Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kira J

Here's a happy Kira with a chocolate fudge bar.  She knows to only eat them in the kitchen.

The problem is that she can't finish a whole bar in one sitting.

So she puts the half-eaten ones in the freezer for later.

The problem with that is she doesn't retrieve the half-eaten ones to finish; she fetches a new one.

And Blakey's just excited to have any kind of food.  The rest of the kids won't eat my lentils, but Blakey likes them.  They're hecka cheap, nutritious, satisfying, and keep well in the fridge.

Monday, June 17, 2013

County Fair and Tractor Pulling

On Saturday we went to the County Fair.  Danny was stoked about the tractor pull, Heidi was less than stoked.  We just went at night because we had a meet and work in the morning.  We had some time to walk around so we looked at, pet and fed all the animals.  That was my favorite part. Kira loved the animals.  Scott and Tyler liked them.  Blake was amused by them.  I was fascinated in asking questions about Dairy Farming in California.  The tractor pull was about what I expected. It started at 7 which was late and a little slow paced for the little ones attention.  Luckily the grandstand had a huge area under the bleachers where Tyler, Kira and Blake could run around and entertain themselves for 1.5 hours.  Danny and Scott seemed to be enjoying the show.  It is listening to engines, which Danny loves so that made me happy.  Demolition Derbys are more fun for me.  Maybe we'll do a rodeo next for a redneck outing.  I decided to take the younger kids to the car and on the way back we stopped in at the train exhibit and kids exhibits which were really cool.  It was welding, wood, electrical, etc projects. What a great thing to do with kids....maybe someday we'll participate.  4-h is such a great thing.  I raised guide dogs growing up and it teaches a lot about animals, responsibility and the community.  So that was our night at the fair.  I was so tired at the end of the day my legs hurt.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blake and Scott

These two boys remind me so much of each other.  not only in how they look but also in how they act. They are both so sweet and sensitive.  Like tinkering with dad and pretty coordinated.  The one drastic difference is Blake is very independent but I think that has to do with being the 4th child instead of the 1st.  Fun to see since my middle two kids are not like Scott at all in looks or in personality.

Monday, June 10, 2013

RedSox Party

On Saturday, Scott had his end-of-the-season pool party at the house of one of his teammates.  We had burgers, chips, and watermelon.  It was also a little over 100 degrees and the kids stayed in the pool for over three hours.  Scott enjoyed getting his trophy.  Francisco, Mark, and Joe were good coaches--very patient with the kids.

Took these with the underwater didge.  I opened up the case and it smelled like the beach.   Scott looks pretty buff in this photo.

I was excited about this picture.   I could never tuck like this.  Hopefully he never develops hip dysplasia.

Good times.

Swim Season

Scott is a big 7-8's this year.  He is so lucky to have some great friends.  Swim meets brings back great memories of playing with friends, eating candy and racing for 30 seconds.  The best part for me is seeing Scott and Tyler play with friends.  Instead of playing cards and hanging out in tents, the boys play football and wall ball.  Even though Tyler doesn't want to compete, he loves playing.  Such a blessing for him and our family.  Here are a couple of Scott's races from the meet this weekend.  He is having fun and doing well.  He has been so close to county.  He made it at the end of the year last year so it is fun that he is already almost there in his down year.  Very proud of him.  I just want him to learn to swim correctly and have fun but that is the coach in me.  Every once in a while he'll ask me for help, which is such a change.  Last year he didn't want any help from anyone and this year he actually is willing to slow down a bit and learn how to do swim correctly. Yeah for maturing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tyler Kindergarten

Before kindergarten started Tyler was still upset at preschool and would much rather be with mom.  He would often cry and was so shy, scared and just not that happy.  We debated starting him in kindergarten since he was very young and we didn’t feel he was mature, but quite frankly, I dreamed of having both boys at the same school, close to home and Tyler in school 5 days a week for 4 hours.  Ultimately, we thought of the pros and cons and prayed about it and strangely felt good about trying kindergarten. 

Before school, his teacher met with me about his heart and I told her that we were simply trying this out and if he was a distraction for her, the class or not happy, we would do something else.  I told her how he can be a challenge, had been delayed  in and out of therapies and hospitals most of his life. 

