Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here, it is, 11:40 pm, on New Year's Eve.  We had a fantastic evening playing games, like Quirkle, Bible Charades (which was WAY more fun to play after we started making up our own instead of going with the cards they gave us), Spot It, Gobblet Gobblers, Mexican Train Dominos, and Left, Right, Center.

We had chips, dips, cake, cookies, Costco muffins, hot cocoa and spiced cider.

All 11 of us, Chris, his parents, the children and myself, made for the perfect company!

And now, I can hear the brand new sheet set, put on the bed for the first time today, that my wonderful husband got me for Christmas calling my name...16 minutes I go down and join Chris and the children (Chris' parents went to bed already) to watch the fireworks at the Space Needle, or just head up to bed???

God has blessed us so much this year.  He has also taught us some wonderful lessons.  We truly have so much to be thankful for.  I am excited to see what He has in store for us next year and we seek Him.

Now with just 11 minutes remaining, I think I will join Chris and the big girls downstairs to watch the Space Needle firework show to ring in the New Year!

We pray that each of you who reads this would feel God's love for you.  We pray that God would bless you and draw you closer to Him in ways that you never have before or tha you come to know Him in the new year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Updating the blog...

I have found a way to publish new blog posts! The only trouble is, I had to use the new blogger interface, and being that I don't like change, I now have to get used to it...translation: It might be awhile before I get the blog truly updated, lol!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lots to catch up on...

My amazing and wonderful husband got me an early Christmas present - a new laptop! It is awesome! It is so fast, I can hardly believe it! The only trouble is that I am not able to publish blog posts from it for some strange reason! I am making this effort now to publish this as I have had several people ask if everything is ok. I hope to get that corrected soon I can get more posts published.

Highlights of what is to come...

A scrapbooking post. I am working on scrapbooks again (I kind of took the last year off, so while I was so caught up last year, I am no longer in such a good position this year, lol!)

Family Thanksgiving/Christmas party with MY family...something that hasn't happened in 13 years, I think we figured...that is almost 1/2 my life, lol! (And I am the eldest of my generation.)


Choir concert.

Piano Recital.

And I am sure many more that I have forgotten off the top of my head, lol!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jesus' Birthday

We read this and this aloud. Both are good reads (not overly long) and I highly recommend them.

The first link, I saw last year, I forwarded it onto Chris, (who was swamped with work at the time!), and never really followed up on it. I thought it was a good idea last year, but I already had my shopping done, so didn't really know what to do with it. I have thought of it a couple of times, but had no idea how to locate the link again. I am grateful for a friend who posted it this year, and at a time when I am no where near done with Christmas shopping (in fact, I really have not even begun)...

Then Chris and I talked about how we might want to change things.

Then we talked with the girls about lots of different things. First birthdays, and their favorite part (family, friends and presents). Then about giving. We talked about being rich or poor. That there will always be some one who would consider us rich and someone else who would consider us poor. We talked about being rich or poor and giving together. How Jesus viewed the gift given by the rich man, who was giving from his abundance, vs. the widow, who was giving all she had. We talked about the sacrifice she made to give her offering. We talked about doing things for the 'least of these' that Jesus said was the same as doing things for him.

Then we talked about real poverty. People who do not have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, access to medical attention if they are hurt or sick. Widows and orphans living in unthinkable conditions...

Finally, we asked them to make a sacrifice. We normally give our children 3 gifts each for Christmas. This year, we asked them to sacrifice one of their gifts for Jesus. They will get an allotment of money, which they will be able to either combine with another sibling, or use on their own in the Samaritan's Purse Catalog to get something for a family or a community to make a real difference in the lives of those who are truly in need.

It is my hope that they are really able to grasp the importance of helping a family or community get a source of income, food, and access to clean water. I pray that my children understand that it is our responsibility to help widows, orphans and those who are less fortunate than we are (and that it is NOT the government's responsibility to do so, but the church, who are able to minister to the whole person, body, mind and soul.) It is our prayer that God would use these meager offerings to change the world for His name's sake. I pray that God would be able to transform these people's lives, get His word into their hands, and come to have a relationship with the one and only true God, who loved them so much, he gave them the greatest gift of all, His own Son, who came, not in luxury, but was born in a barn, with animals, and slept in a manger. He came to serve us, and ultimately, to pay the price for our sin, something we could never repay.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Twins' birthday party

We celebrated the twins' birthday party on Monday night. Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Jann came over for cake, ice cream and presents.

The twins chose to have Subway subs for their dinner. (It is such a huge blessing that they have always agreed and wanted to have the same thing for their birthday dinner!)

Then we had a DQ cake.

Followed by presents. This year, we got them 2 big presents to share. The first is a digital camera, the 2nd is a microscope. Both will be lots of fun, and will see lots of use!

