Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It Can Only Get Better

Remember this happy face from yesterday?

That is NOT her face today.

While I sit/lay down in the "family room" -- completely stuffed up from this horribly wicked cold that is sucking precious sleep from my life -- my new best friend is Mr. Diffuser who is spouting into the air OnGuard (helping me not only breath a little better, actually, but also disinfecting the air that I contaminate)...

In the background I hear screams from this face

But don't fret.  We've had some smiles and joy as well....uh, "joy" may be a stretch.  I can attest to the fact that this girl has herself one strong set of lungs.  And I suppose, when someone is that upset, it can only get better, right?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Therapy Therapy Therapy....

Callie, Sammy, and I took the trek and are once again living out of someone else's home for a month so Sammy can attend Now I Can.  I know it's good and I see results when we're here, but to be honest, I have not been looking forward to this trip.  I'm tired.  I'm a bit worn out.  And I miss Marcus when we're apart so long.  But, I know it's good for her, and now that we're here, I'm in therapy mode and things are moving right along.

Today was Sammy's first day...evaluation day.  I was encouraged to see that she was doing things that she couldn't do before.  Already, she is laying down flat on her tummy without being forced...which means she is relaxing her muscles enough to spread out like that...she's able to sit on her own with her legs out...which means her balance has improved...and she didn't cry today while they were doing some minor stuff with her. This is all an encouraging start.

Though Sammy and I were slammed with colds and Callie (who has fallen asleep in time out) is already spent and extremely tired...I think it'll be a good 4 weeks.

I pulled her out of bed this morning to drive down to Provo for the therapy.  This is her happy morning face.  I love it.

When she first went down, her arms were stretched out like Super Man.  Awesome.  I have never seen her just lay down like this outside of the bath tub.  By the time I ran to get my camera, she was getting up on her elbows, but she stayed like this for a bit.

Sitting up.  Not perfect, but according to their notes last time, when she came she couldn't sit up at all without falling back.

Sammy on the move.

Getting her suit fitted so it'll be ready for her first thing tomorrow morning.  

Look at all those cords!

When Mitch got the suit on her, she just stayed on the ground for awhile.  We couldn't get her to get up and move....it was as if she was reorienting her body, trying to remember and figure it all out.  But then she got up and started moving. I have a good feeling about this sesssion.

As a side note, there is a new director at Now I Can.  Michael Ririe is the photographer who took pictures of Sammy and others at Now I Can to try to educate the community about the therapy.  He also created a photographic book, which is beautiful, filled with pictures of these kids and some written words from family members.  He is the new director and it was fun to see him again in this new role.  When I saw him, he gave me an enlarged black and white photograph of Sammy that he had taken and that was used in his exhibit ... it was also the photo that the news used as one of their close-ups and background picture to talk about the story.  Mike said he had many people talk to them about this photo of Sammy...he said it was one of his favorites....and that just made my heart melt.  Sammy is such a sweetheart, and I love having this photograph of her.  I need to find a pretty black frame for it to put up...and then get a great black and white of Callie to have next to it.

There have been other changes at Now I Can.  They have expanded and have 1 more therapy room as well as another therapist.  I'm not sure, yet, how this will affect Sammy.  We are in the new room...which at first I didn't like.  I felt so removed because it's kind of in the back.  But, as we were there working on things, I thought that this smaller room is actually kind of perfect.  It's quieter, and I won't get distracted by what's going on around the place.

My lack of excitement is quickly being replaced by motivation and an eagerness to work and see what Sammy has in her this time around.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Entitlement Trap by Richard and Jane Eyre

Entitlement.  One of the most irritating things is when you talk to someone who thinks they deserve something, or a ton or things, just because.  As if they are breathing is reason enough to have whatever it is they want.  And I'm not just talking about material things.  I'm talking about people expecting other people's time and resources simply because.  And, if we were all 100% Christ-like, perhaps that would be enough.  But, I am from the school of thought that we should be trying to become as self-reliant as possible, and then, when we need a helping hand, we can confidently ask for it...or receive it when given freely.

