The assembly hall is a beautiful building!!  As a performer, I not only got to be on the stage but I got to go behind the stage and see the green room, and the halls and doorways leading to the upstairs seating, main floor seating, and the stage.  Every door was only about 6' or so--much shorter than what we're used to, anyway, and each had a beautiful doorknob with the beehive symbol on it.  The green rooms had beautiful antique looking upholstered seating and cabinets (with the fancy doorknobs) that opened to a mirror with a string of lights to check hair and make-up.  We also got to go downstairs where there was a classroom and a piano for extra last minute practicing, teaching, etc.  I'm not sure what they use it for.  One of the people in charge (there were two couples--missionaries) took us downstairs to see the rooms where Richard Elliot and the other organists work.  The three organists each have their own room and in each room is a full pipe organ and grand piano.  One of the rooms also had a harpsichord.  We also saw the tunnel that leads from the Assembly Hall to all the other tunnels under Temple Square.  The couples that work with the performers are excellent--so nice and friendly!  I want their job someday!!

I got to play on a 9 foot Steinway grand piano.  It was a huge instrument and I was relieved when they said they didn't think we needed the lid open!  The piano was so easy to play--it was easier than I ever would have thought to play notes softly and it was also very easy to play a nice tone.  The instrument was beautifully balanced, which in rehearsal took me a little while to get accustomed to.  I decided that if I had something like that to practice on I would likely want to practice all the time!  It was easier (than any piano I get to play on) to make the music sound "right" on that piano.   

The performance went well--for me, it was the best I'd played the full set of music in one sitting, but there was definitely still room for improvement.  Still, I was happy with it, knowing I did my best with the time I had and the challenges thrown at me.  For this performance, it would have been less stressful for me if I had been pursuing my personal music more aggressively through the years.  Sometimes I have wondered if I regretted letting some of the skills go.  I have had people ask me if I regret not getting my music degree.   I can honestly say I only regretted it last night and at rehearsals for this project.  Even then I didn't really feel "regret" as much as I felt inadequate.  Mostly, I felt a little as Eva did, that I would be glad to finish this project and get back to what I really love doing now--being a mom and taking care of my family and helping them develop their talents.  The degree I did get in college has been immeasurably valuable to me in being a mother, especially a mother to Nathan.  I know that if I did not have my BSW I would not have been able to fight for and help Nathan as effectively as I have.  It was fun to meet a couple of other women who have aggressively pursued their musical talents through the years--it was neat to see and hear where their musical talents have taken them and what they've been able to accomplish. 

I was excited that Lisa showed up to the performance.  I was a little disappointed that no one in my family (Vince and kids--my other family is too far away, of course) would be able to come and it was a special surprise when we were finished to see Lisa walking my way--she stayed with me the rest of the night and then we talked after.  I love having a sister so close and being able to talk with her about things like this!  She also helped me try to configure modulations and taught me some theory--thanks Lisa for being such a support!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Embarrassing Kids

My kids are often embarrassing--but not as much as they used to be when they would run yelling through the chapel at church or make "pee" soup outside or.....you get the idea.  Lately, though, I find that my kids are more often than not embarrassed by ME!  I have no idea why, exactly, but I've been hearing lately that I should not embarrass them.  Which of course makes me want to...

Then I read about a dad who waved at his son's bus every morning of the boy's sophomore year of high school:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705373877/Teens-dad-spends-school-year-waving-at-bus-embarrassing-son.html?pg=1  It's hilarious.  At least I think so--the kids, even Ivy--not so much.  There's a blog with pictures of what this dad wore each morning as he waved to the bus: http://www.waveatthebus.blogspot.com  Eva wouldn't even look at the pictures! 

So far the kids have told me NEVER to do something like this! 

I can't get it out of my head that I need to "step up to the plate" somehow--I'm loving what this dad did!!  Eva suggested I ask you for ideas on how to properly embarrass her.  Well, not really.  What she said, when I read this post out loud was, "What are you gonna do, ask people for ideas?"  And she didn't seem thrilled about it.  I, however, think it's a great idea!! 

What ideas do you have?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last week my grandmother passed away.  I've been praying for her for a few years that Heavenly Father would take her home--I wasn't sure what life could mean to a person who couldn't hear, see, use the left side of her body, and was in constant pain.  I felt grateful that she could graduate from this mortal existence and greet her 2 husbands, 13 siblings, parents, and other family and friends who were probably waiting for her for such a long time.  I often wondered how grandma could stand to say good-bye to so many people.  For as long as I can remember grandma seemed to be losing friends and family to the cemetary she frequented.  I remember President Hinckley once saying that he felt like the last leaf on a tree and that the wind was blowing--I immediately thought of my grandmother.  This past week, though, I have to admit that I am going to miss her.  I've been trying to put my finger on what it was exactly that made grandma special to me. 

I have had one thought--when I was with my grandmother time stood still.  I don't know how she did it.  Every memory I have of being in her home at every age and stage in my life--when I went to grandma's house time stopped.  It was a bit like being in the temple.  Of course grandma had a clock and things to do but somehow she did everything she needed to do but never seemed rushed.  She had a way of turning ordinary events into adventures.  She would take us out to the dairy to get milk--I used to love that!  I was fascinated by the way the cows were milked and how we could just take our gallon jar to this big tank and fill it with milk.  I hated the milk--still do hate whole milk--but I loved going to the dairy with grandma.  I didn't even mind the smell.  Grandma would drive fast over the little hills, giving us that breathless feeling in our stomachs.  She would let us ride with the windows rolled down and let us put our arms out--sometimes it just feels good to feel the wind in your hair.  I remember when I was young she had a large garden and I can remember weeding and harvesting with her.  I hate gardening but I think I could like it if I could do it next to grandma.  I don't know why it was different with her, but I do know she was never demanding.  Somehow she could get me to work and make me feel good about every little thing I did without making me feel patronized.  I remember that she would often build a burn pile while working in the yard and when the work was finished we would have a "wienie roast".  I always thought it was funny that she called it that. 

Grandma was a child of the first Depression and life was always hard for her.  She was widowed twice, and made a living out of frugality.  She grew up one of the youngest children, where she would take care of animals, fields, and her ailing parents.  She nursed 3 people in their last years of life: her mother, and both husbands.  From her childhood, she worked and served, and worked some more.  This weekend the neighbors said that a couple of years ago, after her stroke, grandma could no longer stand or even sit to work on her lawn but she was accustomed to digging the crab grass out of her lawn and they caught her laying on the lawn to dig the crab grass out.  Nothing came easy for her--I believe that grandma put that kind of effort into everything and everybody she ever cared about.  I believe that given the choice about her circumstances that she wouldn't have changed anything, that she was grateful that her life was simple and that she had the opportunity to serve and love in ways that many of us never experience.  Truthfully, she made her life simple.  She knew her role and loved it.

