Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are we done yet??? With school that is!

Well, two weeks of school to go, and both of my girls are more than ready to be done. These are pics from Monday (Memorial Day). We spent some time at the Lake (Bill's dad's house). It was 80 plus degrees - great day.

My iris' are blooming ...that makes me happy.

Katie's schooling continues to stress me out. You would think with only 2 weeks to go I would not let anything phase me...but once again they wanted me to pick her up and take her home today. I am honestly tired of it... She was fine at home, but starts crying as soon as we pull into the parking lot at school. I think it is a combination of her allergies, her lack of desire to do cognitive work at school, and the vibe that she gets at school that perhaps they aren't really into dealing with her lately. She has always been the type of child that totally senses her caretaker's emotions and plays off of them. The teacher did concede at the end of the day that it was good Katie stayed because she did seem to settle into activities once she got past the initial reaction to them.... 9 1/2 days.... I can do this!

We 've started putting the garden in too... I'll post pics of that later when it's finished. My mom is coming over in the morning to help me finish it. We are going to try and grow sweet corn -- I know, sweet corn in the city...not sure how that is going to pan out...but I'll keep you posted !

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekend Update..Memorial Day Special Edition --Gas is 4.10 a gallon!

Well once again it is the weekend, and I finally have found time to do a good detailed blog update. I must admit that it has been a difficult week -- in many aspects.

Katie's school situation continues to be complicated. They have begun interviewing for a new teacher for next year - and have allowed parents to be involved in the interviews (which is an amazing opportunity) - but I still have concerns about how that will pan out for Katie next year. We did have a funny Katie story on Friday -due to circumstances "beyond their control" there wasn't an aide available to take Katie to kindergarten on Friday am. The Kdg. teacher decided to come get Katie and let her be in class without an aide. She did amazingly well -- but when "circle" time was over and the teacher started to get into the nitty gritty of the lesson, Katie looked at the teacher (Deb) and said "Bye, Bye." Deb asked her, "Katie, do you want to go back to your classroom?" She looked at Deb and said "Bye, Bye." The fun was over, she didn't feel like working and she was ready to go back to the AI Classroom. I got a good kick out of that story :) It just reconfirms to us that Katie is really catching on -- she likes the "fun" activities and knew it was time to really dig in and work on cognitive skills - so she was done!

The girls have two and a half weeks of school left. I'm frantically trying to put together summer activities that don't involve extensive driving...yes gas is 4.10 here... UGH!!! Word on the street is that we are beginning a rapid incline to 5.00 a gallon. I wonder if it would be cheaper if we lived closer to the refineries? All I do know is that this whole gas thing is upsetting to me.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. The weather is supposed to be warm here tomorrow - so I'll try to get some pics of the girls. Katie is already sporting a mid-summer tan -- and yes, it's only May. Mommy on the other hand is still pasty white!!! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mary Vs. The Caterpillar

This is what happens when your 7 year old falls face first off of the "Caterpillar" (monkey bars that are shaped like a caterpillar) on the school playground. Actually, the pictures don't really do the injury justice. Thankfully I was at school for a meeting when the accident happened.. and we did end up going to the hospital (Her nose swelled up right away and from casual observation it definitely looked broken.) Thankfully it isn't broken. She is just really banged up - including a huge bruise in her mouth and a large cut where your upper lip connects with your upper gum.
As a side note, it was almost exactly a year ago when she fell off the monkey bars (not the caterpillar one ;) on the playground and broke her wrist/arm. Apparently the month of May and playgrounds aren't a good thing for Mary!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Update....

So, its been a typically busy weekend here in Michigan. Lots going on -- soccer, garage sales (not mine thank-goodness), church, playing outside, scrapbooking, eating, being silly, wasting time on the computer...the list goes on and on.

