Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

This Christmas has been crazy already!  It isn't even over yet either!

Last week I had been wrapping presents and realized Nash didn't have a present under the tree from us yet.  It hadn't arrived yet.  So I told Nash he didn't have one and it was because his hadn't arrived in the mail yet.  One day a large box arrives.  He brings it inside and says, "Oh!  Is this my present?!"  I told him "Maybe.  Don't ask questions this time of year!"  He sits there a second and says, "Hmm...this box is 2' by 3'.  A rubix cube has a volume of this x this x this.  This box has a volume of this x this x this.  That means that you could fit.....180 regular sized rubix cubes in this box!"  And his face lights up and his eyes nearly pop out of his head!  It was hilarious!  I couldn't help but laugh right out loud at him!  Only Nash and Travis would figure that out!

December 17-18 we went to Manti.  We didn't leave until Saturday morning since I had to work Friday night until midnight.  I got pulled over on the freeway by Hill Ai Force Base for speeding.  I was going 80 in a 70.  The officer was really nice and she let me off with a warning!  We got to Manti just in time for the Bown party.  We had our party over at the Sterling town hall again this year.  Almost everyone was there.  We had dinner, the kids played a white elephant game, the adults played their white elephant game and Sue had organized a kids version of bunco.  We ended up with lots of presents.  Grandpa and Grandma Butter gave all the kids an envelope with a $2 bill in it as their gift this year.  It was -5 at nighttime!   I took Sam & Caleb to see the movie Moana with Jamie & Robbie's family on Saturday night.  On Sunday we went over to Grandma Ingrid's for the Whitlock party.  We had lunch and did a white elephant game.  We ended up with a bunch more presents!  My car decided to have the air valve die and our trip home was delayed 2 hours due to having to fix that. Other than the air valve our ride home was fairly uneventful.  Travis had Kash, Olivia & Brookelyn in his truck and I had the rest of them in my Tahoe (we don't all fit in one vehicle these days so we have to divide and conquer).  Travis was able to stop at Kash & Olivia's grandma's house in Spanish Fork and pick up gifts from her for the kids.  We were all home by about 10:30 pm that night.

 Brookelyn was not a fan of sitting on Santa's lap this year!  I think she was just tired but Travis had to haul her up there and hold her on his lap!

I had to work again on Christmas Eve.  Travis took the kids and went to my mom's house for dinner.  I didn't arrive until a little after 9 pm.  The kids had opened all but one of their presents and their stockings!  My mom saved the scrapbooks for them to open until I got there.  Mom decided she was going to make each of the kids their own scrapbook with photos from just this year in it.  She would like to be able to do pages each year and let them add to their book.  This project has been a massive undertaking!  Cassidy did all three of her kids' books.  I did Sam, Nash, Caleb and Kash's.  My mom did Brooke & Olivia's.  The kids absolutely loved them!  Sunny cried because, "It's just so beautiful!"  Mom was worried the kids wouldn't like them or think they were dumb but I think it was one of their favorite gifts.  The hats she made were a big hit too!  Of course, they all loved their new pajama's she made too.  Grandma Terri gifts are always a huge hit!

I was amazed that the kids let us sleep until 8:45 am today.  Kash & Nash were actually awake before that but were actually quiet.  Travis got up at 8:45 and asked them what they were waiting for and to go wake everyone up!  Craziness ensued shortly after!  They were really good to take turns opening gifts so that everyone could see what everyone else got.  We let the boys open one and then the girls open one so it wasn't one kid at a time.  I think they all loved everything they got.  We have an obscene amount of new movies (I only buy movies once a year).  Good thing we're getting a massive amount of snow right now!  It's the perfect weather to cuddle up and watch movies in!  We've got new sleds they are dying to try out as well.  Nash has almost solved all 7 of his new rubix cubes!  Kash and Caleb both got new rubix cubes as well and I'm sure those will be solved in short order too.  I'm most excited for Travis and Sam to build Sam's portable ballet bar together.  Sam was stoked her new dress has pockets!  That girl I tell you.  She gets excited about the little things!

 Sam & Travis's DIY portable ballet bar.  Wish I could figure out a way to paint it without it looking like crap when it is done.  I'm afraid that the spray paint will just wear off quickly and show drip marks.  Hmmm...this may require some more thought!  I've also found a cool DIY project that Travis is going to put together for her birthday.  It's basically a portable changing station for all her dance costumes, etc. so they aren't just laying all over the floor and a pain to carry all over.  Can't wait for that to get done before competition season arrives!

 Sister got a hold of my phone and my hair pinterest board again.  She wanted her hair cute so I picked something quick and easy!

 My once a year movie splurges!  I think this will keep us busy for a day or so.  Sam hasn't seen Thoroughly Modern Millie before but I figured since she loves musicals and Julie Andrews that this would be a hit!

 We got them all ready for church and 20 minutes before church was to start we got a text telling us that church had been cancelled.  Pretty sure it was due to the foot of snow and the still falling snow.  At least I got to see them in their cute new Christmas dresses!

