Friday, March 27, 2015

Family Update

My poor blog must be feeling pretty neglected these days.  A lot of things have been going on and life goes and on and then the blog gets left behind. I have been keeping my Instagram updated so I can keep a record of all those little things I like to remember. But I do want to give my blog some love again.

Sometimes when I have writers block, the only way to get out of it is to just write my way out of it. I really have no idea what to write at the moment, but I am writing.

My life right now is revolving mostly around Zach.  A few months ago, we decided to have him do a program called Brain Balance. It is a lot of work and time and money and has really thrown our family into a different kind of rhythm.  He goes to the South Jordan center three days a week and has to do home exercises three times a day, six days per week.  We have also put school on hold. No school for the past two months for him.

Ever since I put him in public school last year, it became apparent very quickly that something needed to be done. School exposed all of his weaknesses and I just couldn't ignore it anymore. The more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me that Zach probably has Asperger's. He has never been diagnosed or anything, but when I looked up all of the characteristics of someone with Asperger's, he fit it perfectly. I could think of a specific example for every characteristic. So what was I supposed to do for him? He was really struggling. He knew he was and didn't like it either. But he just couldn't help some of the stuff he was doing that was driving all of us crazy and really causing him to clash socially with people at church and in the neighborhood.

I then heard a commercial for a place called Brain Balance. When I looked into with Rinar, it just all made perfect sense. It was applicable to him in every way. I knew I was at the right place. He does exercises to strengthen his right brain and isolate his left brain as much as possible. Zach's left brain is very strong and his right brain is holding him back. We have been working on developing his right brain. He is on a special diet (no gluten, sugar, dairy, soy, peanuts) and is doing things to get him physically stronger. We now go to the Treehouse Athletic Club as much as possible, he plays basketball, racquetball, lifts weights, and the like. I also have him working on a needlepoint project to  help him develop better fine motor skills. He plays the piano a lot, as well and has restricted screen time. I also try to have him go outside as much as possible.

So, you can see I have been sucked into a Zach vortex a bit. But it does seem to be helping and I am seeing changes in him. It is a lot of little things, but I know that those add up to big things.

Raef continues to go to the middle school and really seems to enjoy it. He seems to have figured out the system and his grades have improved a bit. Raef is fascinated with figuring out what makes a person popular. I get almost daily reports on his observations. I think he may have a future in sociology. One night I was diligently working on a puzzle that Harry had left undone on the dining room table. Raef plopped down next to me and just started talking and talking and talking about every thing that was happening at his school. I think he talked for about an hour without barely taking a breath. When he got it all out of his system, he thanked me for listening and then went to bed. It was so cute.

Eli is such a smart boy. He amazes me daily with the things he learns and retains. He is now working on Perpetual Motion, which is song 9 in the first Suzuki book. It is mostly done. His teacher Trina C. switched his thumb to the grown up hold, and he does not like it at all. He has really been fighting me on it. I have now resorted to threatening an allowance deduction if he doesn't hold his bow correctly. That seems to help keep him moving forward. He is reading well and his speed is increasing nicely. We are reading the Magic Tree House series. We are almost finished with book 7, "Sunset of the Sabertooth". Eli's math skills are phenomenal. We are now going to start learning multiplication. I already did a lesson and it is clear that he has a good grasp of it already. I have a feeling we will be out of multiplication by the end of April. I know I learned multiplication in 3rd grade. That kid. Holy smokes.

Harry is chomping at the bit to do school. I usually run out of time before we can do anything, but I know he is learning stuff all the time. He is halfway through the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and seems to remember everything, even when I go a long time between each lesson. I am not worried about it, since he technically does not start Kindergarten until the fall. He is also a voracious puzzle solver and can get on some serious puzzle kicks. And he is really good at them.

