Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Gratitudes

Things I'm grateful for today:

A peaceful night's sleep. Rare. Wonderful when it happens.

Snow. It was so pretty this morning.

New Knowledge. This week I became HIPAA certified and learned a lot about policy, autism, infectious disease prevention, articulation, decibel, and probably more than I ever want to know about math equations and audiology.

New t-shirts from Eddie Bauer. Love their clothes.

Spending an entire study day in my pjs. Oh, yes I did.

Knowledgeable people. Therapists. Doctors. Tutors. Professors.

People who go out of their way to tell me positive things about my kids. It so much nicer to hear than the negative stuff.

Be Still And Know That He Is God as sung by Alex Boye. That will calm your soul and strengthen your testimony. It's on my play list for my blog.

Mr. Wonderful. Okay, I am always grateful for him. He is my logic, my rock, my love, and my best friend. He heard me out a lot this past week and helped me direct my thoughts. He also reminded me that worry is wasteful, hence, the reason I have Jewel as my first song on the play list this week.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So Smart

The Love Magnet's teacher called. The state testing is done. The special implementations for testing were utilized: testing away from the other kids and the timer was kept out of TLM's sight
(she just wants to play with it which doesn't help with testing)

Top score being a 3 (at grade level), bottom score being a 1.....

The Love Magnet scored a 3.

The goal for all 1st graders is to read just over 52 words per minute by the end of the school year.

The Love Magnet read 50 words. The school year is half way done.

After celebrating with the teacher over the phone, I picked up The Love Magnet and whirled her across the kitchen, yelling "WAY TO GO! YOU ARE SO SMART!"

The Love Magnet laughed and cheered and answered "I KNOW! I SO SMART"

Doggie Girl jumped and barked. The boys all cheered along. Mr. Wonderful came home and was greeted by The Love Magnet yelling "DADDEEEEEEEE! I SO SMART! I SO SMART!"

Secondborn announced he received the top math score in his class and had a tshirt award to prove it. TLM yelled "YOU SO SMART! I SO SMART, TOO!" more dancing and celebrating ensued.


Today, report cards came out. Thirdborn brought his to me. More smartness abounds as he shows tremendous reading improvement which also helped his math score. Dyslexia and Disgraphia will not conquer his spirit. He was so thrilled with his rising skills and so was I.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

All safe and blessed, we shall meet at last.

How can I love a woman I have never met? How can I call her sister, friend, and kindred spirit?
Seven years ago I met dear, sweet Kimmie Texas on a website for swapping recipes. I lived vicariously through her children's proms, dates, and college. She lived the same through my kids first days of school, scouting awards, and heart surgery. Our lives had similar roads. We shared advice, empathy, and celebrations. Our exchanges went far beyond recipes.
Kim cared. I cared back.
Her life took a turn, a journey no one wants to take. She became very ill and didn't know why.
Breast cancer.
She fought bravely. She showed grace. She kept her sense of humor. She advocated for breast cancer awareness and research. Even though her body was ravaged and worn down, she did not cease being Kim.
Last night, Kim won her battle on earth. Right now she is in the middle of the best heavenly family reunion imaginable. She is whole and happy and pain free. Even in death she still advocated for breast cancer by donating her body to science.
I imagine right now she is at a kitchen table with Claudia and Fancy Nancy, two other Cookies who bravely fought cancer.
As a teen, Kim took dance lessons from Patrick Swayze's mother. Kim and her friends used to ogle Patrick when he came to the dance studio. I imagine now that she might get to dance with him - just once! - just to say she did it.
How can I love a woman I have never met in person?
My heart breaks, for I shall miss her!
We "talked" nearly every day for almost seven years. I shall miss her voice, her wit, her wisdom, and her undeniable faith in God.
Be still my soul: the hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with The Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrows forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul :when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
(Be Still My Soul, text by Katharina von Schlegel, music by Jean Sibelius
hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing it here.)
Good bye, dear, sweet Kimmie Texas. We will meet again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday Gratitudes (on a Monday)

Yesterday was hard. Bit of drama. Two choir practices. Worries about some of the youth I've worked with. I didn't think about gratitudes until lights were out.