This year's favorite gifts include:
 To Brooke from Kash

 I think she must be hungry this morning.  Out of all the gifts she got she says that this one is her favorite!

 His new watch and his new kendama

 New hat from Grandma Terri, rubix cube and a teddy bear.  The teddy bear is all he wanted this year and he ended up with two!

 A new speaker (the ones she got last year have died).  And now, we all prepare to listen to Sam's choice of music....All.  Day.  Long!

 His new robotics set and his Oskar's Treasure rubix cube.  There's a specific code you have to solve in order for the rubix cube to pop open so you can access the secret pocket to stash your stuff!

 This kid wins the prize for the most books.  I'm pretty sure he's got 18!  I'd be willing to be he's got most, if not all, of them read by the time they go back to school in a week!

Seven new rubix cubes and he's already solved four!  I think it's safe to say that I should have bought more challenging ones!

Tonight we get to go out to Stan and Debbie's for the Reeder party.  Tomorrow we will go out to Scott and Kris's house and next Sunday we will be going down to Grandpa and Marian's house for the Maughan party.  I love that we get to be home for almost the entire day today without having to rush off and do something.  I think I'll push to keep that tradition going!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Caleb & NAET

A month or so ago I had Caleb and Kash in for ADHD med checks.  We have a new pediatrician now because our previous pediatrician retired (this was a ridiculously sad moment for me).  Our new pediatrician, Dr. Sandgren, is good with the kids and easy to talk to about whatever issues the kids are having.  He told me that he didn't have a lot of experience dealing with ADHD when we first saw him so I was nervous about that.  So far though, he's been a good fit for us.  At this last visit he told me that Caleb had dropped from the 4% for weight down to the 2% for weight and from the 4% for height down to the 3% for height.  This is not good news.  He hasn't lost any weight, he just isn't, at all.  I talked to him about our experience with the Wellness Clinic and the dietitian last winter/spring.  He told me that if he recommended us to the dietitian that he would recommend us to a different one than the one we worked with before (good to know - he was a moron).  He also told me that if we saw progress at the Wellness Clinic to go back.  He said that Caleb might just be small his whole life, but he needs to stay on the growth curve and not fall off it completely like he has almost done.  He told us that if Caleb didn't make some progress we would be back to getting a referral for the PCMC Failure to Thrive Clinic.

So, we ventured back to see JanaLee at the Wellness Clinic a week and a half ago.  She did a test to check his numbers.  When we originally saw her his numbers were in the low 600's.  He had to be in the 900's to complete the NAET rounds.  Hence the reason he was going so regularly for six months - we had to boost his numbers before doing NAET.  The day of his test, his numbers were in the mid 700's.  This tells me that had I waited much longer to go back his numbers would have been right back where we started in Oct. 2015.  After looking at his results and telling her what the pediatrician said she asked me if he had ever been referred to an endocrinologist.  I told her he hadn't.  She told me that his pituitary and endocrine levels were quite low.  I asked if she thought I should start looking for an endocrinologist.  She asked that we give her until spring to see if she can't do some good before we start looking.  I agreed that would be fine.  I asked if she knew any endocrinologists in the valley.  She told me the ones she does know aren't ones that specialize in dealing with kids.  She said that she thinks if it comes to that, that we would be best off seeing one at PCMC.

Caleb's now taking a pituitary supplement (it's not a hormone supplement - she said she doesn't dare give him a hormone supplement because he's so young), a bacteria supplement and two different kinds of drops twice a day.  Suddenly the kid is hungry more and is vocal about it.  That makes this mama a happy mama!  After visiting with JanaLee and thinking about all of the things she said, I've decided that a pituitary and/or endocrine issue could explain a lot of things about Caleb.  He's lost 8 teeth, but the dentist has pulled 6 of those 8 because they don't get loose at all (he actually has to have 2 more pulled come February).  When he was seeing JanaLee and taking the supplements he grew a good 3+ inches and gained 10 pounds.  Since he hasn't been in since May, he hasn't grown even an inch and hasn't gained a single pound.  He's also gone back to hardly eating anything each day.  I'm hoping that JanaLee can make some more progress with him so that we don't have to go down to PCMC.  However, I'm also grateful that at least we will have a starting point if we do have to go to PCMC.

Foster Care Adventure

I haven't really said a lot about our foster care adventure - at least not in a public place - to many people.  I figure I ought to jot it down for memory though.

We were able to welcome our niece, Olivia (5), and nephew, Kash (9) into our home on Caleb's 8th birthday (July 18).  Their mom asked to place them in our home until she and Chad were able to care for them.  We only had them three days and then they went back to Scott and Kris's home, where they had been staying since about October 2015.  I called DCFS the day after the kids left our home and an investigation was opened.  The kids returned to our home the first or second full week of August (after they went to Lake Powell with Scott and Kris).  On August 30, the kids were made wards of the state.  The state then turned temporary custody over to Travis and I.