So, entitlement.  It's a problem among kids and adults.

I really liked this book for a few reasons.  One, the topic.  It needs to be addressed.  Two.  It is easy to read.  It's fast, not filled with thick language.  I don't mind scientific, but this was nice.  Three.  The Eyre's give practical advice on how to achieve each of the items they address.  They don't just talk about it, they explain, step by step, what you can do.  Four.  I agree with it.  And that's always validating, isn't it?:)

I recommend the book.  Will I do all the suggestions?  Probably not.  But that's ok.  I still feel like I've walked away with a lot of knowledge and I feel better prepared for the coming years with the kidlets.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sammy's Birthday

Marcus had the room ready so as soon as she woke up, she was surrounded by her favorites: balloons, an empty box, the grocery bag, plastic hangers, the broom, her backpack, and some plastic containers.  She was in birthday heaven!

We didn't do presents.  Instead, we opted for Chuck E. Cheese.

Callie was thrilled.  Sammy was compliant.  She was mostly fussy, but enjoyed a few "rides" with Callie.

Yikes!  I hope I felt better than I looked.

Callie, again, thrilled.

Ya know?  The whole Chuck E. Cheese thing, we knew Callie would love it more than Sammy, but that was kind of our intention.  We wanted Callie to be excited about Samantha's birthday, and I think it was a success.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Samantha Turns SIX

Way back in June, the Samsquatch turned 6.  I can't believe it.  I most certainly can.not. believe. it. 
We were having camera difficulty, but we still were able to get some photos.  Even if they weren't the best, we have some documentation of the day.
I started getting really sloppy with the frosting after a bit.  My hand was getting tired.

Sammy just wants to dig in.

And of course, Callie and I hep her blow out the candles...otherwise she'd just reach out and grab them!

I swear we have this exact same picture from her 1st birthday!  Her hair's just shorter from her surgery...I have to find that picture.

The day was all together too tiring, and Callie just called it quits for the day.

Sammy and Mommy

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sammy's Class

I love Samantha's school, and she loves it too.  She really does.  I can tell when I take her, she is happy to be there.  Her classroom is filled with love.  She has to work, and work hard, but it is fun for her and I think she knows she is loved.  I think all the kids in her class feel that.  

When I go to Sammy's class for some kind of activity, I try to take pictures of all the kids and email them to their parents.  Here are just a few of the kids I got.  I think they are so so beautiful.  And I wonder...when I look into their eyes...what are they thinking?  What do they want to say that they can't? 

Callie loves Sammy's class too.  She loves joining in on the songs and being a part of the class.  I feel really blessed that Samantha was able to get into Argonaut Elementary.  We were just kind of placed there, but the school psychologist had mentioned that she thought it was the best fit for Sammy.  Now, after being there a couple years, I see why parents wait in line to get their kids there.  It's fantastic.

Sammy's teachers, aides, and therapists are what make the class what it is.  We definitely have a super supportive administration, but it's who works with the kids everyday that makes the class so great.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boys Adrift: The 5 Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

Fantastic.  Really truly enjoyed reading this book.

As I've talked to people about this book, I have gotten the question, "Why did you want to read it?"  I think as a (retired) teacher, I am naturally interested in what makes boys and girls tick, or stop ticking.  I care about what is happening to our society and I feel like there has been a drastic decline in what was valued from even my parents' generation.  I have my own opinions about that, but I like reading what research and professionals have to say about it as well.  Furthermore, I have daughters.  I hope to one day have a son, but even if I don't, my daughters will one day marry a young man who I hope will have prepared himself not only spiritually and emotionally, but has prepared himself in such a way that he can provide for my daughter and their family.  Does this mean he has to be a millionaire?  No.  But I do expect my daughters to choose young men who are motivated to do what is necessary for the betterment of their family.  But what if those young men no longer exist?  I don't believe that is the case yet.  I see amazing boys who are working hard and becoming fine, strong, caring young men.  But the dynamics of family life and society are quickly changing...changing for the worse, in my opinion...and I want to make sure that I am doing all I can, as a parent and member of my community, to raise a generation that still believes in honesty, hard work, fortitude, and diligence.  If I don't have sons, I can certainly help support the parents who do.

