Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Laura!

Wow! It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in the doctor's office with an almost 4 year Katelyn at my side and looking at a calendar as the doctor said "Here are the dates I have open for the c-section." He pointed to November 10th (Katelyn's birthday), November 17th, and November 24th (Thanksgiving that year). I said there was no way I wanted to be in the hospital on a liquid diet on Thanksgiving. Then I turned to Katelyn and said "Do you want a baby sister for your birthday?" With all the innocence of a child that age she said "No, I just want toys for my birthday." So the 17th it was. After my labor/delivery experience, I didn't want to go through that again so we chose a repeat c-section. Funny thing was that Laura was stubborn from the start....the doctor, nurses and staff in the non-stress test room were all certain she'd come on her own cause she was in position and kept dropping lower and lower. However the weekend before the c-section, she went and turned herself side ways breech with no hopes of turning her and so I would have had a c-section due to that. Not to mention that she took us totally by surprise with this pregnancy anyhow......we were between homes and living with my parents briefly and going to wait til we were settled into a new place when SURPRISE I find out I'm pregnant. Taking us by surprise and stubborn from the moment of conception....that's our Laura. Never a dull moment with her around and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Birthday Tiny Toons! We love you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Katelyn's 8!!!!

November 10, 2001 you came into our lives screaming and red faced, letting the world know how unhappy you were to leave your nice warm place. It's been a roller coaster ride ever since for both us and you. But through all the bumps along the way, the smooth spots speed us along. May the ride never end!

Happy 8th Birthday Princess Katelyn! We love you!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Out With October, In With November

October was a busy month. It seemed to come and go so fast. Here are some of the things that have kept us busy last month.

We started off the month with a trip to Utah for Clark's mission reunion. See a previous blog entry on that if you haven't gotten a chance yet.

I love to read. A couple of days, Laura gave me a chance to read while she played in her room quietly. They happened to cold and even one rainy day too. I thought I'd have uninterrupted reading time. But one of our cat's Al had other ideas.

October for us has meant a trip to PA's Pumpkin Patch in Long Beach for 4 years running now. We take our annual picture of the girls with the giant pumpkins. They ride their favorite rides. We take a few pics with the various cut outs. And we go home with at least 3 pumpkins.

Some of my friends and family know that we've been in the process of evaluating Katelyn for ADD and Autism. I was seeing lots of signs of ADD in Katelyn. Her IEP team felt she showed signs of autism during her triennial evals at the end of last year. We finally got the referral in late August through Kaiser and September and October meant various visits to one of Kaiser's psychologists who asked tons of questions and talked to her and looked at the IEP notes. Even up til the point that the psychologist said "autism", I still felt only ADD would be her diagnosis. I really didn't see her on the spectrum at all. Not that it would be a problem if she were, I have former ward members with kids on the spectrum, one of Katelyn's good friends has Asperger's, a good friend of mine has a son with Asperger's as well. But even though I know some things about it, I don't know alot and therefore just didn't see it. So you can imagine how shocked I was when the psychologist said "diagnosis.....autism spectrum."
It wasn't shock like "how horrible! not my child!" It was more of "how did we not see the signs sooner?!" type shock. Plus all the why's, if's, what now's running through my head. And that all spelled a day of emotions for me. I was at my breaking point of just needing to sit down and cry when there was a knock on the door. My good friend, the one whose son has Asperger's, was standing there with her son. We haven't talked in a while so she didn't know we were doing the evals. She said they were driving by and felt they needed to stop. She immediately knew something was wrong and I just melted. She totally set my mind at ease in the whole matter. She knows both my girls well enough and really helped me not to panic over the eval score (which said "severe autism"). Her son is 15 and he was able to set my mind at ease too. "Sister Raile, she's like me. Maybe not Asperger's. But she's high-functioning. And she has a mother for helping her through this as she gets older." Oh how I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father who was watching over me that day and sent these friends when I needed them the most.
Since then we've talked to the autism specialist who also explained a great deal to us and esp about where Katelyn lies on the spectrum and why nobody saw the signs sooner. She gave us some titles of books to read and a website to look at and signed us up for a monthly clinic that they have to help parents understand more about it.
The diagnosis doesn't change who Katelyn is. She's still the same child. The diagnosis will help us, her school teachers, her church teachers and family and close friends to understand her and help her be the best she can be throughout her life.

Amazingly the day after her diagnosis, while we were still in the whole why's, if, what now phase, her Girl Scout troop met with an older troop at the Cerritos City Hall. For their city hall meeting, which is televised for local residents, they got to say the Pledge of Allegience. The troop leader for the older girls asked if there was anyone who wanted to volunteer to say it. None of the other girls wanted to. Katelyn raised her hand and said "I'll do it!" I was outside with Laura so heard all this second hand. But her troop leader said she did great. Talk about one of those proud mommy moments. And a moment that made me see that she's going to go far even though she will have stumbling blocks along the way.