We decided that it would be in our best interest, and in the best interest of the kids, to become state certified foster parents.  This has been a long process.  We started the process back in September and only just received our state foster care license on December 16.  Becoming state certified foster parents means there are more rules and regulations for Travis and I.  However, it also means there are more resources for Travis and I, as well as more resources for the kids.  Now that we have our probationary license, we need to do 10 hours of online classes/training and I need to do my CPR certification again.  This will lead us to receive our initial license.  Having the initial license means that we will need to do 16 hours of in service training.  Once those 16 hours are completed we will have our license in place for a year.  We will have to renew our license with more in service hours each year. The type of license we have only allows us to be a kinship placement.  This means that we can only take family members as foster kids.  If we were to decide that we wanted to be "regular" foster parents, we would need to complete an additional 32 hours of training that is required to be face to face training (no online classes).  At this time we will be staying a strictly kinship foster license.

We've had people ask if we would adopt the kids if it came to that.  Our answer is yes.  We wouldn't have taken them in the first place if we weren't willing to adopt them at some point if that became necessary.  Right now though, their parents have until August 30, 2017 to get all their ducks in a row.  Our ultimate goal is reunification.  We don't know if or when that will happen.  It really isn't up to us, it's up to the kids' parents.  There are a lot of requirements their parents have to meet in order to be considered for reunification.  They aren't impossible requirements, but they are difficult requirements for people in their situation to meet.  We will see what the next year brings.  As of right now both parents are back in jail until February and March.  We'll be starting close to square one again when they get back out of jail.

Given everything the kids have/are going through, they are doing quite well.  They are enjoying Canyon Elementary and have made many friends.  Kash did football this year and a few kids on his team also go to his school.  That made for an easier transition this fall for him.  Kash started scouts in August and has absolutely loved it.  Olivia started dance with Brooke in September and she is loving that as well (Sam is the teacher assistant in their dance class each week.)  We have both kids seeing the school counselor in addition to a counselor up at USU Marriage and Family Counseling.  She's been absolutely amazing with the kids.  They don't typically take cases like this but she has been fantastic to work with.  I would highly recommend her to anyone.  I think it helps that she specializes in working with kids too.  The kids love going to primary each week and Kash is looking forward to being baptized in the spring.  We've had many people comment to us on the differences they've seen in the kids from before they came to us and now.  People keep saying how they admire us, etc.  I have a hard time taking that in stride.  I feel like we are the lucky ones to have them in our home.  I also feel like anyone would have done what we are doing.  It isn't an easy road, but it's family and this is what you do for family.  I would hope our family would do the same for us if it was us in this position.

Although this foster care adventure has been just that, an adventure, I would do it all again (and I'm pretty sure Travis would too).  We love the kids and are glad they are safe and happy.  We are hoping for the best in this situation - whatever the best may be.  Thanks to all of you who have given us support through this difficult time!

Halloween 2016

The kids had their Halloween piano recital out at the Red Balloon again this year.  Nash rocked his ballerina costume.  One of the kids asked him if he planned to wear that to school and he told her yes.  She said, "You know people are going to laugh at you, right?"  In true Nash form he looks right at her and says, "So?"  The kid rocked it.  The only down side to this year's recital is that Nash hurt one of his wrists a week or so prior and had it in a brace to help reduce swelling.  His song was painfully slow, but he played it and he had it memorized!

A few days before Halloween one of the family's in our ward had a Halloween party (the big old church I use to dance in is where they live).  Travis was a brave soul and took all the kids without me (I was at work at the store).  All the kids and Travis were dressed up in their costumes.  Turns out they won best family costumes!  Their costumes didn't even coordinate!  Brother Bates said he loved that everyone in the family was dressed up and they were all participating and having a good time.  Love that Travis is home and able to do these things now!

 The pumpkin carving was quite the experience with six kids carving all at once!  The hard part is getting them to understand that basic shapes are the easiest to cut out and take the least amount of time!  They all have grand ideas and then peter out part way through.  They turned out good though I think!

 I made significantly fewer costumes this year than I did last year!  We bought Kash's costume but made his Jack in the Box box (which he quickly abandoned  on Halloween).  Nash used one of Sam's old dance costumes.  We bought Sam's Harleigh Quinn costume pieces.  I made Caleb's Grim Reaper costume.  I made Olivia's Harleigh Quinn costume and I made Brooke's Wicked Witch of the West costume.  I was glad the three I made were simple costumes to make!  In true mom fashion Caleb's was finished the night before Halloween!  At least it was finished!

For the first time in 17 years we didn't go to Scott & Kris's house for Halloween.  This year we took the kids to the Trunk or Treat at the church and then let them Trick or Treat around our neighborhood and ward.  We also went down to Grandma Terri's house.  Scott and Kris came out and saw the kids at Grandma Terri's house.  It was a different kind of Halloween experience, but it was a good one!