Wednesday, October 9, 2013


When you're the little sister and you have 3 doting big brothers and a totally smitten Daddy and you make this face....

or this face....

 or even this face...
 ...even if Mommy doesn't give in, the odds are pretty much in your favor that you will get exactly what you want.

Monday, October 7, 2013

i'm baaack!!!

I can't believe that I waited this long before I started blogging again!  (Actually, I can, because life has been pretty darn BUSY the last couple years!)  I'm thrilled to say that I think I finally have time to do it now that three of our four kids are in school and everything as far as immediate needs (theirs and my own, among other things) have been sorted out.  There is SO MUCH to update and wrote about, and I'm still deciding how to organize things...I don't want to miss out on all of the fun, tough moments, learning experiences, and thought that I'd like to document over the past few years....but I also want to document from here on out.  So, bear with me as I just jump back in and figure it all out as I go.  Blogging is a very healing experience for helps me find the everyday beauty, blessings, and sort through tough feelings.  I think it's really good for me, and I hope one day that my family will love reading what I wrote, so I'm not going to let it go by the wayside again.

A quick update on the last year or so since my last post:

-Peyton continues to grow up so fast!  She's a tiny little thing below the 10th percentile, but she eats like a horse and she gets around a TON, so we're not worried about her size (although glad she's a tiny girl and not a boy haha).  She LOVES to talk, LOVES to play with baby dolls, and fights very hard to keep up with her brothers.  She's a sweet, cuddly little angel (snuggliest baby by FAR), but she's got a lot of sass that helps her keep right up with all the action and keep up with her brothers!  We just love her and the feminine energy that she brings to our family.  She's so much fun!

Sometimes we call her "Little Miss Sassy Pants".  ;)

-Jonah is also growing and changing a lot!  He's three now.  After a year or so with Early Intervention working on sensory issues and speech delays (among other things), we got a call from a program out here that offers ABA therapy to a select few kids in the state.  He and Micah were picked, so we took him in and had him tested.  He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and ADHD.  He has grown leaps and bounds since ABA started, and also has gotten into an incredible autism preschool out here called Giant Steps.  I have spent literally 20-30+ hours a week of the last year or so managing both his and Micah's therapy, programs, research, appointments, and everything else having a kid on the autism spectrum entails.  There has been heartbreak as well as celebration, and we are finally getting our bearings as these two diagnosis's came so suddenly and quickly and were very overwhelming at first.  I feel so incredibly blessed for all the help and support we've received from friends and others who understand all of this "autism stuff" better than we do.  It's been a tough road, but for now at least, the worst part is over, and although it's still busy and can be hard (tough choices all the time), the blessings WAY outweigh the tough stuff and we feel very grateful for the way things have unfolded.  Jonah has also had a few hearing problems (although minor enough that they haven't been able to pinpoint them yet) and recently failed his hearing test at school.  He has a hearing assessment tomorrow and we're hoping to finally get answers and address this issue once and for all.  Other than all this crazy stuff, Jonah is such a fun little boy!  He had a speech explosion back in February and has not stopped picking up speech like crazy!  He is very talkative now and we are just working on helping him form words correctly because it's extremely hard for people outside of his family to understand him.  It doesn't slow him down though, which I love.  He's definitely the comedian of the family and makes us laugh every single day.  He seems to have that affect on people wherever he goes....he's just such a cute, silly, funny little boy and his boisterous, mischievous laugh is incredibly contagious.   In addition to being the comedian, he's the mischief maker and makes enough to go around every day!  He loves trucks and trains and playing outside.  He's recently gotten into playing pretend more and it's been so fun to see his imagination grow.  He sure keeps me busy, but is a pure delight and we love him to pieces!  

Here he is "fishing" in our front yard.  Mud everywhere, Kolton's helmet on, soggy socks and no shoes....all boy!  I love it!

