Monday, July 30, 2012

Fort Worth Museum

For the summer reading program, the kids were given a free ticket to the Fort Worth Children's Museum.  
We got together with some other families from church and spent a fun day there. 
The Grossology exhibit was there for the summer.  It was really fun.  We had seen it in Las Vegas but they did not have as many of the displays there-like the giant nose you see in the picture below.
 There was even fake hair at the top that you can not see.
 Arabella had a great time with her friend Corbin climbing into the mouth and down esophagus into the stomach. 
 Then you could climb into the intestine tunnel and climb out onto a brown blob shaped mat (yes a bit gross).
 Jon laying on a bed of nails in the Risk exhibit. He thought this was so cool but you can tell he was a bit nervous as he was laying on them.
 Joey had to think about doing this while we walked through the rest of the exhibit and decided just before we left it that he should try it.  I am so glad he is working through his fears and anxieties.
Lily finally got to get out of the stroller and play for in the little kid play area.  She loved the bubbles and buttons.  It is so much fun to see her moving around with more and more confidence-still not quite walking though. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Swimming Lessons

We have finished swimming lessons- yea!
Lily is really glad to be done.  She was a trooper to sit through 2 hours of lessons and not get to join them in the water. 

 Joey has learned to comfortably float on his back.  I don't have any pics of Jon swimming because he has decided that swimming under water is great and so all you see is a blur under the water.  I am thrilled with all of their progress.
Arabella was able to wear her life jacket at the end of the last day.  She swims so much more comfortably in it now.  We swam with some friends on Friday and instead of wanting us to hold on to her though she had her life jacket on, she was swimming all over the place.  Yippee!
Some videos of the slide.  I loved the design of this pool.  It has features I would put in my pool if I were to build one (we all have dreams!).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week in Review

First, we did not put the towel on Lily's head.  She likes to put things over her head and pull them off.
 The best part was as she pulled on this it got caught in the hooded part of it and she was really stuck but did not get upset!
 Oh, those eyes!
 Oh so silly!
 I am such a big girl!
 I canned my own pineapple.  It was not very hard but I think I need to get a better deal on pineapple to make it worth my money.
 Biggest news of the week was swimming lessons.  I found a lady (Mrs. Sigler) who teaches in her backyard.   She has been amazing and the kids have responded really well to her.
Arabella has made some great progress but is still a bit hesitant.
Jon is swimming with his face in the water and is learning to breath on the side!
Joey is swimming with his face in the water and learning side breathing as well and he is not coughing and choking after each breath (real progress!)!
Lily just wanted to feel like a part of the swimming with goggles on.
As I said before, I taught Joey to tie a quilt. A nice sister in our ward had these quilt tops given to her and she was leaving on a mission so she gave them to me.  They are made out of double knit polyester and very bright and cheery as you can see.  I believe the polyester will last forever-great for donating.
Finally, I recorded this video this morning.  Lily loves to pound on the piano.  Jon and Arabella thought she needed to be in on the Dora dress up action and that is why she is dressed so fancy! ;)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Not always what you expect

I just watched an episode of Criminal Minds and it was centered around a boy with autism who is the only witness to his parents abduction. As I watched, I could not help but think of my own boy with Asperger's- Joey.
As a parent, when you have a child you hold in your arms a person with truly endless possibilities.  You have dreams of what they will become and what they will achieve.  You have expectations of what you will be for them and to them.  You expect that they will learn, grow, love and that you too will do the same as you go through life together. I believe that with your first some of your expectations are even higher, we all believe/hope that we will be the perfect parent with perfect children.  You love your child from the time you know you are having them. You bond with them, worry about them, and pray for them and yet they are not even born yet.
Watching the boy in this show was at times like watching Joey- he was rocking and not making eye contact. This boy could not speak and my Joey can speak and sometimes does not when to stop speaking.  The boy had a wooden train that was special to him and Joey has loved trains since he knew they existed.  His parents did all they could for him and yet through the story you learn the parents don't realize he has autism and a family member points it out to them when he is 5 or a bit younger.
There is a part of me that wishes Joey had been diagnosed earlier and wonders why I as his mother did not recognize signs and do something about it.  I suppose part of it is letting go of that dream of what you expect your child to be and accepting what they really are.  That sounds wrong but it is true and I am pretty sure other parents have had that moment where they realize their child will not be the star quarterback or musician or perfect student and so they let go of that dream and accept the reality they have been given.  The difference I believe is in how we react to that reality.
We have tried to get Joey the things he needs so he will be successful and have the ability to overcome any obstacles that Asperger's may cause him to have. I try to be patient with his conversations he starts mid-thought and you are left wondering what in the world he is talking about.  I try to help him understand that not everyone will follow the rules to games or at school as strictly as he does-this causes a lot of anxiety for him. I try to encourage him to talk to other kids and to play with them.  Peter once told me that if he could give Joey anything it would be a best friend.  I second that and it touched me so profoundly how much Peter is aware of Joey and the challenges he faces.  The odd thing about Aspergers and Autism for that matter is that most of these kids are unaware nor do they really care that they are different.  I know this may change for Joey but for now I am grateful.  He does not play with kids at recess- he jumps/skips back and forth (this is his stimming as they call it- it stimulates his body and senses). 
I have spoken with some parents of other autistic/asperger kids and it is reassuring to me to know that the things I am doing with Joey are the things they are doing with their kids.  He is different but he is still expected to have good manners and to be respectful (eye contact is rough).  He is expected to do his best always.  At meal times when his mind is in that far off place, that I don't know, I try to remind him that he needs to be here with us at the table (this happens at every meal).  I find myself explaining to him over and over that he can not win every time and that he can not always be in control of other people.  Also, he does not need to know everything and that sometimes he will be wrong and someone that knows better will teach him if he will allow them.  He likes the feeling of knowing the right answer or the right moves at karate.  
Really, I am so thankful to have Joey.  He is so helpful and tries so hard to be and do whatever you ask of him.  He has always been willing to take just two bites of whatever we are eating (not very autistic) even gagging it down.  He wants to be obedient and stresses himself out to tears about others disobedience.  He loves his brother and sisters and is very helpful.  As he is getting older, we are trying to give him some older responsibilities without overwhelming him or putting too much pressure on him.  Today, Peter directed him on how to mow the backyard and he did about 90% of it by himself.  I taught him how to tie a quilt today and he was excited that it would be donated to those that do not have warm blankets.  
Through this last nearly 2 years, I have striven to focus on the fact that Joey is happy.  He may have a bit more anxiety than most kids and he may be a bit unaware about what is socially acceptable or the in thing but he is happy.  As a parent, when our child is born that is really all we want for them- is to be happy.  There are a few dreams that have not changed for me and what my ultimate goal is for Joey and the path of therapy and resources we provide for him: I want him to serve a mission, I want him to marry in the temple, and I want him to find his own success in life.  And yes, I know that these things (along with the trials he will face) will bring him happiness.  I love my Joey- my expectations for him are obedience and happiness and they seem to go hand in hand. I hope that I can meet the expectations he has of me. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cub Camp 2012