We also got each of them a scraperfoil craft project to work on as well as a crochet book to share (and the crochet hooks to go with the projects they will want to do).

Grandma and Grandpa got Bailey the rest of the Boxcar Children series to fill in the first 40 books! Anna got a 1,000 piece puzzle of Yellowstone that looks like it will be a lot of fun!

Aunt Carolyn and Faux-Pa got the girls some new clothes.

They also got a surprise package in the mail from friends who have moved across the country. It might be their very favorite gift of all, not only for the thoughtful gift that it is (they are really enjoying listening to new Oddessy adventures!), but also because it reminds them of their friends! Thank you so much for making their day like you did!

Happy Birthday, girls!

Callie's big appointment

This is the big appointment we have been waiting for since talk about her feet deforming the way that they are and ways to make it better. This is where we were supposed to talk about why she is so tight, and why we can't seem to get her stretched out. And where we were going to talk about tone and anything that might be able to help hers at the moment.

There were several options on the table, 2 of which that sounded as though they could provide near instant relief and long term benefit.

We started off having a full battery of evals done. No surprises there...everything is exactly where I thought it was. (Cognitive, expressive and receptive language at the top of the chart as a 5 1/2 year old, fine motor skills are about 6 months delayed, and gross motor is about 70% delayed <-- that last one hurt a little to hear, even though I know it to be true! She is very smart, and very talkative, she understands everything people are saying, she just struggles a bit getting her body to move the way she wants it to!)

Next, she got to have a full pt session. They did all sorts of measurements to see where her range of motion is. They tested both her full range (in a stretch) and her functional range (what she can use on her own w/o assistance). They had her do all sorts of activities, like climbing stairs, swinging a bat to hit a ball off a T (this was really hard for her!), throwing a ball into a basketball hoop (she was amazingly good at this one!), and walking between 2 parallel lines (another one that was really tricky for her - but she asked to try it a 2nd time, and did a little better the 2nd time!) They tested her ability to start and stop herself, by asking her to stop at each line before continuing (we have been working on this for awhile now, and while she has gotten much better, she still has a lot of room for improvement!), and had her try to jump without holding onto things. Then they brought out a walker, to see how she looked while using it. (The pt didn't like how she would go really fast, and never let her heels touch the ground. She said in form, her walker is not helping her, but in function, it lets her get around the community with less effort, and helps her keep up with peers and play.)

After that we went to see the doctor. Who looked over her legs, hips, ankles, and feet. She wanted to see her weight bear with and without her orthotics. Had her walk, and dance. By the time we made it here, Callie was D.O.N.E. She was tired. She was hungry. And she wanted to leave.

The doctor was unsure what her hips looked like, so she ordered x-rays of her hips to make sure they are properly in their sockets. (They are.) We were told if Callie was just too tired that we could come back another day, or we could head over there right now...we opted to head over that way, as I really didn't want to have to come back to Children's again for another appointment!

The doctor thought that with as tight as her hamstrings and heel cords are, serial casting (getting a good stretch, then casting it for 3-5 days, cut the cast off, re stretch and recast for 3-5 days, then repeat for 6-8 weeks) might be the best option for her. She said that her tone is not a big deal. She said she didn't think any of the other options would work for Callie because her tone is actually pretty low. She said that she would have to get back to me with the final recommendations later as all 3 of the providers who saw Callie got together in the afternoon to discuss options for her.

In the end, they decided that Callie's range of motion really isn't *that* bad, and within acceptable, tight, but ok parameters on the cp scale. When I spoke with the doctor on the phone today, she kept saying, "Compared to other kids her age with her condition, she looks really good." Average for taking first steps with sdcp is 4-5 years old. Callie did that at just shy of 2 1/2 years.

The problem I have with that statement is that Callie has lost some function. Callie had better form and more endurance before she was as tight as she is now. And regardless of how good she looks now, we want to get her back to where she was...back to HER full potential!

When I expressed this to the doctor, she mentioned that we could do night splinting (something her pt wants to do, too).

I asked about why her feet are just now looking like this. The doctor thinks it has to do with a big growth spurt, and that she is naturally 'loose' (meaning her ligaments and tendons would have made her really flexible if she didn't have cp). I asked what can be done about it, and if keeping her in night splints would help the tendon that is too loose, and allowing her foot to collapse to tighten up. She said no. And that there really isn't anything we can do about it, and she will likely need surgery to re-align her feet in a few years. I asked if using night splints to loosen her hamstrings and heel cords would help at all,and she didn't think it would, because she is in the 'tight but still ok' category.

