Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning Challenges!

Back when Ella was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus we didn't really know what that actually meant for her future. Other than her speech there didn't seem to be anything else that was impacted. In regards to the Hydrocephalus world Ella is very very blessed! If you read up on all the different ways it can and a lot of the times does impact someones life it's scary. Ella Grace really is a miracle! 

Fast forward a few years and now she's in Kindergarten and it's becoming apparent that learning is definitely going to be a challenge for our little girl. She is so bright and so eager to learn and that will definitely benefit her, but she is going to have some challenges. 

The last year of having Ella home with me before she started school I tried so hard to work with her on her letters and numbers. She had a really hard time, but I still didn't believe that it had anything to do with her learning I figured it was just a conflict between her and I. We are so alike and we do not work well together in a learning environment. It was frustrating to me that we would work on a letter and then next day it would be back to square one and she wouldn't remember anything that we learned. I honestly thought she was just acting because she knew she could push my buttons. order to preserve our relationship I just gave up on the idea of trying to teach her formally and figured she's just going to learn better from someone else anyway. 

Ms Asselin her teacher didn't seem to concerned that Ella didn't know her letters and the sounds they make so that helped me be a little bit more at ease. Ella did go into Kindergarten knowing her colors, shapes, the alphabet song and how to count from 1 - 12. What she didn't know how to do is look at a letter and be able to tell you that letters name, the sound it makes and the same thing for numbers. 

About a month after school started we got a letter from Ms. Asselin asking us to please work more with Ella at home in regards to numbers 0 - 5....recognizing them and writing them. And also to work on her letter names and sounds. By this point Ella had already been bringing home homework from school and she loved it! She really loves getting to write...especially her name....and color. She enjoys having a task! I tried to work with her on her letter sounds and the names of her letters...we'd focus on whatever letter her homework was focusing on. I will be totally is by far the most frustrating thing I've had to do in a long time! I would go over and over with her saying the name of the letter, the sound of the letter...then finding a word with that letter sound at the beginning and asking her what sound do you hear at the beginning and she'd say the sound after some prompting and then asking the name of the letter...which she just said about 1 minute before and she wouldn't know. She'd know which letter and she'd point to it, but wouldn't know the name. We'd do this for the same letter 4 or 5 times and she would never be able to tell me the name of the letter. Again I thought she might just be misbehaving because it was me teaching her. So I talked with Michael and explained how frustrated I was and how I'm sure that's not helping the situation so he decided to take over for me in regards to her learning. 

He's been working with her everyday after dinner and it has definitely been a challenge. It's good to know that she's not just misbehaving because it's me and there actually is a disconnect somewhere. Michael started off focusing more on her numbers. First he did flashcards and had her start putting them in order from 1 - 10. She did pretty good on few of the numbers, but got held up at 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10. It actually didn't take her very long to memorize how to put the cards in order, but then if you picked up a card and ask her it's name she wouldn't know. If they were in order she was fine, but take them out of that order and she would be totally lost. 

Then he started working on having her write the numbers. He'd have her write an entire page of 4's saying the name of the number each time she wrote it. Then he'd distract her by having her come kiss me or run around the house once and then he'd have a new piece of paper for her and ask her to write a 4 and she wouldn't be able to do it. 

Let me step back for a second and say....Michael is AMAZING! His patience is astronomical in comparison to mine. He's so good at trying different methods so he's not just trying to teach Ella verbally. He's engaging her in all sorts of ways so he can figure out how she learns best. Truly I'm in awe of him. The best part is Ella LOVES working with her Daddy. She feels so good getting that one on one attention from him and she is so much easier on herself. She jokes and is silly and says things like..."I knew that was a 6 silly me!" It's so good to see her not getting as frustrated with herself. 

Another thing we've been wondering about lately has been the fact that Ella lies so much. I will come into the playroom and ask who was playing with the Toy Story characters and everyone will say "not me". Of course I know someone isn't telling the truth and they aren't in trouble I just want whoever was playing with them to pick them up. I will explain that to the kids and still no one with fess up. Most of the time after a while and saying that no one will get to do anything fun until the person who is lying fesses up Ella will come out and say that it was her. It's gotten to the point where it's really hard to believe her because she's lied so many times. We explain that to her and tell her we really want to trust her, but it's hard when she lies...especially about silly things...not that it's okay to lie about anything, but you get my point. A few weeks ago Ella drew with crayon on her nightstand lamp. I wasn't mad and she did fess up, but we talked about how she shouldn't do that. Then recently crayon marks showed up on the top of her nightstand. She of course denied it. We asked each of the boys to come in and asked them. Again we weren't mad we just wanted the person to fess up. All the boys said it wasn't them and you can tell when they are lying and with Ella's track record we are pretty sure it was her even though she didn't admit to it. After I put her to bed Michael and I got to talking and he brought up the fact that she truly might not be able to remember doing it. If her short term memory is so bad that she can't remember a number that she just wrote an entire page full of then maybe she honestly doesn't remember some of the things she does. 