What are the five factors that Dr. Sax discusses?

Changes at School
how our curriculum has changed over the past 30 years and the negative effects on our struggling boys

Video Games
not all games are bad, but he discusses the amount of time spent on video games, as well as they types of games

Medications for ADHD
a discussion of over-diagnosis and the different medications out there and their side effects -- including how the brain changes on these medications

Endocrine Disruptors
environmental toxins and hormonal and brain changes

Revenge of the Forsaken Gods
the lack of male role models, teaching of core values, and how our own American culture change is quite toxic to both boys and girls

Dr. Sax repeatedly says that not all boys are unmotivated and apathetic.  However, if our boys are, we need to look at these 5 factors and consider adjusting our own parenting techniques ~ stop the video games or at least limit them, look at what your son is eating and drinking, talk to his teachers and perhaps (if necessary) change schools, etc. 

I especially appreciated a section where Dr. Sax spoke about pornography and how lethal it is to our young boys.  For awhile, many people argued that it was normal, in fact...good, for boys to see pornography...that it did no harm.  I don't understand that, but I have obviously been raised differently than those who made those statements.  Now, the pornography addicted generation is growing up, and more and more research is coming out about the horrific effects of pornography.  Men can't carry on healthy relationships with women.  In fact, more and more men who are addicted to pornography don't even desire to be with women but would rather be alone with their pornography.  Dr. Sax clearly agrees with guarding our children from any kind of pornography as the results are devastating for individuals and relationships.  Though this part was small, it was thorough and very important for all parents to read and understand.

The book is not only enlightening due to the research and commentary, but he also gives suggestions for parents on what we can possibly do to combat such destructive influences.  

I really enjoyed this book and suggest everyone take time to read it whether you have sons or not.  I will most definitely keep it on my shelf as a parental resource book.  I now look forward to reading Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls, because I'm sure I will gain a lot of insights there as well.  



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Eve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell

I loved this book.  My roommate read it back in college and so it's always been on my to-read list.  And, I finally got around to it.  I didn't learn any new doctrine here, but there were many times when I said to myself, "I haven't thought of it that way before."  I like books like that.

I have so much love and appreciation for Eve.  What a righteous woman.  Can you imagine being chosen, or called, to be the first woman on Earth?  To set the way?  To be responsible for starting the human race?  To teach her sons and daughters?  I am impressed with the woman she is.  Eve if often thought of as weak; she is the woman who gave into temptation.  But is she?  I have always been raised to believe that Eve knew the decision she was making...that it wasn't a moment of weakness, but a moment of clarity.  I wasn't in the Garden of Eden and I'm not sure what her thoughts were at the time.  But I do know that she fulfilled a part of the Father's plan, and that she frustrated the one who was trying to deceive her.  I believe she had knowledge gained from living in Eden and conversing with the Lord, as well as innate qualities that helped her be able to act instead of react to situations as they presented themselves.  Reading more about Eve sheds more light on her decision and how it impacts us all.  I really loved this book.

Some of my favorite parts from the book:

"Your potential is limitless.  You are daughters of God, endowed by inheritance with marvelous gifts and immeasurable potential.  Accept the challenge.  Go forward with confidence."  ~ President Hinckley

"In life all must choose at times.  Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil.  Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other.  When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others -- the greater law -- rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves -- the lesser law.... The greater must be chosen whether it be law or thing.  That was the choice made in Eden."  ~ Elder Widtsoe

The words I read in this book inspired me to be a better mother, wife, and daughter.  I recommend this book to every woman.  Beautiful.


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