Friday, September 28, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Oh my, where to begin with this one?
Evelyn is 3, VERY 3! She gave herself the nickname Ev-Ev when she was two and we often shorten it to just Ev. She responds to all three of her names in addition to whoever she may be at the moment. Right now, she is Todd. Yep, it doesn't matter if she is a male or female character, but we must call her by her current name or she will correct us. She has been Peter Pan, a pink pig, Mickey, a girl fox, and Sunshine Bear in a single hour. It is hard to keep up. Needless to say, Evelyn is extremely creative and our spunky little kid. She is definitely the "ham", taking her soon-to-be-replaced role of the "baby" very seriously. She is very outgoing and makes friends wherever we go. She makes us laugh continuously with her overall "cuteness". She is just absolutely adorable.
Evelyn is also very bright and eager to try anything. During school time with Madeline, she wants to do school too. (She doesn't seem to understand that she is 3 years younger than Madeline.) I have to have a lesson of some sort planned for her also. She has already whipped through 2 pre-school workbooks! I am teaching her letters, numbers, and shapes with flashcards and having her trace them. She is doing quite well with that and of course feels very important and "big".
Evelyn is also our daredevil. She was the one who walked at 8 months old and hasn't slowed down since. She will climb anything, jump off of anything, and be the first to try any physical activity. Not only will she try, but she always succeeds, making us just shrug and say, "Of course Evelyn can do it!"
She is very excited about having a new baby in the house and I know that she will be a wonderful big sister!
We love you Ev-Ev!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Madeline is 6, but will be 7 in November! I think it is the oldest child, no matter how old they are, that continues to surprise you by their age. Madeline continues to be a sweet, sensitive, and very helpful young girl. She is quite the pleaser and never wants to do anything to disappoint us. She does not have a mean or deceptive bone in her body and in fact is completely at a loss when she sees others being unkind. She simply does not comprehend it. A classic example of this is a time when I was in the checkout line in HEB. Madeline was just over 2 years old. The boy in the basket in front of us, picked up the popsicles from the cart and said in a taunting little kid tone, "I have ice cream ha, ha, ha, ha." Madeline beamed at him and holding up a block of cheese, responded, "We have cheese!" The child looked so confused by this response, and I could not help but laugh at the situation. Now that she is older, she understands when a child is being mean, but doesn't understand why, so it just hurts her feelings. We have had many discussions with her about other's attitudes and sinful responses. Her response to these discussions is always the same, "But why do people want to be mean? Why don't they just be nice?" If anyone has a good answer to that one, please let me know! The other day, I was talking, perhaps a little too openly, about a co-worker of mine that is not very easy to work with. I was telling Neal about some of the specific things I have had to deal with this person and just venting some frustration. Madeline was listening in and made a comment that had me quite surprised by her innocence. She said, "Mommy, I know that sometimes children can be mean because they need to learn to obey God and their parents, but I did not know that grown ups could be mean too. Why are grown ups mean sometimes? Don't they know how to be nice?" So that began a whole different conversation about sin in adults and selfishness and pride, etc.......Madeline has wonderful personality traits, but they can be dangerous. We don't want her to trust everyone, or please everyone. At the same time it is almost sad to have to explain sin and disobedience crushing her idealistic view that people are nice and kind and would never do anything to hurt each other. However, I am grateful that I have to teach her about the "bad" things and that the "good" things are natural to her.
Madeline is in 1st grade this year. I am homeschooling her and she is doing quite well. She is beginning to read many books on her own, we do journal writing several times a week, we have science and history readers, and of course there is the daily math lesson. She struggles a bit with some math concepts, but we are getting through. This has certainly been a learning experience to me being that math always came fairly easy to me. So, I have had to be very creative in finding different ways of explaining the same concept, hoping that one of those will make sense to her. Counting by 5's has been a HUGE struggle, but I think with daily practice and TONS of encouragement, we will get there.
Madeline loves to play with baby dolls, my little ponies, and anything "princess". She is a great little artist and is constantly coloring/drawing for us. She is a wonderful big sister and enjoys playing with her siblings. We are so blessed by our special Madeline Lea.