I'm meeting with Ms. Asselin today to see what kind of options are available to our baby girl. She is on the waiting list at Children's Therapy Center for another round of speech therapy, but I'm wondering if she needs more than just speech therapy. Also I have no idea if there is help for her at school so she doesn't have to go somewhere else after school. It's really unsettling not knowing how to best help her. 

Next week we have an appointment with her Neurologist and I'm eager to chat with him and find out what he thinks. I have no idea if there is any kind of tests that we can run that will show us what might be going on in her cute brain so we can have more knowledge that could possibly help us understand her situation better. 

Her Neurologist did have us get her tested by the state to see if she could possibly get into the ECEAP program at public school so she could attend free preschool, but fortunately and unfortunately she tested just above the line. Her score was a 12 and she needed to be an 11 in order to qualify. In some ways I felt that it was good that she didn't qualify because Ella tends to follow the crowd and if she was going to potentially be the smartest one in the class I didn't want her trying to act and follow along with the other kids. The downside of that is that she would have actually had some form of structured preschool and we couldn't afford preschool so now she's starting out at the other end of the spectrum! It's hard as a parent thinking you might have failed your child! I just want the best for her and I want to find ways that are going to help her succeed and reach for the stars.   

Lots of unknowns for sure! One thing I do know is that God is with my baby girl. She will learn and she's going to do great. It's just going to be a challenging path ahead. The reassuring part is that God already knew all of this about Ella. Nothing surprises Him and he already knows the end from the beginning. He's going to help us navigate this road and when we come out the other side we will give Him the glory for it! We do covet your prayers for our sweet girl and for us! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Festival!

Yesterday  we took the kids to our churches annual Fall Festival. 

 The kiddos in all their costume cuteness....Zeke...Buzz Lightyear - Ella...Princess Aurora - Owen...Delta Force Guy - Jack...Captain America. 

Zeke's costume has been used for all 3 boys so it's on it's last leg for sure. I did find awesome Velcro wings to go with his costume for dollar at a garage sale. Ella's dress and crown were something she bought herself at my churches MOPS sale earlier this year. For Owen and Jack I did go ahead and buy their costumes this year. Owen just loves Army Soldiers and Jack wanted to be Captain America SO badly. On two separate occasions I was at a store and saw the costumes and just knew I had to get them. I don't normally make purchases like that, but I just recently heard the don't regret the things you do, but the things you don't do. Now I know that saying isn't completely true, but when you think about it how many times do you hear yourself say...I wish I had....gone on that ride with the kids, or gone parasailing or bought that dress. Too many times! So I didn't want this to be one of those times. My boys are at such a great stage with using their imaginations and before you know it they won't think that stuff is cool anymore and that phase will be over all too quickly! 

Michael and I were volunteering at one of the carnival games so we got to rock the orange volunteer shirts. 

The activities started at 5pm and then we were volunteering at 6pm. First we took the kids around to all the trunks. 

We got to vote for the trunk we liked the best. Ella and I voted for the pirate trunk. I just loved the sail! 

Our friends the Meyer's had set up their trunk as the video game trunk. The music was all Nintendo music and of course this one was a big hit. I think Owen would have stayed at this trunk all night if we let him. 

Later on in the evening I found Mario and Luigi playing on their phone together! 

Our friends the Zimmer's had a chicken trunk. They brought one of their chickens and a rooster. The cardboard box behind the chicken is where the rooster was. He had to be separated from the chicken because he was being ornery with her. 


I took this picture off FB...this was the car Michael and the older boys voted for....It was amazing for sure! 

After going around to the all the trunks we came in and bought some pizza and a corn dog. After that we started taking the kids to the carnival games. During that time my friend Rachael showed up with her girls and her sister Desi. Once it was time for Michael and I to start volunteering at our carnival game they were so sweet and took the older three to the cookie walk and then to get their faces painted. 

