Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Adventure

I'm over a week late, but I still wanted to post pictures from our trip to the pumpkin patch 2 Saturdays ago! The weather had been cold and nasty the week prior to this now, infamous outing, so it was supposed to be a nice treat to be outside in anything other than heavy jackets, mitts, toques and boots! But, because of the nicer break in the weather, EVERYONE else decided to go to the pumpkin farm on the same day! We could barely move - seriously! And just the day before, the 3-4 inches of snow that was on the ground, had rapidly melted, turning all dirt pathways into muddy pathways... We had to wait in line for about 40 min. for lunch and by then, it was not the kids that were cranky, it was my husband! I think it all started when he had to pay $9.25 cents per person just to get onto the farm. Then, there were numerous crafts, games or activities that were an additional $2 charge each. We avoided those like the plague, but felt guilty at the same time, like we were bad parents and our kids were missing out... This was my first time to any pumpkin patch - ever! I was so excited before we got there, but so disappointed the moment I saw the place. Where were the piles of pumpkins for cute, fall photo sessions with my kids?? Well, because we live in this stupid, freezing country (yes, I really did just say that!), the pumpkins all had to be mass harvested and brought into a green house. Bummer! I wanted to actually pick a pumpkin! So, we manged to have some semblance of "fun" before trudging through the mud, back to our car (parked about 2 miles away because there were so many people there!). I think Sara and Sky had way less expectations than I did, so I was able to snap a few pictures of their happy smiles! They actually enjoyed themselves for the most part!

Guess how many pounds this pumpkin is, and you get to take it home! Really? No way do I want to cart that thing home! (How do you like Sky's tough guy pose?!)
Sara being silly and hopping on one leg at the top of a very large pile of hay!Sky, the pumpkin-man! (Get it? Instead of a snowman?!)
This was the hay mountain at the center of the hay bale maze! This was definitely their favourite - they could have done that all day long!
Petting the bunnies was another big favourite! They were sooo soft!
I love the expression of surprise on Sara's face! I would love to know what she was thinking!
Later that evening, we had fully recovered! :-) The kids each picked a pumpkin at the farm (from the greenhouse...). Sara chose to decorate hers like this... And Sky wanted to carve his pumpkin. This was the end result! Joshua had never carved a pumpkin before! I must say I was very impressed! While the carving was going on, I separated, cleaned and roasted the pumpkin seeds! This was my big "first" for the day! They turned out really good, if I say so myself!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada! Today I am most thankful for my family near and far. You are all loved and thought of today! I'm also very thankful for my nice, warm house because there's been snow on the ground since Thursday morning!

Last night we had our big dinner with Joshua's parents and sister. The food was more than plentiful and very, very yummy! I baked the ham all afternoon at our house, complete with a brown sugar glaze. When it was ready we wrapped it up and drove through the gently falling snow to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I also brought along two of my other favourite traditions - sparkling juice and pumpkin bread! Mom had spent the day baking apple pie and pumpkin pie as well as all the other fixins' to go with the ham. We had a fun evening of eating, playing and laughing. After dinner, Grandpa had a good chance to work off some of the calories he took in! The entertainment included:

Horsey rides...

Double Piggy Back rides (this equals about 105 lbs.!)

And an attempt at the tallest shoulder stack ever!
Success! Well, maybe more of disaster waiting to happen, but they were sure having fun!
The big boys (Daddy and Grandpa) also indulged in a little leg wrestling and arm wrestling, much to the amusement of all of us! I will spare them the embarrassment of pictures. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful, thankful day, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day today or not!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rainy Day Activities

We've had cool and rainy days since Monday. It's tempting to watch too much T.V. or play too many computer games when the weather gets like this. I keep saying to the kids, "Turn off the T.V.!!" But, then I have to get off the computer! So, I've had to be intentional about finding alternative things to do! Here a few of our rainy day activities so far:

  • Colouring, drawing and painting
  • Setting up play tents in the basement and playing "camping" most of the day on Monday.
  • Making paper airplanes with the babysitter while Mommy went for a massage on Tuesday!
  • A Tuesday afternoon trip to the Telus World of Science, where we even got to see a demonstration called, "Fire and Fury." Very cool fire "magic"!
  • O.K., I'll admit it - lots of Treehouse, movies and Facebook...
  • Playing card games and laughing together Wednesday afternoon! The kids are getting to the age where they are actually fun to play games with!
  • Going out for a pizza supper with Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie Shannon last night.
  • Making homemade play dough today and sampling pretend cookies and pies all morning. (See pictures below.)
I think we've done a pretty good job of entertaining ourselves, don't you think?! What do you do when the rain keeps coming down?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Camping at Gull Lake

Yikes, am I ever behind this week! First, I wanted to post about our camping trip last weekend. A couple people have asked me about it... It was a good trip, with no major mishaps! We only went for one night, as we had another commitment last Friday night. (Usually we head out Friday after Joshua is home from work, and camp for 2 nights.) So, we finished packing up on Saturday morning, picked up breakfast at Tim Horton's and enjoyed the nice drive together. We got to Gull Lake around noon. We quickly set up our tent and inflated the air mattresses. The tent was a little stinky after being packed away for so many months! It was good that it had a few hours to air out before we had to sleep in it!

We changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach. Lunch was chicken fingers, cheeseburgers and onion rings from the concession stand. It was a nice, sunny day, but there was a pretty good breeze coming off the water. It was quite cool! Joshua and I had no interest in the water, but the kids were crazy enough to get in a few times! I waded in once, and although the water wasn't that cold, any wet part of the body exposed to the breeze was freezing! There's a huge playground right on the edge of the water, so the kids had fun playing there. Sara recently figured out how to do the monkey bars and that's all she wants to do. Unfortunately for her, she went about 30 times on Saturday and got huge blisters on the palms of both hands! One of them burst open too. Poor kid! That made the rest of the afternoon a little difficult. Even playing in the sand was painful... Sky spent lots of time in the sand, making roads and hills. He's my little creator, always building something! I didn't take any pictures. The only one I took all weekend is the one you see above. (Relaxing by the fire while supper was cooking over the coals.) Bad mommy!

