Friday, October 25, 2019

Tutoring!


A few weeks ago Michael and I dropped the kids off at AWANAS and went out on a date to Trappers Sushi. It was so yummy! After enjoying our dinner we drove up to the church to wait for AWANAS to let out. While we were waiting we started chatting about what every parent always ends up talking about...our kids. Our conversation focused more on Ella at this particular time. 

If you remember our sweet Ella Grace was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus at 18 months old after falling from a slide and fracturing her skull. She ultimately had brain surgery the following month at 19 months to put in a VP Shunt. She still has her original Shunt to this day Praise The LORD!!! 

Due to her Hydrocephalus Ella has had some speech delays. She's been in speech therapy for years now. First at Children's Therapy Center when she was 4 years old and now at school where she has an IEP for Math, Reading, Writing and Speech. 

Ella has made huge strides academically in the last few years, but her reading is where she struggles the most. It's almost painful to watch and listen to her struggle through a book. Even simple sight words can be hard for her. I know that her short term memory has improved over the years, but I do see that there are certain areas in her life that it is still a factor. 

I will say honestly that Michael and I have probably not helped her as much as we could have in regards to working with her at home. That's hard for me to say, but at the same time I have 4 kids. Life is crazy busy and to take the time to sit down with each one of them is just a logistical nightmare especially when you factor everything else in that is required to run a home/family. Also we are safe for Ella and her home is her safe space. What I mean by this is she will work so hard for her teachers and never complain, but she's safe with us and she knows she can pull at our heartstrings so she uses that. She gets emotional and frustrated and then so do we which is not a health environment that encourages learning. Also school is a place where she has to act tough and keep it together, but home is where she can let her guard down and wear her emotions on her sleeve. I remember when she was a toddler and we were going to MOPS we would get home usually after noon when she would normally be napping by this point if we had been home. She would be fine in the van and then the moment...I do mean the moment she crossed the threshold from the garage into the house she would melt into a pile of emotional mess. She would LOSE it! She would be inconsolable! There was no way I could even get her to eat lunch...she would just go straight to bed and that was the only way for her to deal with her exhaustion. With this knowledge of how she is emotionally it made it very hard for Michael and I to push her to work harder. 

I will say Ella's reading has improved, but she is drastically behind where other 3rd graders are. This school year she has actually showed interest in having me read books to her. I love to read books to the kids, but that has never really been something that Ella has enjoyed. Reading to her is great, but she also needs to be doing the reading as well and that's where we've struggled the most. She did a Fancy Nancy book at the beginning of the school year and it took her an hour to do it. We were SO proud of her and she was proud of herself, but it was so mentally exhausting for her. 

So back to Michael and I sitting in the van...Michael mentioned that we needed to get her a tutor. He said money doesn't matter right now we need to help her learn to read because it's the foundation for everything. God has blessed Michael with a great job and this is too important for her and her future. So right then and there I used my phone and typed in 'tutoring in my area' and up popped Varsity Tutors. They had an online form you could fill out and the very next day I spoke on the phone with a very nice lady and we got Ella set up with a plan for her to have 50 tutoring sessions....in our home!!!! I can't even tell you how amazing that is. With 4 kids life can be crazy and we don't even do sports! I don't even understand how families with each of their kids in a sport even do it...no thank you! The thought of having to take Ella to a tutoring center was not fun one, but I would have if it was necessary. This though was such a blessing!!!! 

The person I first spoke to on the phone asked me all sorts of questions about Ella. It was actually really fun to talk about my girl and her progress and then areas she needs help on. I did learn from her that 3rd grade is the last grade they teach reading. After that they assume you know the basics and will pick up more words by learning vocabulary words, but they won't actually be teaching reading in the classroom anymore. Now I know with Ella's IEP she would still be getting that resource, but this did confirm to me that she really truly needed this assistance. With all the information I gave her about Ella she said we would be matched with a tutor that would be perfect for her. I was concerned because I know there can be times when teachers and students don't necessarily work well together and she said if that ever happened we could request a new tutor right from the app and they would reevaluate, pick a new tutor and even credit us a tutoring session. A couple days later I got a notice that Ella was placed with April. She is a retired teacher...she taught for 27 years and she has loads of experience. I called her and after talking about Ella for a bit we set up Ella's first tutoring session for Monday October 7th at 4pm. The timing is really perfect since the kids get home at 3:30...Ella gets a chance to have a snack, but doesn't really get to change over to full on playing mode. She knows Ms. April is coming so she still has her learning hat on per se. 

