Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Embryo

- by Carol Lynn Pearson

Love is no eagle
Strong amid
The heights.
It is an egg -
A fertile,
Hold it warm
Within your wing,
Beneath your breast.

Perhaps in heaven
Love can live
But in this world,
Where mountains fall
and east winds blow,
Oh, careful -
Love is embryo.
(going into this new year, I am pondering the embryos I am nurturing in my life, where more care should be taken, what needs more nourishment, etc. I guess whenever I think of relationships and how much we need to care for and work for them, this poem comes to mind, so I thought I'd share. {I had to dig through some old High School papers to find my old copy of this - haha. It was just stuck in my head and I needed to look for it.}) Also, this quote I ran across the other day:

"Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendship and intimacies, and soon their places will know them no more, and yet they leave their friendships and intimacies with no cultivation, to grow as they will by the roadside, expecting them to "keep" by force of inertia." - William James

What's on your mind this New Year's?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

a winter's walk

Just a few random thoughts and pics from a walk:

- We had a really lovely Christmas. We really did. And I have a ton of posts backed up in my brain to write.

-But temps in the 30's meant I could walk outside yesterday and not freeze my tail off. It started off sunny, then the clouds from the distance rolled in. But I loved my walk - and taking pictures along the way. Hope you enjoy them.

- This is a hard time of year for me. I was doing really well, just in general, until I started thinking about this past year and the things I had wanted to accomplish. And when I start thinking about where my life is going and things that I need to change, it is really really hard for me not to get discouraged. Both the evaluating and the looking ahead processes are hard for me at the moment. Ugh. New Years. Perhaps I should skip it. But it is so in my nature to reflect, and assess, and make lists, and goals, and want to feel like I am doing ok in a measurable and meaningful way. It's not something I let go of easily.

- I love seeing the fun, quirky and imaginative things my kids do and I want to be a fun mom and do fun creative things with them and love this extra time with them. But at the same time they are driving me absolutely bonkers. Seriously. And I am not the mom I want to be.

- And why is it that I seem to have this capacity (and need) for almost endless sleep??? I've been sleeping approx. 10 hrs every night easily and still sleepy and ready for a 2 hr nap in the afternoon. I seem to never feel rested and energetic no matter how much sleep I get. It is unfortunate, really.

Anyway - well. There's that. Seems there might be a little symbolic significance to the progression of sunlight to cloudiness reflected in these photos. haha. Now if only to find a way to disperse the clouds . . . hmm . . .

How is winter treating you?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to you all!

We're not getting Christmas cards out this year, so here are our greetings instead. Hope you like it!

A photo from our church Christmas party family photo booth:

And a screenshot from our wonderful holiday greeting video:

Go here to see our cute little video.

Wishing you and yours peace and joy and all that is the best of this season. :)

(I'll be doing some major blog catch-up in some of the quiet(er) moments after Christmas. See you then!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

14 years

" you are my delight

and my comfort all night

and I'd wrap you up tight

in my arms . . . "

- from Niamh Parsons,

"An Paistin Fionn"

Happy Anniversary, Zac.

(go here to hear the song this quote comes from. It's one of my very favorites.)

( PS - I've been blogging for 5 yrs now (!!) and posted wedding pics for each of our anniversaries in that time. I'm working on transferring my older posts from the old blog into this one so you can see them all. Because I know you want to.) ;)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

a day in the life

Yesterday just seemed like I was driving back and forth all over the place all day long. And as I sat and thought about it, I really had been. Want to see? Yes, of course you do.
Here was my day:

8:00 drive kids to school
drive home
call Dr about pain Isaac was having in his groin
9:15 go to zumba
drive home
11 go pick up Elisabeth
come home
11:30 go pick up Isaac and check him out from school early
go to Dr, he sent us over to the hospital for an ultrasound
12:30 grab some fast food lunch on the way to the hospital
1:30 ultrasound for Isaac's pain issue (everything looked normal)
2:30 go home
2:45 pick up Samuel from school
home again
nap for 20 min.
3:30 send Isaac off to piano lesson
3:45 take Elisabeth to dance class
4:45 back home
start dinner
5:30 take Abigail to violin Christmas party
home again
6:30 go pick up Abigail, wait 30 min for the party to finish
back home to pick up a white elephant gift
7 drive Abigail to church youth group
back home

And in case you're wondering what Zac was doing during those evening run-arounds, he stopped at the store to pick up Isaac's prescription for an antibiotic (in case there was an infection causing his pain). Then he helped Samuel and Elisabeth with their homework while I played chauffeur, etc. And cleaned up dinner. Then we both got the kids to bed.