Zeke man of course wouldn't go he wanted to stay and rolling around all over me. Once the kiddos were done with face painting they came back into the auditorium and just went through all the games again. By this time it was getting pretty slow. Owen was just bouncing from game to game. That kids bag was SO full of candy. It was super fun as expected!


This is our super fun Pastor Andy and his wife Colleen on the right and some new staff members that just recently joined our church...Brandon and Elaine. They titled this picture...Couch Potatoes! 

I wish I had taken a picture of Jackson this morning...his face painting didn't fare well. The yellow of the moon made him look like his liver was failing and the black was EVERYWHERE. He must have leaned onto his hand and his arm in the middle of the night because it literally looked like he had been so beat up all over his face and his arms. It was pretty funny! I tried my best to get it off, but he did go to school looking like he had a little eyeliner on! Oh well I guess that's the sacrifice you make when you want your face to look like a cool Batman symbol! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Best Friends From Afar!

 On Sunday October 11th Ella went to Logan's 5th birthday party at The Jungle Gym. They had gotten to see each other two days the week before that since I watched Logan and her baby brother Conner for two days. It was fun for them to get to play together because the next week Logan moved to Spokane! I'm so happy for their family and thankfully Spokane is not that far away. We are already planning on meeting up next summer sometime. I think it would be really fun to drive to the water park in Ritzville that we visited on our way out to Wyoming. It's only 3.5 hours away and it doesn't open until noon anyways. The kids could hang out and swim and Jen and I could chat. After a few hours we could load up and be home by dinner time. 

Of course neither of these girls really understood that they weren't going to be able to see each other whenever they want to. I'm glad because it wasn't a sad goodbye at all. 

No matter how many miles are between them I'm sure that Ella and Logan will always have a special bond. I really should look into getting our webcam hooked up so they would Skype together!  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New Park!

Last week Zeke wanted to go to a park really badly. I'm still trying to get in a groove with just him at home and it seemed so funny to just take him to the park without the older kids. I thought we should wait until they got home and then go out together. The only thing is our nights are so busy with homework, dinner, BSF, reading time, bath time, bible time and bedtime. We seriously have no spare time at night! So off to the park we went! 

There is a new housing development not far from our house and I had noticed they had built a park. I figured it would be one of those...'this is for the people in this neighborhood only' parks, but it wasn't! It's actually a Des Moines Parks and Rec Park. Super cool!

Swaying on turtle! Zeke is hilarious because he wanted to ride his scooter around, but then he decided to play on the toys, but he wanted to keep his helmet on. He's was most definitely the safest kid on the playground. In fact he was the only kid on the playground for at least 30 minutes until a grandma should up with her two grandkids. 

We went on the seesaw together!

There were some fun things to do around the playarea. This one was a set of gears. 

Right next to the playarea was a half court basketball court. It was a perfect place for Zeke to ride his scooter. 

There was also this little paved hill that he could ride up and then come down. 

He is so good at his scooter! 

He really gets moving! 

I swear this kid is going to have no desire to ever right a bike...he is all about his scooter and then funny thing is he's right handed, but pushes himself with his left foot! 

They had two swings....a normal one and this handicap one. Zeke had a great time until he wanted out and then I bonked him in the face with the bit much for being the safest kid on the playground. 

Zeke rode around and around the playground while I sat on a bench just watching him. Then I noticed this little house so I went and sat in it. I was waiting to see how long it would take for him to notice I wasn't there. It wasn't long and he was getting really concerned so I hollered at him and he came running over. 

We played in the little house for a while and then I wanted to see what other cute things they might have around the playground to play with. That's when I found this flying maze. It was the cutest thing. Zeke loved how he had to turn the round parts just to the right spot so his plane could get on them and then turn them to the next path. He played with this thing for at least 10 minutes and then it was time to go and get a Slurpee! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pumpkin Carving!!!

We weren't able to carve the pumpkins the same day we bought them, but the very next day after the Seahawks game was over...blah...we were able to start hacking away at them. I think the best thing I figured out this time around with carving pumpkins is to use pizza boxes under them. Some friends of ours had brought over Costco pizzas for the game and those boxes were the perfect size. We were able to scrape out all the guts onto the box and it didn't leak through on the carpet and when we were all finished Michael just took them out to the food/yard waste bin!

