Friday, March 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Natty!

She's adorable and charming and such a light in our lives! Today she turned two! We love you, Natalie!

We celebrated with her the night before we left. I made her a cake and when I showed it to her she said, "Oh(pause)my(pause)goodness!"

Sorry to have missed your big day, Nat! We hope it was great!

Travel Log Part 2: Niagara Falls

After an amazing time in Boston, we flew to Buffalo, NY. We picked up our rental car and made our way to Niagara Falls. I was giddy with excitement! Here are some of the highlights of this wonderfully romantic part of our trip:
1. Room with a view. Pictures can't begin to capture the view of falls that we enjoyed from our hotel room.

The American Falls from our room.

The Canadian Falls from our room.

2. Dinner at our hotel overlooking the falls. It's always fun to splurge on a fancy meal every now and then.

3. Cleansing of the palate. Our dinner included a lemon sorbet course between the salad and entree. It's purpose, so we were told, was to cleanse the palate before partaking of our main dish. I'm not so sure the food tasted any better because of it but it was fun! I told Jon that I was going to start serving him sorbet prior to my dishing up the mac and cheese at home!:)

4. Chocolate mousse cake! Gotta love that!

5. The falls at night. The falls are lit with various colors of light that change slowly throughout the night. We sat gazing at them as we dined on our out-of-this-world dinner.

6. The thunderous roar of the water and cold mist on your face. It really was refreshing and a wonder to behold. It was hard to say good-bye!

Travel Log Part 1: Bawwstuhn

Tara and I flew to Boston earlier this week for an east coast vacation. We are having a great time. The flight was uneventful and even Tara is now saying we can fly to Hawaii. (Those that don't know, Tara has a huge fear of flying!)

Boston has been absolutely amazing. I am in awe by the history of the place. The first afternoon/evening we were there we went out to Harvard Square, as we were staying in Cambridge on the Charles River. It is just so cool to see buildings that say: Harvard Est. 1636. We saw soooo many institutions of higher learning. Let me see if I can name them all:

1. Harvard
2. Boston University (we were right across the river from BU.)
3. M.I.T. (right down the road from where we stayed)
4. Emerson College - this was right smack downtown Boston
5. Boston College - we rode the "T" out to see BC

I am sure there were more but suffice it to say you can get a pretty good education in Boston. Much different than Green River Community College option we have in Auburn. :)

Boston is known as America's walking city and we definetly proved that! We decided against getting a car while in Boston as we heard the transit in the area could get us around anywhere. It really was true. But we also did a ton of walking to see all the differnet sights.

One thing everyone must do is walk the Freedom Trail. It takes you along many of Boston's historical sites where America's independence was born. The ideas of the American Revolution and many of the ardent supporters of creating the United States of America come from Boston. People like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, James Otis and John Hancock. Benjamin Franklin also was born in Boston and helped create the first public school in America.

A Freedom Trail marker. The 2 plus mile "Freedom Trail" is marked with red bricks all along the way.

Paul Revere and his midnight ride warned the militiamen in Lexington and Concord that the British were advancing.

Burial grounds like this are next to nearly every old church in Boston. This one, next to the Park Street church is where Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, James Otis and the parents of Benjamin Franklin are buried. Also buried here the victims of the Boston Massacre, an event that led to the revolution.

The Massachusetts Statehouse

The original government house built by the British for the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth. It was here where people like James Otis argued against the British policies like "No taxation without representation" to the members of the Bristich government that were stationed in Boston. It was noted near this building that it wasn't until 1976 when Queen Elizabeth II came to Boston, that a ruling British monarch had ever visited Boston.

Paul Revere statue at the the Old North Church

Old North Church

Old Ironsides - The oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy. This battleship saw action in the War of 1812.

Old South Church - built in 1646... that is old!

Tara at the entrance to the Old North End of Boston.

ummm... should we eat here...

Cheers.. where everybody knows your name...

Caleb is a huge Boston College fan, so we had to go there to take some pictures to tell him we went.

Boston College

Fenway Park

Tara and the ducks at Boston Common

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Race Runs Through It

I woke to rain Saturday morning. The forecast called for it, I knew it was coming but I still couldn't help but feel a little downhearted. Afterall, a lot of planning and preparation had gone into the Family Week Fun Run and I worried that the weather would deter many families from coming to the event. Nevertheless, I pulled on my rain boots and headed for the park to begin setting up. Once I set to work, I began to feel an assurance that all would be well. In the end, it was a big success! Many brave runners (we had 143 run the 5K) didn't let large puddles of standing water or the incessent drip keep them from having a good time!