-Micah was also diagnosed with PDD-NOS and Generalized Anxiety and ADHD back in November of last year.  It's taken a lot more effort on my part to get him the help he needs, because he's older and there's a lot more scheduling conflicts, social issues, more bad habits formed, as well as school to deal with.  It's been a loooooong road, but I can honestly say now that it's made a HUGE difference to do ABA therapy, all of the extra school and tutoring we did/do, doctor's appointments and OT, etc.  And now, 3 IEPs later, we finally have school up and going in a positive, functional way for everyone.  I LOVE his teacher and the support we get from his school.  It took some prodding, trying several things, lots of communication and working through things determined to keep everyone on the same team and not engaging in power struggles (it's a very emotional process and I think it could be very easy for any mom to "lose it" at the wrong's very time-consuming, limiting, and frustrating.  The process is very slow and unpredictable.), but we're finally there!  We're at a place where we are all working together and although there are still things we are struggling with and working hard on, there are FAR MORE things that we have conquered and learned.  I think my initial though with either of these boys is how a diagnosis would bring certain labels with it.  But I have found the opposite to be true most of the time if not all the time.  And it's enabled us to get SO MUCH HELP for our boys and they have come so much farther than When things get hard (I have to be on top of our schedule all the time.  It's not very flexible and certainly very busy.), I have to stop and wonder if it's all worth it.  But then, suddenly, Micah makes so many strides and those strides tend to bring with them so much happiness and accomplishment that I no longer doubt that we've done the right thing.  Identifying something so that you can figure out how to best help your child succeed and be happy is never a bad thing.  I'm so proud of Micah and all the hard work he's done and how it's blessed his life.  I wonder a lot of the time if there will come a day when they are "typical" kids again and won't have an autism diagnosis.  And even if that day doesn't come, I know that it won't hold them back and that it is a beautiful part of who they are.  There are many more gifts and blessings that outweigh the struggles and complications of autism.  Micah has also joined a soccer team recently and loves to play.  He also LOVES to make things with paper and tape.  He loves to draw and is SO creative!  I am just itching to get him into an art class because I think it's a talent he has and that he will love it.  He's still struggling with writing now and how to hold a pencil, so I'm going to wait until the time feels right.  He's such a love and a delight to be around.  It's been fun to finally see him start to work through his emotions a little and also to hear him start to share things he wants to talk about.  He's growing up and blossoming and it's been so fun to watch!  He's such a little sweetheart and we all love him so much!

-Kolton has fallen in love with reading.  I gave him a Magic Treehouse book in the beginning of the summer in hopes of hatching a little bookworm, and man alive was I successful!  He is on book #33 currently and has also read a few other chapter books.  He's extremely smart and independent.  He's just amazing.  Kolton has had to deal with a lot with all of the craziness that's gone on over the last few years, and he's really dealt with it all like a champ....better than I ever could have imagined.  He's very frank and very assertive, and I feel like that really helps him let me know what he needs to feel happy and fulfilled.  He loves to talk to me and I love to talk to him.  He's a very sweet big brother to all of his siblings and sets such a great example to them.  He loves to sing as well and every single week I am told that he is the best singer in the junior primary.  I popped him and Micah into Clayton Productions this year (a singing group that I was a part of as a teenager, and I would love for each of my kids to participate in), and he loves it.  He initially didn't love it, but he does now and I think it will be good for his shy little soul to get up in front of an audience and perform.  Clayton Productions was so good for me in so many ways, and I hope it touches them and becomes a fun memory for them as it has for me.  He's also on a soccer team right now, and although it's been crazy for me taking him and Micah to two different practices and games this year with them being on different teams, I think it was definitely the right choice.  I love each of my kids to get their time to shine.  And Kolton can be very shy, so it's been good for him to branch out and meet some friends as well.  He's a great little soccer player and loves to play.  He's recently started practicing more and it's fun to see him improve as a player.  He's just growing up so fast!  I love my little buddy!

