Friday, April 23, 2010

I love Friday's. It's the day that Ty doesn't have school, and we only have one therapy appointment. We usually have time in the morning to do something "fun". This day we went on a nature hike in the ravine behind our house, the kids LOVED it! In this pic, Tyson's at the top, and the little guys below are diligently trying to reach him. All the little guys are under 3 years old in this pic. Aren't they awesome. Gotta love boys!

Got a pic of most of the kids cheezin it for the camera.
They had to take their back packs to make it a "real" hike.

I asked Lukey to smile, this sort of worked.
Tyson took saving cream "painting" to a whole new level.
Even with a dirty face, Lukey is adorable!

Blogging Boycott

I boycotted the blog world for the past few months. I just couldn't take it, I would get online look at other peoples blog's and they would just piss me off. Instead of feeling happy that someones 9 month old was reading and someone else's 4 month old was potty trained, it would only make me feel sorry for myself and our situation. So realizing that that probably wasn't healthy, I went on a blog boycott.
Fast forward almost 5 months and I started wondering, "I wonder how __________is doing?" Instead of doing the what used to be normal thing and picking up the telephone and calling them and asking them, I succumbed to the communication of the modern day, and got online. I think that is so lame that I've totally fallen into the mentality of "it's been too long since I've spoken with so and so, so I can't call" but that's for a different post. ANYWAY, I was looking at my friend Michelle's old blog and if I could have kicked myself in the butt I would have. Here I have been all "my life is hard, everyone else only has to worry about if the latest photograph of their kids is photoshopped correctly or if they posted the recipe for their amazing homemade 2 hour dinner w/ the correct photos, boo hoo". Then I catch up with Michelle (not on the phone of course, via the internet) and think oh yeah Marci your life is tough, her little boy DIED 4 years ago. Really Marci? Really? Then I checked out her new blog and read her words:
"I have at times wondered how it is possible for me to continue living and breathing. The grief and depression it has left me with has consumed me and dictated my life. I have been breathing, but simply existing. At times barely breathing. I described it to my sister yesterday as if I feel like my tears are drowning me inside and at any given moment the flood gates will give way and it will all come crashing out. However, Today for James, I start my new blog. No more existing. I am going to start living. I dedicate this blog to my new life. A life of living, of laughing, of remembering, of loving and enjoying. I give myself permission to live and smile and be happy.The average lifespan for my age is 81. From my calculations, I have 54 years left to live. I have lived 1,460 days without him. I have 19,710 to go. Far too many to go with the way I've been going. Join with me in my pursuit of happiness. Join me and commit yourself to a life of memories, fun, joy, and smiling. Life is too short to let it be so long by merely just existing." - Michelle Kranich
(If you want to be inspired you should read her blog. Beware though, she'll tell it how it is, and if things suck, she'll say so. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love her so much) I'm not going to start a new blog or anything, but I am going to try and have a better attitude about the successes of other people. Also, if things suck, I'm going to say so. And if i can figure out how to do it, I'm going to make it so people can't comment on my blog. Isn't that mean? My friend Blaire did this with her blog and it totally bugged me, but now I "get" why she did it. I guess if you want to say something to me you'll have to email me ( , or even *gasp* call me.
Now that my lengthy introduction is over I'll get to the good stuff. I think the reason life has been a little hard is the reality of having two autistic children has actually hit me. As they get older, their delays and/or little quirks are becoming more obvious. I clearly remember a time in college when I was laying in bed one night talking with my roommate and closest high school/college friend Brooke. We were talking about our Bishops son Jamie who has Down syndrome. I said to her "dude, I hope I don't have kids who are challenged like that, because that is one thing I'm just not cut out for." That is where the irony sets in for me. My kids are not challenged "like that", if you look at them they look totally "normal" (what ever that is), in fact they look better than normal, they are so cute. The challenge OR blessing that I have is that they are high enough functioning that they have a real chance of normality we think, it just takes an incredible amount of time, effort, work and money. When I really think about that I feel an enormous amount of pressure and whole ton of "what if's" come to my mind. What if we don't provide them with enough therapies or opportunities? What if all the therapies and opportunities we're providing don't really matter? Is the fate of their entire lives in my hands? What if their abilities in life are just to be WalMart greeters? What if people say, what is that hot guy doing being a WalMart greeter? What if that ends up what we strive for? What if their potential is so much greater than that and I'm the one limiting them or not providing them with what they need to reach their potentials? What if they turn out completely normal and read this 20 years down the road and are extremely offended? What if I/we die, who's going to give them what they need? What if?