Thought a lot last night.

The Young Women theme starts out with "Please stand for truth and righteousness"....(does it still? I haven't been in YW for so long I am not sure.) I had an opportunity to do just that this past week. I stood up for Integrity. It didn't go over well and resulted in the loss of one friend. I had Mr. Wonderful go over the entire conversation to see if I erred and just couldn't see it. No, he agreed with my stand. I will miss that friend. But I am grateful that I did make a stand for integrity. I never expected the outcome that happened.

I am grateful for safe food. Safe, clean water. A mattress. Medicines. Available doctors. Safe streets and neighborhoods. I pray that these things will return to Haiti. I keep up on the news every day about our brothers and sisters over there.

As I cuddled up to Mr. Wonderful last night, I thought about a blog friend who is finalizing her divorce. Her husband is addicted to prescription drugs. She has lost her home. But evidence of Heavenly Father's tender mercies, she has blogged about how her ward found her a small home to rent (so she wouldn't have to spend the time looking) near her kids schools (so they could have continuity in their lives), built a fence and fixed up the home (she has a child with special needs) and are helping clean and pack so she won't be overwhelmed. This has made me think of our ward who have taken such good care of us when we really needed it. the visiting and home teachers who check up on us. The teachers who help my kids. I'm grateful for our ward family.

I am grateful for the friends I've made at school. We're studying together and supporting each other. They are a great sounding board for ideas. We're all moms and totally understand how hard it can get to make time for 14 credit hours of school on top of everything else.

As always I am grateful for Mr. Wonderful, my own Mr. Darcy, a tremendous fount of knowledge, my best friend, and my own personal Michelangelo statue. I don't know what I'd do without him. He is also my logic in a very illogical world.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

14 Days of Valentines 2010

Okay the list is done. I realize this is the latest I have ever put this out. My apologies. I will not apologize for stealing ideas. It's all about the sharing. Feel free to use mine. Post yours.

Feb. 1 - One and Only - an invitation to be my date for Valentine's dinner along with one bottle of Kristian Regale with the instructions to bring the bottle to dinner.

Feb. 2 - Two hands - my two hands giving his two feet a foot rub.

Feb. 3- The three of us: Mr. Wonderful, Myself, and God. I have a quote from General conference about this. I'll post it when I pull it out. Basically how the two of us and God make a team. (This is also Firstborn's bday so I try to keep the 14VOD low key).

Feb. 4 - Four Things for Date Night - 2 movie tickets, a package of Red Vines (faithful blog readers know my love for very stale Red Vines), and a box of Junior Mints. There will also be a note with strict instructions that he picks a movie he wants to see and not a movie that he thinks I want to see.

Feb. 5 - 4 Cute Kids and One Cute Wife -pictures of the kids and myself put together in a collage poster that you can make at the Costco photo booth. I plan on putting this up in his office that day.

Feb. 6 - Private. Can't tell you. He'll love it.

Feb. 7 - Seven Pieces of Coconut Cream Pie - yes, I copied this one from my sis-in-love. I also happen to have the cookbook containing the most fabulous Tom Douglas' Triple Coconut Cream Pie recipe. It is so incredibly amazing. Those lucky Seattle-ites.

Feb. 8 - Family Night featuring 8 Things We Love About our Dad. The kids will help me with this. I hope to make a video of the kids to be shown this night.

Feb. 9 - Candy Bar Poster with 9 kinds of treats. I'll leave this in his truck to find that morning.

Feb. 10 - Ten Things I Love About You - this list gets more creative every year, printed on card stock in a fancy calligraphy. Mr. Wonderful has saved them all.

Feb. 11 - 11 Ways To Say I love you. Trying to find more creative languages. Post it notes all over his windshield.

Feb. 12 - Homemade Pizza - with 12 Canadian bacon slices making a heart.

Feb. 13 - Valentine's Dinner.