October also meant a trip to Disneyland for just Laura and I. She's been potty trained since April but suddenly started having accidents in September. Those lasted through October as well. Finally I had a heart-to-heart talk with her. I asked her what would help her stop having accidents. We talked about a sticker chart and what kind of reward she wanted. She liked none of my ideas. Finally she said "Disneyland, just you and me!" When I saw she'd gone 2 weeks with no accidents, I grabbed our passports. After taking Katelyn to school one morning we drove to Disneyland and spent a fun filled morning riding all her favorite rides, taking pictures with Mickey, and eating churros and ice cream for lunch before we had to head back home to pick up big sister from school.

Of course who can forget that Halloween is in October. All that yummy candy! Here's our pumpkins before and after carving and our two little princesses.

And now we are into November. It kind of started out with a bang.....literally. Aside from Laura and I both being sick right now, I had one of those "I told you so" moments with Clark. See he's a decent driver though he does tend to speed. But he never seems to pay attention when parking or turning into parking lots. He's scraped my van more times than I can count and grunts and groans like a man if I get uppity with him over it. I always tell him that one day he's going to do some real damage and I'm going to say "I told you so." Well he was too busy eating Laura's fries from McD's since she doesn't eat them and he went to pull into the burger place down the street from our house. I saw the curb but not enough time to say anything and BOOM he goes over it. I cringed and he parked and we both got out to check tires. Yep, he'd popped one. The front passenger side. So bad that it was coming off the rim. I turned to him to say what I've always wanted to say and his face was so angry that all I could do was laugh hysterically. Of course he didn't find it funny. He didn't get mad though. Just said "I'm glad you find it funny." I have a feeling if I did say the other thing he'd have gotten mad though. Oh and of course I had to take a picture. haha!

So that was our crazy month of October and our start of November. How was yours?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We're Finished!

Friday morning started off great. Katelyn is so excited. She completed her goal of reading the Book of Mormon for the first time before her 8th birthday. I'm so proud of her for completing her goal even though she might not have understood much of what she read. But it's a start of learning to love the scriptures. And she's not stopping there. Nope....today we start her next goal....reading the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price by the end of January. We're all set to go, I even have a chart I found to help us keep track of our reading. The best thing about this is that it has gotten me reading the scriptures again. I hate to admit it but I've been kind of lazy about the last couple of years. So not only am I reading with her, I'm doing my own scripture study as well.

Laura and I also finished reading her Book of Mormon Stories book for the 2nd time. So both girls will earn their little wooden plaque for reading the Book of Mormon this year. They are excited and I'm excited for them. Laura I'm a bit worried about though......she really loved reading anything about Jesus but she was equally excited with all the war stories. haha! What a crazy kid I tell ya! But it made reading with her fun that's for sure. We also will be starting the Doctrine and Covenants together. We have a story book for that too. Funny thing is that she thinks it's a race so she's always asking "where sissy at? where I at? yes! I'm winning!" or "darn it! Katelyn's winning!" Like I said...crazy kid. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Utah Trip October 2009

As you can see we took lots of pictures on our Utah trip. And these aren't even all of them. These are just the ones I chose for the blog to give you all a good idea of how the trip went. So here's the play-by-play of our weekend. But before you proceed, you might want to grab your favorite drink and/or a snack and sit down and relax. Yeah...it might get a little long. LOL!

Day 1, Thursday, Oct. 1......Left our home near Long Beach, CA at about 10:30 a.m. We decided to take the drive up in parts. Today we drove as far as St. George, Utah where we stayed with the Holliday's...a family Clark grew up with in West Covina. While there we got to visit with Anne and Rich who we thank very much for letting us stay the night with them. It was great to see them again! It's been way too long. We also got to visit with their son, daughter-in-law and grandson who also live there. The next morning we got to see their beautiful granddaughter, Hannah (their daughter Julie's little one). The girls got to sit in their son Jon's work vehicle. (Katelyn's says she wants to be a policewoman now thanks to that) And we got to see the gorgeous views from their home.

