Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Minecraft Birthday

Spence is nine years old and one of the things he loves most these days is his "Minecraft." 

I have to admit I have glanced over his shoulder but never knew much about this fabulous game until I planned a party about it.  Best thing a mom can do is dive into her son's interest for sure!  So, now I know all about the creepers, the coal, the TnT, Steve, Skeletons, diamonds, emeralds and it goes on...

We filled two of these baskets full of balloons for the waterballoon fights and obstacle courses...

nobody ended dry! Not even the DAD!

Spence has some awesome friends.  We're learning quickly that with summer birthdays you have to plan on a bunch of buddies being gone on vacation.  But there is also the perks of being home and relaxing all day without school ;)

I love this boy!  He teaches me about empathy, science, love for nature, just to be, calm voices are best, faith, courage to be true, how to volunteer, serving, the power of prayer, to dream, how to plan your money just right, setting goals and much more.  We need him and always will!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Parenting Moment Today

Spencer had three teeth extracted today.  Let's just say I had to close my eyes a few times while I was sitting there by him.  While my eyes were closed at one point I had some thoughts:

There are many of my own parenting moments that remind me of our parent/child relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Today reminds me of all the hard times we go through on this earth.

Often we wonder why God would make us go through something.  I have learned and know that he doesn't "make" us grow through hard things but he "lets" us because that is what our mortal experience is about.  From experience, I know He blesses us and comforts us while we are going through things to help us.

So back to my dentist experience with Spence.  I had to "let" him go through this today but I was right there talking about what he needed me to talk about to keep his mind busy, hugging him when the dentist left the room after his 9th shot!  Giving Tylenol here at home when he needs it.  Releasing him from his job duty and on and on.

No doubt our Heavenly Father loves us experiencing these parent/child relationships!  Each of these moments just adds upon our learning...the very reason we are here on this earth!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lesson of Service through "Dora"

Opening our mailbox brought thoughts of unselfish service.

A little bit ago, Justin stopped to visit with a man at one of the many airports he frequents.  Their visit somehow landed upon the fact that we have a "special needs" daughter that loves to watch "Dora" with our 3 year old.  Come to find out, this man happened to be the father of Jeff Degrandis.  Jeff is Supervising Producer for "Dora the Explorer."

Well, this kind man told Justin that he would have his son send our girls a little something.  We didn't think much more about it until we opened our mailbox to this and another picture just like it.

We were floored!  He drew these pictures just for our girls and took the time to write them a personal little note and sign it!  His father told Justin that Jeff likes to draw pictures for his fans right there on the spot while they are watching.  His colleagues often wonder why he doesn't just sign already made prints.  Jeff thinks his fans want the real thing and it means more to them when it was really done for them.

He's right!  We were touched that first his father passed on our families story but then that Jeff took the time from his busy life to actually sit down and think about our girls.

I don't know much about Jeff Degrandis but now I know that he's thoughtful enough to share his talent with others amid his busy schedule and put his feet in his fans shoes. It's a life lesson for me!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Our Potty Training Hero!!!

I've been involved in many "potty training" conversations lately.  I'll just say right now that this has not been the happiest topic at my house.  We have REALLY struggled with this issue with all three of our kids (mental disabilities for Sarah, two moves for Spencer and Allison just liked painting with her poop!)

The one thing that brought help, happiness and peace to us was this lovely invention:
Just thought I'd pass it along.   

When I was finally done with those silly pull ups we had to do something. Transferring our children to underwear at night was not easy and it was amazing how stressed and crazy I got over washing a whole bed of sheets in the middle of EVERY night! I bought 2 of these bed pads with Sarah and they became my potty training hero from then on out! 

They slip right over the top of the fitted sheets and when we had "wetness" in the middle of the night or in the morning we calmly stuck one in the wash and slipped the other one in it's simple!

I checked to see if "" still had them today and it looks like they have sold their business and are not doing orders until August.  Don't know if they'll have the same items then or not.  I found these at with free 2 day shipping though.  Happy Potty Training!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bedtime Stories

Ever since my kids were babies we have sang them songs and read them stories before they went to sleep.  I know this will have an impact on them or we wouldn't do it.

I had the thought last night as I was telling my three year old her "Goldilocks and Three Bears" for probably the thousandth time that "I wonder what in the world this story teaches her?"

Some little girl walks through the forest and barges in someone else's house, eats their food, breaks their furniture and all she does is run away screaming when they come home.  Of course, they are scary bears to wake up to but my daughter is probably the last one I want to be teaching this to.

Then I was thinking I guess this is why it's so important to talk to my kids.  They hear negative or see bad choices all the time, but we can learn from it.  

I suppose when I tell her this story I need to start following up with a few questions like "how would you feel if someone came in your house and ate your food?" or "what do you think Goldilocks should have done after she realized her choice wasn't the best?"  