I took a few pictures this weekend that I wanted to post. Mostly of the girls being silly -- and of Katie demonstrating both her awesome behavior at Mary's soccer game - and her crazy behavior in our back yard on Saturday. She took 4 plastic cereal bowls from the cupboard and proceeded to play with them in the empty little tikes pool. It was priceless. Funny how entertainment is so "cheap" for her.
Katie has started saying her "b" sounds extremely well. We were once again able to get her to say "bacon" - also "bath" that was encouraging. She is also loving this time of year as her time outside will dramatically increase as the weather improves. Both of the girls are wanting the pool to be put up -- but with Michigan weather it will probably be June before that happens.
I have truly enjoyed my 4 days off work, but reality sets in tomorrow. Only 3 1/2 weeks of school left for the girls - that is hard to believe. I am trying to think of fun things to do with the girls without having to spend a mint on gas...any ideas, friends?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Birthday Reflections...

Yes, as I said in my post yesterday, today is my birthday. I'm 38 - it's not a secret. I'm not one of those people who tries to hide her true age -- how silly. Just be who you are, the age you are. Yes, I have gray hair -- my dad was completely gray at 30, so I'm fortunate to be 40% gray (according to my hairdresser.) Sometimes I color my hair, sometimes I don't. C'mon people - I have a daughter with autism, I work, I volunteer at school, I do 4 people's laundry (and we all know that is a lot of laundry) -- so when do I have time to worry about coloring my hair!?!

Anyway, I just wanted to take a few minutes for myself on my birthday to reflect on the past year and where I 've been - and where I would like to be going in the 39th year of my life :) In the past year I:

1) Have stopped working full-time and am now a part-time employee. This gives me more time for my girls and for my hubby.
2) Have stepped up my volunteering at the girls' school and will be the President of the parents club at my childrens' school next year.
3) Have returned to regular church attendance - due in large part to a special program our church has developed for Katie. I have blogged previously on this topic, but am continually blessed to back in consistent church fellowship.
4) Have been thrilled with the progress Katie has been making. This is especially true in the areas of speech and imitation. She has come such a long way this past year.
5)Have been reminded that this life is not something we can do on our own. I serve an awesome God who is willing and wanting to walk along side me as I journey through this life. He has given me a wonderful husband and two amazing children to join me in that journey. How blessed I am.
6)Have been reminded of all of the fabulous friends I have made during my life. The "facebook revolution" has reconnected me with so many of my friends (especially my Moody Bible Institute friends ) and this have been a HUGE blessing to me to have renewed these friendships.

I am sure that there are many more things I could reflect on in this post, but you know, it's my birthday and I want to go downstairs and scrapbook for awhile before I need to go pick the girls up from school ... so that is what I'm going to do. Have a great day ... I know I'm going to :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So you've had a bad day....

Well, more like a tough 48 hours...but who is keeping track? As I wrote in my post on Tuesday, the week got started with tough therapy for Katie and kept right on rolling.

Tuesday afternoon they called me from Katie's school to come pick her up early because she was trying to climb out the window (For those of you who are new to my blog, Katie has previously escaped her classroom several times this year - once out of the classroom window without them having any clue where she had gone.), and they "didn't want to deal with it " anymore. So at 3.99 a gallon I drive to school 45 minutes before the end of the day and pick her up. She looked tired and a bit put off. I picked her up and we waited for Mary to get out of school. Whatever happened to dealing with "naughty" behaviors in the classroom rather than calling the parent? We have a behavior plan in place. I'm thinking a time-out would have sufficed with only 40 minutes to go... They told me she actually had gone for the window twice - and at recess she had gotten away from them and wandered to the edge of the playground where it turns into parking lot. They told me "she never runs off at recess - so we were really surprised" - ARE YOU KIDDING ME? She runs off all the time - so why are they "trusting" her? I was a bit confused by that.

Anyway, that aside, today was a little better. They told me she had a much better day today.. Yesterday had been okay, but not great -- so I guess we're headed in a good direction. I was able to be home today and clean -- and I even squeaked in some time for SCRAPBOOKING! I know, what a shock. No calls from school -- it was a good day.