And I have to add a tidbit about potty breaks on the way up.....if any of you are familiar with this drive you'll laugh with me. Stop 1.....Barstow, CA for lunch at Bob's Big Boy and potty break. Stop 2.....Primm, Nevada for potty break at Wild Bill's casino (casino's = clean bathrooms normally). Both stops scheduled and esp with Primm, I figured that would last us all til St. George. Nope! 20 minutes up the road as we hit rush hour in Vegas, Laura says "Uh-oh, I gotta go NOW!" A quick call to my sis who lives in Vegas helps us with Stop 3.....Vegas, Palace Station hotel/casino, we don't have to even walk through the casino to use a restroom there, yeah! You'd think this would be out last stop. But nope. Getting close to Mesquite (don't ask me which state....could be Nevada, could be Arizona, not sure but it's between Vegas and St. George), Katelyn says, "Umm...I have to go potty." So we stop at a McDonald's in Mesquite and I run both girls in. 4 stops in a 2 hour time span. Sheesh!

Day 2, Friday, Oct. 2......Left St. George early afternoon and headed to our first stop, Provo Cementary. There we visited Colleen's grave (Clark's mom) and placed flowers in the vase. Laura insisted in getting a yellow flower. When asked why she said "Grandma told me she likes yellow flowers." She's never met Colleen, so kind of interesting that she'd say that. Esp since the next day upon telling this story to Colleen's sister Eloise, I learned that my mother-in-law always did love yellow flowers. Each of the girls took a turn placing a flower in the vase, then Clark, then me, and then Clark had a quiet moment with the girls and their grandma Colleen.

After placing the flower on Colleen's grave, we walked across the road to show the girls where their great-great-great-great grandfather (or is it 3 greats? I don't remember...and it's on my father-in-law Rick's side, that much I know) is buried. Those of you who have gone to BYU or have had a child go to BYU may know who Abraham Owen Smoot is. Well that's who my husband and daughters' ancestor is. Through the 5th wife......though Clark says 4th cause he hasn't read the book his parents gave us a few years back. But I could be wrong, since there's only 4 wives he's buried with. However I remember from the book that he had 5 wives but one decided she didn't want to be in a polygamous marriage anymore and left and she was like the 2nd or 3rd wife. So of course she wouldn't be buried with them. I'll have to ask my father-in-law to verify this for me.

Next we headed to Cedar Hills/Pleasant Grove to drop off our stuff where we were staying for 2 days. (our friends Haley and Seth Estrada....Haley's family are more West Covina people we know) Then headed over to our friends Doug and Charise Nowlin (also in Pleasant Grove) so they could watch our girls for us. (thanks guys, it was really appreciated and it was fun to visit and catch up as well!) We ate a quick dinner and then Clark and I changed and ran out the door for his mission reunion that was held in Orem. For those that don't know, he served in the Canada Winnipeg Mission 1991-1993. The reunion was to mark 15 yrs that his mission president has been home from that mission. The following are a few pics of the night:
The sign that was hung on the wall.
Raile, Merrill, and Miles......all 3 came from the Walnut, CA Stake. But were in different wards and different cities and never met til their mission. Clark from West Covina, Merrill from Hacienda Heights, and Miles from Walnut I believe.
A group shot of all the CWM alum who made it to the reunion. They spanned a great distance. One even came all the way from Ireland to attend the reunion.

Clark and I with President and Sister Christensen. Funny story......as we walked in Sis. Christensen handed us name tags and markers for our names and said if I served a mission too then to write that down under my name "because you never know you might run into at these things." As she walked away, Clark and I said to each other that it was doubtful I'd actually have this happen. Not 2 seconds later, the husband of one of the sisters from his mission goes "So what years did you serve?" Turns out he'd also served in my mission (Argentina Buenos Aires West) but we never came across each other. He served from 92-94 but in areas with no sisters and I was 93-95. So I guess Sis. Christensen was right. :)

Day 3, Saturday, Oct. 3......Woke up as early as our tired bodies would allow. Kind of had a rough night. The air mattress my parents lent us had a leak and by morning Clark and I were on the floor. Also Laura had 5 night terrors and I had to calm her each time. After getting showered and dressed we headed into Bountiful where our friends, the Mortensen's, fixed us a yummy breakfast and we got to visit with them a bit. Sorry we were so tired guys. We didn't plan on lack of sleep 2 nights running (in St. George neither girl slept well and Laura had 6 night terrors to boot, with Katelyn having 1 as well). But it was a nice visit and breakfast really was delicious. Oh and the girls tell me to let the ogre know they say hello...that was their favorite part. LOL! I had to take a picture of the front of their house. My dad and I have a thing for homes like this, esp if they have the huge porches.

Next we headed up to Willard to visit with Clark's aunts and uncles. We went to aunt Eloise and uncle Dale's house (Colleen's sister). Clark's cousin Mike and his family were there. Katelyn got along well with their daughter Lexie. They were born the same year. Also aunt Claudia and uncle Dean (one of Colleen's brothers) live up the hill and came down to visit as well. We had a yummy baked potato bar for lunch. As in Idaho potatoes. Eloise, Dale, Mike and Tiana and the kids had gone up to Idaho and picked potatoes off conveyor belts somewhere. That's about 2100 lbs of potatoes for $100. Eloise and Dale store them in their cellar and they last til June. Dale sent us home with a box. Look at the size of those taters. And they are delicious!