Ms. April is WONDERFUL! She is older as I expected since she is retired. She has arthritis in her knees so she walks with two cane and is slow going, but she is amazing with Ella. I warned her that Ella can be a charmer with her teachers and she is definitely charmed by Ella. She is so patient with Ella and she laughs at her stories. She has all sorts of tricks up her sleeve too and made sure to let Ella know that if she needs a break or doesn't like something that's okay. She really wants this learning time to be positive for Ella. I have been so impressed...honestly I feel like she is part of our family. Her and Ella sit at the dining room table working and usually I'm in the kitchen prepping dinner and it just feels normal. So far Ella has had 3 sessions. Ms. April comes every Monday and then she will also come 1 or 2 Saturdays a month. The 50 / 1hr sessions that we paid for will most likely take Ella all the way through the school year if not a little bit into the summer due to skipping certain weeks for holidays and such. 

As for the price...it wasn't cheap! They had a special going on when we signed up so I believe the price per hour was $46. Sylvan Learning Center's price starts at $47 per hour and it goes up depending on what kind of tutoring you need. Plus you have to go to one of the actual Sylvan Learning Center locations. Being able to have Ella home in her comfort zone I think has made her tutoring that much more successful. She is used to her surroundings, she's used to her brothers making noise and she knows that people that love her are right here if she needs us. She doesn't have to get used to being at strange facility and everything that goes along with that.  

If you have a kiddo that has a tutoring need I would highly recommend Varsity Tutors. You do not have to buy a package that has 50 sessions that's just what we chose for Ella because of how much she needs to learn. They did give me a referral link that gets you 3 tutoring sessions for free. I have honestly been so impressed and I'm so happy that we are getting the help our little girl needs! 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Birthday Tea!

On September 25th, Kim took me out to The Secret Garden Teahouse for my birthday. We hadn't been to that Teahouse in years so it was fun to go back. 



We got the Hollyhock Tea and it was so yummy! Makes me want tea and scones just typing this. 



We had such fun conversations! I love spending time with one of my besties! 

After eating lunch we had a little time to kill so we headed over to the Fred Meyer in Sunmer. I had been talking with Kim about finding some cute sandals on clearance at FM's, but what I really wanted to find were some booties. Lucky me we ended up finding the cutest pair of black booties on clearance. It was so fun! Shoes have definitely been my thing to get this fall. I had recently bought myself 2 pairs of highbar tennis shoes, a pair of sandals and then this pair of black booties, but then almost a month later I got a box of goodies from my Aunt with 6 more pairs of shoes for me. I love me some shoes!!! :) BTW...thanks again Auntie Linda! OXOXO 

After shoe shopping we drove over to the theater and watched Downton Abbey!!! It was the best girly day ever! Downton Abbey was even better than I thought it would be. I loved it so much! That also wasn't the end to my fun filled day. By the time I got home it was time to get the kids in the van and take them to AWANAS. Then Michael and I went out to my favorite Mexican restaurant Circo Circo and enjoyed a yummy dinner....yay for mid-week date night! In fact since AWANAS started Michael and I have gone on a date while the kids have been there every week except one! It's been so fun trying new restaurants and getting to spend alone time with my man. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Serve Day!

On Saturday September 28th, our church had a Serve Day. There were a bunch of groups going to a bunch of different locations to help out. Our group when to Bread of Life Mission in downtown Seattle. 

Bread of Life's mission is to "Bringing hope, healing and recovery to Seattle homeless through a Christ-Centered approach."

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

Our job for the day was to sort through toiletries and then pack bags to give out to the homeless in the area. At first we had only planned on bringing the 3 older kids, but then the plan for Zeke to go hang out at a friends house fell through so he came with us. I'm so happy that he did because it was such a great experience for all the kids and they really surprised us with how much fun they had and how much they really helped out. 