Here are the girls getting lined up for the 2-6 year old race!

The 5K begins!

Here is Camille and me at the half-way point. She ended up beating me by 30 seconds. Good thing she doesn't turn 30 until next week or she would've kept me from winning my age division! :)
Go Jon Go! I was so proud of him for running the race!

Caleb wasn't feeling well (same recurrent symptoms) and had to stop and walk occassionally but he still managed to finish the race with a pretty decent time, 32:47!

That's not a pond! The puddles proved to be very entertaining for the kids!

Steve (my co-chair) and me preparing the certificate and prizes for the winners!

Lunch time!
What a soggy little girl!

I came home relieved that the day had gone so well in spite of the weather. I spent the afternoon sorting through leftover supplies, writing up my review of the day and boxing everything up for another year! Now I can finally begin preparations for our trip. We leave Tuesday for Boston! Oh and one more thing, today is bright and sunny--just my luck!

For more pictures and another point of view on the day read Jared's renditon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Your Mark, Get Set...

...almost ready to go! I have been the co-chair of the Auburn Family Week Fun Run for the last three years. It's a fun event but does take a lot of time and preparation. It is the last event of a week-long celebration of families. Most all of the Family Week events are free and we even provide lunch to all runners and families after the race. What a deal! The kids always look forward to this race. They've always run the short kids' races but I think Caleb is going to try the 5k this year, along with Jon! We'll post pictures of the big day after all is said and done. I'm just praying for good weather!

The shirts all ready to go into the registration packets!

Just some of the supplies ready to be loaded!

This is the last big thing to check off my list before we get ready to leave on our 8 day, child-free vacation to the East coast!

Blog Changes

We had to update our blog settings to only allow registered users to enter comments on our blog. Some "Anonymous" person was adding disturbing comments so from now on we will only allow registered users to comment.

We still would love your comments and in fact most people that comment are already registered. If you would like to comment and are not registered, just go sign up for a free gmail account.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What Can Brown Do For You?

I've worn this shirt four out of the last six days! Not because it is high style and flattering, only because I've got a duty to do. I've had pack meeting, where three of my boys earned their Arrow of Light, a hike, a visit to a boy scout troop meeting and then our regular den meeting today. I truly enjoy scouting and have lots of fun with those crazy boys, even if it does require wearing a dreadful brown shirt!

The trusty brown shirt!

Here's Zac testing the block and tackle we made for our engineer badge. They each finished the requirements for this badge today, yea!!

5 of the 6 six boys that I currently have. At one point I had 9!

Caleb loves that I wear a uniform just like him. At what point will I become an embarrassment instead of a source of pride? I'll just enjoy his enthusiasm while it lasts. As for other adults, I wish I had a dollar for every sarcastic "nice shirt" comment I've received! I even had to wear it into Sam's the other day. We were on the way to pack meeting and I had to pick up a cake to take with us. It wasn't until I was getting out of the car at Sam's that I realized in horror that I had not brought anything to cover all my brown glory! It was a very warm day and we left the house in such a rush, as always, that I didn't grab a jacket or have the foresight to bring a different shirt with me. Oh well!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Auburn Family Week FHE

The 4th Annual Auburn Family Week kicks off again this week. Tara has been on the board of directors serving as the co-chair of the 5k Fun Run for the past 3 years. Monday night there are different activities around town. This year we chose to go to the Auburn skating rink. Remember going roller skating? Well Natalie wanted to give it a try so they had a size 8 skate that was a bit big but she managed.

Lydia and Natalie had fun together!
Little Orphan Alyssa?

Mason and Natalie in the couples skate?

Half way through the evening Alyssa was getting braver so we took her skates to have her wheels loosened up a bit. Then she could go faster.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I feel it's fair to say I've weathered a few storms in my life. I know, it’s all part of the plan. But for me, nothing has been more difficult than the challenges of mothering a child with special needs.

The journey has been much too long and detailed to recount here. My insecurities and heartaches have caused me to refrain from sharing details of our experiences and I have therefore spent a lot of time feeling very alone. As I grow in my acceptance of this challenge, I am becoming more prone to sharing the happenings, heartaches and blessings of this journey.