Our night was also good. No rain and no wind - it suddenly got very calm around supper time. We enjoyed supper, Daddy's Yummy Campfire Meal. Afterwards, we took a walk down to the boat dock to watch people loading their boats back onto their trailers. That's always entertaining! You can tell the novices from the experienced ones right away! Then, it was s'mores over the campfire time, clean up and bedtime! We all slept quite well and neither kid had an accident in their sleeping bag. That's always a fear of mine!

Sunday morning we had muffins for breakfast and packed up our stuff. The wind and some clouds blew in again while we were eating, and briefly splattered a few raindrops on us. The clouds blew away, but the wind stayed. We attempted to spend more time at the beach, but it was extremely windy and cold. The kids played on the playground a bit, we played a family game of tag on the sand, and then decided to find somewhere warm to eat lunch! We had breakfast for lunch at our favourite restaurant in Red Deer. After lunch, we drove around exploring the countryside a bit before heading home. Unpacking the car was so easy because everything was dry and could be put away immediately! Last year, we had so much rain on our camping trips that we were always drying things out before we could put away. It was a treat to not have to do that!

So, our first camping trip was a success! We're looking forward to the next weekend trip out July 17-19!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Aloha Friday #17 - Summer Camping!

It's Aloha Friday! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions. But...you do not have to link up to answer the question!

Today's question is:
Do you go camping as a family? If you so, do you have a tent, tent trailer, or RV/5th wheel trailer?

Today, I'm packing up for our first weekend camping trip of the summer! Last year was our first year to camp - ever - so it was a pretty steep learning curve! We have a nice, big, 3 room tent that has worked really well for our family so far. Throughout the summer last year, I worked on making a master packing list, that I keep on the computer. When it's time to go camping, I just print out a fresh list and cross things off as I pack. We pretty much have everything contained to 4 Rubbermaid tubs, plus the coolers for cold food. The tent, sleeping bags, and mattresses go in the car top carrier we have for skis in the winter. I have all the grocery shopping done, so I don't have to run out for that today. Last year, we had to buy EVERYTHING because it was our first year. Last night, when we pulled everything out of the storage room, it was so nice to already have everything we need! Sara and Sky are so excited! We are going to our favourite spot, about an hour and a half away. There's a lake with a really great beach and huge playground right on the edge of the water! The water is shallow for a long way out, so it's great for small children...and quite warm! We're hoping the nice weather we've had lately holds up for the whole weekend. Now I'm off to bake some muffins and pack up our clothing! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. You have to check out our favourite camping meal - Daddy's Yummy Campfire Meal. I posted this on the recipe blog I participate in, Recipeasy, last summer. You'll love it - I guarantee it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Encourage and Inspire Award

Today I was honoured to receive this beautiful award from my bloggy friend, Kelly, over at My Voice, My View. I couldn't believe Kelly would be sharing this award with me, because she is the one with the inspiring, encouraging blog! A few months ago, Kelly found my blog (do you remember how you found me, Kelly?), and started leaving comments - for every post! She definitely has the gift of encouragement! After I realized she was following my blog, I started to follow hers as well. Kelly has one of the most encouraging, and "real" blogs of all the ones I read. I've laughed and cried with this complete stranger! I have truly appreciated our new bloggy friendship. Thanks, Kelly, for sharing this with me.

There are other blogs that I read regularly that are also an encouragement and inspiration to me, each in their own way. So, I would like to share this award with with these dear friends:

1. Emily, at Macaroni and Cheese
2. Nadine, at Daughter of the King
3. Mary Kathryn, at Love, Life, Family
4. Kerry, at Shealy Stories (this is a private blog)

5. Sarah, at Sarah, Short and Gaudy

May each of you be inspired or encouraged by someone today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yesterday's Outcome

Yesterday was exhausting, hopeful, stressful, and encouraging all rolled into one big ball of emotions. I'll try to be brief.

The doctor:
- I didn't like the unattractive, poorly lit office. Bad vibes right from the start.
- The doctor was rude to Sky right off the bat. She (the doctor) asked Sara what grade she was in. Before Sara could answer, Sky blurted, "Grade 2!" She looked at him, with no smile or teasing in her voice at all, and said, "Are you Sara?"
- I was informed on the phone that this appointment was strictly for meeting the doctor and gathering family history. I kind of hoped that we could address the autism issue a little, but after telling myself that probably wouldn't happen, I left my list of concerns and symptoms at home.
- I was forced to explain all of Sara's "faults" while she sat right next to me. My heart was breaking and I was stumbling all over my words, trying to say things with as many big words or vague terms so that Sara would be spared as much as possible.
- The doctor was obviously not a big fan of homeschooling. I didn't like the tone of her questions, especially the ones about socialization.
- I left with a requisition for a urine test at the lab (Sara still has daytime bladder control problems quite frequently) and the referral to a neurodevelopmental clinic.
-I also left wanting to cry, but I found the courage to paste on a smile and stay upbeat for Sara's sake. Poor kid. She didn't say much, but I can only imagine how she was feeling. I know I felt like an idiot.
- The referral is the one good thing I got out of the visit. I have to fill out a couple of forms, return it to the doctor, who will then send it to the neurodevelopmental clinic. She said the clinic would probably not give me booking until we had the results from Sara's academic assessment back. I'm getting Shelley's help with the form (my friend who worked with autistic kids).