Monday, September 17, 2007
I thought I would write a few entries on each of the kids, to update everyone on a few specifics since I have been so negligent in blogging. I also thought I would start with the one people ask about the most, my dear sweet boy Aidan. Aidan turned 5 in March, and continues to be a BIG kid. He is taller than Madeline now and weighs somewhere between 55 and 60 pounds. He is still solid, but has thinned out quite a bit and is stretching. As most of you know, Aidan has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This disorder is quite varied and includes ADHD, ADD, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger's, Autism, Fragile X, and Ret's Syndrome. (The last three are genetic, the last two are chromosomal and some debate weather they should be included or not.....) Aidan does not have the classic genetic Autism, but something more like PDD-NOS, which is very broad in itself, but presents many of the same signs and symptoms. The major issues we deal with have to do with communication and processing. For example, Aidan can tell us if he needs something or wants something, but he is not going to have a back and forth conversation with us about anything. He does not answer questions unless the answer is yes or no or unless we are asking him to name or label an object or picture. He cannot tell you how he feels, emotionally or physically. Most of the time Aidan has a running monologue of a movie that he is reciting, lately it has been Peter Pan 2. His vocabulary is very large, but he does not always understand what he is saying. However, he will often use the lines he has memorized from movies to communicate with us. If he sees an action or a response in a movie and sees a real-life situation that is similar or desires that response, he will use the dialog in the movie associated with it. For example, in one of their Little People videos, Michael asks Farmer Jed for his straw by saying, "Farmer Jed, may I have your drinking straw?" The other day, I bought the kids icees and had not grabbed the straws yet and Aidan turned to me and said, "Farmer Jed, may I have your drinking straw?". Aidan saw that in the movie, Farmer Jed handed Michael a straw, so Aidan, wanting a straw used the same dialog. We notice this with him often, and although it is a "strange" way of communicating, we are encouraged that he is trying and making those connections. We use those opportunities to correct him and teach him that he can rephrase the dialog and use it for the appropriate person. So, that day I just repeated after him, "Mommy, may I have a drinking straw please?" I had him repeat that before I gave him a straw.
We also see processing gaps. For example, Aidan recognizes all numbers from 0 to 100. However, if I ask him to hand me 3 balls, he does not know what to do. There seem to be gaps between recognizing symbols, numbers, letters, etc. and correlating them with their meaning.
Last year we decided to send Aidan to a local public elementary school with a special education program that focuses on children with ASD. We are so pleased with that decision. Aidan LOVES school. He asks to go everyday, and runs to his classroom each morning when we drop him off. From 8 to 10am he is in a developmentally delayed class with other 3 to 6 year olds. There are 7 students and 3 teachers. (The class will not get larger than 10 students.) They work with the kids on basic skills appropriate to their age, numbers, letters, colors, shapes, etc. He also gets to go to music, art, and PE. In addition, he gets group speech therapy, individual speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Afterwards, Aidan stays until 12:30 for the ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) program. This program is wonderful. There are several tutors who rotate daily working individually with the children on specific needs. We work with them to set very specific goals for Aidan in the areas we see he needs help with. For example, one of his goals right now is "Aidan will group pictures of objects with other like objects; shirts, hats, socks together; bananas, apples, oranges together." We meet with the school psychologist as needed to update Aidan's goals. He heads up the ABA program and observes the students and tutors several times a week. We have seen a lot of improvement in Aidan and are very encouraged by the possibilities.
Aidan is still on the gluten free/ casein free diet and we are doing a chelation treatment to flush out heavy metals. (Last year, we tested his urine for mercury. A "normal" mercury level is no more than 0.025ppm. Aidan showed 0.4 ppm! YIKES!)
Aidan continues to be a blessing to us. He is very sweet tempered, he is very cuddly, he laughs often and is a happy little boy. He is beginning to play more appropriately with his toys - he loves Rescue Heroes. He has also become much more compliant and manageable. When we go to a store, he walks with us instead of running down the aisle needing constant holding on to. He follows directions pretty well, "clean up your room", "clear your dinner dishes", "put on your shoes". He is completely toilet trained, he can dress himself, brush his own teeth, buckle his seat belt and do many other self-help type of activities. We still have a long way to go with Aidan, we don't know what the future will hold for him or us, but we praise God for him and all that He is teaching us through Aidan.