So we started and the first day went surprisingly great.  However, day 2 I got a message from his teacher.  My heart sank.  He had a 45 minute tantrum. Tyler is much more verbal and aware of his needs and emotions which is so much easier in some ways.  He came home and told me all about it and told me he was embarrassed more than anything and just wanted to be left alone instead of held.  His teacher was awesome.  Really aware of each kids personality and needs and so positive yet firm with her expectations.  He couldn’t have been in better hands.

The rest of the week went well except for a potty accident which wasn’t entirely his fault.  He was on a lot of Lasix which I mentioned and can’t hold his pee like other kids but the bathroom was locked and he didn’t know to ask to go to another bathroom.  The teacher felt so bad, but it was not that big of deal and a good learning lesson.  We just switched his med schedule.  One thing about Tyler is he isn’t easily embarrassed and he is fine the next moment.  He had a poop accident in week 2.  I felt so bad for him and couldn't figure out why he was having bathroom accidents.  He said he was nervous with something he was doing and felt bad asking to go.  Other than his two accidents, his teacher said he was doing great emotionally and academically and didn't seemed worried about his accidents.  I think I was more worried than anyone praying he would go to the bathroom before school.  

By week 3, Tyler loved learning in school and going to school to be with his friends.  He was always happy to be at school. He loved to show us what he was learning and was always so proud of his work.  He was doing surprisingly well academically.  He was doing well socially.  Friends liked him and he was a very confident little man. The year really only got better from there.  He had no more accidents.  Didn't seem to be nervous while learning or trying new things.  
He couldn’t have had a better year, better teacher or better experience. He matured so much.  He is a totally different kid academically and more important socially than he was at the beginning of the year.  It truly was amazing to see.  I know a lot of it has to do with his health.  He had his fenestration closed before kindergarten started which bumped his saturations up from the 70’s to 90’s,  For the first time in his life he was feeling good and able to do more physically than he had ever before done.  I know that had a drastic effect on his personality and overall maturity.  You never really know how sick someone is until you see them healthy.  His fontan procedure is truly a miracle!

ACADEMICS: Tyler loved learning in kindergarten. Throughout the year, he really got better at being comfortable learning new things.  In the beginning of the year he felt bad and shut down when he was learning but matured with the learning process.  He learned all of his site words.  Learning seemed to be easier for him than Scott which was surprising.  He enjoyed it more than Scott.  Reading and Math were easy for him.  His writing was easy for him and I just kept thinking, "who is this kid?"  He often got math awards and his teacher always talked about how easy math was for him and he understood concepts very easily. 

SOCIAL.  Tyler got along well with kids but pushes the limits.  He would push the limits with friends and rules.  I think some of that is personality and some is being young.  Not totally knowing how to interact.  Regardless, he always had friends to play with and was never alone.  He is extremely confident which helps him make friends.  

KINESTHETIC.  Tyler is surprisingly athletic but just doesn't have the stamina to do organized sports.  He knows how to swim really well, he is really good at hitting a baseball, etc. but doesn't like to do it on a team because he can't control what his limit is. So that has worked out great.  He would much rather play at the pool with friends and be with his friends and not be pushed to compete or excercise beyond his capability.  

LINGUISTIC.  Tyler is a very good communicator.  Everything he says makes sense and he uses good grammar.

SPACIAL.  Tyler likes to play with legos and build but not for long periods of time.  He is much more detail oriented than Scott but has a hard time seeing things spatially sometimes.  

MUSIC. Haven't really started.  We need to.  That is the second kid or 4 issue.  We just need to make it more of a priority.  I think we will start this summer.  He seems to enjoy it when we make time, but haven't commited to actually starting anything yet.

INTERPERSONAL.  Tyler is a good friend.  He loves being with friends.  Sometimes he just doesn't know how to interact or get friends to play with him if they are doing something else.  He doesn't get where the limit is sometimes.  He will get frustrated at a friend instead of just working it out.  Some of it has to do with being a very emotionally charged kid.  But he is well liked and has friends.  Sometimes he chooses to be friends with kids that test limits.  While he usually makes good decisions the kids he graviates towards are sometimes the kids that like to push the limits. 

