My mom is in AZ and needs a new home for her dog Kiki. They have moved to a location that is not ideal space for Kiki. She would make a really great Christmas gift! She is Greyhound/ Queensland Healer mix. She is 53 pounds. She is 9 years old. She has all her shots and will not need them again for 3 years. She is healthy and house trained to use a dog door (and fixed). Good with cats and dogs.
I will only reject Filliberto's employees and Amanda's mom. All other dog inquiries feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a new respite/ habilitation provider for Zane! It's her second week and it is as though she has known Zane his whole life. She is a mother of 3 and a natural at teaching creatively. They get along very well and have a lot of fun together. She is constantly teaching him new things that he is soaking up like a sponge. Watching them reminds me of the time I used to be able to spend with him when it was only us during the day. Oh how I wish I had 4 hours a day with each of my children to only play and teach them 1 on 1.
We are feeling so lucky to have her in our home helping Zane.
I have picked up some more reading materials and on-line research time related to causes and treatments for Autism. It's making me put to use all those hours I spent in the ASU library analyzing scholarly journals, digging change out of my bag for photocopies, using my yellow highlighers until they were empty, organizing note cards, sorting data in my head into different categories and making of it what I believe makes the most sense. I have this strong urge to write my own paper about my research.
It feels good to be thinking again and looking at both sides of an arguement. Genetic? Envirornmental causation? Vaccines? Antibiotics? Leaky gut? Biomedical approach? There is a lot to read and think about. It feels good to be on the other end of it - the end of acceptance, understanding, and moving on. Last year was a really overwhelming December that was wrapped up with a big red bow of depression and anxiety that isn't here this season! I am so happy to be well, putting red bows on presents for my kids instead. Strategizing a game plan for the Autism treatment in our life at a manageable pace.
Things my boys turn each other into when they play magic:
1) a poopy diaper
2) a beeeeeeeeeeeautiful princess
3) a poptart. with frosting.
You know how people have tumors removed and sometimes it will have teeth or hair it in? That's sort of how the clean laundry pile goes at our house. By the time I sit down to sort and fold the mass of cloth that has taken over half of my bedroom, I never know what treasures will surface. Today's findings:
1) one chopstick
2) one drumstick (for my drums, not food)
3) one blue flip flop that has been missing for at least a month
4) toy bullet train
5) the back door to Mr. Potato Head
6) a princess
7) a sock monkey I don't think I've seen for........about 4 months
Sylvia is home from church with me as she has a goopy nose. While she naps I could:
a) fold the mountain of laundy that's been building for over a week b) do the dishes that are overflowing c) make sugar cookies for the kids to decorate when they get home from church d) prepare a fabulous dinner! e) wrap Santa's presents f) organize the scattered toys g) none of the above.
Obviously I am choosing little g (Big G, R.S.V.P., I'm throwing at your window can you see me, hear me?). Name that tune.
* I also love her DIY wreath project. I am SO making those next year! Scan her archives for this bad boy.
* I love the simplicity of this holiday DIY decoration idea from You Are My Fave.
* Free printable holiday gift tags I love found here.
* My friend Tania's amazing list of holiday books to collect and brilliant tradition of giving each of her children a new one each year for their own collection.
* My friend Jen's blog always exlodes with inspiration. I love her snowless snowball fight using huge marshmallows. Totally borrowing that idea for FHE this month!
* I also love her gift party. Everyone brings the same gift for everyone else of their favorite thing under $6 each. So you leave the party with a big stash of your friends' favorites! If I did it this year I would have chosen Sprinkles cupcakes in the milk chocolate variety- 2 for everyone! Maybe this would be a fun January girls night party? You in?
I always pictured myself as the mom heavily involved in my children's school activities and a regular in the classroom assisting the teacher. In this vision I imagined my child sitting in an old fashioned desk and chair focused on an assigment as a light beamed down and I smiled lovingly and peacefully. Observing with a pleasant feeling and working in the corner of the room while the teacher leads the children in a lesson.
Reality: I don't go often because Zane's behavior is far worse when I am there and then he cries a lot when I have to leave. Which makes the teacher's job (and Zane's lack of control) 10 times more challenging than usual.
When I do attend it's usually for an activity or field trip where I can take him home with me afterwards. It's going a little better each time.