We have had so many decisions to make recently in regards to how the intervention that the school district is providing will effect them. I question myself all the time on if what I'm doing is right. Last year when we got Tyson involved with the district (they have to be at least 3) it wasn't a great experience. It was the first time I had heard the word AUTISM in reference to my child. I wanted to break the noses of every person in that room. Seriously, I was in there because I was concerned about his repetitive speech, and his inability to answer "Wh questions", not because I thought he was autistic. The kid had known his numbers and letters since he was 18 months old, he memorized books, he was loving and cuddley, what the crap were they talking about?! Then I heard them comment on Lucas & his tip-toe walking being a sign of Autism (at the time we were being told he was deaf), then they had the balls (yeah I said balls) to tell me with the two of them I should really think hard before having anymore children. Awesome, thanks. When we got into the actual class they assigned to us, it was all I could do to keep Jim from grabbing Tyson and running out of there. You should have seen these kids. They looked autistic, they were banging their heads against walls, and couldn't talk, and hurting other kids, it was a nightmare. They were 5 & 6 years old twice as big as my barely turned 3 year old. Besides Tyson, there was only one other kid in there that could even talk. We had meeting after meeting after conversation after conversation with the district placement office to try and get him in to the other class where the teaches said he belonged (after telling us he would be in physical danger if he stayed in that class). They wanted him to go from 9am to 3pm. This was my baby, who still to this day takes at least a 2 1/2 hour nap. They told me that if I was a "good mom" I would put him in that class and be fine with their quiet time in lieu of naps. I told the placement office to suck it, and we filed a suit against the school district. Once we did that, the people who were involved with our school contacted us and we were able to work it out, getting him in the more appropriate class. And even to this day when I am speaking to someone involved with the school district or other services I get crap about not having him involved in a program where he is getting 25 hours of services/week. (Currently he goes to school 4 days/week which adds up to 10 hours, he has 1 hour of ABA therapy at our home on the day he isn't in school, and we take him to speech therapy once a week as well) Is it enough? Am I doing the right thing by letting him nap? Who knows?
Lucas will be starting school the middle of May, they will also recommend an all day program for him that's 5 days a week. I will probably be pulling him out so he can come home and nap. I will get flack for that for sure. Is it the right decision? (Currently Luke has ABA therapy 2 times/week, speech therapy 2 times/week, Occupational Therapy once a week, a behavioral specialist once a week, and someone from the state 2 times/month) I don't know? According to the experts he should have more. We can't afford more. Am I doing all I can to afford more? I babysit a 9 year old who arrives at my house mon-fri at 6 am. We get him fed and take him to school, pick him up from school, and get his home work done. When we started speech and o.t. a few months ago, I started baby sitting a 8 month old baby girl who arrives at 5:30 am 4 days a week and gets picked up at 5pm. Should I find other kids to baby sit? I think if I had anymore, it would take away from my ability to serve my own kids. I probably just need to learn how to clip cupons or something and make the grocery stores pay me to take their food. I'm sure I read something on someone's blog about that.
This past week when Lukey was in his Occupational Therapy session I was talking to her about his recent need for heights. The kid is climbing on EVERYTHING, I seriously don't know how he gets where he does sometimes. It's a little scary. We talked about that being one of his sensory seeking needs. She recommended taking him places where he can get up high, like the play equipment at the park. I seriously almost started bawling right there. We used to go to the park ALL the time, like at least 4 times a week. I don't have time to do that any more. Our mornings are booked with therapy, we have lunch and naps, then pick the 9 year old up from school, and have to be home for the baby girls late afternoon nap. Then dinner, then it's too late. Are we doing the right things? And to be honest, on the days that we may have some extra time, I'm so freaking worn out I can't seem to find the energy to do that (although I may have found the solution to that in the form of ZipFizz that you add to your water from Costco :-)
All I have to say is I'm glad I'm not a single mom. When my husband is home he helps out a TON! Although our house in not in a perfectly clean state, it's also not a total wreck and a lot of that is due to his efforts.
PHEW! That was a lot of stuff, and I'm still not done venting. But, I do feel a little better, and I am tired. So for now I'll be done. Maybe I'll look at a blog or two and be happy for my friends and family. But before I go, I'll show you a few things that I'm happy about and proud of and you can be happy for me as well.

*March 22, 2010 Lucas said his first word "Nose" it was while working with one of this therapists and pointing to his nose. We were beyond words!!!