Grandma made a career out of motherhood.  She loved family--they always came first in her life.  She was completely selfless and included all kinds of extended relations in her family.  She was the last daughter of her parents to pass away and she maintained contact established strong, loving relationships with all her nieces and nephews--there were soooo many--and they all loved their Aunt Pearl.  (As did their children and grandchildren.)  I believe that she was in some sense a mother to all of them, each in a different way.  Somehow she knew, or never forgot, what it was like to be a child.  She intuitively knew how children felt and how to make them feel important and loved.  I believe she counted anyone younger than her to be one of her children in a way.  Since she knew and loved children so well, I think she had a unique knowledge of their mothers.  As a young mother, there were times grandma would say just the thing to bring me comfort when I was worried about them and then there was my favorite quote, usually uttered when the kids were rowdy inside, or wanting to play with grandma's things: "Oh, just let them be kids!" And then she would grab the nearest one and give them a tight squeeze and a big kiss or two on the cheek. 

I admire and love her example of motherhood and I was grateful for one last weekend in her presence.  I think I want to evaluate and learn how I could make my own home more "timeless" and a place of refuge as hers was.  And when I think of grandma I will always want to hold my own a little closer and give them a big kiss on the cheek.

This past weekend was a wonderful exchange of memories and love--where time again seemed to stop in honor of grandma.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Love My Job

We had a crazy week.  Tuesday Vince and I got to go to the U2 concert we've waited a year to see--it's Vince's favorite band and the first concert for either of us.  We parked at a Trax station and rode the train to the stadium.  It was a fantastic concert--until we started getting texts that there was a problem at home and ended up leaving early.  We got home just after all the excitement because it took us an hour just to get back to the car!!  Ivy lost a battle with our coat rack and ended up with 11 stitches above her eye, a concussion that required a cat scan, and a possible broken nose.  We are still waiting for the swelling to go down but so far the nose looks good.  I'm grateful for smart kids that knew who to call and how to help Ivy initially.  Ethan even cleaned blood out of the carpet while Eva and Ethan went to the hospital with their aunt.  I'm especially grateful that we have family close and that Aunt Lisa and Uncle James were home and so willing to help!!

The next morning I got to attend Eva's award assembly and Grandma O got to come and attend the awards assembly for the other kids.  Ethan ended up winning an award for his citizenship essay from the Kiwanis club.  All four kids ended the year with excellent grades!!  I brought Ivy home with me after the assembly because I wanted to keep her close all day--her concussion was a bit more severe than anything we've had at our house before.  Later Ivy and I got to go to 8th grade "promotion" where Eva performed with the orchestra and I accompanied a couple of 8th grade violinists.  Then to the dance festival where we had a hot dog dinner, watched the boys dance with their classes, and picked up books the kids wrote this year.  Then I went to a YW camp meeting. 

Thursday morning we all had to be at the dentist by 7:00 AM--where no one had any cavities!!  Then the kids went to school and I came home for a nap.  We found out Thursday that our favorite teacher at the school won't be there next year when Nathan would be in her grade--very sad. 

Friday was the end of the school year and the end of the week.  Nathan sang in a cute program and then later I took him to speech.  I've been reading and learning about different interventions and APD and asking the professor many questions the past couple of weeks.  He says I should be a therapist at their clinic--I laughed because I think most mothers must read and study how to help their kids!   They did give me  a form to fill out for APD--kind of an assessment--they wanted to give to their audiologist.  I'm still skeptical as to whether testing for that is entirely appropriate at this stage.  It was definitely appropriate a few years ago but I'm not sure that knowing about it now would change what we are doing and what we are able to do.  The professor said that I could ask their audiologist those things and that she would help me make the right decision. That sounds nice to me so I'll talk with her this next week.

Yesterday I dropped a very excited Eva off at Uncle Kevin's house so she could help take care of their little kids and get ready for their new baby.  Aunt Kristen is needing to lay down quite a bit and Kevin still has a week of school left to teach.  Kristen was very concerned that Eva would think this was a lame way to start her summer, which Eva thought was pretty hysterical--she couldn't be more thrilled!  And it feels good that we can "pay forward" the family support we had this past week a bit. 

I'm especially grateful for summer when I get to be a mom to my kids almost all the time without sending them off for most of the day.  Yesterday the kids wanted to begin some of their summer projects.  Eva, Ethan, and Ivy started typing lessons.  We told Ethan that if he could type 65 words a minute by the end of the summer we would buy him the video game he's wanted for well over a year.  Nathan started his computer program that's supposed to help with reading and listening and seemed to really like it (major relief for me!!)  We went to the fabric store and bought patterns for $1 and Ivy and Eva each chose some fabric for their first project.  The boys are not so much interested in sewing.  Ethan's first "project" will be to build screens for our windows.   

Monday, May 23, 2011

Babies should come with complimentary time travel devices for the mothers. 

This is the first year I've had kids at 2 different schools.  Early last week I received a nice letter/invitation in the mail for an awards assembly at the junior high where Eva will be receiving an award Wednesday from 9:15-11:30.  Two days later the elementary school called to invite me to a special assembly where Ivy will be receiving an award for perfect attendance--GO IVY!!  (This is actually a big deal for her and she has conscientiously worked on it all year)  The elementary assembly is Wednesday from 9:30-11:00 or 11:30.  Such began the dilemma.  THEN Ivy brought home a letter/invitation for the same assembly but for a different award.  Today the secretary called to invite me to that assembly again because Ethan is receiving an award but they couldn't narrow down the time for me because his is an "outside" award, meaning some group from the community is recognizing him for something. 

Yay for hard-working, fantastic kids!  Boo for just one me....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Like Sound Through Water

Last week I stumbled on this book from Amazon: Like Sound Through Water by Karen J. Foli.  The books summary captivated me:

"He was a happy, healthy boy--a mother's dream come true.  Yet by the age of three, Ben's development was significantly delayed:  He couldn't make sense of the simplest phrases, and he still hadn't started talking.  When Karen Foli finally took her son, Ben, to a speech and hearing clinic, she was told that he was "probably retarded and perhaps autistic."  But Karen knew that Ben was highly perceptive, even frustrated by his inability to communicate.  Trusting her "mother's intuition," Karen set out on a journey to learn the truth about her son's condition..."

It felt so familiar.  I'm not sure why I felt I had to read the book.  Maybe it's just comforting to read another's mother's struggle with a very similar problem.  Maybe it shouldn't be that way but I feel a little relief from my personal grief when I read another's struggle.  It feels a little less lonely, I suppose.  Her frustrations and challenges are so similar to mine--so far, her son's story is very similar to mine.  Maybe I ordered the book because I was hoping to find a clue of something that would help Nathan even more.  It is a relief to see that Karen is a registered nurse with years in teaching, clinical practice, consultation, and research and holds a PhD in communications research and that her husband is a licensed, practicing psychiatrist who works with children everyday--and that the "professionals" wouldn't listen to them either.