This week when I went for Read and Munch I stood eagerly in the empty class waiting for the children to arrive. I love that moment when he sees me at school for the first time that day. His million dollar smile stretching across his face. And then you never know which part of Zane you are going to get next.
There were not a lot of other parents, which sort of made me feel relieved. It usually feels as though all adult eyes are on us when there is a party and my son is the only one acting up over and over again. He often sticks out like a sore thumb in a lot of ways and it's always at school that I am reminded of this most fiercely. I am so used to Zane and the way he is, I don't realize what typical first graders are capable of until I observe at school. And then I see it immediately and it sits like a brick in my stomach and makes me want to run into the hallway and throw up. Ill at the reminder that he has to be different and things can't be common for him. And then I want to pull my hair out as I run the million dollar question through my mind no one else can answer or find but me (what am I supposed to do to help him?!).
It makes me sad for him to think of how other students flocked to me to tell me how his card was turned to red today and how the he makes this certain face when he gets in trouble with the teacher and how he 'always' does this and that. They act like I don't live with him. I KNOW HE DOES THESE THINGS! IT'S JUST WHO HE IS! WE ARE WORKING WITH HIM ON IT! And then I want to protect him from people and criticism and the notion that one day he will realize he is pretty different. He doesn't see it so much now, but I do. The gap between him and his peers in a school setting is huge. And it's not until I enter the class that I see it. A far cry from how I imagined it to be for him.
From across the hall I scanned the board under his teacher's name in the hallway. I quickly identified his letter to Santa and it made me smile. I love to see him able to participate in part of a big group of typical kids. It makes me hopeful one day he will just blend in. Sometimes he does. Just not easily at school. I can tell on this piece he tried very hard and took his time. He used capital letters and punctuation properly. He did well with controlling the size of his lower case letters. He pressed hard with his pencil and had trouble erasing, but I am glad to see he was correcting his work! I am so proud of him I want to gobble it up and keep that moment in my heart forever. I wish I could have watched him create this masterpiece in person.
Then I stepped back and look at the entire wall. The rest of the class- they must all be so advanced! Letters were like that from a typewriter! Well spaced and even on the line. Regular pencil pressure and long sentences. Odd how advanced they all were with their writing! Then the brick dropped. O crap. It's not them being ahead, it's him and his little gap. His difference. His sore spot- writing. I hoped when he looks at the board he sees it as I first did and feels proud at his measure of success for him and his own progress. Not measuring himself against others. Sometimes I have to remind myself of how much more healthy it is to put my blinders back on and remember he is on his own scale and to measure him from where he was before in a skill or behavior instead of comparing him to typical children.
I did good behavior stamps at the end of the day. Zane didn't get one, his card was turned to red. Everyone else got one. Zane has had about 1 stamp per week. It broke my heart to see everyone else's stamp charts filled up. He's clearly having a hard time and I need to be working more closely with the teacher to understand why and how to help him (and her) out.
Today they sold jingle bells at school. I sent Zane with money to buy one from his piggy bank. He was really excited. At the end of the day I heard about how Zane lost his money and was crying and very upset because he could not buy a jingle bell. Then a friend in his class gave him his own. WHAT a sweetheart! I am so glad that boy made such a good decision to be kind and giving to Zane. Even though things are different for Zane, sometimes I wonder if our Heavenly Father allows for these sorts of challenges in people (why can't kids be totally healthy?!) so those around them get to learn and try to be better people. Zane's little meltdown gave this boy the opportunity to be Christlike and everyone in the class got to see!
This wasn't the year for the perfect family photo. My kids just didn't have it in them to sit and look in one direction at the same time. Ever. So here are some fun shots Alicia took that I do love, but will not be the one in the card. She did a great job!
Several years ago I remember pulling into San Francisco via subway and soaking in the brand new ads for the debut of Gap's Skinny Jeans. Audrey Hepburn was all over the place and it looked good- the ads, the jeans, the idea. But not for me and my curves. So I sat back in my chair and watched the fashion trend explode around me. Just waiting patiently for it to die. Along with Ugg boots. And. It didn't. Neither one.
But! I tried the jeans on and they actually look good (in my not-so-humble-opinion). Specifically the Black Modern Skinny Pant from Loft. Sometimes their jeans are too long, but petite solves that issue right up.
