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...

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!!