I felt a connection to this mother when I read the foreward, written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.  Here's some excerpts:

"In this book you will see Karen and her husband, John, struggle to understand their first child, Ben.  You will see them wince as they realize that Ben is not like every other child.  You will see them wince again as professionals fail to get the point.  You will feel their emotions as the child they love receives mistreatment purported to be help.  You will see a mom, trying her best to work within an uncomprehending system of educators and healthcare professionals, refuse to give up on her son or relinquish her sense of who she knows her child truly to be." 

"Imagine if you had a child whose learning or behavior or emotions--or all three--caused your child and you and your family to suffer deeply every day.  And imagine if you, as the child's mother, had to go from misunderstanding to misunderstanding day in and day out, from "expert" to "expert", each with his or her own set of forms to fill out, tests to take, and jargon-filled explanations to listen to.  Imagine if each time the expert missed the true nature of your child you had to choose between disagreeing and being told you were in denial, or agreeing and knowing you were not going to get the kind of help you so desperately needed.  What would you do?"

That's just a snapshot, but suffice it to say that I "get" this book and maybe more importantly, this book "gets" me"!!

Like I said, I've read only about a third of it so far.  There one aspect that the book lacks completely in relation to my own experience.  I can see that the author does not have the knowledge and/or understanding of a loving Heavenly Father and the guidance of His Holy Spirit that gives me valuable direction and comfort.  I don't believe that it makes my pain, heartache, and frustration less than this woman, but I do believe it makes it a bit more bearable.  Karen gives us a real glimpse into her feelings, thoughts, and emotions through her experiences--I keep asking myself why.  I guess that it was probably quite cathartic for her.  I imagine that she didn't begin the process intending to sell many books but that as the project grew she realized that her experience might be valuable to others and sought a publisher. 

I wonder if a similar process would be a bit cathartic for me.  Anyone who talks with me knows that I can hardly talk of anything else--maybe I just need to get it out in order to process my own feelings.  Of course, I know that it's hardly as interesting to the rest of the people in my life as it is for me.  And I worry that if I were really honest about some of my feelings that it might hurt the feelings of some of the people in my life that I really love, admire, and care about.  Maybe I need to have an anonymous blog somewhere...

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Deal

Everyday I deal with the unjustness of people having to practice--"it's not fair!", "it takes to long"--I wholeheartedly agree with that last complaint--often they complain 40 minutes before beginning 20 minutes of practicing.  Ivy will even go into a room and spend 30 minutes opening the violin case, 20 minutes putting the shoulder rest on the instrument and (I'm not making this up) once spent 35 minutes tightening the bow--it's a 2 second job.  And then she stops (at least) at the end of every song to chat about it. 

So I made a deal.  That I may regret.  It's either brilliant or foolish.  I made an exchange of sorts: Eva's practicing for my cardio workout, Ethan's practicing for my weights, Ivy's practicing for my personal scripture study, and Nathan's practicing for my journaling.  If I don't get my journaling done today, then Nathan doesn't have to practice tomorrow, etc.  If they don't get their practicing done--they owe me an extra chore the following day. 

It's a good thing we only have four children because it's just after 11:00 and I've only finished the cardio and weights.  And now journaling!  :) 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bedtime

Sometimes (OK--every night) kids don't want to go to bed.  It doesn't help that I send them to bed dehydrated.  Or that when they come out to rehydrate they later need to use the restroom.  And that the fluid loss instigates still more dehydration. 

Last night Nathan was really taking advantage of this unfortunate pattern.  I guess he could tell I was getting tired of his hydration issues when he came down to "tell on myself for breaking something in my room".  I didn't make that up.  The boy would say anything to get out of bedtime!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Famous Last Words

From Nathan:  "Mom, Please let me.....I will never beg again!!  I promise!!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today After School

I'm cooking dinner and Eva (13) says, "It's like a cooking show.  Or a relay."  Hmmmm.

Ivy (9) comes home and says, "Watermelon!!  Who got it?"  I told her I did.  She asked me where I got it.  I told her I found it.  She asked where and I told her it was laying on the ground in the back yard.  She asked where in the backyard and I told her it was under the stairs.  She went to see if there was another watermelon in the backyard under the stairs.  The rest of us giggled.  Ten minutes later she said, "I know!!  YOU got the watermelon at the store, didn't you Mom?"  She's quick, that one.

It looked to me like Nathan (7) walked home in his PJ's....he changed before he made it into the kitchen when he promptly asked for a snack.  I gave him yogurt and he asked if he could just finish the whole half of a tub that we had left.  Typical Nathan.

Ethan (11) asked to go play--before, during, and after the other kids' conversations.  He left pretty quick!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Post About Nathan

I debated whether to write a post about Nathan since it seems I write about him often but I've decided to write one anyway and try to focus much less on his medical/speech issues--although his progress and the work it takes is a major part of his little life so it's virtually impossible so leave it out entirely.

The past several weeks we've been seeing a new side to Nathan.  He's making friends at school.  Kissing girls, even.  We've talked about how that's not really OK and he's since stopped.  He said he kissed them because they asked him to.  One day he came home from school late and got in trouble--he had gone to a friend's house to play.  A week later he came home late again--because he stopped to climb a tree with another friend.  It's hard to be upset with him when I'm mostly grateful that he's making friends with other kids and that he can tell me where he's been and I can understand him.  Mostly that makes me very excited!  A year ago he wasn't able to share more than two words with any other kid in his class--the kids couldn't understand him.

He spoke in Primary on Easter, sharing his testimony of the Savior.  Vince and I were both teaching when Nathan was speaking so Eva went to help him.  Vince helped him type up his talk and we practiced with him reading it-- he only needed help with about 8 words.  We heard it went very well and that Nathan was able to read most of it and that he was understood.  The last time he gave a talk a friend said she was excited for him because she could understand most of it.  A year ago when he gave a talk it sounded like gibberish and the 11-year-old girls laughed at him--it was sad to see the light in his eyes go out--he was trying so hard.  He has been working very hard and is making great progress!

Nathan and Eva both have something in common--they begged to learn how to play the piano.  I hesitated to start Nathan because I didn't want him to have another thing to have to practice everyday--he's so busy for a little kid.  About two months ago I caved and he's been learning piano.  He doesn't always like to practice and it turns out piano is a bit challenging because fine motor skills are still hard for him so it's hard for him to use his fingers correctly.  Starting yesterday I gave him a little exercise to help (OK--so it wasn't until yesterday that I noticed he was having a hard time because the other kids generally  help him practice--it's nice that there are three other people that can help with that!).  It will take a while but after he had done the little exercise he excited said, "Look!  I'm doing it!!"  He always takes pride in his work and progress!!