Today we started phase one of our luxurious rendition of The Wal*Mart Gingerbread House. Nine dolla make you holla! And then read a Christmas story.
In other news, one of my very best friends I met in New York (Lindsey Johnson) has started her food blog back up again. It is called Cafe Johnsonia .
Blogging was so meant for Lindsey. She is a witty writer, so smart. An amazing cook/ baker/ ice cream maker. She is a foodie. Big time. She takes amazing photographs and all of these things are enjoyable to her! I am happy to see her getting back into the swing of her hobby again.
I often find myself chewing on the computer screen when viewing photos of her food. We've gone through four monitors now. It's going to be a problem.
Tonight we sang Christmas carols with a jingle bell by twinkle light.
Each day we are going to do something special related to the holiday.
I like how Jordan put them into an advent calendar (photo from her site).
Things we will do somewhere in the month: temple lights, Christmas movie, bring someone a meal, bake goodies for friends, make a gingerbread house, watch a church video about Christ, reinact The Christmas Story as a family, make sugar cookies, send letters to Santa, get and decorate a tree, visit Mike's grandparents, and give an anonymous giftcard to a needy family. Just to name a few.
Each year I find it a challenge to balance well the commercial and spiritual activities of Christmas. I will try to lean heavy on the Christ side of things and call it good.
It was 34 degrees when I dropped my son off for school this morning. Which is no big deal, I know so many other places have a REAL winter. But! Thanks to the trusty sprinklers I got to see icicles hanging from trees. I will take that over shoveling snow any day.
I asked a friend to take our family pictures to save money (free works best for me!). She did awesome! My kids during the photo shoot? Not all of them behaved so awesome. I might laugh about it tomorrow. But not today. I had huge expectations because 100% of the families I have ever photographed were more well behaved and had more family photo shoot options to choose from. Us? One shot. One photo and it's only going to work out because it has to. Not everyone is smiling. But everyone is looking. It's hard to not compare- but seriosly- I am the mom that takes good care of this family and I wanted ONE HOUR this whole year for the family to pull together and look at a camera and smile. They didn't even have to all do it for a whole hour- just half the time would have pleased me. But no. That was too much to expect. For some reason. Lame.
The most surprizing thing was the one who was the most challenging was not the one we would have expected. This child is NEVER grumpy. This child is almost NEVER crying. Yet this child totally killed our hope for a great family photo today. She acted like we were asking her to walk barefoot on broken glass in the pouring rain. Okay so it was raining- but whatever- rain in the desert is magical!
I don't know what her deal was. But you know, we love her anyway and we will still keep her. Mostly cos she's so stinking cute. Even when she is pouty cry baby. I love you Sylvia! Next year: please get your act together and be your usual sweet and cooperative self. Thanks!
ps. There are several nice pictures my friend took, but I am posting the outtakes to be dramatic- the goods will be on our Christmas card.
Last night a friend invited me to door bust the mall for the 50% off Gap deal at midnight. It's the only series of clothing that has made it well through all three of my children...OF COURSE I WANT TO JOIN YOU!
We had no idea what to expect. I gagged down a Diet Coke at about 11pm, we hit up some chocolate at a 7-11, my friend got checked out by a guy that wasn't a scumbag so that was awesome.
Then we headed to the mall. We saw a LOT of parking spaces filled. We passed a Best Buy where people were lined up with tents and chairs and blankets. Then we rounded the corner and saw what I can only describe as a Lollapalooza-sized crowd. It was insane. It was filled with teenagers. The air was so cold I could see snowflakes twinkling out of my mouth each time I exhaled. We parked and walked around to scope out the scene.
The line was insane and wrapped around like an S 4 zillion times and then shot over towards the movie theaters 10 states away. What a total disappointment. We then followed some non-teenaged patrons and went right into the mall without waiting another minute. I was so excited I did 7 cartwheels and a David Lee Roth toe-touch in the middle of the air. I wondered how long all those people would wait to get into a mall that had several other access points immediately available. They might have been waiting in line for the $10 gift card the first 2000 people, but there were a LOT more than that waiting. I counted. I am a speed counter. It's a hidden talent, not many people know I have this skill.