It's sort of great to realize we can use those Disney movies that are played over and over again or the books that you can hardly turn their pages they've been read so much to just talk to each other and learn things that aren't exactly on the screen or page.  Maybe it will spice it up for me a little bit while I'm at it.  I'm pretty sure I'm not he only mom that gets tired a three year olds obsession :)

Red Yellow Green at our House

So, Sarah's back.  Our embraces were wonderful!  Her suitcase is unpacked, laundry is done and I even introduced her to our little project I got together while she was gone.

For a long time we have attempted parts of a Diet plan that has been suggested for Prader-Willi.  We recently attended a conference in Utah that inspired us to really take a look at what we are doing in our home and see if we can take care of anxiety that has built up for Sarah and us.

We decided that one of our issues is our complete control of what she eats.  Of course that's important but we think the way we go about it does not permit for her to have a say or feel some control.  Well, it was time to completely embrace this Red Yellow Green Diet from the Ontario Prader-Willi Syndrome Association and see if it will help solve our issue.  (you can order this same book if you click here)

So, look what I did to our pantry door!  Justin and I were beginning to think this was all a little nutty when I got it all hung up but the more we studied and as each day has gone by it's become quite simple to's working!  Of course it hasn't been very long; I'll update you in a few months and let you know what we think then but as of now it's going pretty well.  

Let me explain.  The green foods are "Go Foods."  She can have one each time we sit down eat if she wants.  They are basically the no calorie foods, or low calorie vegetables.

The yellow foods are "Caution Foods."  These are foods we all need for our bodies to be healthy.  She just needs to be careful with amounts to maintain a healthy weight.

The red foods are "Stop Foods."  She can one a week.  They are basically dessert, high fat meats, or really high calorie foods.  

So, the pictures posted on our pantry help Sarah to know examples of what she can eat and how much of each food makes up a serving.

Then she uses this chart below.

Each night before bedtime, while I'm working on the dishes, Sarah picks out what she will eat for each meal the next day.  I give her options of what we can have for dinner and from there we start adding servings that she can have for each food group.  

I absolutely love that Spencer and Allison are picking up all this knowledge right along with us.  It's opened a rather healthy dialogue between us of why Sarah's body is different then ours.  It's helping us all be a little healthier.  It's motivating me to plan my meals a little better--saving $, time and stress.  It feels like it's given Justin and I permission to be strict with her diet because someone else says so; we don't feel like the bad guy constantly.  Sarah feels like she's eating more then before.  She just fine when the rest of us our eating what we need or want because she's got her "Prader-Willi Plan" as she calls it.

I know that when we walk into school meetings this fall that we will feel a little more armed with how to deal with food at school.  When I drop her off somewhere I just let her kindly know that if she chooses to eat something while she's there that is not on her plan then we will just take away calories from her plan.  (Of course the adult that is in charge of her knows before hand that she's not supposed to eat anything too.) 
Sarah still asks the questions about food but all we have to say is "it's not on your plan you made."  She answers back with an "okay" almost every time!  I can not believe it!  It's so refreshing! Of course our little learning curve is quite steep right now but I'm okay with that when I know we are preparing this for years down the road.

I must say that this is just part of adjusting our traditions and the way we do things to our "normal" if there is such a thing.  I'm pretty sure other people don't understand this one bit, so among my thoughts to myself that "I just can't care what others think" I smile thinking that "if Sarah lived under their roof day in and day out" they would come up with some of these tricky things too.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sarah's Away, We Play!

If you feel a bit odd about me celebrating Sarah being away, just back up a post and it's all explained ;) Now for the fun:  we loved Sea World!

Allison smiled a whole lot

felt like a princess

hung out with her buddies

me included

of course spencer and the other dudes

and ate

and thought a tiny bit about how much Sarah would love these baby sea lions!

Justin could finally feel tired...check out that yawn :)

Allison has a new friend to snuggle

Spence has a cool dude to chill with...he he he

we ate at famous places like "Betos" seen on Man vs. Food

their Empanadas will never be forgotten!

we hugged

ate some more...this time famous place "Big Lou's Pizza"and yes that is their pizza pan, folks!

and we're home now.  Enjoying our own beds, sleeping in and still eating ;)

Minus Sarah This Week

Since the moment my husband and I finally embraced the fact that our oldest daughter, Sarah, would not just "grow out" of her health issues and that she has "Prader-Willi Syndrome" she is "mentally disabled" or has "special needs" we have tried to create a balance in our home.  We realize we can't raise her on our own and that it takes extra care and attention to our marriage and our other children.  

I'll just say right now that it's a battle.  It's an hour to hour, day to day battle to keep our faith center.  To keep our perspective eternal.  To nurture and strengthen our children with the right mind and the right spirit.  It's not easy to consider all the feelings of each individual in our home.
One major answer to our prayers is "Lions Camp"

Sarah came home from a week at this camp last summer with renewed self esteem, more independence, a absolute thrill for life and could not wait to go back again.  We could see how good it was for us to have one on one time with our other two children.  It brought us all closer and taught us a lot about ourselves when Sarah is not with us.

I feel so guilty even saying we enjoyed her not being here.  How could a mother say or even think that?  I tell you that I cling to the fact that I have to focus on my needs, my husbands needs and the needs of my other children though.  Just as I have to give my all to Sarah, I have to give to the rest of us or there will be no family to work for at all.