The first thing we did when we got to the mission was we met Michael the Housing Manager. He gave us a tour of the mission and explained all the programs they offer. It was really amazing to hear about the support they provide the community. After the tour the guys started to get out all the boxes of toiletries that we'd be sorting through. The kids were hanging out in the room where we'd be sorting and stuffing bags. That's when I heard, "Mom come here!" I thought I was going to need to break up a fight, but that wasn't it at all. In the area we were going to be working they had some fun pictures hung up of previous volunteers and lo and behold we found Ms. Ruth and her daughter Sarah. 



Ms. Ruth is on the far right....she married Michael's Dad back in January of this year. I immediately took this picture and texted her. She texted back and said, "Wow! That was a long time ago!" 

Once we got all the boxes out of the storage areas we got right to work. We sorted through them and then started an assembly line for filling the bags. It went really fast and everyone had a great time. We actually finished so early we decided to go hand out some of the bags. 

Out of privacy I didn't take any pictures of us doing that, but I was really blown away by my kids...especially Ella. She was not hesitant at all. She was going to give out those bags. It really was beautiful to see her loving on people. 

There was a total God situation that happened as we were passing out the bags in the middle of Pioneer Square. I was walking over towards a group of people and I saw a lady from down the street walking towards us in a hurry. The bags are bright orange so people know that they are from the mission. This woman stopped and asked if we had any shoes since she only had a pair of sandals on and it was cold and rainy and she had bare feet. I told her unfortunately we didn't have any shoes in the bags, but some of them did have socks. Let me say this first...when we were packing the bags there were certain items that we only had a few of....socks, chapstick, combs and a few other things. We packed a ton of bags and the socks were one of the first things to run out. When we finish the bags we were putting them in these big containers and filling them full with packed bags. The ones that would have had socks were most definitely buried in those containers. When we left to go hand out the bags we just grabbed a few bags for each person from the top of the pile. After telling her that some of the bags had socks I was sure that none of the ones we had would possibly have socks in them. Of course I was going to check the bags I had to be certain. The first bag I checked had a nice pair of warm socks in it. Total God moment for sure! 



When we finished handing out the bags to the people we walked over to this waterfall park that I didn't even know existed! It was so amazing right in the middle of the city. 





Michael offered to take a picture of our group. 



I also wanted a picture of us by the sign in front of the building. We did still have a few bags leftover...the square was actually pretty empty for a Saturday morning, but Michael wanted us to take them with us and hand them out when the need arose. I had so much fun helping out and I know the kids did too.

 There are a lot of things wrong with the world, but there are also a lot of people trying to help out and make a difference just one person at a time. I think the world would be a much better place if instead of sitting in our nice cozy houses arguing about this and that if we just got up volunteered and supported good organizations like this that are helping the community. The world is such a big place it can feel like nothing that you do will ever change anything for the better, but even little things like stuffing toiletry bags can make a difference. My hope is for our family to come back and volunteer again. Michael said they need help with wrapping presents at Christmas. I love to wrap presents and to know the joy that those presents will bring to a person in need would be an amazing feeling. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

So Patriotic!

On September 21st, my Mom and I went out for a shopping day to celebrate my birthday. She bought me 2 pairs of my favorite skinny jeans at Kohl's. We also went to Target and got matching jammie bottoms and this fleece top that has pockets and is the most comfortable sweatshirt that I own. Plus I'm not even ashamed that I do this I totally wear it as a normal top out in public. We also got a bunch of other stuff....why is it so hard to go into Target and not come out without spending $100....it's like the Bermuda Triangle of shopping!!! Anyways after that we ate lunch at Sonic and it was so good!!! 

While we were out Michael did a few things around the house. One of those things was hanging up my wooden flag. I actually didn't notice that he did that for almost a whole day. The wooden American Flag had been leaning against our frig in the kitchen, but it's not something that normally would be there so once it was missing my brain didn't really register that anything was gone. Also since the weather had turned I hadn't actually been spending a bunch of time out on the deck. I ended up noticing it when I went over to lock the sliding glass door prior to us leaving the house. I was SO excited!!!! 



Michael had put off hanging this up mainly because he was not super excited that he was going to have to put holes into the side of our newly sided, newly painted house. There really was no other place for this to go and I loved it so much it wasn't an option that I wouldn't be hanging it up. 