Interview with Susan Peacock:

- Completely different atmosphere - my nerves were soothed immediately.
- When Susan came out to call us into her office, she looked straight into Sara's eyes and kindly said, "And you must be Sara!" That was not lost on me.
- Her first question was, "Have you explained to Sara what we're doing?" Her concern for Sara as a little person was very evident.
- The conversation with Susan was easy, relaxed and full of hope. She wanted to know the struggles, but she also wanted to know Sara's strengths.
- She wrote everything down which showed me that she cared and that she was going to be thorough. She never made us feel stupid for anything we shared. If it was important to Joshua or I, she made it important to her too.
- Susan affirmed us as parents and as Sara's teachers. She said something very early on in our conversation that I will never forget. She said, "Because you are homeschooling Sara, you are already 99% ahead of all the other (schooling) options out there." I think Joshua and I both really needed to hear that from an "expert." I was so encouraged with how pro-homeschooling she was.
- She assured us that at the end of this assessment, we would have answers and would be equipped with tons of ideas and suggestions to help Sara as we continue to homeschool. She was incredibly positive and we so needed that as a family.
- Sara's first one-on-one session with Susan is next week on Tuesday, at 10 a.m. She's going to try 2 hours to begin with, and see if Sara can handle that much. If not, she said we can cut the sessions back to 1 1/2 hours or even down to 1 hour if we need to. Our total number of hours with Susan will come to about 11 hours, so we'll just get there at the pace that's right for Sara.
- Sara seemed comfortable enough with Susan. A little shy, but that's to be expected! Joshua and I laughed on the way home, because by the end of the hour with Susan, Sara was exhibiting some very ADHD symptoms! Being cooped up in an office for an entire hour with nothing much to do, except listen to adults talk, will do that to you! I talked to Sara at bedtime. She said she liked Susan. I told her that if she felt nervous about anything or had questions that she could talk to me about it anytime.
- The beauty of this assessment, as Susan explained, is that it really doesn't "matter" what or how Sara does with the activities and testing. She doesn't have to get everything right or meet certain goals. Susan just needs to find out how Sara learns and where the glitches are. Then, Susan shared that there are really two ways to deal with those glitches. You can either find a way to detour around a learning problem and get at it another way, or once you know what the difficulty is, you will know how to fix it altogether in some cases. She said there is rarely something that comes up that you would just throw your hands up and say, "Oh my, there's nothing we can do about this - we're just going to have to live with it!"
- Today, I'm so excited to start! Last night, the stress of the day, got the better of all of us. Sara had a meltdown at suppertime. In the midst of trying to resolve that, Joshua and I ended up at each other's throat's (I know this NEVER happens at your house!), so the rest of the evening was rather tense. I woke up feeling terrible. I finally let the tears come - the kind that almost make you throw up... After venting to my dear friend, Karen, on the phone, I feel much better! Thanks Karen, for listening!

I want to thank each one of you, again, for the incredible prayer partners and support you have been to me (us). For those of you on Facebook, who have sent me long messages, thank you! I will reply to each one of you, but it's going to take me awhile to get to all of them. I have been so encouraged and I feel very loved by each one of you who have taken the time to read my epic posts and even care about them!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Big Day

Today is the big day for our family - especially Sara. I don't really know if she's nervous or not. She doesn't verbalize those kinds of feelings to me very well. She did wake up a bit too early and has been VERY cranky, so that's usually a sign that she's feeling anxious. Please keep her in your prayers today. Our appointment to meet the family doctor is at 1:40 p.m. This should be pretty low key, as this appointment is only to meet our family and gather family history. I'm hoping to cram as much in as possible, but I think the main discussion concerning autism, will have to wait until the next appointment.

At 4 p.m. we will have our initial interview with Susan Peacock about the learning assessment. Again, this should be pretty relaxed, but new situations can be stressful and intimidating to Sara. Joshua will be joining us for this appointment, so I'm glad for that! Please pray that we will have to wisdom to share exactly what Susan needs to learn about Sara before continuing with the one-on-one assessment. I tend to get bogged down with too much detail and sharing instead of sticking to what's really necessary! I'm confident this will be a good meeting. The only thing I'm nervous about right now, is finding my way to Susan's office! Edmonton is still a big, new city to me and I get so scared trying to find new places!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aloha Friday #16

It's Aloha Friday! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions. But...you do not have to link up to answer the question!

This week's question comes from my husband. I was feeling lazy last night and asked him what my Aloha Friday question should be! Here's what he came up with:

If you were a fruit, which fruit would you be?

After he said that, I moaned, "Then I have to answer that question!" He said I was a strawberry. I could agree with that! Small, bright and colourful - but sometimes a bit tart when you bite into it... Yep, that pretty much describes me! Now it's your turn! I can hardly wait to hear these today!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy News!

Yesterday morning I called the lady who was recommended to us for Sara's academic assessment. Her name is Susan Peacock, so I will refer to her as Susan, rather than "the lady" from now on! I had learned of Susan last Monday, but fear held me back from calling her right away. I was afraid I would get my hopes up, and then she would tell me that she was all booked up for the summer or that Sara was too young... Then, Joshua asked me a few days ago if I'd called her yet. I said no, but I would. I tried to find Susan in the phonebook and there were too many choices. So, I e-mailed my friend who recommended Susan and asked for her number. She e-mailed back right away. I called Susan yesterday morning and left a message, not really expecting to hear back very soon. I was actually surprised when I answered the phone right after lunch and Susan identified herself as the caller! I knew as soon as we started talking that she was going to be the perfect fit for our family! I felt very comfortable talking to her and she immediately put some of my fears to rest. She didn't tell me I was overly concerned and should "wait it out" some more. She didn't tell me Sara was too young. She did tell me she had appointments available next week! It was all I could do to keep from squealing with excitement! Then, when I got off the phone I cried tears of joy! After working things out with Joshua's schedule at work, we settled on Monday at 4 p.m. We will all go together as a family. It really couldn't come much sooner than that! I also have the appointment with the family doctor at 1:40 p.m. that afternoon, so it will be a busy day for us. This initial time with Susan is just for Joshua and I to tell her as much about Sara as possible. Then, there will be three or four, 2 hour sessions where Susan will work one on one with Sara. Susan said she keeps it as casual and fun as possible. Just from talking on the phone I think Sara will really like Susan. I even asked how she would recommend that I present this whole thing to Sara. She said to put it all on myself, telling Sara that I need to learn how to teach her the best way. She said to let Sara know that she (Susan) will help us so that school will be much easier from now on. When I told Sara about meeting Susan, she seemed a bit nervous, but she agreed with me that she would like school to be easier. Every day is a struggle around here. So many times, when I tell Sara it's time to read or do Math, I see the panic and fear in her eyes. She never tells me she's afraid - she just acts out by stalling (I'm thirsty, I'm hungry, I have to pee...) or arguing or crying or just outright saying, "No." Then, I have to discipline for the bad attitude, but I think sometimes Sara starts to associate school "performance" with getting disciplined. I try to tell her that I'm not mad at her because she makes mistakes or because something is hard. I just need her to learn that a bad attitude is not acceptable. Some days I can do and say all of that very patiently, but as you can imagine, some days we are just both screaming and crying together. "Oh, Lord, please let Susan be the one to help take away much of this heartache."