We hit The Gap right away and the boy section I needed was well stocked with about 2 other shoppers. By the time I got what I wanted (about 12:15) I turned to find my friend and the store began to fill with more people and the walls/ racks started closing in on me. Suffocation by cotton. It was then I made a mad dash to the little girl section. People, let me tell you something. Mothers in The Gap's little girl section on a 50% off sale are like 50 starving hunters going for the same 2 deer. They were ruthless. Savages. I thought I was in New York for a minute riding the 2/3 subway home during rush hour. Manicured hands were desperately grabbing at hangers, checking sizes, tossing things back and holding their stance so as to not let another shopper near their territory. I had to remind myself several times it was not the night to remember my manners, it was the night I would be fighting like a hunter to get my daughter her holiday outfit. I might have caused a few casualties along the way and I have no regrets. A few eyeballs gouged by hangers- but that was their own fault for not ducking when I shoved by with my armload of successfully collected clothing.
I was shocked, but then impressed by the mothers there with little babies. One was nursing while she waited in line. Oh the line, that's right! How could I forget! The shopping took 20 minutes and the standing in line to pay took about 2 hours. But oh it was worth it. I fully plan on doing it again next year. There's one thing I love more than a stocked pantry and that is my kids' dresser drawers stocked for winter.
It was so confusing to leave the mall at 3am and see a fully functioning food court with loads of people eating as if it was the middle of the afternoon. I would have sat down and had some pizza myself just because everyone else made it look so fun and easy/ normal, but my partner in midnight crime wasn't up for it. So we headed home and I revealed Mike's hidden talent of being magic with his time management predictability skills. It was fun to discover in our conversations how many things are magical at 3am.
What a treat it was to visit (alone!) my sister and her family in Washington over the weekend. Check out the cute photos I took! Oh, but try to pretend that my awesomely placed bobbypin isn't sticking out in the middle of my head here. How did I think that looked okay? random. Lindsey
We got snow! We ate delicious crab legs. We laughed. Some played the trumpet.
We made a gingerbread house (remember the snow?). Someone played an amazing electric guitar. I checked out some bagpipes. It was probably my favorite visit out to see them ever. It was nice to shower my nephews and niece with as much attention as I possibly could while my own kiddos were home with their dad. I enjoyed taking their family photos and watching them have fun together. Then it got really cold and I was really missing that Arizona weather until my toes thawed in the car.
This is Carter telling us he's ready to wrap up the photo session.
I dusted off my camera and did some holiday family shots for some friends. It was renewing to say the least. Sometimes I forget how good it feels to splurge in the creative hobby experience. Not enough of that happening in my life lately. I have two more families I have offered to do this season and that's about all I can handle this year before Christmas.
When we lived in New York I was able to have a blast gaining experience shooting friends to build a portfolio I felt good about and had some paid clients. I think it's time to polish it up and figure out how to sharpen my skills and keep at it.
I guess I am wrapping up a long year that left me with little opportunity to indulge in the extras life has to offer by way of free time. My kids are older now, my health is better, my mind is making room for more creative outlet. I'm excited to realize I have more to give besides the childcare/ janitorial services of being a mom and more room to take in some creative juices.
So. You will be seeing a sprinkling of my camera play time in the coming weeks as I edit and toy with shots I love. In the meantime I am off to Washington alone to spend some time with my only sister and her darling children (plus her fireman boyfriend). I brought a special mini skirt to wear while I practice sliding down the fire pole for my family Christmas card (think Bridget Jones and giggle- fair warning R rated clip. The sound of her legs sliding and squeaking down the pole get me every time!).
It's interesting how the lives others lead (be it chosen or not) can cause so much introspection on what I focus on. On what is a big deal. And what I worry about, speak of, and spend my free time doing.
Today I read something amazingly happy and something amazingly sad to me. I will post them in the order I read them.
I read on my friend Gabby's blog today about a man who quit his job after the Haiti earthquake and knew he needed to help. He found a group of orphaned children living in a field without any adult support system shortly after his arrival (he just up and moved there to help!). He started what has become a non-profit org (Hearts of Haiti). As a young father himself, Matt Gunn decided to help feed, clothe and educate these children. He's been at it for the last 8 months. What an amazing decision and how truly inspiring.
And then I read on my friend's blog about her daugher, Cami, fighting Leukemia. She is such a sweet little girl! It makes no sense to me at all why she has to have this experience. It hurts my stomach to read about all her tiny little body has to endure. Today is the start of a really hard round of chemo.