Julia just loves having friends and going to play anywhere. She also loves to watch this show called "Monster High". I am sure it is trashy and she probably shouldn't watch it and I am gonna have to stop it, but I admit that I am being a lazy parent. But I do make her play outside as much as possible, which does cut down on TV time. Yesterday Julia and Harry went over to Amanda B.'s house to play with her kids. Her kids weren't home and they played there anyway. I didn't know this until they came home. It made me laugh so hard just thinking about it. Amanda is a saint. Sheesh.

Noelle is my heaven sent little girl. She is growing so fast and is hitting the cutest age of all. She walks and climbs and explores and is pretty mischievous, in the cutest way possible. When I pick her up she will give me the most meltiest, cuddliest hug ever and tap my back. She gives kisses and so full of love it makes my heart burst. She absolutely loves to take baths and showers, ride her wiggle board in the kitchen, and go bye-bye. If she could live outside, she would.

Life just keeps marching on around here. We have been really busy and I am hopeful about the things that we are working on and the way my kids are growing up.  Things are good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

She's Got Gumption

It was a long day today. I took the kids to the Tracy Aviary. The weather has been more like late spring than winter. It was time to get some fresh air. They all seemed to enjoy themselves a lot. The aviary is really nice and has a wide variety of birds. Noelle especially liked looking at the birds, I think.

Then we had to race home because I forgot my wallet. And then pack up again to take Zach to his Brain Balance appointment. After we dropped him off, I took the little kids to Riverton Music to pick up Eli's violin. It had to be repaired after he dropped it and obliterated the bridge. Ugh. Noelle fell asleep. She must have been really tired because she rarely falls asleep in the car. But she was conked out.

We finally made it home and soon I started to try to put together some kind of dinner. Noelle has this skill of being able to open the refrigerator. It is a little more than slightly annoying. Dinner was taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. No worries. She opened up the fridge and found an extra peanut butter and honey sandwich. Noelle took it out of the bag and proceeded to eat the entire thing. Then it was time for dinner. I put her in her highchair and then she proceeded to eat an entire helping of dinner.

The girl can eat.

The girl can climb.

The girl can be the most cuddly, sweet, adorable little stinker you have ever seen. I don't think I would have it any other way.

Eli's Last Minute Birthday Party

Last week just flew by. I knew that Eli was having a birthday and then the horror struck on Friday.  Wait!?! Eli's birthday is on Sunday? Like, in two days?  Oh, no. This mama had nothing planned at all. Eli really wanted to have a birthday party. Luckily, I run quite frequently with Lisanne and Darcy and their boys are the same age as Eli. I asked them if Scott and Weston could come to a party the next day and they said yes!  Whew!  I then sent out a frantic text to the rest of Eli's basketball team and in the end, the guest list included 6 boys. It was the perfect size.

Then I went all crazy putting an amazing party together. Well, ok, no I didn't. I had Rinar stick some balloons up on the main floor, bought a cookie cake and fudgesicles, a bunch of junk for gift bags, and then made some pizzas. After thinking of a few games to play, the party was ready. 

The highlight had to be when we had the boys shoot action shots off the back of the truck like we did a couple of years ago when our family went camping.

They seemed to really enjoy it.

They also played some football in the front yard. This was a hit as well.

The important thing is that Eli got to blow out the candles, open a few presents, and feel very special for his day. Happy birthday, Eli.

Jazz Game and Viola Graduation

Saturday, February 7th was pretty darn eventful.  I cleaned the church with Harry, while Rinar took Raef to the deacon's game at the Stake Center. Raef played well, and Harry was an exuberant cleaning assistant. He just loved it. We had to clean all of the bathrooms and I gave him the spray bottle. He loved spraying everything down for me. It was an enjoyable morning with him.

After that, it was a lot of chores at the house. Catye and Mike even came over to help me because I was feeling especially overwhelmed. Then Rinar, Raef, and I had to race off to Bountiful to attend his viola graduation from book 5. He was the most advanced student there and therefore had a solo. Raef did a marvelous job.