Here is what his speech therapist said about him after this last term:  "Nathan is a friendly and happy boy who is also very energetic.  Nathan demonstrated positive behavior during sessions and only had to be redirected on occasion.  He was highly motivated by being able to participate in activities and games.  He responded well to verbal reinforcement/praise and feedback."  He is definitely friendly and happy and energetic--and he loves games.  At the U there is one-way glass so the supervisor, parents, and other students can observe undetected.  People who watched Nathan always ended up laughing out loud at times because he was so much fun and entertaining.  Like the last session this term when they were playing Funny Bunny (between each move he would practice words) and when the game went well for him he jumped out of his chair, pumped his fist, smiled at himself in the mirror, and shouted "Boo-Yah!!"  He takes pleasure out of every possible thing in life!

On a side note, Nathan passed off all his goals this term.  I thought he had passed off all but one but when the report came that indicated he met all of his goals.  This is the first time he has passed off any new goal in one term.  The first term he was unable to complete any of the goals, which were carried over into the second term where a couple of small additional goals were added.  At the end of the second term he had met the goals from the first term but not the second.  This term they carried over the 2-3 goals that had been initiated in the second term and added several more (7 goals total)--he met them all!! 

I love how Nathan still likes a snuggle now and then and always likes big hugs.  Every morning when we read scriptures together he likes to sit right next to mom or dad with a blanket and snuggle up to read.  I'm going to miss it and I can tell he's starting to outgrow it.  I love his big smile and his obvious delight in the simple things--like muffins for breakfast, or helping me stir a pot on the stove.  I love his enthusiasm for making friends and his love for his teachers.  He frequently sees some of his teachers outside of school and is always excited to see them--he'll run up and give them hugs!  One of his reading aides is in our ward and he loves to smile at Mrs. S.  Another aide has a daughter that takes violin lessons from Eva's teacher so I accompany for her--she comes to the house sometimes and we've been to her home to pick free peaches to can--Nathan adores Miss F.  He had a substitue for three months that happens to be one of our neighbors and Nathan appreciates that he can see Mrs. M. regularly.  He was very excited to have his regular teacher back.  I love that he develops great attachments for people and that he cares about them.  And I can obviously recognize the hand of the Lord in the fact that the people who are working with him are mostly people he was familiar with outside of school--what a unique blessing!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Assembly Hall

Assembly Hall on Temple Square

I always loved this building--it seems so magical to me.  I can remember the first time I visited Temple Square as a child and I immediately fell in love with this building!  I've always wanted to go inside but have never found the time--the building never seems as intriguing to whoever I'm walking around the grounds with.  Vince and Eva have performed with the community choir here but I had to stay home with the kids.  Children younger than eight can't attend performances in the Assembly Hall.  (Eva has also performed at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.)

Lucky me--I get to perform here June 11th.  I've known about it for several weeks and been a little excited!  There is a soprano in my community (Helena Baird) who apparently had four different individuals recommend me (I have no idea who).  She first asked me to accompany her in December but Vince and I were celebrating our anniversary for that one.  This time I was ready to tell her that I was too busy but I opened with "how many rehearsals do you intend to have?" and she answered that she thinks getting together once or twice before the performance is adequate.  So I said I could handle that!  Then she asked my for my bio--specifically indicating who I trained with and where I've performed.  I fully expected her to contact me and let me know she's going with someone else after she read my bio.  But she didn't.  She did, however, ask me how I am with my chord reading/improvising skills.  I thought she'd cancel after that, too, but she didn't.  She's bringing music to my house within a week.  The program celebrates mothers/motherhood--so I feel great about participating!  And I get to see the inside of the Assembly Hall!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

She Made It!

Eva has been wanting to be on next year's yearbook committee since last fall when she first heard about it.  She has been planning and learning about what it would take all year.  Apparently, it takes a lot of pictures so she has taken every opportunity with her camera to get many great photos to turn in.  She is such a hard worker that she even taught herself how to use photoshop to doctor some of the photos--she's doing things on there I always wanted to learn how to do! 

Finally, several weeks ago, the process to get on the yearbook committee began.  Apparently you have to try out.  60 kids wanted to do it and they only keep 16.  You have to get three of your core subject teacher's to write and sign a recommendation for you--Eva's science teacher said, "You'd be stupid to not use her."  There was a series of 3 cuts based on teacher recommendations, attendance, citizenship, and two submissions of photos you've taken.  The second submission required a minimum of 50 photos--Eva submitted 160, most of which she had photoshopped.  She is her father's daughter and had plenty to choose from. 

Yesterday was their first official meeting.  A few weeks ago she had mentioned to me that she really wanted to be an editor and I told her she should mention it to the teacher but that maybe she should concentrate on making it on the committee.  I guess yesterday after the meeting (where they decided on a magazine-style yearbook) she approaced the teacher and mentioned she would like to be an editor.  He told her about the editor's responsibilities and she said, "You know, maybe I don't want to..."  and he said "Great!  I'll put you down as Editor in Chief!"  She's a little concerned but I do think she's excited.  It sounds like as the editor she will have to proof/check every page/picture of the yearbook.  It'll be good for her and I think she'll really like it!

She now says that in addition to being a musician when she grows up she wants to be a photographer.  I think photography classes would be excellent but mostly I am excited that she is developing talents that can help support her family one day while she can be a mom at home.

Here's a sample of a few of her photos (I think 15 or so--not 50 or 160!)  It's probably time for Vince to teach her how to use the "nice" camera...

video


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Post About Ivy

Sunday was Ivy's 9th birthday!  Vince and I had so many meetings Sunday that we celebrated a little Friday, a little Saturday, a little Sunday, and mostly Monday.  Then today I took treats to her class--because I forgot to yesterday.  Friday I had lunch with Ivy at school--it's a fun little tradition in our family that Mom comes to school and brings lunch on birthdays.  Saturday was our piano recital and Grandma O brought her gift for Ivy.  Sunday morning she unwrapped a new dress.  Monday we had her birthday dinner, cake, and the rest of her presents.  I wish we hadn't had to drag it out but I think she enjoyed it!

