Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


I tried for 12 days but didn't quite succeed. Somehow I'm ok with that. We've had a wonderful day so far - the big hits were cars (both toys and the movie), a tent, and a giant trunk of dress-up clothing. We're still in pajamas and the kids are hopped up on sugar so it should be a fun afternoon. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

To Market, To Market

Early in November we had another preschool field trip, this time to Payson Market, a local grocery store. The store lets schools take tours and the kids got to go "behind the scenes" in the bakery, service deli, and meat department. Along the way they picked up some souvenirs - cookies, apples, and stickers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog
Halloween! (finally)


We don't really get into Halloween around here, but we had an enjoyable year, nonetheless. Zoe had a Snow White costume that my cousin sent us and Owen was just barely big enough to pull off Zoe's old skunk costume. We had a ward potluck/ trunk-r-treat in the back yard then I took Zoe out for trick-or-treating. She loved it despite the cold. She has been obsessed with Snow White ever since. I let her wear some lip gloss and body glitter and now she insists on wearing some every day. She is turning into quite the little princess.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

Speaking of Thanksgiving...

We had a nice quiet one at home. I kept the menu the same as the last two years and a friend from back home came up for the weekend. We flipped through our old yearbooks, had a 2-day Freaks and Geeks marathon, stayed up all night to hit Wal-mart's door busters, spent an entire day at Ikea - seriously, we ate breakfast and lunch there- and topped it all off by going out to see A Christmas Carol. Seriously lots of fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

One on One Time with The Pioneer Woman

At the beginning of November (yes, I will get around to Halloween eventually), the Pioneer Woman made a stop in Salt Lake on her book tour. I made a last-minute decision to head out to it. I ended up taking the kids and was a little sorry I did - there were so many people there and we had to wait FOREVER. I really got lucky and snagged one of the bookstore's last copies and an angel in disguise of a random woman gave me her ticket for the signing line. Everyone waiting was so nice and the kids did pretty well, considering we were there for about 5 hours. I finally made it to the table, met Ree, had my picture snapped with her, praised her Thanksgiving recipes (I use them every year) and we were on our way. Whew!


If you love The Pioneer Woman Cooks, definitely pick up a copy of her cookbook. We've tried quite a few recipes out of the book and love them. Especially the pizza crust. I've made 2 double batches in the last 6 weeks - it is simply amazing! Thanks Ree!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

I Posted On My Blog

NOTHING

I asked someone to fill in for me but someone didn't. Oh well.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

The Cure for a 5-Hour Car Ride
AKA Prelude to a Concert

Shortly after arriving home from New Mexico, we packed up yet again and set off for a U2 concert in Vegas. The pictures and video from that will have to wait until tomorrow as I'm just about to head out the door for the entire day, so instead I leave you with two pictures and a thought:


There is no toy in the world that can surpass the free stickers from In-N-Out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

Preschool at the Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday I mentioned the co-op preschool Zoe is in. We have 7 kids, all 3 years old, and each mom takes a week to teach. Back in October we took a field trip out to the Big Red Barn in Santaquin and the kids got to go to the Pumpkin Patch. It was Zoe's second visit and she had a blast.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the Third Day of Christmas

I Posted on My Blog

My 3-Year-Old in Preschool

This is slightly related to yesterday's post, but in a fun way and with pictures. Zoe had her first day of preschool back at the beginning of September. Since I wasn't sure if she would be staying in preschool and wasn't ready to share the whole story I waited on posting the pictures.

And then I waited and waited and waited some more.

Today is the day I finally get to share her first day in preschool! Zoe loves going. She goes 4 days a week - 2 to the district and 2 to our neighborhood co-op preschool with some other kids and moms from the neighborhood. So far we've had a really good experience with the teachers and the other kids are way cute too.

P.S. Thanks for all the support and love you guys have been sending us!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the Second Day of Christmas

I Posted on my Blog

Our Family's "Deep Dark Secret"
aka The Longest Jumble of Thoughts and Feelings I'll Ever Subject the World to Reading

A while ago I mentioned there were some things going on around here that I wasn't prepared to share on the blog. Today I am. Or at least I'm tired of not sharing. So here it goes:

It's not a secret that Zoe is an odd kid. We love her and have so much fun with her, but she is definitely odd. Last winter the oddness seemed to be turning in to something else. She was having a tough time interacting with people and she just didn't seem to be progressing past her 2-year-old skills. In the spring, we started spending more time outside and around other kids her age, which only made some of her oddities seem all the more peculiar.

James and I would talk about it a lot. We didn't know how much of her behavior was her personality, how much she would grow out of with age, or if there was something wrong. We kept tiptoeing around the idea of autism, but always threw it out because Zoe talks and, as we thought back then, kids with autism don't talk, right?

Then sometime in April or May I came across a story on Good Morning America, or The Today Show, or one of those programs - following the life of a boy diagnosed with Autism. And he seemed totally normal! My perceptions of Autism were completely shattered and I started cataloging all of Zoe's suspicious behavior. I did a little more on-line research, talked with James and then made the hardest decision I have ever made - I called an early intervention program. It's called Kids Who Count and it's located in the little town of Salem (just a few minutes from here). I described Zoe's behavior and set up a time for some people to come over and evaluate her.

I say it was a hard decision because half of me was hoping that they would say "Oh, she's fine, don't worry" and we could go on with our lives. The other half of me wished they would say "Yep, definitely something wrong. Here's what we're going to do..." Neither half won. What I got was testing, testing, and more testing, without any definitive answers.

After a few weeks of different people coming in and out of the house and meeting Zoe, she was accepted into the program and we started going to a special playgroup twice a week. In a very short time it made a huge difference. We were able to stay with KWC through the summer (they only facilitate kids until they are 3) and then we were handed over to the district. The people at KWC were wonderful, but not very hopeful that Zoe would be able to attend the school district's preschool because she is so high-functioning.