Feb. 14 - Homemade Sunday crossword puzzle with breakfast. You can make your own here. He needs to solve it on his own without the kids.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Odds and Ends about The Love Magnet

For weeks The Love Magnet has been yelling "PIZZA!" to departing guests, friends leaving Primary, and her fellow students at school. I couldn't understand her motive. She wasn't talking about dinner (she requests mashed potatoes or orange chicken and rice). She wasn't calling her friends "pizza". I just chalked it up to an odd sense of humor.

Today I went to her class to pick her up early. She didn't want to leave until I suggested that if she wave goodbye to her classmates, they would wave goodbye to her. She waved enthusiastically and yelled "PIZZA!"

"PEACE OUT!" her class yelled back.

Oh. Huh. I get it now.

The Love Magnet is just too cool and hip for me.

Today we went to the pediatric orthopedic surgeon to have The Love Magnet cleared for gymnastics. Dr. Orthopedic wasn't excited about TLM taking any kind of gymnastics, even if it was training for Special Olympics. You see, my daughter used to have Atlanto-Axial Instability which is not common in people who have Down syndrome, but can be one of the many things people with DS have to deal with. If you want to know more about it, click here. TLM was diagnosed around age 18 months. We were originally told that she would need her neck fused when she was 10 years old. She was x-rayed every year until she was 4, when they found that the AAI had resolved fairly well on it's own. The doctor at Shriner's hospital in SLC was amazed. I asked them to run a 2nd x-ray to be sure. She would be okay. But no gymnastics. The doctors were afraid the AAI fix would be temporary and suggested x-rays every three years.
Today's x-rays were like all the other x-rays my daughter has had taken. She did what she was told and held the odd neck poses with no problem. She has done it enough that she knows the drill. X-ray techs were amazed and impressed.
After waiting a bit longer, the surgeon came in. He did something that doctors rarely do: he sat down by me with printouts of the x-rays and proceeded to spend 15 minutes explaining the x-rays and AAI. Bottom line? My daughter doesn't have AAI. She doesn't even have the gap typical of people with Down syndrome due to low muscle tone and loose ligaments. She has the neck bones of a typical person. Yeah, glorious surprise! Oh Happy Day! Dr. Orthopedic was amazed at her muscle tone, her neck, and her high function. He also check out her spine, hips, legs, and feet.
He approved her whole-heartedly for adapted gymnastics provided it is associated with Special Olympics.
We will invite him to her first meet in a year or two.
My daughter can spell 'middle', 'riddle', and 'fiddle'. She is going to ace her spelling test next week. She wanted to know if the average Joe on the street could spell "fiddle". She is asking everyone. Fair warning to brush up on your spelling should you run into her.
The Love Magnet is finally understanding that she can not hug everyone. She is learning that a handshake, a high five, and a fist bump are completely acceptable forms of greeting. It makes me a little bit sad. At least she still hugs her mom.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Gratitudes

Last night, Mr. Wonderful took me to see a movie for date night. Just outside of the theater doors, a group of teens were surrounding a young man who was yelling at a girl across the parking lot. He let loose the most vile, crude, disrespecting-of-women diatribe for the whole world to hear. It was incredibly offensive to me. The young woman, surrounded by her own group, yelled crass, lowbrow commentary right back. I was floored that people would talk like that at all. Their words affected everyone around them, even those not associated with them. As I witnessed this scene, I became so incredibly grateful for my own children, the youth in my ward, and the teens on my street. They would never say these words. The difference between the teens at the theater and the teens in my ward was like comparing sewage of the worst kind to the most beautiful park. I know that sounds cheesy, but I was impressed with what an incredible difference there was in how they acted.

The movie we went to see was The Blind Side. I am always grateful when Hollywood makes a positive movie. It was one of those movies that made me laugh, cry, and think. What an incredible story about a family willing to push differences aside and help someone in need.