I remember that Ivy was a very quiet, calm baby and toddler.  She was impossibly shy--hiding between my legs, never looking at people, etc.  In the nearly 2 years in the nursery at church she never said more than three words total to her teachers.  She would try to tell me things and I would try to understand and she would often run out of the room in tears because I couldn't understand what she was trying to tell me.  (There were times I would go to my room and cry a bit too.)  Sometimes we would hear her talk to herself and giggle and we would laugh with her but we had no idea what she was laughing about.  We had her speech tested and she scored a zero on the speech/language test.  She couldn't articulate any consonants when she was three.  She went to preschool, which she loved, and in a year tested out of the program.  It was remarkable progress by any standard and when I tell professionals that we see for Nathan I'm pretty sure they don't believe me.  I can tell that they believe I must be mistaken about the initial testing. 

When Ivy tested out of the program we really got to know her!  She blossomed--literally.  Nobody would believe that Ivy was ever shy!  I have a couple of good friends that remember how poor her speech was and how severely shy she was and we sometimes still tear up together when we see her talk and sing at primary programs and school.   When Ivy started talking we learned she had a huge vocabulary.  I can remember one day she was upset with her brothers and shouted, "Stop that you miscreants!"  She was only four.  I remember I felt a big laugh coming on and I grabbed the phone and locked myself in my bathroom and called Vince and we shared a big giggle and then I had to tell her we don't call names.  We also learned that Ivy has a major sense of humor--she would often say things that the entire family would laugh at.  It turns out that deep inside Ivy was never shy and quiet or reserved.  In truth, she is the most outgoing personality in our family.  She has a dramatic flair and we can all imagine her performing comfortably on stage. 

Ivy is ultra friendly and will smile and talk to anyone.  She played T-ball when she was five and we can all remember one game when she was playing third base.  She loved it because she got to talk to all the runners (who were strangers to her).  She would talk about anything and get them talking--the other team's running coach would just chuckle.  Then on one play a kid hit the ball quite a ways and all the runners got to move.  The runner from second base comes and Ivy's still talking to the runner that was on third and then the runner from second joins in the conversation.  Eventually the runner from first shows up and stands behind his other runners looking a little confused.  Ivy is still talking to these kids.  All the adults are yelling at the kids to RUN and they are just talking with Ivy when she finally notices what's happening and says to the kids: "I guess you're supposed to run home now."  So they did.  She never did get to be a baseman again but we thought it was funny! 

Last month she went to speech with me and met a girl about 3 years younger than her.  Of course Ivy started talking to her and this girl was very much like Ivy and started talking back.  I got a great chuckle watching this because I could see that the girl was outtalking Ivy--first time I've ever seen it.  Eventually Ivy said, "OK--I'm going to watch my brother now" trying to get the girl to stop talking to her.  I laughed out loud because I say stuff like that to Ivy all the time!  The hilarious part of the story  is that the other girl's name is Gaby.  Ivy couldn't believe how much that girl talked!  She was Ivy's twin in that respect!!

Ivy tries really hard to do the right thing.  She's been working on her Faith in God booklet and she enjoys writing her testimony.  Spelling is challenging for her so she practices extra each week to score well on her tests.  Like the rest of my kids math comes easy to her.  She has a natural ability on the piano.  Sadly, I was tied up with the rest of the family so she did not get to start piano lessons as early as Eva.  Still, she is a quick learner and has natural technique (I haven't seen natural technique in any of my other kids OR students) so she'll still develop a great talent!  She is also learning the violin which is a thorn in her side.  She really wanted to learn so we made the investment to get her an instrument and I found her a teacher but she's learning that practicing the violin is not as "fun" as practicing the piano.  Eva discovered the same thing but she never wanted to quit.  Ivy would rather quit but as I've already made an investment it's not going to happen for a while.  She loves playing with her friends and has friends she plays with all through our neighborhood--not just our ward!

When Ivy was five she started showing an intense interest in the kitchen: cooking, baking, etc.  When we would go to the library she would ask me to take her to the cookbook section in the adult part of the library to check out cookbooks.  She was only allowed 5 books at a time so she would check out 2 picture books and 3 cookbooks.  She always wants to help me in the kitchen--it's hard during the school year but she gets lots of opportunities in the summer.  She's very thoughtful and will generally help me clean up--when we're working together! 

I adore my thoughtful, talented, bubbly, friendly, outgoing Ivy!  I can't imagine life without her making me smile everyday!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pictures!

I know no one will be surprised to hear that since I'm not a picture/camera person there are no before pictures but I can tell you that this dresser really needed a new finish--it was hard to tell if there was real wood under their or if it was a poor veneer.  I bought this from a neighbor for $25 (yes, neighbor I truly have your money--we just need to connect when it's in my hand--or I may send a kid over later today!)   Sanded down, we learned it was a gorgeous wood and I fell in love with it and hurried to finish the project.  A month ago I was at DI and saw some goldish (not brass) candlesticks that I kind of liked.  I bought them and then a few weeks after that realized that they were hollow and had threads at the top--the were actually lamp bases!  So yesterday I finally painted them and Ethan and I made lamps!  We each did one lamp and worked through the directions together--it was a great time!  The statue of Christ I found at DI 2 weeks ago for $5.  We love this dresser--each child has a drawer for their scriptures and I have one for my scriptures and study stuff.  We're going to use the remaining drawers for family games.

Here's another picture--I love the legs on this dresser!



A sideways (hey, at least there are pictures!) close-up of the $5 statue!  

And...another sideways photo of our new chandelier over the kitchen table!  I had a bit of trouble with this as I have never before wired anything in my life.  I figured I would take the old fixture down and then put this one up the same way, only the new (old--$5 from DI that I painted and bought lampshades for) fixture had an extra wire and I couldn't figure that out!  For a long time.  And my arms started hurting after wiring it several different ways and running up and down the stairs to flip the breaker.  I tried to watch a tutorial on my computer but that wasn't working so I got mad and decided I had wasted a bit of money buying a fixture that was broken and threw the thing in the trash outside.  Then I hauled a couch up the stairs.  The physical exertion was good for me and I then found that I could get my computer to work and learned what was going wrong, humbled myself enough to pull the fixture out of the trash outside, locate the runaway pieces, and wire it.  For the fifth and last time.  It was worth the trouble!



This is why I was hauling a couch up the stairs--we got a new sofa and loveseat for $35 on the classifieds. (The couch in our living room was the best of the three we owned so the upstairs one had to go down and the worst one downstairs had to come up.) These sofas are in much better shape than our old ones and have smaller arms which means more seating space.  I'm going to make well-fitted (hopefully) slipcovers for them!  Here's a picture of the loveseat.


Here's our kitchen table--I don't know why Eva didn't clear the table before she took the picture--it has tools from my wiring work and the old light fixture and someone's dishes.  I had worked on finishing projects all day and then had to take someone dinner and talk to youth in the stake about indexing and family history last night.  It was a long day and I have tons today so I'm not taking the time to get a better picture--you'll have to wait until I get those benches finished!  The table looks sooooo much better than before!  It was worth living without it for the tree months it took to finish!  Also--another great sideways photo...