INTRAPERSONAL.  Tyler is very aware of his feelings and emotions and very good at verbalizing his emotions.  He doesn't keep anything in which is very easy to know what is going on and what is bothering him.  He has a quick temper but doesn't hold onto things.  He is a very emotional kid.  I think a lot of it has to do with how tired he is.  We can tell when he is doing well physically and when his heart is tired.  It really makes such a difference in his personality.  

Existential.  Tyler's heart condition I think has always taught him that there is a greater plan and purpose of this life than just this life.  His relationship with God and Christ is very real.  He knows that there is life after this life.  He doesn't worry about death and he doesn't worry about his health.  It is such a beautiful blessing and he is an example to all of us!

Ultimately, Tyler is a totally different kid than he was at the beginning of the year.  He can take care of himself.  He can go and initiate friendships and has friends that he takes care of and that take care of him.  He likes playing sports.  He is much more aware of his feelings and emotions.  He has done so well academically and is looking forward to learning in first grade.  We are so blessed.  He has done so well and we are so proud of him!  One of the greatest miracles of all was that he didn't miss one day of school.  For a kid with his condition that is an absolute miracle to show how healthy he was this year. People who see him this year say how healthy and strong he looks.  His body is so much stronger and more developed, not to mention pink instead of blue. He had a great year.  We are so blessed!

Scott 1st Grade

Here are pictures from the begging of 1st grade and the end of first grade.  Scott looks the same to me with the exception of his teeth.  In so many ways he is the same and different. As much as I love seeing Scott grow up and am SOOO proud, beyond words really, of who he is and what he strives to be, a part of me is said to realize this time goes so fast.   Last year Scott had little interest in learning and this year he has taken off with a love for learning (at least compared to last year).  Intelligences: 

Reading: He wasn't a very good reader at the beginning of the year and got frustrated.  This was my main focus for the year.  The first trimester we really focused on this  A LOT: 30 minutes of me reading and 30 minutes of him reading.   It was a big commitment, but I wanted him to learn to read. I came home with about 30 books from the library every other week and he began to love reading and became a great reader. I was so proud of the hard work and commitment he made and it really was such a blessing!  He grew to love reading and it opened up his world.  He loved the accelerated reader program.  You read books and take tests on the class computer on them.  Longer books are worth more points and every Friday he got dog tags which he LOVED!  He went from a kindergarten reading level .6 a 3rd-4th grade reading level on his benchmark tests.  He was the top AR reader out of his whole grade which he worked so hard at and was so proud of.  So grateful he loves reading and grateful we are reading more in our home.  I have noticed a huge change in my little kids picking up books and reading.  

Math: Math comes very easy for Scott. They would pass off levels of addition and subtraction and he just knew the answers.  His math facts are better than mine.  I am using my fingers to add 9 or 14 or whatever and he just knows it.  A blessing, but at the same time he got bored and they ran out of levels.  His teacher told me to work on multiplication and division.  This trimester has been busy with my mom's health, but that is a goal for the summer.  Grateful math is easy for him and he enjoys it. 

Writing: He has improved a lot in writing this year.  Probably 75% of his words are spelled correctly.  His reading is def. better than his writing skills. He doesn't care much about how his penmanship looks except if he is told to be neater.   The last trimester he had a much easier time imagining a story or writing in his journal, but finds it hard to use the creative side of his brain in writing.

Linguistic: Scott is a much clearer speaker than before.  His speech is much clearer than last year when he had a hard time saying Scott.  His vocabulary is average.  He is starting to ask what larger words mean and remembers the meaning, but generally doesn't speak with such a vocabulary.  

Spacial: He is a boy.  Does that answer this question.  The kid loves building legos and playing with magna tiles.  His lego creations are way more complex than anything I can make. Boys brains are usually just formed differently than girls.  He can visualize 3 dimension and build it.  Grateful for legos.  He is way more creative with that than drawing.