In the evening, Rinar and I went to a Jazz game. I haven't been in years. He won tickets at a silent auction fundraiser. The tickets included a VIP pass that got us into the pre-dinner. It was surprisingly healthy and definitely delicious. Our seats were on the third row, close to center court. I have never sat that close. It was a lot of fun.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lyf's Visit

Lyf and Bethany came up on a Monday a few weeks ago so that we could take them to the airport. They were going to Florida for a fun trip. However, when they got here, we found out that there flight got canceled because of an epic storm in the northeast. They ended up not being able to fly out until Wednesday, so they stayed at our house and did some touristy things in the valley while they waited to leave. They were stuck with me and the kids because Rinar had a meeting in Kansas City for the week.

Hence, on Tuesday I took them to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point.  I think Lyf really enjoyed it. My kids did, too.

They even have a giant dinosaur puzzle in one area. They must have put it in just for Harry. How did they know?

Lyf and Bethany stayed to watch an iMax and then headed off to other exotic locales. I headed home because it was my turn to host playgroup for the neighborhood kids. These three needed some kind of activity, so we made cookies. Julia, Molly, and Ryder helped to make them and the rest of the boys helped to eat them. It worked out well.

Eli's SAU Graduation

Eli was able to attend Suzuki Association of Utah (SAU) graduation last week. He finished the Twinkle repertoire and passed it off. Now, he is just zooming through book one. And his technique looks really good to me. He holds his bow so much better than Raef and Zach ever did. He seems to be a natural at the violin.

Graduation was on Tuesday night, which is when his basketball games are played. I decided to take him to basketball first and then go late to graduation. Luckily, with all of my Suzuki experience, I knew he would play last and that it would be ok. I just had him wear a nice sweater over his jersey. Unfortunately, it slipped my mind that there was a white shirt, black pants dress code. When he got on stage, he definitely stood out from the crowd. Can you pick him out of the lineup?

 He played so well and was diligent at watching his teacher Trina as she led the group. So we had to go celebrate!

I am going to make it a goal to do this more often: one on one time with my kids. He had so much to talk about and it was fun to hear what is in his little mind. This kid is going places, for sure.

A Little Kid Update

Life keeps marching on in our household. Holidays are done and vacation is done.  I guess now we are just living. I have been consistently doing homeschool with Eli. He is such a bright boy. He astounds me. He reads, computes, and comprehends so well. I am grateful that he is a willing learning who remembers what is taught. Of course, lately he does give me a bit a push back. Eli will get interested in something else in the morning, like Lego creations or a puzzle and doesn't want to stop. It can get a bit dicey, but once I throw down the hammer and he cracks the books open, he does really well. Someday it is going to sink in that school will be done everyday, no matter what. But that realization has not happened to him yet.

Harry is such a neat kid. And he is a puzzle savant. I recently went to the thrift store and picked up a slew of puzzles in the 100-200 piece range. I think I bought 6 or 7. In one morning, he did every single one.  Then I went back to the thrift store and got some more. This time I was looking solely for 300 piece puzzles. I bought 5 of them. Sure enough, he has solved all of them. You can comfortably say that he really, really likes puzzles.

Puzzles have never really been Julia's thing. However, if the puzzle has an interesting subject matter like Barbie or Power Puff Girls, Julia is more than willing to give it a try. Her mind definitely does not work in the same way as Harry's. It is much more of a challenge to complete a puzzle and a year ago she couldn't do it. But I am happy to say that she has made a ton of progress in this area. 

A nice homeschool mom in Draper has graciously started a Lego club at the Draper library. For the longest time, we couldn't make it. But I have been trying to get them there on a more regular basis. The first week, I got a lot of resistance from Harry. But once he put his foot in the door the first time, he was hooked!

Eli loves it, too!

 As for Noelle, she is an unmitigated stinker at this point in her life. She climbs into, onto, over, and under everything. In this instance, she pulled out this drawer in the kitchen and climbed right in. I also found her dancing in the toilet! I put a picture of that on Instagram.  After the toilet incident, I went to Walmart and bought a bunch safety gates to keep her out of stuff.  But really, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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