*Tyson continues to be a charmer, after one of his speech therapy sessions last week, he walked up to his therapist put his hand on her cheek, looked at her right in the eyes and said "Miss Mandy, I'm so glad I came to speech therapy today so I could see you."
Also, while my mom was tending the kids while we were in court in Idaho (oh yeah Jim got his parental rights for Asia appointed to him by the court, next post) they called my dad to tell them they were going to drive up to St. George. Tyson got on the phone and said "Grandpa can Tyson come to see you? And see Yapper Cat, and when I see you can you please give me a hug and a kiss?" I'm telling you, a charmer.

* Lukey is tearing up sound imitation. In fact I won't take signs from him anymore when he is requesting something, I make him imitate the first letter of the word. Sometimes its hard for him and he works SO hard at forming those sounds, and some times I swear in his head he just says "screw it, it's not worth the work" and walks away. Overall though, he's doing amazing!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


We threw a last minute new years party at our house. Asia had packed a couple of fancy schmancy dresses, we were trying to figure out how to incorporate them in our night of laid back gaming and food. We decided that it would be funny to answer the door wearing what you see above, knowing that our friends would be dressed pretty low key. We had fun with our little prank, and loved seeing the surprised faces of our friends when we asked them if they had missed the memo on formal attire!
Asia ended up going over to a girls house from our ward and partied with a TON of 13 year old girls. I guess they had a blast, and we were glad she could hang with some girls her age.
My HOT friend Kim, the friendship we developed with her and her hub Ty is DEFINITELY one of the best things that happened to us in 2009!
Krystal and Bobby, he heads back to Iraq in February, we'll see if we can help keep her distracted while he's gone. We Love them!

2009 in summary:

I have to say that we are RELIEVED to put 2009 in the history books. It had been a TOUGH year for our family, like it has been for so many others. We (like many here in Vegas) were hit HARD by the fall of the housing market. After many months of stress and anguish as we watched the value of our home decline $250k, we decided to short sale the sucker! It seemed to take FOREVER to finally close, but we were lucky to have the sale go through. On the upside we were able to move in to an amazing home this summer, and we are excited to be in it for many years to come. We doubled our square footage, gained a fabulous back yard and pool, and lowered our house payment!

January of last year we began the seemingly never ending testing of Lucas and Tyson. We noticed that Lucas did not have any words at about 19 months and felt concerned. After many tests, doctors, specialists etc. it was thought that he was deaf. We scheduled him for hearing aids and went to get the final test at the hospital. He was sedated to be able to gage where to set the hearing aids. After the test, the doctor walked out and gave us the good and bad news. Good news: he apparently hears fine, bad news: that means a brain processing issue. More specialists, more testing, more waiting. In the end we found an amazing specialist, she is the only Pediatric Neuropsychologist in Southern Nevada, and is fantastic. After about 10 sessions with her, she diagnosed him with Autism. Since that time, we have had therapists in our home about 4 days a week. In the mean time, (while we were having Lukey evaluated by every resource available), we took advantage of one of the state funded resources and had Tyson evaluated for his "parroting/echolalia". He was diagnosed through the school district on the Autism spectrum as well. Tyson is very high functioning and actually displays a closer similarity to what is called "Hyperlexia". He is attending a specialized preschool program at the elementary school 4 days a week and on his day off, works with a therapist at our home. He is THRIVING! He loves his friends, his teachers, riding the bus home, having parties at our house, being the center of attention, etc. He learned to swim this summer all by himself and could literally swim across the pool a couple of months after his 3rd birthday. He is currently learning how to sound out words we read in books. He loves life and is a joy (and challenge:) to have in our family.
Luke has grown leaps and bounds. He still is with out words, but has progressed tremendously. He is a very smart little guy, he loves to do puzzles, sort objects, eat yo-go's, play trains, dig in the sand and kiss his mommy. He is learning to stick up for himself with Tyson, and I have to say I don't usually step in when he does:) He is gorgeous and sweet and we wouldn't trade him for anything! We are thrilled to have a functioning, smart, loving little guy, and are trying to find the keys to unlock his language. At times we get a little bit down with our challenging situation, but realize how blessed we are to have beautiful high functioning kids that with a little extra work will be on the paths to happy successful lives!

This summer we were surprised with the information that Jim has a 13 year old daughter. This news was confirmed in July and we began communications with her at that time. I'm so grateful that we live in the day in age of the internet. We met her for the first time in August when she came to Vegas. We spent time with her in September in her home town of Twin Falls, ID, and then she flew down in October and November, and of course this past week with her. She is a gorgeous, amazing young lady, and I can't say how happy we are to have the opportunity to be involved in her life. She has all the the males in my house smitten, and as I've said before, I so LOVE having another girl around. It's been an adjustment of course, as neither of us (especially Jim:) have very much experience with 13 year old girls. We're happy to have the ability to see her each month, but so wish we could see her even more!