Tomorrow is my birthday -- and no, I don't have to work :) Bill made me a butter pecan birthday cake tonight...I can't wait to try it tomorrow. Hopefully I will get to do some more scrapbooking -- and have some good family time...and we'll forget about school until next Monday :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Invisible Woman

I saw this video on Heather's blog (see sidebar) - and decided that I wanted it to be a part of mine as well. I often struggle with feeling this way - invisible -- but this video helped to remind me that God can work in me and through me -- even if I am (and sometimes especially if I am ) invisible to others. Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday, Tuesday.... Gas is 3.99

Well, it's Tuesday. Therapy day for Katie --and it was a hard one this morning. Because Katie is now learning to speak words through imitation, she is struggling to find the words for herself when she doesn't hear the word to repeat. She and I were both crying this morning. Katie out of frustration - and me, because I would trade places with her in a heartbeat if I could. It is hard to watch your child so trapped in themself. But that is the evil-ness of autism. Watching your child caught within themselves with no easy way out. The blessing is that Katie has a phenomenal speech therapist who is truly gifted and has a fabulous connection with Katie... this is an older picture of Ruth (the therapist) and Katie. (This was taken about 5 months ago...just before Katie started to connect a little more with being photographed -- so we weren't able to get a good shot of her looking at the camera.)

As you can see by the title of this post, my other big news is that gas here has now crested the 3.99 mark. I never dreamed that in my lifetime (or at least in my 30's) we would see gas at this price. I was talking with a friend of mine this morning -- and we were talking about how we don't know how anyone (including ourselves) can absorb the increased gas prices as well as the resulting increased grocery prices, utility charges, etc. I remember a little over a year ago that gas here was actually 1.99 for a few weeks. (Yes, that is the bonus of living in rural Michigan). I don't anticipate gas under 3.00 a gallon ever again. I guess we'll be doing a lot of walking this summer. :) What does gas cost where you live? And how are you compensating for the increased costs? We are definitely trying to drive less...and I am hoping to alter my work schedule so that I am not driving 20 miles each way more that 2 or 3 days a week. There comes a point where (when you are working short shifts especially) it isn't profitable to go to work. And that is a sad point that this nation is coming t0. What happens when people can't afford to work?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Go Fish...The MOM Song

Happy Mothers Day tomorrow everyone.... I saw this on Heathers' blog and had to put it on my own.'s very cute!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Addicted to the Dollar Store

Okay, I am now admitting it. I think I am addicted to the Dollar Store. (and to the Dollar Spot at Target - but that is a whole different post.) As the economy plummets and gas prices soar, I have found myself increasingly visiting the various dollar stores that are in our area. Because I work 20 miles from our house I have about 5 or more stores that are between here and there are lots of good shopping opportunities when I have the time. I was actually amazed today while I was perusing the dollar store that is perhaps my favorite of the 5 I have to choose from. It is the biggest and even has a refrigerated section - which is really amazing if you think about it. I refuse to by toys from the dollar store unless my kids are with me -- in which case I usually let them each have one toy to keep them from screaming -- but dollar store toys usually break before we even get home, so there is really no point.

However, as a mom, there are lots of good buys to be found at the neighborhood dollar store. Today I bought: toilet bowl cleaner (same brand that I buy at Meijer) - plastic sandwich baggies - and shampoo (also the same brand that I buy at Meijer). I could have bought more, but it was really busy in there and I wasn't really in the mood. They also have AMAZING scrapbooking supplies at the cheapest prices in town (hello, everything is 1 Dollar.) My neighbor got me hooked on their self adhesive tabs which come in disposable (although not earth-friendly) dispensers that don't have to be refilled, and only cost 1 dollar. The refills for my vario dispenser run me about 7 dollars for about the same number of tabs. To me that is a no -brainer. They also have packages of 6 to 8 color-coordinated 12x12 papers that are simply amazing - for 1 Dollar. Once again, why wouldn't you buy this if you are an avid scrapbooker. I'm sorry, but I don't know how people afford not to shop at the dollar store. The best part is - if you buy something and you don't like it or it doesn't work out - it was only 1 Dollar!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

As promised, these are the pics of the therapeutic listening that we are now doing at home in addition to doing it at therapy time. Mary sat and strung beads with her while Katie listened to the "music". The kids are not allowed to watch tv, play video games or do any activity with visual stimulation while they do the this provides a good opportunity for Katie to work on her fine motor skills.