And that, my friends, is a day in our life (or a part of it anyway). Wasn't that fun? ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Third Advent (and weekend fun)

My sister Heather came for a little visit from Tacoma, Washington. She is staying with my mom until Tues so we tried to spend some time with her over the weekend. First up, The Muppet Movie (with all of us, Heather, Chelsea and mom).

I thought it was simply hilarious. The kids liked it too.

Chelsea and Heather:)

Then we went to see the Lights at Temple Square (pictured: the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Mom and Lowell, Chelsea, Heather and our family all went.

I was trying to figure out my iphone camera, not always succesfully. But there's a blurry shot of Chelsea, me and Heather.

And a cute picture of my girls with Aunt Heather.

Lights! Besides Samuel being bound and determined to get himself lost in the crazy crowds, and causing everyone quite a bit of stress and frustration, it was pretty fun.

And then Heather and mom came over on Sunday to join us for dinner and our Advent fun.

Samuel had a photo heyday with Heather's camera. He is quite the fledgling photographer, that boy.

And we played Apples to Apples Jr and a very cool Truth or Dare card game that I bought for myself for Christmas last year.

And lots of fun photo ops. :)

(ps - have I mentioned how much fun I am having with my iphone? all these fun edits on an app called Camera+. yay! And don't even try to tell me I'm just getting carried away . . . because I won't hear you.) ;)

Anyway - loved having a chance to visit with my littlest sister. This is the first time she has lived out of state so we miss having her around. Hoping to see her again tomorrow before she hops on plane in the evening!

Friday, December 9, 2011

christmas dance recital

Last weekend Elisabeth had her first Christmas dance recital, or open house. She takes a combo class that does 15 min each of tap, ballet and tumbling. Sometimes she really loves it. Other times she throws a fit and doesn't want to get dressed to go and says she hates it. Whatever.

Her little dances were really cute though. And she was very excited to have her own recital!

Abigail cried when we entered the studio and she saw the names of her previous classmates on the program (but they performed in a session before Elisabeth's so we didn't actually see them). It was so hard to see Abigail so heart-broken - but, oh I don't know. We're just doing the best we can with the resources we have. ugh.

So, here is Elisabeth!!

I think tumbling is her favorite part (and also her strongest suit) so too bad they didn't get to show that off for us, but it was really cute to see her perform.

I am considering switching her to solely gymnastics in the future because I think she would do fantastic, but we'll see. It'd be further away to do that and lots of factors to consider (not the least of which is this tricky balance between activities for all the kids).

For those of you who are my FB friends, take a peek at the youtube video of her dances there!:)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Advent

Today for Advent we made homemade hot chocolate and coffee cake, sang some carols, watched (most of) a Christmas devotional, and some other Christmas videos and drew names for our annual family Secret Person exchange. This year we're just doing service and simple homemade gifts (if we can manage it) for our Secret Person - and just the kids are doing it for each other so Zac and I can concentrate our efforts on helping and making sure everyone is receiving some kind of service.;)

On some other notes, I keep finding more and more and more fun apps on my phone and I just want to talk about it all the time because I'm just so excited. I'm blown away by it all - seriously. So much fun, useful, helpful, educational, organizational and fantastical stuff!!! WOW!:) I need a weekly budget for all the apps I want to buy. And I'm getting nervous about the 8 gb capacity on my phone. haha. I think I'll be able to restrain myself. We'll see. I just might have to get selective at some point. That might be a good thing.

And this is the month of recitals and concerts and Christmas programs. Lots of kid updates in that regard coming your way!!:)

And I am finally getting into Christmas mode. Hooray! Shopping is just about done. Planning begun for Zac and my birthdays and our anniversary. I can listen to the Christmas music on the radio now and not immediately cringe and change it. I've almost reached 100 books read for the year (only 1 more!!!). Things are feeling good.