I want to thank all of you, my dear friends, for your outpouring of love, prayers and support during this time. I have been so blessed by all the words of love and encouragement. I have always found writing to be very therapeutic for me. It helps me to organize and clarify my thoughts. It's one of the easiest ways for me to express myself. I may share more detail than you are sometimes interested in, but it sure helps me to write it all out!
Thanks for reading and listening.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Explaining the ache in my heart - the weight on my shoulders...

This post comes with a warning. I am going to be very real and honest about some things going on in my life. If you want a barrel of sunshine, go read someone else's post today...

My heart has been overwhelmed lately with some things concerning our little princess...Sara. I've hesitated to share anything because I don't officially "know" anything yet. So, as you read, please know that I am not trying to be overly dramatic or state anything as "fact."

I've shared before that Sara has had her struggles with s
chool since she started Grade 1. Basically, those struggles seem to have worsened, especially in the area of Math. We had our end-of-the-year visit with our facilitator last Monday (June 8) and it proved to be a very difficult time. Our facilitator informed us that Sara is a full year behind, and maybe more in certain subjects. That was a surprise to me. And an even bigger and more upsetting surprise to Joshua. We knew things didn't come easily to her, but not that she would be considered that behind. Sara should be starting Grade 3 in the fall, but has really only completed Grade 1 material. Now, here's where I know people have many differing opinions. Joshua and I happen to be of two very different opinions. We're talking through a lot of things and researching a lot of things right now. I know that many of you who are reading this will want to say to me that, "It doesn't matter where Sara is academically - after all, isn't that the beauty of homeshooling?" Or, "Who cares is she's behind? My child is behind too. Sara will eventually catch up. Don't panic." Those things that I just said, are basically MY opinion of everything. I said basically, because there are some more things I will get to later in this post. The issue is, Joshua is of an entirely different mind set. Academic success is very important to him. He will move mountains to "fix" this "problem" with Sara. It is NOT O.K. with him that Sara is not at grade level. While I know that many of you will not agree with this or will even frown upon such ideas, I am the one who has to live in harmony with my husband. I have to listen to his opinions and concerns and do my best to accommodate those things. I still have to honour him and the way he "ticks." I do respect my husband and I'm confident the Lord will show us how to agree together. In the meantime, I am not asking for advice. Just prayer and support, as we work through all of this. This all weighs very heavily on me. It is not fun to be on a different page than your spouse - ever - but, this is a big one. When we chose to homeschool, we took the full weight of responsibility in regards to our children's education. It is a BIG responsibility at any time, but when there are extra challenges, it seems so very heavy. Some people may think or say, "What, are you crazy?! If it's so hard, why don't you send her to school? Why do you do this to yourself?" I am fully committed to homeschooling my children and it would take a very special set of circumstances to make me change my mind. I firmly believe in homeschooling for our children and I will do anything within my power to continue to do so. I will explain what that will look like for this next year at the end of this post.

The other biggie that has come up lately is something that may surprise many of you. Again, I am not asking for advice. This is an even harder one to explain...but, we are in the process of figuring out whether or not Sara is somewhere on th
e autism spectrum. Yes, I'm serious and no, I'm not crazy! I've been letting people tell me for about 4-5 years now that I'm too paranoid or overly concerned, etc. It was always deny, deny, deny. Push down the feelings, and try to pretend that everything was normal. Well, I'm totally done with that. Can you sense the emotions as I'm typing? I never knew what could possibly be different about Sara, but I knew in my gut that I wasn't crazy. As you all know, this recent move to St. Albert has been very difficult for me. I did NOT want to move here. But, I'm beginning to see why the Lord has us here now. He has placed several wonderful, Christian, homeschooling moms into my life who have given me soooo much insight about Sara. I won't mention names due to the sensitive nature to their own situations. One mom, whose daughter has become our new favourite babysitter, has a son who they believe to be somwhere on the autism spectrum. Because we live 5 minutes from each other and her daughter babysits for us often, we've gotten to know each other quite a bit. I gradually began to share some of my struggles with her. As she observed and spent time with our family, she told me that Sara reminded her so much of her son when he was younger. I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from her, asking her so many questions about behaviours, schooling, etc. As our relationship progressed, she encouraged me to Google "autism spectrum" in my search to find help for Sara. I will never forget the day I began to read the articles I found on-line. It was the first time I felt like something made sense. The puzzle pieces of Sara's life finally seemed to fit together and so many things became easier for Joshua and I to understand. Because I don't know anything officially, I hesitate to share specific things. This whole autism thing is somewhat tied to the academic learning struggles, but is more a separate issue. If you look at a list of autism spectrum symptoms, Sara fits a lot of the social issues to some degree or another. If I were to be specific, it may just be confusing to those who aren't familiar with autism. I have also talked extensively with a friend I have known for years who worked with and diagnosed autistic kids for 10 years. She is home now with her own children, but autistic children are still very close to her heart. She has been able to give me specific advice to the province of Alberta and the process we need to go through for a diagnosis. She has confirmed that, although Sara is very high functioning, there are some definite red flags and she has encouraged us to pursue some answers. So, the first step is to get in with a family doctor and explain our situation. We have an appointment with a doctor (which was an answer to prayer just for that) on Monday, June 22. Hopefully, she will give me the referral to a pediatrician I'm looking for. The pediatrician is the one who would make the diagnosis and then refer us to any specialists we might need.