Art:  I was the art docent for Scott this year and LOVED it!  They have a program that a parent volunteer gets to make up art lessons to teach.  They have a lot of supplies and I got ideas off of  pinterest or the hundreds of art teacher blogs.  I am the least artistic person, but felt like it really stretched me and helped me get better at something.  I love teaching so that was fun.  Scott is much more willing to be creative.  He is a very black/white learner and it used to be hard when things weren't just right.  That was a lot easier for him this year and I loved seeing him be happy and explore with the different ways to do things and different ways his art turned out.  He is much more forgiving of himself and flexible, which makes life more enjoyable and happy for him.  

Kinesthetic:  Scott loves sports and being active.  He could play outside all day.  He did soccer, baseball and swimming this year and loved them all.  He loves being with his friends and playing.  This year he improved so much on learning how to play the game instead of just playing it.  As a kindergarten, soccer was just running after the ball, baseball was trying to catch the ball and swimming was moving arms and legs.  This year he could catch the ball and knew where to throw it and what rules to follow.  It was so fun to see such improvements.  Last year Scott made County at the end of the year as a 6 year old and this year as a 7 year old he almost made it in three strokes at the beginning of the year.  He is more willing to learn and take feedback compared to last year taking it as a personal attack.  He asks for help and is much more coachable.  He is also a lot more competitive this year.  All of a sudden something clicked that he wanted to improve and be better. He was pretty easy going last year and didn't have much drive, but now he wants to know how he did, what his times are, if he improved.  I find myself telling him all the time to just have fun and not worry about the end result.  He is a good teammate.  He doesn't get upset if he wins or not and is always happy for his teammates.  The best part of sports for him is playing with his friends.  He has so many great friends on all of his teams.  He was blessed with amazing coaches in all his sports.  We are so lucky!  They have always been so supportive and encouraging. 

Existential: We have been blessed with a lot of spiritual experiences in our life.  With Tyler being so sick and having a serious and life threatening heart condition, with Carl being born still and with my mom struggling with life-threatening cancer.  As hard as these trials are, they teach children the meaning of life, death and plan of salvation in a very real and personal way.  While none of us wish for these trials, they have instilled a very real and deep faith in Scott.  Death has and will always be a part of his life.  I am grateful that we have answers to where we go after we die, that we have a living prophet and apostles who teach us about God and we get to attend church each week to learn about the Savior.  Probably the greatest thing to see is Scott's testimony and realization that Christ lives and loves him.  He knows that and that brings me such peace as his mother.  He asks a lot of questions about Carl.  He asks a lot of questions about death and is very curious.  But as far as his faith goes of believing, he just believes.  He is a faithful person.

Inter-personal: In the beginning of the year it seemed like many of his good friends were not in his class.  Worried me more than him and of course ended up being a blessing to gain so many more wonderful friends and meet incredible families.  Probably the greatest thing about Scott is that he is a loyal, good, compassionate friend.  He is very well liked and he likes everyone.  Last year and probably half of this year he would play with 1 friend.  Last year his best friend was Carlo and this year his best friend was Adrian.  As long as he had his best friend, he was set.  That isn't a bad thing.  Danny is still that way, and I needed to learn that doesn't mean you are being exclusive.  It is just who he was.  By the end of the year, he was much more comfortable and happy in larger groups.  Everyday when I asked what his favorite thing was it usually consisted of recess.  He loves playing basketball, kick ball, tetherball or anything with a ball and friends.  So many moms would tell me what a good friend Scott was to their son.  Scott is kind to friends.  He likes hanging with the boys and seems oblivious to the girls even though they all seem to tell me about Scott.  What a blessing!  Hoping that remains that way until after his mission. Grateful he is a happy, confident kid.  He will stand up for what is right and help others recognize what is right.  

One day Tyler was with a group of boys and one who said a bad word.  The next day Scott went to the boys and told them that they couldn't say bad words and if someone said a bad word, they were to go to the recess lady and figure it out. Part of me thought, "who have I created," but a larger part of me was proud of him for being confident and obedient.  We had a little talk about being understanding and kind.  He said he was kind.  Wonder what they thought.  

Another time a boy in his class brought in a lighter and Scott turned him in saying it was very dangerous, against school rules and could have burnt down the entire school.  I asked him if he was upset and he said he told the teacher quietly and they played the next day and were friends.