I don't like our options! I am not even sure I agree with all of seems to me that increasing her range of motion, especially her functional range that she is able to use, WOULD help! We go back to see Miss Jenna on Tuesday, and I look forward to getting her advice on all of this! I really don't like that they are holding her up to the 'standard' for having sdcp, and saying since she is doing better than that, she must be ok.

At least the hospital has some fun things to look at as we had to go back and forth to different areas! (Callie got so tired through the appointment that she had to be put into a wheel chair for the rest of the time going back and forth across the hospital.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to my twins!

Happy birthday to my amazing twins. These 2 really are so amazing! I count on them for so much, and they are so willing to help in anyway that they can!

What a blessing it is to have children who are so obedient, and who want to please so much. They love learning and living life! They love spending time with their family, and enjoy helping the younger ones to do things!

This year, Anna started playing the saxophone and Bailey has begun learning the flute. They are both doing very well on their instruments! Bailey's has come a bit more slowly since breaking her arm (it is really hard for her to stretch her fingers to reach certain notes), but she isn't letting that stop her!

Both of them are continuing the piano, and surpassing what I am able to do in the process! It is a joy to hear them play! I really love having the house filled with music for so much of the day!

The twins both enjoy working in the kitchen, whether baking goodies, bread, or meals, and are both becoming good cooks!

While they do have a lot of things that they both really enjoy, they also have their own likes and favorites. Often times, being twins, they are lumped together in things, when really something may only be a passion for one of them. Here are some of their individual likes and favorites (at least for right now! They often influence the other into liking their favorite things, lol!)

Anna loves to draw and crochet. Her favorite school subjects are math and science. Her favorite color is brown (the color of horses). She passionately loves horses, and looks forward to maybe getting back to riding lessons. Her favorite place to go is a stable with lots of horses.

Bailey loves to embroider and read. Bailey loves to make things for others, do the mending (especially of stuffed animals or baby dolls), and fix things. Her favorite subjects in school are history and reading. She favorite color is green (because it is a Christmas color!). She really loves all wildlife. Her favorite place to go is the Evergreen State Fair.

As I mentioned, they will be waiting until Monday night to actually have their family party. Sunday was just too busy, with church, a roller skating party for a friend of theirs, and home church! By the time we got home, it was time to get everyone tucked into bed!

Getting ready for the twins' birthday

Chris' parents were awesome to let both of us go out to get the twins birthday presents (with Brianna, who was getting a special date with both of us for the accomplishment of no longer sucking her thumb - but she also wanted Ashley to come along!). We had fun looking at different things we thought they would like, picking out something for Brianna (who was bribed w/$10 and a Mommy/Daddy date to stop sucking her thumb). We went out to dinner. Then we stopped by the dollar store to get balloon bouquets for the was kind of embarrassing leaving the dollar store with TWENTY-TWO balloons! Then to stuff them into the Saturn, was comical...and resulted in this:

We finally did get them into the house, got the house decorated, presents wrapped, and everything ready for the twins to wake up to on their birthday (Sunday)...though with a busy day, they will have to wait until Monday for their family party.

Game night

Chris has been working extra hours lately...just the nature of his job, he has times when he is busier than others!

I have been trying to keep everyone busy, and this is just the latest activity...actually, Chris thought he would be available to play with us, so I went all out with snacks and such. Unfortunately, we started the evening with tears from Miss Anna, who really misses her Daddy!

We played Uno and Sorry tonight (ran out of time - having 2 late nights in a row was very poor planning on my part!)

After we played games for a couple of hours, the girls still felt lonely and asked if they could have a 'slumber party' in the lower bunks. I consented (which resulted in another night of not so great rest for them, lol!), and found them like this 1/2 hour later :) All 6 of the older ones in 1 lower bunk!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lights of Christmas

The plan was to not go this year...but then, Lights of Christmas had a pay what you can I figured, at a discounted admission, to go ahead and take everyone...after all, they really do enjoy it (I on the other hand, am kind of feeling done with the Lights after so many years - if you have never gone, and are local, I highly recommend it! I have gone for the last decade, and am just ready to take a year off, lol!)

Everyone was so excited. I was slightly nervous, but thanks to my wonderful FIL, who took everyone to band/choir, and let me get a good nap, I was feeling at least up for it!

Brianna, Callie and J rode the pony rides this year. Ashley decided that she didn't want to do it.
Everyone else is either too big or too little.

Then we rode on the train ride. They have a new caboose this year, that we rode in. Everyone liked it, Especially J, who had been telling us he hears a train since we got off the bus!

After that, we got some kettle corn, and headed inside to warm up and hear a story teller.

With everyone was able to feel their toes again, we were off to see Bruce the Christmas Spruce! The girls already know all his jokes, but still have fun going to talk with him!

On our way to each main event, we were looking at all of the wonderful decorations they have set up.