Also, did you know that Amazon music has a free holiday song every day for this month?? Quite exciting. Go check it out.:)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

random thoughts on this year's IEP stuff

I'm not sure I can organize my thoughts in any reasonable fashion, so I'm just going to spew forth some randomness and hope for the best.

Quick catch-up for any newcomers . . . well, no let's just do this: if you're new to this blog and this whole special needs journey we've been through, take a browse through the posts labeled "special needs" on my sidebar. That will help. There's still some holes since I switched from a blog with real names (which is now inactive and privatized) to this blog with fake names - so there are a whole lot of posts that haven't made their way over here. But, oh goodness. For all the time it took me to write all that, I could have just summarized the whole thing. Hmph. Oh well.

Anyway, this year Samuel was mainstreamed, and he got into the charter school with his siblings (as opposed to the self-contained special needs class he was in last year in the public school) and we held him back a year. They decided to re-assess him to better be able to see where he's at and how he's doing and what kind of services he needs. All that stuff. For his "Individualized Education Plan" (IEP).

So, essentially, the interesting parts of this were that the teacher sees the well-behaved quiet cooperative Samuel - or what I interpret as the anxiety overriding his ADHD. When he meets one-on-one with the specialty teachers though (and the psychologist who did the testing), they see the hyper, easily distracted, can't keep still and concentrate on anything Samuel. This was a huge relief to me, though, that these specialty teachers are seeing what we see at home. I'm not crazy after all!! And it fits with what we think is going on. With why we think he behaves so differently in those 2 different settings. We think the bigger group just makes him anxious and he is able, somehow, to suppress the ADHD in those situations. In some ways, it is good that he is able to do that. In other ways, I still think he's needing to use a whole lot of mental energy to maintain that. So far that's not affecting his school performance. So they're not concerned about it. It makes for some really crazy times at home though. Sigh.

Anyway - he is right where he needs to be for the grade level he is in. They all agreed that this decision to retain him was good for him. He is more confident than I have seen him before. He participates in class. He fits in socially and physically. And he is so happy to be at the same school as his siblings. He plays with Elisabeth at recess and does great with going into school with them and meeting Isaac afterschool. He does his homework. He just seems to be doing well and it is such a huge relief to me.

The cognitive testing showed that he has a strength in processing speed, which means when he knows something, he can work through a task really quick. He has a weakness in one of the memory recall areas (can't remember the technical name). But the areas where he showed issues weren't statistically significant to qualify as any sort of learning disability. But he has obvious struggles with speech and language (some receptive, mostly expressive). He's in about the 3rd percentile. Meaning 97% of kids his age speak more clearly than he does.

So we've reclassified him as Speech Language Impairment instead of Developmental Delay. I have been nervous about having him only classified in speech because I still feel there are other issues going in, but they reassured me that the classification just kind of opens the door for special education services, but it in no way limits the type of services he can receive. So I feel ok about that right now. I think I need to look into getting some sort of private help again for the issues we're having at home that won't be addressed at school because they aren't causing "school problems" and that's just the way it's going to be.

And we set some new goals for speech and language that I think will be good for him. I don't know. I need to get to the school to observe him some more. I still worry about his peer relationships and how his speech affects him. His teacher did say he is really reluctant to read aloud in reading groups. But he does answer questions when asked. I need to think some more about some of the things I still worry about.

But overall, I feel good about the meeting. I feel like they took my concerns seriously and left options open for revision if we feel like new needs arise over time. I guess that's all I can really ask for at this point.

Now, we're beginning the process of having Elisabeth evaluated for some concerns we're having with her (and shared by her teacher and also noticed by the Occupational Therapist who informally observed her). Sooo, here we go again, right??
We just keep moving forward . . . with whatever we've got.:) Phew!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Look what I found!

An entire site devoted to reviewing apps that are most useful and helpful for moms? I can go for that.;)

(click on the pic to go to the site)
(and if you saw the 2 links I posted recently in Pinterest from The Top 50 apps for Kids and The Top 50 apps for moms, they were both from this site.)

Just wanted to share that. Keep telling me about good apps, folks. I know there are more of you out there with some good ones you use! (and thanks to those of you who have answered thus far - I appreciate it!)