Another day two kids were making fun of a girl for not reading something correctly.  He came home very upset that they weren't being kind.  I asked what he did about it and he said nothing but she didn't know.  I said maybe next time you can tell them that she was trying her best and we are all make mistakes.

Intra-personal: Scott is innately obedient and does his best.  He is starting to verbalize what upsets him instead of just holding it all in which I am very proud of him for even though it makes the house a little louder. Last year he would never say, "I am so angry because...." and this year he is able to say that and recognize his emotions.  His emotions are usually pretty even keel with the occasional explosion.  Usually has to do with being tired or hungry.  When he gets angry it usually ends up being angry at himself.  He'll lock himself in his room and get upset at himself instead of just calmly working it out or recognizing none of us are perfect or it wasn't even his fault but someone elses.  He is such a mix of me and Danny.  Danny is the internalizer, I explode and 5 seconds later am all better.  Scott will do a little of each.  

Sibling: Scott is the perfect big brother.  He likes to be in charge and is obedient to be in charge.  Last year he wouldn't get as frustrated at his siblings as he does this year.  I think that is because I get more frustrated this year that last year and yell more this year than I did last year. Need to work on that so he doesn't gain that bad trait from me.  He likes to take care of his siblings and is always aware of their needs.  He and Tyler like to play together.  Scott is the most serious kid we have.  He always wants to be doing something and playing with friends.  Thank goodness for the gym that will give him a couple of hours in the summer to be with friends.  

Music: Sadly Scott inherited my musical ability.  He can't hold a note at all but can remember songs and rhthyms better than me.  Maybe it is because he has to listen to me sing.  He is much better at playing by ear.  I think it might be out of laziness of learning the notes.  Everyday is a struggle to play the piano, but we are also not the most consistent.  Every once in a while he will sit down and enjoy playing but for the most part he wants to be playing for doing something else.  I think a lot of it has to do with finding a consistent routine or incentive program.  Goal for the summer!  Despite our inconsistency, he is actually a pretty good little player for the effort we put into it.   If he actually spent the time at the piano working at it instead of complaining he would be much happier and better.  He is a confident player or singer.  If he is asked to do something in front of a group he doesn't mind and wants to do it well.  

Naturalistic: Loves being outside.  I don't think cares much about nature.  We planted some strawberries and saw butterflies grow, but he usually gets bored with things in short periods of time.  He feels bad and compassionate for plants that aren't doing well or animals that might be suffering.  It truly makes him sad but doesn't go out of his way to really nurture and care for nature.  

Favorite Table Partner: Bob 

Time he was happiest: getting his 100 point AR.  

Favorite Subject: Math and art with mom

Best friend: Adrian Bennett, Natalie and Ashley (neighbors)

Share Items: RC cars, RC plane, electric train, butterflies, fish, expandable ball

Teacher: Mrs. Shirley, "Learning More in Room 44"  She has been teaching for 30 years or so and is so good at what she does.  She is very incentive oriented which was such a motivator for Scott.  She runs a pretty tight ship, which is easy for Scott and has a lot of control of her classroom.  She was a great math and reading teacher.  Scott really thrived with her teaching style.

The time he was most upset: He came home upset one day out of the entire year because a boy wasn't following the rules in basketball.  Scott is just like his dad in being honest.  He is a rule follower.  It is hard for him when someone doesn't follow the rules but I think grew from that experience.  It is such a hard thing to teach a kid to continue to be honest but not allow someones personality or decisions get you frustrated.  I told him how I was probably like the overly competitive kid and that was something I needed to work on as kid and I was grateful for good friends to help me and be understanding of my shortcomings.  That seemed to help.   

Favorite Lunch: hot lunch which was always a treat.  Usually had pb&j sandwiches, free fruit of the day, pretzels or snack and water.

FAvorite Movie: Harry Potter

Favorite Book: Seekers about bears on a journey to save the wild.  We have read 4 out of 6 of the books which are all about 2-300 pages.  Likes non-fiction and silly books like captain underpants.  

Awards: Top AR reader.  2 Trimester Reading Awards.  2 Math Awards.  Perfect Attendance.