The girls got to ride the ATV's. Katelyn remembers riding them at the family reunion a few years back. So she was looking forward to that again. For Laura it was brand new. She fell in love with it. The first picture is them riding up in the hills with Mike. He said he could tell the girls have been to Disneyland a few times.....whenever he'd get really going they'd raise their arms and say "Wheeeeee!" haha! I rode up too....I hopped on the back while Clark drove one. I'm too chicken to ride one by myself. Esp up in the hills. So I sat behind Clark. Look at the views we had of the hills above Willard and of Willard Bay. Just stunning.

The girls found a love of basements on the trip. Each home we stayed in had a different type of basement. They esp loved Eloise and Dale's. They have a play room with a loft and toys for the kids. Katelyn and Laura just loved disappearing down there to play.

Day 4, Sunday, Oct 4.......The long drive home. We said good-bye to the Estrada family. Got a cute group picture of all the kids together. Haley and Seth, thanks for letting us crash at your place! It was greatly appreciated! Seeing you guys again and also Michael and his family (though just briefly) was nice.
Leaving did have a bit of drama. Or rather a comedy. I had showered and then helped Katelyn dress. While Laura slept and Clark showered, I decided to take a small load of stuff to the van. I noticed that it had rained during the night and some in the morning. The only ones up were Juliette, Dillon and Katelyn. They all saw me look out the window and heard me say that it was fine and I was going to run out and take some things to load up. Not 2 seconds of me opening the side van doors and the back, the heavens opened up and the rain came down. It started off light and I was covered by the van. But then WOOSH came the wind and snow flakes! And not lightly either. My only option....hop in the back of the van and shut it and wait it out. Oh but it's freezing. Duh I left the sides open. Close then and I'm snug as a bug in a rug...well sort of. It was still cold. I'm laughing at the timing of all this. It just figures my jacket was under the floor under the ice chest that I can't move from the back. So I sit and wait, wait and sit....watching the faces of 3 very worried children who are looking out the window of the house wondering where the heck I went and I just laugh even harder. Then it calmed down and jumped out and got my jacket fast. As I'm running back in 9 yr old Juliette is running out with her umbrella to rescue me. How sweet is that?! All 3 kids and I had a good laugh over it.
The kids hit it off. So well that Juliette wanted us to stay, "You know with this weather, I'd stay an extra day if I were you." Too cute. Here's a picture of all the kids together...
Juliette, almost 9 holding 8 month old Brent; Laura, almost 4; Katelyn, almost 8; Dillon, 5; Jack, 2 1/2......interesting tidbit: Juliette and Laura were both born November 17th but 5 years apart. Juliette was 6 lbs., 3 oz., 17 inches and Laura was 6 lbs, 4 oz., 17 1/2 inches.

A friend suggested we drive up one of the canyons to see the fall foliage. There was a lull in the rain so we drove up American Fork Canyon as it was just up the street from Haley's house. The colors were amazing. My pictures just don't do it justice. We found a spot for some good pictures but then it started to rain again and since my camera isn't waterproof I felt it best to hop back into the van. We had rain off and on for close to 2 hours of the trip back. Then lots of wind storms as far south as St. George. Anyhow, here's the few pictures I was able to take in the canyons.

On the way home, we made a stop in Vegas to visit my sister and brother-in-law and their doggie Kelso. We couldn't drive through Vegas twice and not stop at least once to visit. So Sunday was the day. We played with Kelso, visited with Sharla and Paul and went out to dinner with them.
Look at this gorgeous nephew doggy of mine. Kelso is a huge boy but thinks he's a lap dog.

Here he is playing with his "cheeky", one of his favorites that's as big as he is. And then playing tug-of-war with the girls with it....and winning I might add.

Laura, aunt Sharla, Katelyn and uncle Paul

Laura, aunt Sharla and Katelyn....with their blonde hair alot of times when we are with Sharla people think they are her kids and not mine

Overall the drive home was 11 1/2 hours. That's not counting the stop in Vegas. We didn't get home til midnight CA time. Girls did well on the drive home. Didn't need a potty break til St. George and then waited til Sharla's place, from there they fell asleep in the car and we had to wake them for a pit stop in Barstow, CA and they they lasted til we got home. Very different from the way up. They also did well in the car with no arguments. Pretty good considering we don't have a dvd player and t.v. for them to travel with and it was our first trip like this.
It was a tiring trip but a fun one and I'm glad we got to go. Maybe we'll get to do it again next year and stay a bit longer so we can visit more friends.