And here's a little picture of our Ivy (9).  There are tons of pictures on the camera--Eva's trying out to be on the yearbook staff and she has to turn in 50 of her best shots next week.  This probably isn't one of her favorites but I like it because that's Ivy!



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Good news: After 3-4 months of no microwave, we now have a new one!!  This is extremely exciting--now when I'm gone for speech and other things we can actually reheat food and eat before 8:30 at night!

Bad News: We found water in the light fixture in the family room...it came from the sink in the kitchen, where the disposal apparently had a leak.

Good News: Vince took out a ton of ceiling drywall down there--some of it was damaged from the water.  We ended up with an 8x8 foot square hole in the ceiling--I know it was kind of bad news to me too and I was a little perturbed until he "suggested" we could add some recessed lighting in that room.  Which was a great idea!  So now we have 6 new can lights and some new ceiling drywall in the family room and Vince and I were excited to discover the room looks twice as big now!

Bad News:  Our plan was to live without a garbage disposal for the forseeable future....I'll admit that I was a little worried to fix it because then I just knew something else would break, but it turns out that the disposal had a major flaw and that water was leaking from it even when we weren't using it.

Good News: We have a new disposal!

I hope nothing else breaks, but I must say it is a little fun to fix things and make them better than they were to begin with!  Maybe in a week or so I will post some pictures of that room and the kitchen table I refinished!  I've almost finished refinishing a buffet/dresser for our living room and I may post pictures of that too--I'm really excited about it.  When the dresser is completely finished I'll refinish the benches in the kitchen.  We also found a sofa and loveseat on the classifieds for $35.  They're a floral design and don't quite match our room, but I've been learning about how to make custom slipcovers and I think I'm going to do that this summer.  I'm developing a love for remaking/refinishing furniture and stuff.  I have a few other projects I'm working on, but it's taking me longer than I'd like to finish them.  I'll have Eva post pictures...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Post About Ethan

I've been waiting to write this post because Ethan's teacher wrote a really nice note about him for a citizenship award but he wanted to bring it home and then I put it somewhere "safe" and I' m not sure which safe place that was....  Anyway, I decided that while I'm here I'm just going to write about him and not look for the paper and get distracted.  Again.

Ethan is very much a BOY.  He likes to run, climb, play games, dig holes, camp, play sports, ....  His school teacher writes that Ethan is very smart--so true!  She also says he shows up for school ready to learn and always wants to learn more--I love that about him--he is definitely inquisitive and open to learning new things.  Sometimes I think he is a little too smart for his own good, like when he rode his bike down really busy highways to get to his aunt's house--when he was three.  He knew the way and exactly where he was going!  I remember I had to take his bike apart and then hide the pieces in various places in the garage so he wouldn't put the bike back together--remember he was only three!  He excels in math and spatial tasks.  He is mechanically inclined and has a natural ability for building and repairing things.  I love this about him too--he can fix things around the house now and is always repairing bikes for Nathan and Ivy.  When Vince is gone, he can help me with projects and/or problems that may happen around the house and yard.  Like two summers ago when Vince was at a scout training for 4 days and we had a flooded basement--Ethan's boy mind was invaluable in helping us get the water cleaned up and out of the basement and getting the carpets dried out.

Ethan is also a hard worker and very meticulous--when he starts a job he likes to get it done the right way!  Sometimes this makes things harder for him like when I ask him to clean his room and he empties all the drawers and shelves to put things back on them just perfectly.  There are times when he will randomly decide to clean a kitchen cabinet or drawer.  When company is coming I ask Ethan to clean the main bathroom because he cleans into the corners every time. 

A couple of weeks ago Ethan ran a 5K with Vince and he won for his age group!  (He's 11)  This 5K was a fundraiser for the track team and the entire high school track team participated--he actually beat 75% of the track team!  He loves to run and can't wait to be on a track team and run races more often.  Last summer we let him run his first 5K--he beat me but he couldn't quite catch his dad.  Vince is really a fast runner.  BUT Ethan ran the race, in July, in jeans!!!  I couldn't believe it, but that's what he wanted to run in.  We'll see what he does this July...

Right now Ethan takes piano lessons (because I make him) and guitar (because he wants to).  He plays them both really well but you'll only hear him play piano at recitals because that's the deal we made: he has to take lessons and practice but then I won't make him play for people.  A unique compromise.  It's fun to see him learn the guitar.  He is also enjoying scouting, which is good, because his dad would make him like it if he didn't!  He loves the scouting activities and moves through the ranks well--if only he could get his mom to sew the patches on his uniform...  Scouting has been quite fun the past several months because his leader has been physically unable to work with the boys and Vince has been working with them.  It's good father/son time!  What he would really like to do is play some team sports but he's a great brother and understands that I can't get him to practices and games because I've got to take Nathan to speech so far away.  He always shows an interest but he doesn't complain--he's a great brother to be so kind and patient about the sacrifice.  He's a fifth grader this year and he's excited to be in middle school so he can play intramurals--the boy loves a competition of any kind!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Post About Eva

I feel privileged to be a mother!  I have four wonderful kids that I enjoy and love to spend time with.  Each one of my children are very unique and I've thought I should write about them as individuals at times.  I'm going to start with Eva. 

I feel very fortunate that Eva is my oldest.  She is very responsible and helpful.  I know I wouldn't be able to work with the younger kids as much as I do without her help.  She's great at getting meals ready when I need it, moving laundry, getting kids ready and out the door when they need to be, etc.  I appreciate this particular skill set when I'm in Salt Lake with Nathan and life for the other three continues here without me to manage it.  Eva prepares for everything!  She's been volunteering 2 hours of her Saturday nights since January to babysit for the community choir and every week she prepares activities and/or snacks for the kids.  She's so good at preparing that I never have to wonder if she's falling behind on school work--in fact she generally has to remind me several times of things I need to get for her so she can complete projects!  I love shopping with Eva--she has a good eye for colors and how to put them together--she has a great sense of style. 

I really admire her dedication to learning about the gospel.  From a very young age, Eva takes every suggestion very seriously.  Our entire family has benefited from her deciding she was going to read the entire Book of Mormon before her baptism--I didn't think it would be possible but she and I did it together and after that I decided the others could too.  Nathan is on track to finish it before he turns eight next year and we all have Eva's persistent determination to thank for it!  Eva is also very thougthful--she loves to write little notes to people and make cards.  She works hard to develop her talent for crafting and sewing as well as her more obvious musical talents. She pursues her violin and piano education relentlessly and has become very skilled.  She is nearly as advanced as I on the piano (although I may not admit it to her--there's a comfort level I have that comes with age) and she is only 13!  In the past several months I can hear a beautiful musicality to her pieces--as her violin teacher said today--"her musicality is blossoming"! 