Getting this hung up really felt like the cherry on top of the deck sundae! That's not to say that there won't be anything else added to the deck. I really want to get outdoor string lights to hang up giving it a fun vibe. I don't know maybe those would be considered the sprinkles on the sundae! 



I think it's funny that I hung this up on our back deck because we have neighbors that are behind us that have an Impeach Trump flag and it's pointed our way. I don't think they did that intentionally...they have no idea what way we lean politically, it was just the best place for them to hang their flag. I did not hang this up back here to make some sort of statement. It's ridiculous that the American flag would even been seen as a statement in a negative way....it's the flag for our nation for crying out loud. I am and have always been very patriotic. I have Americana decor in my house...I even had a 4th of July tree at one point. I love our country for better or worse and I love the freedom that America provides us. We really do live in a country that is so immensely blessed and I have no problems showing off my love for it. In fact hopefully we'll be having a really flag flying around in the front yard once Michael puts up the flag pole!!! So exciting!!! 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Playroom Makeover!!

Something we've been planning for awhile is to makeover the playroom. But...anything inside the house had been moved to the back burner because we had so much going on outside. 

In January when I had my surgery, Michael had moved our old flat screen TV into our bedroom so I could watch movies while I recovered. I knew I did not want that big TV in our room, but we weren't ready for it to go in the playroom either. 



Once I had cleaned each room in the house I moved onto cleaning up the playroom and then painting it. 




Pink wasn't the color we wanted as a playroom color. 




I painted the upper color the main color that's in the rest of our house and then Owen and Ella helped me paint the bottom half the brown color. It had already been brown, but there were areas that needed touching up, but we didn't have that same paint anymore. We did happen to have a gallon of a different brown so we went with that to save money. 

At this point I moved all the toys into our master bedroom and had the kids make some tough decisions because we could not have all those toys go back into the playroom. They did great and got rid of a bunch of stuff. I was so proud of them. 

And now this is what the playroom looks like....


This couch I got about a year ago on the Buy Nothing FB site. It's perfect for this playroom/game room.  That cabinet has some of the kids toys in it....Nerf Guns, Army Guys, Dinosaurs and a bunch of Ella's coloring supplies. 



This is the closet section where the rest of the kids toys are. We had 4 of these plastic drawer containers and the kids went down to having only 2...there is one in the closet you can't see. 




In that back corner are two black IKEA end tables. They are perfect for Ella's Calico Critters. All she has to do is move out the inflatable soccer chair. 




Here's what really got this remodel off the ground...I found this IKEA TV stand on offer up for only $60. It works perfectly in this very skinny room. The height is perfect and the shelves are awesome. Those four bigger ones on the bottom are perfect for Jack's Beyblade Stadiums! The kids can now play on their Xbox, Nintendo Mini NES or watch DVD's up here. 

After I took these pictures I decided to do a little decorating in here so this is now the Seahawks room. We had a few pictures that my mom had bought us and we also had the family picture of us wearing all our Seahawks shirts. I love how simple it is....it's really going to be easier to keep clean and such a fun transition for the kids now that they are getting older and toys aren't such a huge part of their lives anymore.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Back To School Bash!

We originally were planning on having our annual Back To School Bash on Sunday, September 1st. since school was starting on Tuesday, September 3rd My parents were having a BBQ at there house for Labor Day on Monday, September 2nd so we wouldn't have a chance the night before school started. Unfortunately I was feeling horrible because of my root canal pain. I wasn't having my retreat on it until Wednesday so eating wasn't even fun for me at that moment. I had basically been eating soup for the last few days. 

So we rescheduled to Thursday, September 5th. Michael and I had just recently taken the younger kids to Red Robin while the older boys were at Youth Group. We gave them the option of eating at Red Robin again or going to Black Bear Diner. 



They chose Black Bear Diner!!! 



They love getting pictures with the bears! 




Even my oldest! 




Us adults sat on one side of the table while the kids sat on the other side. 




It was nice to get to chat and the best part was I got to eat!!! I had my retreat for my root canal the day before...it was still tender, but it was feeling much better. I did have to go back one more time the following week to finish it up. One thing we need to remember when we go to Black Bear Diner is to bring coats. It's freezing in there! 



Owen and his Pa!!! 



Each of the kids got their own kids meal so that meant they got ice cream for dessert. We have realized that Zeke honestly doesn't like ice cream. He picks at it a little and then he lets it melt into soup. 