Commence more testing! The people who tested her for preschool didn't quite know what to do with her, so at the end of August she was enrolled in school for a "30-day trial." That 30 days stretched into 3 months. Finally, two weeks ago, Zoe was fully accepted into preschool. She was scoring too high on the cognitive tests to qualify, but anyone who spent more than 5 minutes with her realized that there was something off about her mannerisms, so they didn't want to dismiss her based on the initial test results. After the second month, the teachers called in the district's autism team and based on their observations, she qualifies for preschool.

It's not an official diagnosis (that's the next step) but it's the most concrete answer we've had in the last 7 months. Now the teachers can more adequately meet her needs and I feel less like I'm treading water. Zoe has made so much progress since this whole process has started, though we still have our hard days and weeks. With our winter-induced seclusion I feel her slipping back into her old behavior patterns. She doesn't like to be around people and she gets overwhelmed easily.

So that's the situation. My initial feelings were of utter disappointment. I felt like I was in mourning - for the childhood I had imagined for Zoe, for the relationship with her I had always craved, for the impact this would have on our lives. At the same time I felt relief - that I could finally label what was going on in my sweet girl's life, that it wasn't some terrible thing I'd done, that there were resources to help us.

Now we walk a fine line - the line between pushing Zoe to grow and sheltering her from getting hurt. She's a mostly normal kid, but sometimes she needs help. But then too much help just exacerbates some of her behaviors. Though I understand there is a line, it's a hard balance to find. And then I have to send my precious child into the world (she'll be in primary next year!) and hope that other people will be sensitive to her needs.

Our main concerns for her are all social - she has difficulty responding to questions, whether open-ended or yes/no, she doesn't pick up on social cues (waving hello/goodbye without prompting), she has NEVER asked me a question, she does not sympathize with others, and she doesn't initiate interaction with anyone.

The one thing I would ask of all of our friends and family is to be patient with her and us. Please don't be offended that Zoe doesn't want to interact with you (or screams if you try and interact with her). She does the same thing to us and we are with her every day. She's a wonderful and sweet little girl who just needs a little understanding and, above all, her own space. So as she learns to adjust and adapt, we all get to learn to accept her for who she is.

Now that that's out of the way, I can get on with the more fun (and picture-laden) updates!

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas

I Posted on my Blog

"Hi Everybody!"

Yes, I realize it's been nearly 2 months since my last post. Some of you will remember that 2 years ago I posted everyday for 12 days before Christmas. It was fun/chaotic/stressful/awesome. This year I'm challenging myself to do it again. It won't be nearly as witty, will not have a clever rhyme scheme, and I'm not even attempting to match the number of the day to anything in my life. (See here, and here and here and here and here and, well you get the point). Just good old daily posting until Christmas. Mostly I'll just be catching up around here and getting some of our latest pictures up. As always, I reserve the right to flake on this idea at any time. Though I'll really try not to.

For today I'll just give you the briefest of updates: we're doing well. We've had a bunch of snow lately and I hate being stuck in the house as much as we have been. Zoe is excited for Christmas and Owen is starting to talk a lot though he is still an unsteady walker (after nearly 3 months you'd think he'd get the hang of it). Thank goodness that kid has a hard head.

Anyway, in the coming days look out for updates galore and more information than you'd ever like to have (and some that I'm reluctant to share, but will anyway!).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Return to the Motherland Part 3: The Balloon Fiesta

Besides visiting family, the main reason for our trip was to see the Balloon Fiesta. The last time I saw any balloons was my senior year in high school, and the last time I went to the park was 11 years ago, before the current park was even built. For anyone unfamiliar with the Balloon Fiesta, it is the largest gathering of hot-air balloons in the world. There are literally thousands of balloons. It claims to be the most photographed event in the world and though that is probably impossible to prove, it is easy to believe. It is the most picturesque event I've ever seen.

It's also the only event that allows the crowd right on the field with the balloons. There is this awesome feeling of community as you walk through the crowds next to these giant wonders. It really is indescribable.

Thursday morning we went to my great uncle's house to watch the Special Shapes Rodeo (it's a special mass ascension for the unconventional shapes, though there are still quite a few traditional balloons as well). Sammy lives just a couple miles from the Balloon Fiesta Park so we packed up some hot chocolate, breakfast burritos, and hung out on his back balcony. The hill behind his house made it tough to see the balloons as they took off, but as they came toward the river and back around near the park, they passed right in front of - and in a few cases, over - us.





Thursday night we went to the park for the Special Shapes Glowdeo. This one's tough to explain if you're not familiar with the Balloon Fiesta. In the evening, the balloons inflate, but stay tethered. Once the sun goes down, they fire the burners all at once and the balloons light up.

It was a great night and was perfect for the kids - the weather was nice, we got to walk around and see all the awesome balloons, and there were fireworks afterwards. And we ran into my friends Christie and Gillian.











Inside the Energizer Bunny

It's really hard to get a picture of the actual glowing with a point and shoot, so we just got a short video to try and give you an idea of what it's like:
video

Waiting for the Fireworks

Saturday morning was the main event. We went to the park for the last mass ascension. The thing about the Balloon Fiesta is that it's early. And I mean EARLY. The first wave of balloons goes up at 7 am. So we had to get to the park and ride at 6, which meant that we left the house at 5:30 am. Yikes. Plus, it's really really really ridiculously cold.

The kids enjoyed the morning's events for about 15 minutes, then they lost it. Between the cold, and being tired and hungry, they were miserable. We toughed it out through the first wave, then headed out. But it was still gorgeous.






video




video
Airabelle Takes Flight