Mr. Wonderful and I were stopped by one of the sisters in our ward. She wanted to tell us about an event she witnessed. Firstborn had come upon one of the people he home teaches, a sweet sister who is the mother of an older couple in our ward. Firstborn put his arm around her and told her how much he missed her and was asking about how she was doing. The sister telling us this story said "How many teens would make a fuss over a woman in her eighties?" I was grateful for the further proof that Firstborn is a good son, and also grateful that someone would take the time to tell us something so positive about one of our children.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Whole Grain Waffles with Blackberry Sauce

Whole Grain Waffles with Blackberry Sauce
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine Feb. 2010
Servings: 6
Jan. 16, 2010

My notes: this was a big breakfast! I could easily be satisfied with half a serving. I served this as a Saturday brunch. EW used cherries in their sauce. Any fruit would certainly work. Very filling with the whole grains.

Blackberry sauce:
2 Cups fresh or frozen blackberries
¼ c water
¼ Cup honey
2 Teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 Cups white whole-wheat flour
½ Cup fine cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ Cup packed light brown sugar
2 Cups lowfat buttermilk or sour milk (1 Tablespoon vinegar per 1 Cup milk, let sit for 5 minutes to sour)
1 Tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla

For sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a sauce pan over med heat and cook, stirring occassionally until thicked (about 1 minute)

For waffles: Whisk together flour, cornmeal, soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat eggs and brown sugar in separate bowl. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla to egg mixture and whisk. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined. Lightly coat hot waffle iron with cooking spray. Spread 2/3 Cups of batter over waffle iron and cook until golden (4-5 min.). Serve with ¼ Cup of sauce.
Cal 380; 5 g fat; 74 mg chol; 74 g carb; 12 g protein; 6 g fiber

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sunday Gratitudes (on a Thursday)

while I have a moment between all the tons of studying:

I am grateful I that I can read. Especially reading all of the literature I have to cover this semester. I'm also trying to collect scholarly articles and journals pertaining to Down syndrome and language development. I was thinking today about the love of reading instilled in me by my parents. It's a good thing. I'm certainly getting my fill this semester.

Tons of gratitude for this new laptop. It has been a good thing to type notes as I listen to lectures - I type much faster than I can write. Much of my education includes interactive software. It has been a good thing to have an updated computer with all the bells and whistles to make this easier.

I am thankful that the kids are back in school, too. They really needed the structure - especially The Love Magnet. As fun as vacation was for her , it was hard to be away from home and everything familiar. She loved being with her cousins. Her feelings were all too clear when we got home. That night, she went to bed without being asked, lay down in her favorite position, and let out a satisfied "ahhhhhhhhh".

Firstborn did something very nice - he snuck his Secondborn's new iPod and spent an entire evening downloading Secondborn's favorite songs on it. It was his Christmas gift to his brother. I am grateful that he found a way to give service rather than buying something.

Secondborn bought a chessboard with his birthday money and has been challenging Mr. Wonderful to games. He has also been teaching Thirdborn how to play. I love it when my family finds a way to entertain themselves without a TV. That is something for which to be grateful.

There is a graduate student at school who has been so kind to answer all of my questions and offer advice on subjects where I don't know what questions to ask. We've talked about graduate school, the GRE, choosing a specialty, NSSHLA, and volunteering for summer projects with the International Children's Surgical Foundation. She has been more than generous with her time and I am grateful that she has been come a mentor for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Searching for confidence

Day two of Spring Semester. Tons of reading. A new laptop to load up with all the required software. (I love my laptop and tell Mr. Wonderful how grateful I am every single day for it.) Starting study for the GRE. Talking to grad school students. Trying to decide where to go to grad school.

Mr. Wonderful is encouraging me to check out other schools besides my current one. Staying here would be much cheaper. I really want to focus on Language Development in People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (such as Down syndrome). Still trying to decide who would have the best program and if I would qualify to go. I am looking at University of Washington (ranked #5 in SLP programs according to US News and World Report), University of Iowa (ranked #1), Vanderbilt (also #5), Florida State (#15), University of Georgia (#46), University of Virginia (#53), and University of Utah also (#46).