Well, we just dropped her off again this week.  We decided that one of the ways to keep our family balanced like mentioned above was to try a vacation this time around.  Not just sit at home like normal while she was gone.

That is exactly what we did, my friends.  We got a hotel room and went to Sea World for 2 days.  We ate all we wanted, whenever we wanted. We talked and visited and played and relaxed!  We all found the vacation we needed!  It is so neat to see that Spencer has things to say constantly and that Allison can be even-tempered and not fight for attention every moment of the day.  Honestly a whole new side of our family is seen and felt when Sarah is away.

My mind slips to my daughter often.  I start to feel guilt creep in and then I picture her marching through camp and pushing us out of her bunk house so she could begin her week.  I know she is right where she wants to be.  I just love this girl with all my heart and soul.  I'm privileged to be her mother!  I can't imagine life without her so it is hard to sort of subtract her for a week.

Remember that you are preparing for Eternity.  
Your child's disability is temporary.  
The spirit is not disabled.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Work to Fun

I woke up this morning sick and on top of that had a huge mountain of laundry staring at me.  I had to plow through it because we are taking our oldest daughter to a "Special Needs" camp tomorrow and we're off to vacation with just the four of us.  I have to admit I was being pretty negative about the work that was ahead of me.

Well, I decided to have the kids help--many hands are better than just mine! My attitude began to change real fast, it actually became quite fun.  The best part today (pictured above) was sitting on the washer while it was in "spin" mode.  They figured out real fast that the best load is when it's full of towel and blankets...there's "way more vibration."

Who knew?  I got through the laundry so fast and the kids did most of it.  They were so curious how that washer worked!  They've folded and put away laundry thousands of times but never really had done it start to finish.  I kept thinking of a quote I found recently in one of our church manuals (can't remember which one):

"The best way to overcome boredom and disappointment is purposeful work that produces a positive result."

Umm, love summer but there are moments of my kids stuck in boredom and I'm not really sure why but they feel so disappointed some days that they're not on some grand adventure.  Crazy how work really does make you feel purpose and can turn a bad attitude to positive so quick!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Around Here

I am loving summer!  The friends over past midnight last night, fireworks, hamburgers, watermelon, barbecue ribs, snow-cones, my kids finally sleeping in past 7:00, no homework, swimming, pony tails, no make-up, flip flops, cuddles with my kids while we watch movies, trip to see family, reading in bed til we're tired (we don't have to go to bed on time), chalk on the side walk, puzzles, baby pools that we just never out grow, peach shakes, crocheting, cousins, apricots, bubbles, the look on my kids faces when they finish their job chart for the day, peaches, tan legs, plenty of time for the kids to cook with me, bike rides, popsicles, and barefoot walks.

I am really loving my kids home.  Of course there are some moments I have to divide everyone up into separate bedrooms for a good quiet time (me too).  Oh, and I despise those silly fire ants, but I don't have much to complain about!  My kids make me laugh, make me feel loved and needed; I often just sit back and think how lucky I am to be a mother!  I'm so blessed to be able to stay home with these kiddos every single day (even though it gets long...every job does).

I cannot even explain the feeling I get when my little 3 year old says "I love you Mommy," and if I don't respond with exactly "I love you too," I hear it :)  It's such a wonderful mixture of sweet, independent all around precious thing to hear.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Why "Better OR Best?"

A while ago we decided that our family needed a motto.  We thought about it for quite some time and then told our kids the few ideas we were tossing around in our heads.  We all decided upon this one:

This is on our living room wall.  The pictures are of our three babies.  There's several reasons we chose this.  It's simple/catchy, it provides fantastic guidance to us as parents and also to our kids.  I can't begin to tell you how many times a day that we are asking our kids to "choose," or what would be the "better choice,"  or how about the "best!" Everyone's days are packed full of choices, aren't they?

This phrase comes from a Conference talk that Dallin H. Oaks gave.  He speaks of prioritizing because we can't even begin to do all the good around us.  He talks of simplifying our lives and choosing very wisely the things we do or how we act.

I'm convinced that our "modern day hand-cart" we are pushing today is the stuff that is thrown at us from all directions.  I see that there is texts, emails, phone calls, signs, stores, jobs, people, cars adding to our fast pace lives daily.  I think the choices we make to sort through it all and how we go about it is paramount!  We're being tested, are we not?

Really all the goals we have as a family are covered through "choose better or best."  The negative or bad are being sorted out. We're focused on the choices our Heavenly Father has provided for us to make here on this earth. We're trying to be thrifty. We're not just being a friend but the "best" friend we can be.  We're trying not to just attend church but attend with a better spirit.  We're making better food choices especially in light of the Prader-Willi Syndrome life we live. We try to fill up our schedules with things that will benefit us as a family and on and on and on.

At the end of the day, we are far from perfect but know it's been an okay day when we've mentioned this little motto to each other countless times.  Guess it shows our imperfection but also shows our intentions to be alright.
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