Both the boys have these perfect knives I bought them years ago from Pampered Chef. They are so kids can help in the kitchen, but they don't really do really well on normal food. Whenever I had them cut their own hot dogs they would just end up looking digusting by the time they were finished. 

They are great for sawing into a gourd though!

Ella was quite pleased with her pumpkin even before it was carved! 

The boys worked so hard at cutting around the top. I used their knife and made a score line so they would know where to cut and they just got after it. 

Of course it turned into a race to see who could do it first. I ended up having to help with get it completely cut and then they pulled the tops up. 

I was busy scraping out the guts of Owen's pumpkin....heaven forbid this kid touch anything slimy...while Ella was cutting around the top of pumpkin. She was so determined she did it all by help from any adults! 

Take that you two older brothers!!! 

Michael looked up ideas on his phones and had the kids pick which ones they wanted. Then he used a pencil and traced the design onto the pumpkin. Owen cut out his eyes all by himself. 

Jack starting his eyes! It was really fun that they were able to help out so much. Before we know it they will be doing it all by themselves. Well....except Owen...I'll probably have to scrape out the guts for him when he's 18! 

Here's Ella's pumpkin shinning bright!!! It's so cute! She is sitting next to it on the right, but you can barely tell!

Jack's vampire pumpkin is on the left and Owen's super scary pumpkin is on the right! So much fun! We left the pumpkins lit for a while and then I had the kids go out and say goodnight to their pumpkin and blow out the lights. Such fun memories! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Carpinito Brothers Farm!!!

On Saturday we took advantage of not having anything on the calendar and we took the kids to Carpinito Brothers Farm. I've taken the kids to pumpkin patches before, but this is something we've never done as a family. It was super busy, but it's such a huge area it doesn't really seem too crowded. The only place we had to deal with crowds really was when we paid for the kids and then again when we bought our pumpkins. 

This champion pumpkin weighed in at 1,194.5lbs and could make up to 600 pies!

The first place we ventured to was in the barns. They had a hay pit to jump around in.

Get ready...get set!!!

Jump Owen!

Jump Jack!

Right next to that they had the corn pit!

I have seen lots of pictures of kids playing around in these and for some reason it just didn't seem like it would be fun.

The kids had a great time though!

There was corn flying everywhere!

Zeke Man was not going to get in the corn with all those crazy kids so I walked him over to this corn table. It was just his height!

I did put him inside it since he was the only one playing there and he liked rolling around in it. He also liked putting some in his hair!

These are Turken Chickens AKA Naked Necked Chickens....really funny looking!

The sheep was quite pleasant so the kids got to pet him or her...I didn't check! 

The geese! 

The sleeping bunnies! Michael tried to trick the kids by saying, "why would they have dead bunnies at the farm?"....they didn't believe him for a second! 

The pigs are my favorite! 

This pigs name was Ella! 

Ella with Ella!!! 

Trying to get a picture with 4 kids on a tractor while 3 of them are fighting over the steering wheel is impossible. Also the fact that they had to look in the direction of the sun didn't make it any easier!!! 

Farmer Jack and Farmer Ella! 

Ready to conquer the hay maze! 

Leading the way! 

Oops...not that way! 

Little shortie! 

Pretty girl with her new Seahawks shirt! 

Zeke would get to a dead end and then start digging at the hay to get out! 

Silly boy! 

There was a section where they made a cute little window for the kids to look through. Zeke says...I see you!!! 

The tunnel to the exit! 

Outside the hay maze they had a cow roping area. Jack was all over this! 

He worked and worked and worked. For a really long time! This boy is persistent! 

It paid off!!! He roped his an ear! He was so proud! 

We said goodbye to the farm, went back to the van, got the wagon and headed across the street to the big pumpkin patch! 

Pumpkins pumpkins everywhere!!! 

Trying again for a cute kiddo picture...3 out of 4 were cooperative! 

Pumpkins all loaded up! Our rule for the kids were that they had to be able to pick up their pumpkin. If they couldn't than it wasn't the pumpkin for them. Next year I think I'm going to change that rule a little bit...they have to be able to lift their pumpkin into the wagon! 

There really weren't any little little pumpkins that Zeke could pick up out in the patch, but closer by the scales they had a whole section of little pumpkins. He was finally able to pick one up, but then he said he didn't want it! He's a crazy dude! Side note....the police officer that was directing traffic and letting people cross the road was so awesome...he gave the kids stickers and then he read Zeke shirt. He thought it was so funny! 

Prized Pumpkins!!!