That's it for tonight. Good night.:)

Monday, November 28, 2011

I think I'm in love

oh, I know. This is all old news for a lot of you (most of you?). And you probably knew I was going to take this big step eventually.

But I finally took the leap and got myself an iphone! hip hip hooray! And I love it even more than I thought I could.;)
Zac and I decided to use our Healthy Lifestyles money from his work (where we get paid for exercising, doing self check-ups etc) for something "fitness related" for each of us. He's getting a GPS watch. I got the phone that I can use to track my calorie intake and calorie burn, etc.;) (My check is also paying for the first little while of data plan! wohoo!)

Anyway - it's a fun new toy. Very exciting for everyone in the family (Isaac is way too excited for the games for example. Oh you Angry Birds . . .). I'm finding all kinds of apps I didn't even know existed. And I'm trying to figure out a way to get free texting, among other things (also excited that I can text other iphone users for free, though. Which just happens to include pretty much my entire family. Except for Zac.)

Anyway - now's your chance to tell me all about your favorite apps!! I'm especially interested in hearing about any fitness/health related ones that you've found that work well (since that was my justification for getting this thing - heheh). I've found several, of course, but I'm curious to know which ones you like. If you're into that sort of thing.;)

And anything else, too.
Educational games for the kids? Neat free practical things? Budget tools? GPS navigation? Music? Photos?

What do you like the best? What do you use the most?

Tell me everything. It's all new to me so I'm all ears!

Ready to listen and learn.:)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Advent

One of the traditions I've loved carrying on from my time in Germany is Advent. While I was there and visiting different families and joining them for their celebrations, I learned that many of them celebrate Advent the 4 Sundays preceding Christmas by singing Christmas carols, eating treats, and lighting a candle on the Advent wreath (a circle wreath with 4 candles - each Sunday they light another candle).

I finally found myself an Advent wreath a few years ago and we've added in our own traditions of what to do on each of those Sundays. I think I've written a little bit about this before (although maybe it was on the old blog, I don't know). We like to drink hot chocolate around the candle wreath on the table and sing carols. We've also tried planning out a few different things like writing our Christmas cards, making cookies, reading the Bible story etc. on those Sunday evenings. Some of those have been more successful than others over the years. But just about every year, for just about as long as I can remember in our married life, the first Advent Sunday (or as close as possible) is when we get out our Christmas decorations and decorate the tree. Then we admire what a great job we've done and sing O Christmas Tree.:)

So that's what we did today. I can't believe today is actually the 4th Sunday before Christmas! I've had a hard time getting into the holiday swing of things and such this year (bah humbug!). But, it's true. Christmas is on its way. We forgot to light the candle tonight. But, you know, that's just how these things go sometimes. Zac and I were both really tired and the kids were hyper and we were just happy to get the tree decorated and put them to bed. Oh well.

Anyway, just thought this year I'd share with you what we do each week for Advent. Just for fun. I love spreading out our Christmas celebrations over the whole month. Christmas is a season, not just a day, right?

So, may your holiday season be off to a merry start. (Like it or not, I do believe it's started . . . haha)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Relay Race!

Our local churches were putting on an 18 mile relay race that Zac wanted to run. He thought it'd be fun to get Abigail to run on a team with him, so he was trying to get a coed team together. We found another guy to run (our neighbor Jaxon) but had a really hard time finding another woman. So. Guess what? Yep, I ended up getting talked into it.

Then we ran into some issues because the race organizers decided we couldn't have a youth on our team. They either had all youth teams or all adult teams. But then they did more discussing or something and changed their minds again. So we ended up in the Open Category at the last minute.

Each of the legs were between 1 mile and 3.3 miles and we each ran 2 legs. I had the shortest sections, but one of them had a huge hill that about killed me. Especially since I haven't really done much running since the triathlon. The guys were speedy though and that helped our team do really well!! Abigail did great, too, but she was really sore from running the 3.7 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving so it was tough for her. But it was more fun than I expected it to be and we came in 2nd for the Open Group and 5th overall (out of 2o-something teams). Plus doughnuts at the finish. So yay for us!!:)

Anyway - here's the photo story for you: (Enjoy!)

Go Team 4!!:)
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