Ella ate all her strawberries and then she was done! 





Yummy!!!! 

I ended up getting a chocolate malt milkshake....it's my favorite. It was a fun night to celebrate the start of another school year. I'm so proud of the kids and can't wait to see what new adventures they have this year at school! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

First Day Of School 2019!

The Wednesday before school started we went to an ice cream social at school to meet the teachers. I don't know what I was thinking, but I didn't get one picture with any of the kids and their teachers! Who am I???

Anyways I knew it was going to be too crazy to take pictures with their teachers on the first day of school so hopefully I'll remember to take pictures at the first student led conference. 



With our new storm door on the front door it made it a bit harder to make sure I wasn't reflected in the pictures! 




6th Grade here he comes!




Jackson is moving onto the middle school at our K8. I love that my big boys are still going to be at the same school as their younger siblings. Jackson is with the same teacher that Owen had last year...Ms. Sevier. She's awesome!!! 



I love how Jack is so particular about his style. He's my skinny jean, red shoes, slicked over hair kid. 




Don't let this fool you he's stoked for school! 



Ella Grace had been ready for school to start from about the second day of summer break. She loves school so much! 




3rd grade here she comes. 

This is the first year Ella will be at a different recess time from Zeke. I am happy that her 3rd grade class is still on the same side of the school as Zeke so I'm hoping they'll still see each other in passing on the way to music. PE, or library. Ella's teacher this year is Ms. Inoue (pronounced In-OO A). She is so sweet and I know Ella's going to love her. The older boys were actually jealous that Ella got Ms. Inoue because they've had her as a substitute teacher before and loved her.  



She wanted to use the older looking sign this year instead of the colorful kid one. 




Ready to rock 3rd grade. 




Showing off the stars on the side of her shorts. 



Crazy girl! 




How can I have a 7th grader!!! 



Owen is so blessed this year because his class only has 16 kids in it. Owen's teacher is Ms. Howard. He's already been in her class since she's the Science teacher for the middle school, but now she's his homeroom teacher. I love Ms. Howard!!! 




16 kids or not this is how Owen feels about school starting. 




Thankfully he can cheer up a bit though! 



He's still my total goofball at heart! 



Look at this sweet boy!!! 




How can he be a 2nd grader?!?! 




I was so excited when I found out that Zeke's teacher was Ms. Castle!!! She was so great for Ella, I know she's going to be awesome for Zeke. 




2nd grade cool dude!!! 




My silly boy! 




Buddies!!! 




I love these kids! 



They sure know how to show off their inner freak! 



Even though we had a crazy summer with the house, I really did have a great time with the kids. They are at such fun age where I don't have to help them with everything and they are good at entertaining themselves. We did have a nice structure that really helped the kids be able to stay on track with having something to do, but also helped them fit in a bit of school work to keep their minds active. 



This was our Summer Fun List! The kids had to do each of these things in order to get an hour of electronics. They did great with this system.




Bros!!! 




Cuties!!!




Like every year we parked in the neighborhood next to the school and walked. I knew that the kids would be embarrassed to have their picture with me at school so we took one on the way there. 



I'm sure Ella and Zeke would have been fine getting their picture taken with me at school, but I knew it would be crazy so it was better to get it out of the way. 

Owen and Jack's classrooms are right up front so once I said goodbye to them, I dropped Ella off at her room on the front side and then walked around to the back to wait with Zeke. I wanted to get a picture of Zeke before he walked in and then the bell rang and he just ran right in. 



I walked around to the front in time to catch Ella before she walked in.

Right after this I went straight to a 2hr appointment with an Allergist. My itching that I had hoped was just because of the foam mattress on our bed did not end up clearing up after all. At this appointment I found out I'm allergic to dust mites, grass and cats. The dust mites were the things I was most allergic too so the first thing I did was go buy an allergen cover for our bed and pillows. I also spent the next two week cleaning our house from top to bottom. We had definitely neglected it because we were working so much on the outside. Why clean the inside when you are just going to track more construction type dirt through the house. 

Now our whole house is looking good and I'm working towards getting this allergy under control. I will say it's much better, but there is still one spot on my left side that doesn't want to clear up. Hopefully it will soon though!