As far as Sara's learning disabilities and struggles, we are planning to have her assessed this summer. Another homeshcool friend/mom has recommended a lady to us, who was very helpful to their family in the assessment of their son recently. I am currently trying to get into contact with her. We hope to get some answers with this lady by the end of the summer. With that information, we plan to homeschool Sara for at least one more year. After that, we will re-evaluate. While I do not believe my child needs to be the next Math whiz or super reader, there is obviously something that she is not "getting." This is why were are taking steps to have Sara assessed and evaluated. I don't think that she needs to be "fixed." I love her the way she is. But, I do think that I need to be more equipped and informed as I am teaching her everyday. I need to know how to help her learn more effectively. We need to reduce frustrations and stress levels around here. Sara needs to have more confidence and less fear as she learns. I want to do everything possible to make those things happen in our home.

Right now, we are just playing the waiting game. It's so hard to wait when you want answers right away. I guess my thoughts and emotions get the better of me some days. Trying to teach and mother and love a child with learning disabilities and autism all wrapped up into one, is so very hard some days. It just really sucks some days. I am exhausted some days. That's where I am right now. My friend who worked with the autistic kids told me that parents of "spectrum kids" go through a grieving process that has many different stages. I'm kind of dealing with the initial yucky stages of everything right now. It is hard for me to talk about all of this, and yet, a relief at the same time. I tried to make as much sense as possible, but forgive me if I just rambled around. I will keep you posted as we walk this journey.
"For you formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise you You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."
Psalm 139:13,14

Friday, June 5, 2009

Aloha Friday #15

It's Aloha Friday! I've been rather sporadic lately, but I'm always back for more! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions. But...you do not have to link up to answer the question!

This week's question:

What is your favourite flower and/or shrub in your garden?

We have moved a lot (8 times in 9 years of marriage), so things are constantly changing in my yard and garden! There are two things t
hat I always like to have blooming in whatever space I may have - pansies and lilacs! I'm excited to have both this year and I'm loving it! I didn't think I had a lilac in my new yard, but discovered it a few weeks ago, kind of tucked behind our big spruce tree! Here a few pics. It's cloudy today, so they're not the greatest, but the flowers are still beautiful.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Come one, come all...I'm giving something away!!

I wanted to have a giveaway every month this year, but alas, I have fallen behind a few months... Today is the day I'm getting back on track! Maybe I'll do 2 giveaways this month?? We'll see!

Here is my June giveaway. A CD by Jon Bauer titled "Giver of Grace." Jon Bauer is actually a member of the church we attend and makes his home here in St. Albert. He travels all over Canada doing concerts, but when he's home, we are privileged to have Jon lead worship for our church on Sunday morning! This CD is a recording that Jon did with some of the children at our church. When he released the CD, he and the kids did all the songs on a Sunday morning and that was church that week! It was really a special time! We have all of Jon's CD's, but this one is the definite favourite around here! It's Sara's top pick, for sure. When she wants to listen to music, this is the first one she puts in the CD player. It was her first choice of CD's to be loaded onto her MP3 player that she recently got! Some of the songs are familiar worship songs, and others are ones that Jon Bauer wrote himself. This is one CD that appeals to both kids and adults, so you won't mind listening to this in the car with the whole family! If you want to check out Jon Bauer's website, click here.

If you would like a chance to have this CD, leave me a comment and tell me what your favourite summertime activity is! I will make the draw on June 14th! Ready, Set, GO!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's Only Been 7 Months...

Yesterday I got a haircut for the first time in 7 months! I've never been one for getting my hair cut on a consistent basis, but I think this is a new record for me! Since it's such a momentous occasion, I thought you might like to see pictures.

Here I am, squinting in the sun. Joshua likes the sexy little flip over my eye, but it's driving me crazy! I think I got about 4 inches off. It feels great!

This is the way I'll be wearing it around the house until the little flip grows out a bit!This week is official haircut week because the kids got theirs done on Monday! They love going to Beaner's, a kids hair "salon" here. It's a really fun place, complete with T.V.'s playing cartoons at every chair, a ball pit, and free lollipops! Sara got blue "hair" braided into her hair, so she's having fun showing that off. Here's a pic...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Aloha Friday #14

It's Aloha Friday! I've missed a few lately (again!), but I will always come back for more! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions. (But, you do not have to link up! You can just simply answer the question!)

Warm Spring weather is officially here and we're finally breaking out the shorts, capris and sandals around here! We recently took a trip to Texas and I treated my bare toes to a little bit of colour for the first time in a long time! Sara also wanted her toes painted the same as Mommy's, so we have matching toenails!

So, my question for today is:

What colour are your toenails painted? Do you like to be wild and crazy with your colours or stick with the more conservative shades?

Right now, mine are a pearly mauve colour. The most wild I ever get is my bright, sparkly red nail polish!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


And this was at 6 o'clock this evening! Joshua and I went to a marriage session thing at church, called "Leading From Your Strengths." It was good, but....the laundry room still looks like this! Tomorrow will be busy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Easter Pictures!

Easter Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day! The kids humoured me for some pictures before we headed to church in the morning. I wanted Sky to tuck his shirt in, but both males in the house out-voted me...