This and That (Oh, and Gas is 3.89)

Well, lots has been happening since our weekend of swimming, soccer and spider hats, so I wanted to write an update. Some of you know that we do private therapy through the hospital for Katie twice a week -- that has been a huge bonus for her. We have seen so much progress. I thank God for great therapists that care about Katie and work to meet her where she is and push her to places I never knew she could go. We have started therapeutic listening with Katie - and she seems to love it. We have now borrowed the take-home set of earphones and are going to be doing the therapy on a daily basis. I'll try to take a picture of her when she is wearing the huge, oversized headphones. It's really cute :)

I'm also very tired. I've been spending too much time on facebook, mostly reconnecting with friends from college - and that is fun -- but I need to remind myself that facebook is not my priority -- and at midnight, sleep should be my priority. Are there any other facebook addicts out there?
And by the way -- gas went up to 3.89 here today. A record high for the State of Michigan. Lovely.

Another item worth mentioning here is that effective tomorrow I will be the Sr. Co-Chair of the parents club for the school that my two girls attend. I know, I'm crazy, but I'm really excited. I'm the Sr. Chair for next year, but I take over at the meeting tomorrow night. I'm sure there will be some posts in the future about the exciting times at parents club, but for now I will leave it with the fact that I'm a little nervous, but really looking forward to it.

Well, enough for now I guess. I should probably get to making dinner ....(or back to facebook -- just kidding :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What a Weekend...

Yes, it has been a crazy weekend. I had listed my status on facebook as "Jill is feeling like Wonder Woman minus the outfit" - and that is how I felt. Too much to do. Katie came home with the spider hat on Friday from school. This is the first year that she has wanted to wear hats. She wore it for a little while and then spent about 15 minutes torturing the poor spider by swinging it around until the legs fell off. It was beyond repair and has now made it's way into the dumpster :(

Then on Saturday we had soccer in the morning. Bill had to work so it was just the girls and I. I opted out of picture taking because I had my hands full with Katie. Mary's team won and she played very well -- especially at goalie. She has already told us that this is her last season of soccer and she has no desire to play again next year. It's her third year of soccer - fifth Bill and I are good with that. She is hoping to start Tai-Kwan-Do lessons this summer.

We then had a two hour pool party on Saturday afternoon at the Middle School pool. I was dreading this b/c Katie always is a handful when we go swimming. She wants to swim but has a hard time adjusting to the initial shock of swimming (temperature, etc. ). Then, once she is in she has no desire to get out. Even after two hours of non-stop swimming when she is rubbing her eyes and is barely able to stand up on her own. Thankfully I didn't even have to get in the pool. Our neighbors (who were having the party for their kids' birthdays)helped get her in and adjusted and I was able to hang out on the side of the pool. Katie can swim, but we just put her in a lifejacket and let her bob around. She is much happier this way. Mary spent the majority of her time practicing her diving technique. It still needs a little work and she ended up doing quite a few belly flops. She ended up coming home and was in bed for the night at 5:30. If only Katie could have followed suit we would have been all set :), but the Katie-bug held out for regular bedtime.

It's been a crazy weekend. But a good one. Church today was great. Katie's "buddy" is working out fabulously. So far 3 weeks in a row of church with no significant issues. It might be a record. I have to work early, so I need to go to bed...more later. Goodnight.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Need Some Encouragement?

I haven't really talked about it on my blog much, but I have been following the story of a beautiful baby girl Audrey Caroline. The link to her blog is on the right under "Bring the Rain" which is the title of her blog. Her story and the story of her parents and how God is using them to minister to so many people is very touching. There is a 20 minute video that I believe you will find very worth your time. If you know me, you know that I lost a child at birth a little over 9 years ago. Audrey Caroline's story is near to me because of what Bill and I went through when our son died. Just as God was able to use our child's death to work in our lives and the lives of those we knew and were able to minister to, Todd and Angie are being used of God in mighty ways. Get a cup of coffee and let God work in you as you listen to their story. What do you do when God shows you Plan B?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Just a note...

I have now added the ability for those of you without blogger accounts to leave a comment on our blog. You may sign in as an anonymous user...just make sure you tell me who you are in the comment :)