Last week Eva was recognized as a "Super Citizen" at her school.  Here is what the nominating teacher had to say about her: "She is always on top of everything.  She helped any group when needed in Science Olympiad and took on multiple events herself.  She always strives to do her best in everything she does."

This reminds me!  Eva is in the MESA club at school (she's a seventh grader) and they went to the Science Olympiad.  Eva competed in two events and I can't remember what they're called but one of them entailed building a rocket.  In one of the events she and her partner placed second!  They were the only students from her school to place in the top three in any event this year or last year--schools come from all over the valley to Westminster to compete.  I don't quite understand it because science was never my thing but Eva loves it--particularly anything to do with microbiology. 

Congratulations Eva on being recognized for all your hard work--you deserve it!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blessings

As you probably know, we have been driving Nathan to speech on Wednesdays and Fridays for nearly a year now.  It's a great expense of time and money--it's an hour drive to the U of U and an hour back.  The only vehicle we had available to us was our big family car--the Expedition. 

Last month my little brother gave us his old little car.  It cost us a bit more than we expected to get it on the road ($700) but it only raised our insurance by $16 each month and we had high hopes.  We started driving the little car in February...

Drumroll....

Our gas bill was $162 less in February than in January (in spite of rising gas prices).  Remarkable!!  And wear and tear (tires, brakes) is cheaper on the little Subaru than it is for the big Expedition so that's a savings as well!!

Thanks little brother!!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom.....

Ivy: "Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom-mom..."
Me (mom): Ivy, What!!
Ivy, giggling: "That was funny!"

Eva:  "Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom-mom..."
Me (mom): WHAT?!!
Eva: "Oh! I was just seeing if you were listening to me."

Nathan: "Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom-mom..."
Me: "What do you need?"
Nathan, with a slightly glazed look at first, focuses his eyes and says: "Um, nothing." Then turns to his sister and says "Eva--I want to watch the TV."

Seriously.  Three days and three mom chant experiences.  I'm losing my sanity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nathan Update

Last Thursday Nathan and I met with the ENT cleft palate/VPI specialist and learned that everything looks pretty good!  Which means we don't need to worry about surgery or anything else like that!!  Yay!

The ENT recommends that Nathan have as much speech therapy as possible and that the therapy be directed by a speech pathologist that specializes in clefts/VPI.  He didn't seem to think that Nathan's getting enough speech therapy now and recommended that we "remind" the school district of federal law and find a speech pathologist in this specialty to direct the elementary and U of U speech clinicians' therapy.  I'll be honest--I didn't have a good feeling after meeting with this guy.  I recognize that the school district's "best" is pathetic and doesn't begin to address Nathan's needs.  BUT I do believe that they are giving us the best of what they have to offer.  All I would accomplish by fighting for more would be to alienate the people I currently have great relationships with and waste my time and energy and possibly money in getting the district to abide by federal law--time, money and energy I could direct towards Nathan.  Federal law doesn't seem to account for paltry education budgets.  And I know that as a family we really do not have any more resources in time or money to do more than we are doing.  We're all making huge sacrifices and commitments as it is. 

Friday night at speech I was visiting with Mark Cantor, who is the professor who supervises Nathan's therapy.  After hearing the ENT's recommendations he told me that he could see where the doctor is coming from but that he didn't think I needed to do that.  Mark said that they took the report from the CDC speech pathologist and thoroughly examined it to better focus Nathan's therapy.  He said that VPI is not his specialty but that it is the specialty of his colleague who helps administers their program and he had already met with her about Nathan and she (Janet) had already met with Nathan's clinician.  He indicated that they would be conducting some additional testing in the future to focus their efforts and that Janet would be meeting with Nathan and his clinician at times to make sure Nathan got the best care.  I'll be honest--I felt really good after visiting with Mark.

In conclusion, we've decided to stay our current course.  Mark Cantor also feels that more speech would just be too much and possibly too difficult for Nathan at his current age.  I agree.  The poor kid rarely gets to play like a kid as it is. It is really nice to know exactly what Nathan's issues are and that we can get his therapy more focused on those needs.  It's also nice to know that he doesn't need any major surgery and that with well focused therapy he will most likely get exactly what he needs.  I feel like the Spirit is directing us to remember that we need to be sure VPI is addressed in his therapy and to keep doing what we're doing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Live for Today

On February 19, 2009 a friend of mine lost her husband.  He didn't wake up one morning and she was left, a grieving widow, with an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.  It made quite an impression on me.  I began to ponder my relationship with my little family and the gratitude I feel in having them in my life each day.  I realized that while I know we can be together as a family I would be a fool to take that for granted and to not enjoy each minute I get with the people I care about most.  I began to understand that while we can be together forever we need to build the relationships that will make us want to be together forever while we're here in mortality.  I started thinking in terms of how I could build my relationship with my husband and each child; I started watching how other wives and mothers built their relationships so I could learn.

My friend's heartache prompted real personal growth for me. 

I love these stanzas from this poem:

If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep
I would tuck you in more tightly, and pray the Lord your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
That I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I could spare an extra minute,
to stop and say, "I LOVE YOU", Instead of assuming you would know I do.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day.

So hold your loved ones close today
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them, and that you'll always hold them dear.

I don't know the author's name and this is just part of the poem.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Famous Last Words

Has anyone else ever noticed themselves deciding for sure how something was going to be and then learning it wasn't meant to be that way?  And I swear sometimes the universe has a real sense of humor.

1.  "I'm going on a mission--before I get married." 
           I can't count how many times I said this because I was so certain that's how it would be.

2.  "I'll never have hairy legs."
          Yeah--I remember thinking this to myself as a teenager.  I think of it now because I swear my teenage daughter has thoughts along these lines at time.....when she sees my hairy legs.  I remember when things like shaving legs seemed soooo important and now I look down after 5 days and think "how did THAT happen?"

3.  "My kids will never act like that in public."
         Ha ha--very funny.  The fact I used to think this proves I deserve my too smart for their own good kids.  If you need a refresher on how this turned out look at Sunday Shenanigans.

4.  "If my kids did act like that in public I would..."
      You probably want to know what I thought I would do--so do I. I probably never thought that through due to #3.

5.  "I'll never like chick flicks."
        I don't know what happened to me but in the last year I've discovered I like romance stuff.  I know.  Weird.

6.  "I'm going to post pictures on my blog this year." 
         See?  Now you don't have to wonder what happened.  I declared I would and so I haven't.  This is why my New Year's Resolution is to make no New Year's Resolutions.  I'm just going to make a goal each morning.