I'm not going to lie, these "challenges" have taken a toll on Jim and I. And we are definitely learning that marriage takes WORK! We are blessed to have good friends, an AMAZING bishop, and a fantastic counselor to help us deal with these different trials. We have decided to "weed out" the things in our life that are not of utmost importance to us and our marriage. We are learning to make one another a priority above ANYTHING else (except of course our Heavenly Father and his Son). We are trying to find a way to serve one another each day. Sometimes it works, sometimes we fail. Sometimes we argue, sometimes we don't. We are striving to "fall in love" with one another again so we can have a solid foundation to deal with things as they come our way. I have learned that I literally hit the jack pot when I married Jim, I had NO idea how LUCKY I was, and what kind of man he would turn out to be. I'm grateful everyday (even on the sucky days) that I some how got to be his wife.

Probably the biggest thing I have learned in 2009 is perspective. You can not control what life throws at you, but you CAN control the perspective you take on it-that will determine one's attitude and how they handle themselves. At different times in 2009 my perspective has been skewed and when that has happened it has affected my life in a negative way. My New Year's Resolution is to take the time to analyze and evaluate my perspective on what life throws at us. (it's also to kick some serious P90X butt and get Smokin' hot for my 30th birthday in August!) We are so grateful for the innumerable blessing we have in our life, and look forward to making 2010 our best year thus far!

We wish you all a wonderful and prosperous Happy New Year!

New Years with a 3 year old...

This is what happens when you leave a 3 year old alone upstairs. Nice. He does look a little crazy in the 1st pictures, but he was trying to tell us he got shaving cream in "the eyes."

Freemont with Asia

Asia flew in the day after Christmas and was able to stay for a week! We went to church, hit Freemont street, did a little shopping, went to the Springs Preserve, had a new years party (she also went to one with some girls from church), had a great time playing games at the Harmons, and in between all of that we actually chilled and relaxed a ton! It was nice to get some one on one time with her, and have her involved with our everyday life. Tyson is already asking "where's Asia at?" and she's only been gone a couple of hours.

Christmas 2009

Tyson "helped" everyone open presents...
He helped daddy pick out a new robe for me and was proud that it is "soooooo soft mommy!"
Luke could have cared less about opening presents, he spent the whole time playing with just 2 least we knew he liked them.
We had my parents and brother join us for Christmas this year, it was so nice. Last year we decided that we were going to stay home from then on for Christmas. So, we invited a few other families for over for a little party on Christmas Eve. Well, this year our 'little' party evolved into something bigger! We had a ROCKIN' time here at our house with a ton of great food, a priceless Nativity Play put on by about 15 kids, followed by some amazing singing of Christmas songs, and then each family performed a musical number. It was so fun and we can't wait to do it again next year! We had a ton of video, but I didn't get any pics on our camera. Dang!

Magical Forest @ Opportunity Village

Kickin' it on the Choo Choo!
Tyson competing in the Tricycle race, of COURSE he won! Look at that concentration!
Lucas LOVED the slide!
We try and go to the Magical Forrest every year. We saw santa and all the decorated trees and rode the rides. I sometimes feel like it's a little bit pricey, but then I remind myself of the great cause the money is used for. Plus, the kids dig it!


Jim turned 34, we had his birthday with the Harmon's and his parents...
We hosted Thanksgiving, and for some reason didn't take any other pictures than the boys in the hot tub. (Lucas, Jim, Matt [my cousin], Brandon [my brother], and Tyson. We had a great time, and ate our feast at our house with my grandpa and his wife, my parents and brother, my aunt and her husband and 2 kids, and of course ourselves. It was SOOOOO Fun!
Lukey's hair grew even shaggier (if that's even a word:)
And continued with LOTS of therapy. Lukey is doing a gesture that Marissa had him to in order to get a light brite piece. Busy month, we were thankful to have survived!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Murder Mystery/Birthday Party

The Birthday Girls! Both girls are turning 13 with in the week (Asia and her friend Rush'l)
Ty (aka Joe) and Kim (aka E.C.) in character for our party!
Our three 13 year olds, Gabe, Asia and Rush'l.
The girls: Kim (E.C.) , Rush'l (Pris), Asia (Penny), and Me (Dee)
Dee and Rick
Our newest love birds Gabe (Del) and Asia (Penny)

We had a murder mystery party while Asia was in town. For two reasons, one to give us something fun and inexpensive to do, and two to celebrate Asia and her friend Rush'l's birthdays. They both are turning 13. We had a ton of fun and I think everybody enjoyed getting in to character. I highly recommend it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Buzz and Woody!