After Sky kept squinting and complaining about the sun in his eyes, I switched Sara to the other side of him, so she would block the sun! She was more agreeable than he was!Sara posed for a few more pictures after church. She got the lamb from her Auntie Shannon.
For lunch after church, we enjoyed sandwiches and fresh veggies on our back deck! First time to eat outside this year! Also the first time we got to wear shorts and capris! After lunch we played in the backyard and just soaked up the sun for awhile. We were invited to a friends' house for the afternoon and dinner. Chris and Christy have 4 sweet, energetic children. It was so much fun hanging out with them! The kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt for mini chocolate eggs and jelly beans. Here is Sara showing me her eggs! Notice the sunshine and sleeveless dress!!
Sky teamed up with his friend, Johnny, who is also 5. They put their chocolate eggs and jelly beans into this bottle and then shared it all later! It was so cute!
We had a wonderful visit! Christy outdid herself with the meal. Homemade Chicken Cordon Bleu with lots of other yummy things. Then, when you thought it couldn't get any better, dessert was a homemade strawberry shortcake! Christy and I worked together to make everything all afternoon and we had a lot of fun together in the kitchen! All went smoothly unless we ended up with more than 1 or 2 of the 6 children in the kitchen at the same time! :-) We went home tired, but happy and thankful for good friends! Maybe Edmonton/St. Albert is beginning to feel more like home after all...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Is A Test...I'm Still Here...Are You?

Just wanted to let you know I'm back to the blogging world! It's been too long... I'm going to do my best attempt at bringing you up to date, but I don't want to overwhelm you with one, long post. So, this post is to let you know that you should check in every day this week and I will have a bite-sized post for you to enjoy! First one starts later this afternoon or evening. Leave a comment to let me know you're with me!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Melting!!!

We can see grass in our yard!! On Sunday, I excitedly pointed out to the rest of the family that I could see a small section of grass on the edge of the lawn. It's already melted away this much in 2 1/2 days!!

Some other signs of Spring:
  • The sun is shining lots and actually feels warm!
  • Joshua took the kids bikes down from the hooks in the garage ceiling on Friday!
  • There are puddles of dirty water everywhere. (But getting smaller all the time!)
  • I am washing extra loads of wet, muddy clothes. (Hmmm, wonder how that happened...)
  • We're going for walks again!
  • I went out without a jacket this afternoon!
  • The birdies are singing more!
  • Swimming lessons are starting tomorrow.

Now I'm waiting for the grass to green up and the trees to start budding! It won't be long!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Aloha Friday #13

It's Aloha Friday! I've missed a few lately, but I'm back for more! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions.

My question for today is:

During Spring/Summer do you prefer longer hair where you can put it up or pull it back on hot days, or a short haircut that's easy, breezy everyday?

I desperately need a haircut - SOON! It's been 5 months since the last one! Obviously, it's grown a lot in that time frame. I can't decide if I want to chop it off short,or..... just get a trim, so I can do the whole ponytail/up-do thing when I want to. I'm going to call and make my appointment right now!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Look Mom...No Hands!!

This is one thing you can do to amuse yourself when it's too cold to play outside! Click play and tell me if your heart doesn't skip a beat!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The First Weekend of Spring

The first day of Spring, dawned bright and sunny! Still lots of snow everywhere and still cold, but at least it was sunny! We have a unique tradition that my mom started when I was a teenager and my sisters where very small. She struggled with the focus that everyone puts on Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies and Easter egg hunts when Easter is really supposed to be about Jesus and His resurrection. She loved all the Easter basket/chocolate sort of stuff, so she came up with the idea to indulge in all of that on the first day of Spring! With the exception of last year, I have adopted the same tradition with my children. I almost lost my resolve to celebrate Spring Day this year, with all the nasty cold and snow we've been having, but at 11:15 p.m. on Thursday, I decided to go ahead and put together the kids Spring baskets. (I had already bought all the candy and toys.) I loaded the baskets, filled the plastic eggs, and quickly decorated the house with my spring-y decorations!

I can't say that Spring Day was completely full of smiles and giggles and fun times. My lovely daughter actually woke up with a terrible attitude, which did not mix well with the fact that I slept horribly the night before and had a really sore neck. I felt sorry for Sky when he woke up! After a spanking a long talk with both kids, we finally were able to come downstairs and enjoy our Spring Day celebration. Here are the kids with their baskets. The smiles are a little forced!
There's one more chocolate bunny in there somewhere!Sky wasted no time in enjoying his chocolate!

Sara putting together the mini puzzle she got in her Kinder Surprise egg. (They do not allow these to be sold in the States, so look up the website to see what I'm talking about! They're wonderful!)I found these little "bunny blasters" at Wal-Mart. They look like baby nose syringe bulbs. You stick a foam "dart" on the nose part and squeeze the bulb part. I was surprised how well it worked! Those little darts can really fly!

After having fun eating candy and shooting darts, it was time to get busy packing. We headed out just after noon for our final ski trip to Jasper. Daddy wanted to take the kids to the mountains one last time before the end of the season. It's a 4 hour trip, so we were happy to eat supper and relax in our hotel room that evening! That night it snowed about 10 cm at the ski hill, so Joshua was super excited to ski on some fresh powder. Grandpa came along on the trip as well, so the kids enjoyed skiing with him too. We came home Saturday night, just in time to tuck the kids into bed right away. I must say, I'm glad to be done with skiing for the year.

How was YOUR first weekend of Spring?

Friday, March 13, 2009

It Feels Like Spring Today!

In one week, the calendar says that we will be having the first official day of Spring. We just survived the coldest week of the season yet. On Tuesday morning, the official recorded temperature in Edmonton, was -42.7 degrees Celsius! My thermometer doesn't even go that low! Yikes! Today was a different story. It is well above freezing and the snow is melting like crazy! I stood outside this afternoon and could hear the sound of running water all around me! It was a beautiful sound! There is a lot of snow on the ground right now. Over a foot, and even deeper where the drifts are. It will be awhile before it all melts away, but hopefully today is the beginning of a very good thing called Spring! So, even though it doesn't really look like Spring yet, I'm going to pretend! Hence the new blog look! What do you think?! I love it!