Sports Teams: Red Sox Jr. Pinto.  Usually played shortstop, 3rd base or outfield.  Was the 4th hitter.  He was the best hitter almost always getting on base and often getting doubles.  He improved a lot on catching the ball, but was not as confident a catcher or thrower.  Tigers Soccer with Coach Tony, Derek and Danny.  He played forward or defender.  Became much more aggresive and always stayed in his position which was good and what he was asked to do but hard not fully understanding to be flexible at times.  Swimming: Aquaknights. Loves playing with friends.  Much more coachable.  Much more competitive and goal driven. Became legal in breaststroke.  Did the fall clinic and spring clinic with me when he wanted to.  Coach Aimee, Kendra and Cindi are his AK coaches.  Wanted to do Basketball, but I didn't sign him up in time.  Maybe this year.  Has fun!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Mom

It's been 2.5 weeks since my mom, dad, sister and I walked into my mom's oncologist office to be told that my mom's cancer was in the final stages and she most likely had a couple of weeks to live.
We were told that we explored all forms of treatment and sadly none had battled the cancer like hoped. To continue treatment would most likely not help, but instead hinder the time she had left. Her doctor than said something that I will never forget and often ponder.  He said,

"The two greatest events in ones life is their birth and their death".

What a simple yet beautiful statement.

Welcoming a baby into the world is full of hopes and dreams. It is the beginning of what we will do with the beautiful gift of life.

As a child my mom was surrounded by a loving and devoted family.  She spent her childhood riding horses, becoming one of the best equestrian riders in the nation. I strongly feel our childhood activities aren't about the end result, but instead about the lessons learned. She learned dedication, the importance of hard work, team work, defeat, managing her time and priorities.  The greatest lesson her family taught her was the importance of family and importance of love.

Her number one priority as a result became her family.  Her family growing up, her marriage to my dad, the two daughters she put all of her time and energy into raising, her grandchildren and all of her friends who came into her life who she considered and treated as family.

She filled her days with service. While Heather and I were young her service surrounded our activities. She was either in charge of what we were doing or worked on some committee to make sure everything went smoothly and everyone was happy.  She was so talented as organizing events and including everyone in the process.

As we grew up, she worked and had a great impact at Civic Arts and in the City. She worked so hard and loved what she did.  She loved seeing the children and families who came to take classes. organize parties or go to preschool.

The past couple of weeks have been filled with memories of lives she touched. Her home has been filled with family and friends, supplied with food, surrounded by love, phone calls and service. Her Jersey family hopped on a plane as soon as they could, even with a wedding the upcoming weekend, to be with my mom.  It shows how important and loved she really is.  It meant so much to her!

Her days have been filled with reading everyones memories and recognizing the incredible impact and legacy of her life. It truly has meant so much to her.  Each and every word has touched her heart and left her with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes.  They have filled her.  The words have lifted her spirits and let her know how incredible she is.

In many ways the end of your life is the most special because it is a beautiful picture of the life you led, people you impacted and love you shared.

So while we are sad beyond words to say good-bye, that sadness is surrounded with peace and joy as we celebrate the incredible person my mom is and her precious gift of life that she so fully and beautifully led. She couldn't have done more with her life, loved more, been more compassionate or kind.

For so long my mom was afraid of death and having to say good-bye to loved ones in this life. While it will never be easy, there has been a wonderful spirit and peace that has surrounded her in the past couple of weeks.  A knowledge that she led an incredible life and a knowledge that death is not the end. It is merely passing from this life to the next. What a beautiful gift and comfort that has been. I know she has so many loved ones that are so anxious to be with her again. What comfort that brings!  What comfort it brings to know that her presence will be close by.  What comfort it brings to know that one day I get to look forward to a beautiful reunion with her.

Brigham Young wrote, "We have more friends behind the veil than on this side, and they will greet us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life; and then we shall go on from step to step, from one intelligence and power to another, our happiness becoming more and more exquisite and sensible as we proceed in the words and powers of life”

I know those words are true!  I know that families are forever and that our spirits continue to live and will one day be reunited with our bodies.  I am forever grateful for that knowledge and for our Savior who made that possible.