Joey had his first Cub Camp this year in June (late on the post but oh well).
I spent 2 days as a camp nurse and walked with the cub scouts on one day. 
This meant that Jon and Arabella tagged along and attended the tot lot.  They played games and made crafts and had a great time too! 
 They do swaps at camp.  You make little things based around the theme of the year and you swap them.  We spent alot of time making things out of salt dough and I made a few worlds (the blue and green thing hanging from his hat on the right).  There were a lot of dinosaur tails and some tongues, too.
 Playing a water game and trying to not be too panicked about rules.
 Disecting owl pellets to see the bones.  Really cool!
This is how most of the tots looked at the end of the drive home and a several of the cub scouts too.  It was a great experience and we are looking forward to next year. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lewisville Lake Beach and Park

A coworker told me about a great beach/park area on Lewisville Lake.
I packed up the kids ate headed over a few weeks ago.  It was so wonderful that we took Peter that next Saturday after Jon's track meet (since they were in the same city).
 Lily had no fear of the water and would just climb on in and put her face down to the water. Crazy girl?!
 Joey, Jon and Arabella did mostly digging in the sand.
 Come on mom- let me go!

In this picture you can see the roped off swimming area.  It is in a no wake zone as well so the water is calm. 
Of course when we had the camera to record her she was not going as crazy but you see her splash some.  If you walked her out into the water she would just splash and splash.  This girl loves water!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Regional Track Meet 2012

Jon had his final track meet of the season last Saturday.  It was in Stephenville- 2 hours away.  
It was a lovely drive.  I spent the time playing with our new camera.  I have a lot of pictures that I will not be posting of Peter sticking his tongue out. 
 Lily is the funnest one to take pictures of.
 Wow, dad you are so good at that game, even Lily is in awe!
 My sweetie pie, with a bit of sass to her!
 Jon is excited and ready to go.
 I had to work to get Joey to smile semi- normal but I got it.
 Why are we out in this bright sunshine?
 It is so hot, take me back to the shade.
 Jon in the 100 meter. He is the one in the back.
 Go Jon!
 Go, go!
Don't stop! 
 Finish strong!
 The end is in sight!
 Way to go Jon! (He is in the 8 and under age group which means he is competing with kids that will be nine in January).  He was awesome and loved to run, no matter what place he took! This is a big thing for him.  He used to get so upset in taekwondo if he lost a game! I love to see my kids learning important life skills!
 I posted this picture purely for the kid standing next to Jon- nice pose!
 Jon is showing you his fast hands!
 He is so ready to race!
This was the 50m which is only run by the 8 and under age group! 
He did great and we were so proud of him!
We rewarded the whole family with a trip to Dairy Queen!
I do believe we will do track again next summer even if it is super hot!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Swimming and the 4th of July

I am horrible about remembering to take my camera or to pull it out while we are swimming at our friends house the Ostermiller's.  Gratefully, Erika has my back! Lily especially loves the pool and water in general.  She splashes and crawls to it and is pretty much a one on one while at the pool.

 Baby Shades- good for keeping the sun out ofyour eyes and for chewing on.

 We always take our shaved ice machine when we go over there.  It is the perfect summer treat. Our freezer has not been working so well when it comes to freezing the full blocks of ice.  The Ostermiller's have been kind enough to let us use their freezer so we can have shaved ice.

Arabella and her friend Vee.
Silly girls.
 Erika took these pictures at the ward 4th of July breakfast.  We have a breakfast, bike parade for the kids, and for the second year in a row- shaved ice.  It is a fabulous way to spend the 4th!
We finished the day with a BBQ and swimming at the Ostermiller's.