Every Tuesday, Sky has his music/piano class from 1-2 p.m. Since you can't have other siblings present during the lesson, I have to find someone to watch Sara during that time. Grandma (Joshua's mom) is usually the one who comes to fill that need for me. When she comes, she brings lunch, we eat together, and then Sky and I leave for his class. It's become a fun little tradition every week! (If Grandma can't come for some reason, I take Sara to Patricia's house and she has tons of fun there! Patricia is a homeschooled teenager and we've become good friends with the whole family.) This Tuesday Grandma came to be with Sara. After lunch was devoured, the kids got a hold of the camera and started taking pictures of everyone! Joshua was home for lunch too, so he got in on the action! Here are some of the shots they got.

Ha! Bet you didn't expect that last picture! (And Joshua didn't expect me to post this last picture, either!) Oh, what Daddy's will do to make their children laugh!

I will be back with more consistency after this weekend. Sara and Sky have 2 final ski races - one tomorrow morning and one on Sunday morning. And then, ski racing is finally and officially over for the season! You can't even imagine my relief!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We Have 3 Winners!

I apologize for being so late with the Pay It Forward Giveaway results. The weekend came and went before I suddenly realized I didn't do the draw on February 28th as I promised! I should write these things on my calendar... Anyway, no one entered the giveaway after the 28th anyway, so everything is still fair! Sky and Sara just drew 3 names for me, and the winners are:

Jen at Wade's World (Laugh with her, not at her!)

Miriam (Who happens to be on a cruise to Hawaii right now! I'm not jealous AT ALL!)

Kerry (With a newborn baby boy - blessing #5! She can use a little extra help in the kitchen right now!)

Congratulations! Since you are all friends on Facebook, please message me your addresses and I will get these scrubbie pads out to you right away! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Races

I will not bore you with details, because to anyone other than moms and dads, these ski races can all seem the same! Sara and Sky had races on both Saturday morning and Sunday morning this weekend. Saturday was our Nation's Cup #3, an "in-house" race with just the racers in our ski club. The kids are split into teams, and each team races for a different country. Sara races for Italy and Sky races for Canada. The first video here is Sara, taking her first run of the day. She missed a few gates, but she was a lot more confident than the last race a few weeks ago. You can see the happy smile at the end!

This is Sky, with his second run of the day. A couple of missed gates at the end, but I liked this video because of the thumbs up at the end! Such a little showman! He would want me to tell you that on his first run of the day, he didn't miss any gates for the first time in a race!

Sunday morning, we had to be at the ski hill at 7:45 a.m.! This race was way bigger than just our little ski club. Our ski club hosted the race, but racers from all over the province could register to race. There were 300 hundred racers, which meant 600 runs because everyone does 2 runs! There were so many people in the lodge in the morning picking up their racing bibs, you could hardly even move in there!

We also had the drama of forgetting Sara's mitts. Joshua had the idea to go through the "lost and found" bin and we found a pair of mitts that Sara could wear! They were a little small, but kept her hands warm. Then, when the ski shop opened at 9 a.m., we bought her a new pair that fit properly, so she could race without that distraction.

Also, I forgot the camera... No biggie, I was thinking. I got plenty of good videos the day before, so I would just enjoy watching the kids without the camera always in front of my face. Well, our little man actually won an award and I didn't have a camera to record the moment! Sky finished 7th place in the 5 year old male division! He skied perfect runs both times, with a time of 41 sec. the first time and 40 sec. the second time. Anyone in 4th - 10th place got a special ribbon. The 1st - 3rd places get to stand on a real podium and receive medals! Sky's coaches were very proud, as most of the boys who placed in the top 10, were already in their 2nd year of ski racing.

Sara was even faster and more confident for the Sunday race than she was on Saturday! She missed gates both times down, but she was so much faster. For the first run, she ran over the last gate, caught her ski and it popped right off - about 2 feet from the finish line!! She sat there trying to figure out what to do and I was screaming, "Sara, get up, get up, get across the line!" The next racer actually came up and passed her, crossing the finish line before she did! If she hadn't missed any gates, she would have had the right to a re-run, but she was already disqualified. (We don't tell her that, by the way.) So, that added to her time, but other than that, it was probably her best, fastest run ever, only missing 2 gates! We were very proud of both kids!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Aloha Friday #12

It's Aloha Friday! As a reminder, Aloha Friday is a blogging tradition that originally started with Kailani over on An Island Life. I ask you a simple question, and you answer! It's a great way to interact with family and friends and to meet new bloggy friends along the way! To participate, just head over to Kailani's blog and follow the instructions.

My question for the week:

What is your favourite bedtime snack?

I must admit, I almost always have a bedtime snack - unless dinner was really late or just lots of it! If I want something salty, it's definitely potato chips - my husband and I can polish off a whole bag in one evening! If the mood is sweet, then I really love Oreos dipped in milk!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pay It Forward Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago, I was the proud winner of a "Pay It Forward Giveaway" hosted by my friend, Sarah M.! I received a wonderful CD, Steven Curtis Chapman's "All About Love." Thank you again, Sarah! Now, it's my turn to give!

Here's how it works:

1. Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. On February 28th, I will draw three names, and they will be the winners! I will let you know that you won and mail you the prize.

2. The three people who win, will host their own "Pay It Forward Giveaway" and continue sharing the love! Now, naturally, this prize need not be extravagant, just a simple treat in the mail! You can choose any prize you'd like to give.