-With all of the stress - emotional, physical, mental, financial - that's gone along with so many changes in our family (baby, nursing, autism, job changes, etc.), my body finally couldn't take it anymore and I had a relapse of my thyroid disease.  The good news is though that my levels have stayed mostly even, so I've managed to stay off of   meds.  More good news is that the Graves' disease actually went into remission, and I think my Hashimoto's may be on that track as well, but I haven't had my antibodies tested.  This news came after I started losing hair, getting weird rashes on my body, having tons more allergies, a huge jump in anxiety symptoms and insomnia (which then made the anxiety worse), having blood sugar fluctuations and a little insulin resistance, major fatigue, headaches, hormonal fluctuations from both stress and weaning Peyton, and more.  It's been tough....I've been tested for some scary things and no one has been able to seem to figure out what's going on other than the fact that I've been super stressed and I'm having big time allergy issues.  We've had tons of doctor appointments, special diets, bought new bedding (replaced our down comforter with an allergy free one), etc.  I found an amazing online program that's helped with my anxiety, as well as done something called "emotional processing".  I've been able to make a little time for myself while the kids are in school.  I'm taking a ballet class and I'm loving it.  I'm writing more again.  I'm spending a lot more time with Wes now that his schedule's a little less busy.  I'm sleeping better and being more active in the day.  I've gotten out my sewing machine a few times, and I recently decided to break it out and sew Peyton's Halloween costume this year.  I'm volunteering at Courage Reins (we sold Rocky to a cowboy this spring when things got really crazy....we didn't have much time for him and it's not cheap to keep a horse, and we needed to get in a better place financially...tough decision, but the right one.  Now, I get my horse fix at Courage Reins and hopefully I'll get into riding again along with getting the boys on a horse.  But for now, I'm learning a lot about many things - horses and beyond - at Courage Reins).  There's still some unanswered questions about my health, but I think we're finally in a positive place here and found a rhythm of care for me (a little unpredictable, but a much slower pace than I've had to go in a looong time) while we are working through it.  I think most of it was just the stress I was dealing with and I'm sure there's a couple underlying issues.  But, I'm a big believer in diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management, as well as relying on the Lord and having faith and a positive attitude, so those things are my medicine right now as we figure things out.  I feel really good and know things will continue to improve as long as I can listen to my heart and my body and make sure I'm taking care of myself.  I'm also a huge believer in a positive attitude, so I've started a gratitude blog (to take the place of my paper journals) and I've joined the "Billion Clicks" movement, which I'm super excited about!  And let's not forget my buddy, Tony Robbins, along with many self-help and inspirational books I try to read.  I've also learned over and over that if I try to do it all myself, it just doesn't add up....I need to rely on the Lord and pray, follow the spirit, and have faith.  I know it sounds simple, but I tend to make it very complicated for some reason.  I guess I need to learn to remember that I'm not alone a little more often.  ;)

-Wes is now full-time at one pharmacy out here, which has been fabulous!  He was working lots of extra shifts all over, in addition to working at a small independent pharmacy here on his weekdays off.  It was such a blessing while we have gone through all that we have.  We have managed to pay for most of this stuff (autism, health, etc.) with cash and have only recently acquired a little debt as he wasn't able to work as often.  The independent pharmacy he worked at closed and his current pharmacy hired a bunch of new people just to cover extra shifts.  It all came on suddenly, so we didn't really get time to get our feet under us.  But, it's been a good thing.  Wes has been able to plug in more with the kids (he's always been plugged in, but now he's been able to really, really delve in and be involved on a whole new level), have time for himself and his family/friends.  We've had more time together as well which has been awesome!  We were even able to sneak away for a few days on our anniversary this year which hasn't happened since we've had kids, so it was really amazing!  Wes has become more active recently as well and gets up early and works out every morning.  He's also been reading a lot more recently.  I'm so proud of him and in love with him more every day.  We are starting to have so much fun together as a family - we've always had fun together - but we've been able to kind of find our "groove" lately and it's been so nice.  We've had to learn to be really great communicators over the past couple years, and rely on each other a lot more, and it's brought us so close. I'm so grateful for him and for the joy and love he brings into my life.

Well, I think that's it for now, but I'm anxious to continue writing...I've missed it a lot!  I'm excited to get more pictures up and to remember to get out my camera more.  I love being able to document all the beautiful, sweet snippets of life and have them here to remember.


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