7.  "I'm going to run today!"
        My goal for this morning!  I've been looking forward to it since Saturday when I promised myself I would run on Monday.  Only I should have looked at my calendar because I wasn't thinking.  In addition to the 4.5-5 hours of piano teaching today (at three different times of the day) I'm also helping with Eva's orchestra at school and have to plan my FHE lesson.  Which is, of course, why I'm spending all this time blogging.  It makes no sense to me either so I guess I'd better wrap it up.

8.  "We're done having babies."
    



      
--------See?  I have a sense of humor too--take that universe!!




Just to clarify--I'm not pregnant......

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm having one of those days where I just don't "feel like it". 

I don't wanna.

I'm done.

We'll see what happens...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Mornings & CDC Update

This Wednesday morning has, for the most part, been uneventful.  Compared to two weeks ago when I got a flat tire on the way to school--a nice guy in slippers helped me change it in the snow.  I took him a giant chocolate bar.  When I took the car to the tire store to get the flat fixed I discovered that the tire was ruined and Vince and I decided to get all the tires replaced--they were pretty bald.  THEN I had to take the new old car in to get it checked out by the mechanic and I got it to a neighbor's house where I turned it off and knocked on her door so she could give me a ride home from the mechanic's shop and when I got back to the car it wouldn't start.  It was totally dead.  And blocking her driveway.  I figured out that the battery cable was loose, jammed it back on the battery and drove that sucker straight to the shop.  That left me with much less time in the day to do what needed to be done but somehow I managed.

So compared to that today is pretty boring although there was a little drama during scripture reading this morning: Ivy and Ethan didn't really want to read.  Ivy was angry about something and she is the drama queen so when she's angry her hands are fisted, her face is red, her eyes tend to squint, and everything that comes out of her mouth comes out in very loud (yelling) spurts.  We were all doing well and being patient and quietly pretending nothing was out of the ordinary until Ivy read this one verse and Eva and I couldn't help but laugh.  Out loud.  Which only made Ivy more angry.  (We did, however notice that she didn't sound so angry on the next verse.)  The verse in question is Alma 14:7.  Here's about how Ivy read it:

AND.  IT CAME TO PASS THAT.  HE BEGAN TO CRY UNTO.  THE PEOPLE!!!  SAYING!!!  (Up until here everyone was keeping a straight disinterested face--she had already read one verse like this.)  BEHOLD!!!!  I AM GUILTY!!!  (And this is where Eva and I started laughing.  Can you blame us?  It does seem that when one child is in a "mood" they tend to get a verse like this that tickles my funny bone.  Vince is so proper that he just kind of frowned at us and I couldn't look at him because I was trying to STOP giggling)

And here is the CDC update.  We saw the psychologist this morning for the second round of testing--we also went last Wednesday morning.  Last week she gave Nathan an IQ test and today was a less formal test to see if he was on the autism spectrum and if he was where he would be.  Nathan did really well!  His verbal IQ score is quite low, which is to be expected.  His composite (average of verbal and nonverbal) score is low average.  His nonverbal IQ is average and he scores pretty high in the spatial part of the test.  It all made sense to me and seems to be fairly accurate.  For today's asd (autism spectrum disorder) testing the psychologist explained that a "normal" child would score 1-6, a child with PDD-NOS would be 7-11, and scores higher than that would be a more severe autism.  Nathan scored a 7.  He is very borderline PDD-NOS.  He has a hard time with some or all of the following: reading social situations, knowing how to handle situations where he is uncomfortable, understanding concepts and situations that are not concrete,...  An example of this is when she asked him to describe one of his good friends.  Nathan told her all about the friend's toys and then she asked again, "But what is he LIKE?"  Nathan seemed confused by this and started acting a bit goofy.  The psychologist explained that there are group classes for kids Nathan's age that help teach through role play and activities how to handle different social situations and stuff like that.  She recommends we take him to a class like this in the summer and then bring him back in the fall for a reevaluation.  Overall, I felt like the psychologist really understood Nathan and I feel like the class will be really good for him.  I think when things are difficult or confusing for Nathan he does one of a few things: disengages (less/no eye contact, stops interacting with people), acts goofy, or just flat out refuses to try.  He's very talented at determining which tactic will work in different situation and/or with different individuals.  I believe that a lot of that is because he doesn't know when and/or how to say he is uncomfortable, overchallenged, etc. in a way that he is certain will be socially acceptable.  If Nathan is unsure whether he will be understood and responded to positively then he chooses not to interact with people--he is often uncomfortable and I don't think he is able to read all situations in a way that make sense to him.  A class is a great idea--I had no idea that was an option!  Many children with PDD-NOS "outgrow" it.  It's possible that Nathan just needs a little more instruction than my other kids on how to read and handle social situations.  It really makes sense when you consider that he missed so much interaction due to an inability to communicate all these years!  In reality, he continues to miss crucial social interaction (playtime) due to the speech and school demands he is currently under--he just does not have much time to be a kid and playtime is where kids learn most of this stuff!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ethan's Eyes

A couple weeks ago Ethan brought home a note from school saying he had a little trouble at the vision screening and should see an eye doctor to get his vision evaluated.  I made an appointment and  we went there this morning.  (Eva's totally jealous because she wants glasses--that girl loves her accessories!)  Ethan hasn't been too concerned about this because he's certain that the nurse made an error--so certain that he told me that he didn't need to get his eyes checked again.  So certain that he told the receptionist and the nurse and the doctor.  The nurse said something like, "I don't know--that's quite a prescription" after she had him read the little letters and checked the different lenses. 

Then the doctor came in and asked Ethan how he felt about his eyesight and Ethan told him his eyesight was fine that once in a while he might have a little trouble seeing something but that for the most part he can see everything he wants and needs to see.  The doctor said, "Let me set the record straight once and for all...........You can't!"  And he promptly wrote a prescription for glasses and took a picture of the inside of Ethan's eyes because he has something that looks like glaucoma but for someone Ethan's age it's more of something to be aware of and have a record of.  The doctor was fun and we had an enjoyable visit.  Ethan is not disappointed about having to wear glasses because when the nurse was checking the lenses he seemed to get a bit excited about how easy it was to see things.  The doctor talked to him about how squinting was really not the best way to view the world.  Ethan selected some nice looking frames and we should get his glasses in 7-10 business days.

Now I may consider taking Eva in because she thinks she may need glasses (although she did once say she wants glasses because everyone else has them).  I say consider because a couple of years ago she wanted braces (because everyone else had braces)and until this morning I wouldn't consider taking her to the eye doctor because I don't think getting glasses because everyone else has them is really a great reason.  BUT Ethan's eyes were worse than I every would have imagined and the doctor did say that as he grows we are going to need to take him in to get his prescription adjusted.  If Ethan's eyesight was that poor then maybe Eva has a real need for glasses after all.  Maybe I'll decide this summer when we're done with more of Nathan's stuff!