Will it be worth uprooting the family again (and possibly leaving Firstborn behind as he starts college)? Mr. Wonderful wants to continue his education, too - will it postpone that further? What about having to pay nonresidential fees? Can I qualify for any aid or scholarships? What will I do with The Love Magnet when I have to do summer semesters?! Can she attend some kind of summer school or daycare on campus?

Then there is the slight nagging in the back of my head: you're not smart enough, it's too hard, change to something easier. I am pushing those thoughts down and obliterating that voice the best I can. I know I can accomplish this (although never in my life did I think I would do something in the health field and earn a masters degree).

I told one of the grad students today that the most frustrating thing about all this is that I don't know what kind of questions to ask. It's all a bit overwhelming. I plan on taking the GRE this summer at least twice. I don't apply for grad school until next fall. I am somewhat successfully juggling being a mom and student right least I hope I am.

Did I mention how this journey is taking me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis? That is a good thing........right?

I still need to plan my 14 Days of Valentines. I forgot to write my Sunday Gratitudes this week. I have piles of laundry to fold.

I think I had better start with a list of gratitudes. Sunday Gratitudes on a Thursday. Be back tomorrow with that.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

14 Days of Valentines

Ladies and Gents! Step right up, don't be shy. That's right, gather round. It's that time of year again, that time where you are going to pour sweet love into your relationship and serve extra sugar to your hunny-bun. It's time to start planning for the 14 Days of Valentines!

For the introduction of what the 14 Day of Valentines is (including history) click here.

Just as important, review what the 14 Days of Valentines IS NOT click here.

Or you could just read the entire account of past 14 Days of Valentines since I've been blogging by clicking on that label. Scroll down a bit and your find it in the right hand column.

Mr. Wonderful knows to not read my blog from January till after Valentines Day. On that day I make him gourmet dinner and we lock the kids in their rooms. Just kidding! They are more than happy to retreat to their rooms with all the romance going on in the house. well, everyone except The Love Magnet. She wants to be involved in everything. Too bad, so sad, she is sent to bed, too.

Please check out the past ideas. I will share mine including menu ideas for this year. Share yours in the comment section or link up to the blog so we can see your ideas. Feel free to copy ideas with abandon.

Your hunny-bun is going to love this!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

San Diego

Take one gorgeous husband (I call him my own personal Michelangelo statue)...

Add a happy (relaxed!) wife...

Some gorgeous views....

in San Diego.....

A very nice tour guide who happens to be the best friend of my darling Hit Cookie (tour guide in the middle and Hit Cookie in the purple coat. Notice that the weirdos from Idaho don't need coats in 60 degree weather. We thought it was much better than the 28 degree weather we came from) who graciously spent a day showing us the things tourists usually don't get to see......

Add really good fish tacos, pork and polenta, and crab cakes......

and one ocean......

and you get a much needed (oh so very much!) needed getaway sans kids. Many thanks to our families for helping with the kids while we were gone. I spent 5 days sleeping in, not cooking/cleaning/studying, and being spoiled rotten by Mr. Wonderful.

Christmas 2009

The traditional Nativity play. Thirdborn was Joseph. Secondborn was the donkey (for some reason he loves playing that part). The Love Magnet insisted on accompanying Joseph and Mary thru Bethlehem. I think she was standing guard.

Firstborn (middle in white headband) was a wise man. Or a shepherd? Wait, maybe he was Nephi, prophesying about the birth of the Savior. The cast keeps getting bigger every year. There are three grandkids missing from this pic and the rest of teh kids still fill the room.

We celebrated St. Lucia Day with the first and third grades. Many fond thoughts and hugs to Miss Morgan (my 2nd grade teacher back in the '70s) who started it all.

First in line to see Santa. TLM still wouldn't tell him what she wanted. She just wanted him to ho-ho-ho. Softly.

Singing with the primary kids at the ward Christmas party. Thirdborn is there, too, but hiding behind everyone else.

We were away for two weeks. Sorry about the lack of posting. And the lack of Christmas cards. But I am now rested and rejuvenated and ready for Spring Semester.