Tyson's school had a Halloween carnival Friday night. This is the 1st year that Tyson picked out a costume, he saw the 'Buzz' costume in Costco and wanted it. So, naturally I made Lukey a 'Woody' costume. I just took and old long sleeved onsie and drew in the red lines with marker, grabbed some fabric at Walmart and had my friend help me draw a vest. Then I just cut it out and hand stitched it (I don't use a sewing machine, come on). Borrowed the hat and holster, and pulled out Jim's cowboy boots from when he was little. I have to say that it actually turned out. Note to self, "if you need to re-use Woody shirt, do NOT use Washable marker, your child will for sure spill water on it and you will have to re-do it before halloween." The carnival was fun, we'll have to see how Trick or Treating goes next week...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Asia's 2nd Vegas Visit

Asia came to visit us in Vegas a few weeks ago. Of course we were totally lame and didn't get the camera battery charged until her last night here, so these are the only pics I have. We had a GREAT visit, went to a football game, swimming, laser tag, two game nights, AND she and I got glitter toes, which are so fun and HOT! (Her's are the light blue one's ) We are excited to have her come and visit again the first weekend in November! I'll be sure to take more pics...

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Touch your head"

Lucas responded to a spoken command today. He was working with his therapist. She said "touch your head" (this was so he could get the toy he desired) and he did; with out any prompting or with out being shown how to touch his head. He hasn't done anything like this before. It was a good day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How/Where to start?

Asia's visit to Vegas in August.
Tyson's 1st day of Pre-school at Goynes Elementary
Laughing Luke...
Lukey, Marci, Asia, Tyson, and Jim @ Shoshone Falls, in Twin Falls, ID.

We have had a couple of months full of CRAZINESS! I haven't blogged about it because 1. I haven't had the time and 2. didn't quite know how or where to start. SO, I'll just go for it.

A couple of months ago, we found out that Jim has a 12 (almost 13) year old daughter from his first marriage when he was 20. Although a little shocking at first, we are so happy to have Asia in our lives. She is gorgeous as you can see, is super sweet and has Jim completely smitten. He's head over heals in love, exactly how a daddy should be with his daughter. I'm just happy to have another girl around once in a while and just wish we could spend more time with her. Of course it's a little bit more detailed of a story, but I'm not going to "detail" it on the blog. We really are just so lucky to be a part of her life.

Lucas finished up all of his testing with the pediatric neuropsychologist, it was a long process. He has been classified as being on the Autism Spectrum. Highly functioning, but still with out any speech. He/we will be involved with intense therapy with different specialists almost everyday, and I will be learning how to be a therapy mom as to teach him through out the day. We already had a breakthrough this week, with him intentionally mimic-ing 2 different sounds I made multiple times. It was major. We are hopeful that he will continue to progress to get where he needs to be in regards to communication.

Tyson also participated in testing at the beginning of the summer that places him on the Autism spectrum as well. Also highly functioning. He "parrots" language. He can say everything and anything you say, often times repeating what is said rather than answering/asking questions. He has almost a savant ability for memorization, its really unbelievable. He started a "preschool" program that the school district provides at the elementary school to help him in the areas that he struggles with; such as "Wh" questions (i.e. who, what, when, where, why, etc.) He has also made progress in the last week, when I picked him up from school I asked him What he had for snack, he answered "grape juice and crackers" where as in the past, he would have just repeated my question. He also tells me about his new friends, Dion and Logan.

Although we feel a little "gipped" having two boys on the Autism Spectrum we are really so lucky. They are both "normal" boys that have some challenges that are different from other kids. The great thing about it is that they have both responded amazingly to "intervention" and therapy and they both have tested to be super smart kids, we just have to learn how they learn. Time to gear up for the challenge.

Jim is really busy. Besides being involved in our families issues, he is trying to keep up with his Master's class, can't help him there. His work let one of the pilots go, which means that he has to work a little bit more. We can't complain, we're just so happy he has a job in this crazy economy.

Me? Well, let's see. I'm a semi-blonde now. It seems fitting because I honestly feel a little ditzy lately. I'm trying to figure out how to stay sane and productive right now, sometimes it feels a little like I'm in survival mode rather than productive wife/mom mode. I'm hoping that I can actually get a grip in the next day or two so when we start our different therapies next week I'm geared up and ready.

The next few months ought to be interesting...stay tuned!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Finger lickin' good!

The other day I was making brownies and had to leave the room to help Lucas with something. When I came back this is what I found. Ty had pushed a step-stool over and helped him self to some finger lickin' good brownie batter. This confirms it, he is indeed my child.