One of the favorite activities at the Lights are the mini donuts...made hot and fresh right before your eyes!

We stopped in to say Frosty, who was a bit too scary for Callie and J this year, before heading over to see the life size nativity scene they have set up.

I love spending time with my children! What a privilege it is to get to experience these things with them. What a wonderful say to start out our celebration of the birth of the Light of the World, than with a wonderful display of lights in His honor!

And just for my wonderful, hard working, amazing husband, there is a bag of mini donuts on the kitchen island waiting for you! Thank you so much for all of the hard work you do to provide so well for us. We love you very much, and you were greatly missed tonight!

Amish don't have autism...

Interesting article. I do think we are poisoning ourselves with our environment...plastic, microwaves, cell phones, additives (poisons), preservatives, and on and on the list goes. The ingredient list in vaccines includes such things as formaldahyde (which poison control says is deadly at ANY level), aluminum (which is time and time again proven to cause brain damage), mercury (which has been greatly advertised to no longer be in vaccines, but is still allowed to be in the flu shot - which is then recommended to be injected into ones body ANNUALLY), aborted fetal tissue, again, this is a list that could go on and on...that is then injected into a person's body without first going through our God designed defenses first.
The Amish Don’t Get Autism? And They Don’t Get Vaccinations – Possible Link?
Posted on June 7, 2011 by WV Outpost

People outside the alternative health community are often confused by the lack of autism in the Amish people. The Amish do not experience autism, or any of the other learning disabilities that plague our technological society. The Amish live in a society that consists of outdated technologies and ideals, by contemporary standards. Their diet consists of eating organic, fresh, locally-grown produce, and of course, they do not follow the established vaccination routines. To the dismay of the mainstream media and the medical establishment, this has resulted in a healthier people, that are void of all of our chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are virtually non-existent in Amish villages. Equally non-existent are modern, chemically-engineered medicines, enhanced (chemically-engineered) foods, G.M.O. foods, and of course, vaccines. How is it that those who are without the “miracles” of modern orthodox medicine are healthier? The truth about health, medicine, and how they both relate to the Amish is becoming an embarrassment to some rather powerful people.

There have been 3 (yes three) verified cases of autism in the Amish, and at least two of those children were vaccinated. No information is available for the third. The strong correlation between vaccinations and autism is absolutely undeniable, unless you work for the medical establishment, the government, or Big Media. Proponents of the status-quo claim that the Amish obviously have a special super gene that makes them immune to autism. They pathetically try to rationalize that autism is some type of genetic failure (i.e. God’s fault), which attacks a brain based on religious affiliation. We’re tentatively expecting a space alien theory next, in a similar vein to the aliens theory used to attack those who believe in a Creator. This is truly is F.D.A. and A.M.A. science in all its shining glory. Vaccine proponents are willing to espouse any ridiculous explanation, so long as they do not have to accept that their entire industry of vaccinations is causing chronic disease, leaving autism for 1 in every 100 children now.

When the Amish are simply left alone, to live free of chemical toxins found in our medicines and foods, they are not plagued with diseases, learning disabilities, or autism. They are categorically more intelligent, with the exception of advanced (college-level) writing skills, which is explainable by the fact that English is not their primary language. Could it be those same Amish ‘super genes’ at work again? Society could learn greatly from their example, if we would only stop poisoning ourselves, and our children on a routine basis

Getting and decorating a tree

Obviously, I didn't get the blog updated by the end of the weekend, as I had hoped...but better late than never!

We had perfect weather to go get a Christmas tree! The sun was shining, it wasn't overly cold...the ground was dry enough to be firm. We really couldn't have asked for better - especially when the weather men kept saying it was going to rain all week!

Everyone enjoyed tromping through the trees...except for maybe Callie, who struggled with the uneven ground. She ended up being carried for much of the trip, even though she wanted to walk.

All 6 of the older ones got to help cut the tree down.

Everyone helped to carry the tree back to the truck. There are times when many hands make light work, and other times when more isn't necessarily better...with children on both sides holding the tree and walking slowly, they almost looked like paulbarers.

We tried a new place this that is considerably cheaper, and we really liked it! They had a lot of trees that are like the ones that we get. And for $20 for any tree, we will certainly be coming back next year!

The lot we were at isn't as big, which put us back home much earlier. It gave us time for FIL to put the lights on the tree, while we made lunch...and then to get ornaments on the tree in the same day! (Normally we get the tree, I put lights on it after everyone goes to bed, then set out ornaments to be put on the next gave us time to head to Wight's in Lynnwood because the tree was already decorated the same day we got it!)

The girls enjoyed getting everything out and decorated a day early this year! We even finished in time for our first Christmas book of the year to be read as the bedtime story.