I’m quite sure if I had the skills and the time, I could write a book. It wouldn't be a short story, but one with many chapters. There would be a chapter on the early years of Caleb's life, one for his medical history and the countless specialists he has seen. There could be one devoted to his diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder and speech deficits. I could write a chapter for each year of his schooling beginning with preschool. I'm not sure I could fit my emotional heartache into just one chapter, so that might take two. I'd have to mention the times I've felt judged and offended by other parents, professionals, friends and even family. I would also have to include my growth toward acceptance of our reality and how becoming an advocate for our son became a full-time job. I’d make note of the times I felt my faith was tested, when the dark days wouldn’t cease and tears flowed freely. The book would include a chapter on his failings, his unique challenges but more importantly his successes and accomplishments. There would be more than a few sentences devoted to pointing out what a truly amazing boy I’ve been blessed to raise!

Today, we added a new chapter to this book. This chapter is far from being finished but it is, nevertheless, a new chapter. Caleb had an appointment with Dr. Gary Stobbe, a neurologist that runs a clinic called ASTAR. ASTAR is an acronym for Autism Spectrum Treatment and Research. After a 90 minute visit, he confirmed what I feel I have known for quite some time, that Caleb meets the criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is a mild or high-functioning form of autism. He feels that Caleb has a great prognosis for leading a successful and happy life. Caleb’s IQ has not been assessed but based on the information he does have, the doctor feels that he most likely has a high IQ which will also make dealing with his challenges easier. He also pointed out that even though Caleb’s interests are narrow, like most autistic children, his interest in sports is a functional one, one that can provide him many opportunities in his life. Even if he doesn’t have the skills to be a player, Dr. Stobbe said his memory would make for an amazing statistician! He praised us for the work we’ve done with Caleb, giving us a glowing report card. I left feeling very validated.

Caleb’s book has many unwritten chapters, but I would certainly be remiss if I did not include a chapter on the blessings we’ve received by having him be a part of our family. He is a good boy that has taught me so much! I have learned lessons that I’m sure could not have come any other way. Everything is more exciting when Caleb is around! I love my boy more than any words could ever express. And though there will be more hard times and many hurdles to climb, I’ll be by his side fighting the fight! I feel strongly that I am the best mom for Caleb and it’s with great humility that I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me the privilege of raising this special boy!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Not One Was Spared!

I've been dominating the blog lately and was therefore hoping that Jon would write the next post but this story is probably more dramatic from my viewpoint. I'm good at being dramatic, you know, but I promise not to add one bit of exaggeration.

If you read our last post then you are aware that Natalie was sick last Thursday and Friday. Although she seemed sluggish on Saturday, she appeared to be on the mend. We had a low-key day, not much on the schedule.

Saturday evening Jon and Jared (our neighbor) decided to have an X-box night. Jared has the X-box, Jon has the manly T.V. so I guess the combination is a typical man's ideal of fun. After Jared arrived they decided to call Justin to join them. They got the system all hooked up and had just begun playing when I heard Jon say, "You guys go ahead, I'll be right back." I knew right then that something was wrong. Then I heard it. I rushed to the bathroom to find Jon in a cold sweat, hovered over the toilet. I asked if he was alright and all he could do was moan, "I must have what Natty's had." It came on so fast, he'd been fine just moments earlier. I offered to excuse our guests but Jon opted to clean himself up and gracefully pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He sat down to a bottle of water and hoped that was the end of it.

About 30 minutes later I heard crying coming from upstairs. It was Alyssa getting sick. I cleaned her up and came down to tell Jon the news. All this time Justin and Jared continued playing, oblivious to the happenings of our family. Jon struggled through a few more minutes and then made another mad dash to the bathroom. Evidently those video games are quite engrossing because our guests were still completely unaware of Jon's plight. Jon eventually had to admit why he was not playing the games. He offered to let them keep playing and he just lounged on the couch. In the meantime, Alyssa got sick again.

Justin and Jared left and we headed straight to bed. I got about a half an hour of sleep when I was awakened with more crying. This time it was Natalie. She'd gotten sick all over her bed. I cleaned it up and was beginning to feel my own swells of nausea. Natalie got sick again shortly thereafter and Alyssa followed. I was beginning to think the night would never end. Each time I heard the crying I would look at the clock to find that no more than thirty minutes had passed.

At 3:00 am I woke to Alyssa's, "Mommy?" I sat up to find her walking into our room. "I need to go potty but I can't because it's all dirty. Caleb threw up all over the potty!" I told her to use my bathroom as I dragged myself from my bed once again. By this time my own nausea had turned to knife pains, the kind that indicate my turn to be sick was at hand.