The giveaway I chose is a kitchen scrub pad! Now, before you either start laughing, or scream and run the other way, let me assure you that this is no ordinary scrub pad! This has been a "must-have" in my kitchen for several years now. They're kind of hard to describe, but I'll do my best. The pad feels very scratchy and abrasive, but are absolutely safe to use on any surface, including non-stick finishes and flat top stovetops. Don't let that fool you, though. These little pads can scrub off the worst stuck-on messes - that's why I love them so much! They're made from plastic, that's "woven" into little loops, that look just like terry cloth. This makes it really easy to rinse them out. They do not hold gunk and I've never had one get stinky, even after months of use! I usually use mine for about 3 months each. So, I hope that convinces you that it's worth entering the giveaway! I think you'll fall in love once you get one! So, comment and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Sign On My Back Reads "Please Run Me Over!"

Monday was Family Day in Alberta (and Ontario). It's actually an official holiday, so Joshua had the day off! Since moving to our new home, we aren't as close to the mountains as we used to be while living in the Calgary area. It used to take us only an hour and a half to get to the closest ski hills. Now, the nearest one is in Jasper, 4 entire hours away! It makes the one day ski trip, either very, very long (especially for children), or it necessitates an overnight stay. Then, you're talking about major expense because lodging in Jasper doesn't come cheap. Joshua went skiing in Jasper once with his dad for one of those VERY long days (up at 4 a.m. and home around 7 p.m.) just after Christmas. Then, Joshua and I were able to go with Bryan and Karen two weeks ago. We were feeling badly that kids hadn't had a chance to ski in the mountains this year, so we decided to splurge and take them for Family Day. Joshua's dad also joined us in Jasper, so that took some of the pressure off me. For those of you who don't know, skiing is not really my most favourite thing to do. I tolerate skiing but, I do not LOVE skiing - much to the chagrin of my dear husband.

Here's picture of me, Dad, Sky and Sara (left to right) on our first run down the mountain on Monday morning. It was an absolutely beautiful day!Sky joined me after a few runs for a break and a snack. He wanted iced tea and brownies!Sara was not about to go inside, so she and Daddy headed up for another run!Now I must tell you what happened to me after lunch. My family convinced me that I should go with them to the very top of the mountain (instead of just the chair that takes you to about halfway). It involves taking two chair lifts to get there. After you get off the first one, you have to ski down a short "Blue" run (that's intermediate for you non-skiers), to get to the next chair lift. There hasn't been any new snow lately in Jasper, so there were some pretty icy spots on the runs. I was slowly, but surely making my way down, just trying to get that part over with. My little racing children had already disappeared with Grandpa! As I made another turn, suddenly, another less-than-confident skier, came right across my path and we ran into each other. She managed to stay on her feet (I found out later), but I lost control, fell backwards, and began sliding down the hill FAST! At first, my legs started to go in the wrong direction, but I somehow managed to get them back together. Now, my skis are pointed straight downhill, and I was still attached to them!! I had a lot of thoughts going through my head in the next 10 seconds, but my foremost feeling was anger. I was so incredibly angry with that woman for making me fall! I screamed my head off as I hurtled down the hill, desperately trying to make my skis go sideways, so I could dig in and stop! I didn't care what kind of a scene I was making - I just wanted that girl to feel REALLY bad for taking me out! I finally stopped, still in one piece, with a very painful spot in my middle back. Not to mention my extremely wounded pride! Joshua, who was right behind me, has dubbed me with "the most spectacular fall that anyone has ever made while I was skiing with them!" Oh yay! As Joshua helped me up and returned my poles, I demanded to know where the girl was who ran into me. I was informed she stopped momentarily, looked at me still falling, and proceeded on her way. Can you believe it??!! I was TICKED! If I took somebody out like that, I would not just ski away without apologizing and offering to help! It's probably just as well, though, because I was mad enough to beat her up! Karen, I told you I had a sign on my back! (A snowboarder ran into me last week, while I was trying to help Karen ski. Fortunately I was standing still, and didn't fall over. And I was glad it was me and not Karen!) Anyway, I finally made it onto the second chair lift and all the way up the mountain. I had a little venting/cry session on the way, which made me feel much better!

Here I am, with Sara and Sky ready to head ALL the way down the mountain! It was truly an incredible view! And I lived to see it! I also made it down without further tragedy! Sky went on a Blue run with Grandpa, and I went down the Green (easy) with Joshua and Sara. Sara was looking out for me the whole way and made nice, slow turns so I could follow her down. She's a sweetie!
Halfway down, I stopped for a break at the mid-mountain lodge. I enjoyed some time by the outdoor fire pit, drinking my Gatorade! This was my view as I waited for the rest of the family to ski some more runs. When they came back, the kids were glowing because they skied their first Black (expert) run! I was proud of them, but you'll never catch me on one of those!
We finally skied out to the parking lot and got comfortable for the long ride home. We stopped for supper and a car wash (yes, Karen, the same one!) and arrived home around 9:15 p.m. Then it was goodnight to another great Family Day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Tea Party!

On Friday afternoon we had friends over to celebrate our annual Valentine's Day Tea Party with us. I never do things exactly the same way every year, otherwise I'd get bored! This year I kept things very simple, since the rest of my month has been pretty close to insanity! We had a very lovely time with Dawn, Patricia and Jonathan, some new homeschool friends. Patricia is our official new babysitter and the kids just love her! I was very happy they could come with only a 2 day advance notice!

On the menu for this year: cupcakes with pink and white frosting and Valentine sprinkles, those new Oreo Sippers (unwrapped and placed in a glass - it actually looked fancy!), oatcakes with raspberry jam and vanilla rooibos tea. It was all gobbled up quickly, but as politely as possible! The decorations were compliments of Sara's "stuffie" collection. Sky's contribution was to write everyone's names on little heart-shaped place cards. Oh, and they helped make the cupcakes too. They were both very proud!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Used Salespeople??

On our way home from Jasper with Bryan and Karen, we found this ad in the newspaper. If they want used salespeople, then what are un-used salespeople?! We had a good laugh over this one!