"Aidan you're young
But Aidan you're growing fast
Me and your mom
And all the love we have
We can only take you so far
As far as we can
But you'll need something more to guide your heart
As you grow into a man
Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads
Aidan the day
Aidan the day will come
You'll run the race
That takes us way beyond
All our trials and all our failures
And all the good we dream of
But you can't see yet where it is you're heading
But one day you'll see the face of love"
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
To update all those who may check this out, here is a quick overview of our lives since last September........
In October I had a partial-molar-ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. I did not know I was pregnant or that anything was wrong until I continued to pass out one morning with very severe abdominal pains. I was rushed to the ER where they figured out what was going on ASAP, I had emergency surgery, much like a C-section to stop the internal bleeding and repair the rupture. I had lost an entire liter of blood and ended up needing two blood transfusions. Thank God for His providence and timing that I am very well and recovered pretty quickly all things considered. We were very sad to lose a baby, but we know that God's will is perfect and His plan for our lives has a reason.
In November, Madeline turned 6! We had a party for her with some friends and my parents and sister and her kiddos came from SA to celebrate.
In December, we went to SA for Christmas and Neal and I were blessed with a trip to DC. We are so thankful to our families for helping in the funding and watching the kids for us. Neal had to attend a conference and job interviews, but we got a lot of site seeing done and had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I got a phone call while there from my co-manager at Curves telling me that due to bad money management, the owner of our facility was declaring bankruptcy and I no longer had a job......
In January, we returned home and I immediately went job hunting. I got a job with the Outback steakhouse waiting tables, which again proved to be providential because I am able to get insurance for me and the kids at a great rate, one fifth the price of what we were paying through OU, only working part time. I have found that although the work is very physically demanding, it is fun to interact with so many different people. Besides, I get half off my meals and you can't beat getting a prime steak at half the price!
In March, Aidan turned 5 and Evelyn turned 3! We had a small party at the house for them with our dear friends the Johnsons. I also FINALLY toilet trained Evelyn, who was more than ready. She had one day of defiance refusing to wear "big-girl panties" claiming that she was the baby and she needed a diaper. The whole day was a struggle to keep her dressed since she would pull off her panties in offence that I even put them on her. She had one accident after another never having a successful time. I was very frustrated by bed time and thought this would take a long time. However, the next day, she decided to obey and has been trained ever since. She is now "not a baby, but a big girl like Maden (her name for Madeline)". If you ask her how old she is, she says, "I six like Maden."
In April, we got the TERRIFIC news that OU wanted to keep Neal permanently! House hunting began almost immediately as well as packing.........I HATE PACKING!
In May, we bought our house. It is 1860 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms, 2 and 1/2 bath, 2 car garage, laundry room, kitchen, dining room, living room, fireplace, corner lot, huge yard with privacy fence and lots and lots of trees. We love it. Also, Neal turned the big "3" "0"......
In June, we spent the entire month cleaning, painting and re-carpeting the new house. We painted every room, all trim, and all cabinetry (except for the kitchen cabinets which will be done asap). We moved in at the end of the month.
In July, we got our two little kittens. One of Neal's student's cats had kittens and we ended up taking the two orange ones. They are both female named Cassie and Chloe. They are VERY sweet cats and wonderful with the kids.
In August, I turned 30 and the same week we found out we are pregnant with baby number 4! I had a sonogram and everything looks great! Praise God! I am due April 10th, which probably means April 17th or so. Then we got hit by hurricane Erin.......yes, I said hurricane. It is very strange to have a hurricane in OK. We have tornadoes pretty often, but not hurricanes. Apparently it came from the gulf, petered out over TX, then reformed here in Norman, OK on top of our house! We have severe roof damage, interior leaks, large sections of fence broken down, and several of our trees split. We are working on cleaning it all up and getting the insurance company to give us money!
Now we are back to September. Neal's parents and sister (Kim) and her kids came over labor day to visit, we had a blast with them, and Kim is expecting a new baby too! She is due in late April/early May.
So, that is my overview of this past year.........I will be posting more later this week getting into some specifics, but I think that this is all I can do for now. Laundry and bills await!
One quick question though........does anyone know how to make your profile picture larger? Ours is teeny!