It was all I could do to keep the tears back. The scene in the bathroom was horrifying and as badly as I wanted to just leave it until morning, I knew I had no choice but to clean it before going back to bed. In the midst of all of this Natalie woke up again, couldn't be consoled and I finally resorted to bringing her to bed with us.

By the time morning came we were all completely exhausted. Not one of us had escaped the nasty bug! We couldn't attend any of our church meetings but instead spent the majority of the day sleeping. We ate little more than toast as our stomachs couldn't handle anything more. By evening we were all beginning to feel better and were slowly regaining strength. Though we still don't have our full appetites, we are otherwise back to normal.

Could the day have been any worse? Only slightly. A member of the bishopric called in the early evening to extend a speaking assignment. I really don't like speaking but if I had to choose to have my entire family sick in one night or have to speak in church, I guess I'd choose the speaking assignment. But on this lucky day, I got both!

I called the carpet cleaner today. Let the sanitizing begin!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Hodgepodge of Happenings

Here are some snippets of what we've been up to lately...

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
Caleb's teacher celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday yesterday by inviting 5 guest readers to come and share their favorite story. It was hard to narrow it down but I finally settled on "The Three Wishes." When I finished reading Caleb raised his hand and asked, "Is there more time?" He wanted me to continue reading. The feeling was mutual. Moments like that really make me miss my teaching days. I loved reading to a captive audience of 30 students!

Pat On The Back
Friday was also one of my monthly Pat on the Back days. It is a program sponsored by our school's PTA that I run with two other ladies. I designed the shirt and Jon, with his vast computer skills, turned it into a working graphic. Each student received a shirt at the beginning of the year and each teacher chooses a few students to be honored each month. When they earn the award they bring their shirt in to be stamped with the principal's handprint. We actually paint his hand with paint and he prints it on each shirt. It takes three of us a couple of hours each month to get the handprints done. The idea is that every student will have the opportunity to be recognized at least once during the year.

The shirt.

Here are Caleb and Alyssa modeling their shirts!

Alyssa earned her pat in October (the first month they were awarded) so it is orange, Caleb was awarded December green!
One of the tables where we let the shirts dry over the weekend. On Monday we'll go in, bag them up and deliver them to the teachers.

A Night Out
BYU's Young Ambassadors came through town last night. We hosted two of the performers and received free tickets. Babysitters were very hard to come by with many of our regulars having a birthday party to attend. We finally nailed down a sitter, one I barely knew and one the kids had never met. Trying someone new always makes me nervous, but I reasoned that she had many younger siblings and would probably be fine. To add to the anxiety, Natalie threw up just as we were heading out the door. She had been sick on Thursday but had seemed fine all day long. The babysitter didn't seem too fazed by it and after much hemming and hawing, we decided to go ahead and leave her and told the sitter to call if anything else happened. We proceeded to enjoy a great dinner with friends and then went on to see the Young Ambassadors' show. It was really excellent with Broadway shows being the theme. I quite enjoyed myself except that I steadfastly held my cellphone (in silent mode, of course) throughout the night, worrying that the babysitter may call at any moment. After the show, Jon stayed back to bring the perfomers home and I left to relieve the sitter. As it turns out, Natalie threw up two more times and the sitter also had to change a bad diaper. Apparently she didn't think it too big a deal and didn't want to bother calling us. She just cleaned up the messes and was more than calm when she told me that "my baby sister does that sometimes." I guess I'm glad I overpayed her.

Jon arrived later with the performers, two girls. They were very nice guests and were grateful for our hospitality. We stayed up late talking with them and even discovered that one of them grew up right next door to my aunt in Utah. Small world! Overall it was a really enjoyable night, we just felt badly for Nat and the babysitter.

Running has become a family affair! Jon decided to try the couch to 5K thing. He's been working hard! The kids love to run and like to accompany him when possible. Here is a picture of them at about their mid-point, Caleb was leading the pack and Alyssa was lagging!

Caleb's always loved running and is quite good at it! This week in PE he ran the mile with a time of 8 minutes and 16 seconds. That's not his best time ever but still the fastest of his class which earned him a "Wildcat Wow," an award which gets him entered in a drawing to have lunch with the principal.
He's earned several of these awards for more academic things but he seemed especially proud of this one.