Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sorry- no pictures still. I don't think we can fix our camera. Blogging isn't as much fun without pictures.
So... for anyone interested in job charts for kids or working out an allowance system, I found a great program, called Active Allowance (www.activeallowance.com). With a free membership, you can use their templates to create "to-do lists" for kids, and I like their format. Their lists are customizable, but the idea is that there are sections for morning and evening duties (jobs, but also things like brushing teeth), and I added a section for attitude. Kids earn points by completing the tasks. We set a minimum number of points per week, and will give a small allowance for any extra points earned. I think only Hannah is interested in extra work and this point, but it helps me remember what I need the kids to do, and Hannah really likes having our expectations outlined. We're only on our second week, so it isn't quite a habit yet, but I really like it so far.
Rachel can write her name! Apparently Christian has been working with her. On Sunday, he told her the letters to spell her name and without seeing the letters (and I've never seen her write any letters but R, A, and O), she wrote her whole name! Its so exciting for me to see her meeting these milestones, especially when it seems like she has to work so much harder to reach them (and she's catching up to her age-group).
I had a question about her school. She goes to an afternoon pre-school with about 5 other girls with various degrees of hearing impairment. It is a "total communication" class, which means that they use sign language, as well as talking with the kids and using speech therapy. Every day the kids get one-on-one speech time with the teacher and get pulled out with a speech therapist twice a week. The teachers are very experienced, and I can already see Rachel growing so much. She loves going to school! They do a great storytime with sign and sound, as well as repetitive activities--things like reinforcing how to ask and answer questions, how to retell stories, skills that Rachel really needs. If only getting to and from school wasn't such a pain.... I'm nearly ready to put her on the bus, at least one way, even though it takes an hour and she will have to switch buses once. It seems like too much for a little kid, but otherwise, the other kids are in the van for two hours each day.
That's pretty much it for us. Christian has some big trips coming up, so we expect he'll be gone a lot over the next few months, off to places like Italy, Texas, China, and maybe India again. We'll see. I'm working on getting better at this semi-single parenthood.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Aaron's check-up

I took Aaron to the doctor yesterday for his 4 month check-up (even though he is over 5 months old). He's healthy and strong--he's doing well with tummy time and can lift his whole chest up and is starting to sit up without support. I thought he was really big, but it turns out he's just average-- a little under average for his weight (15 lb, 4 oz) and a little over average for his length. The pediatrician said he might really be hungry when he wakes up and suggested adding more solid foods during the day. He loves his real meals-- he's had pears, sweet potato, applesauce, and squash, plus rice cereal mixed with formula, and he loves it. He's getting good and keeping it in his mouth rather than pushing it out. She also said to not make him "cry it out" just yet-- mostly because he has so many shots yesterday. So, we'll try feeding him more during the day and then we'll come up with a strategy to help him learn to stay asleep all night without keeping me up at the same time. Hopefully things get better soon, because between mid-night feedings and the girls waking up at 5:30-ish, I'm really tired!
I remembered one of the other funny things Hannah says-- her word for graveyard is "gravy." Mmmmmm, hungry anyone? (I think this came from the time we spent in Maryland, where there are small cemeteries all over the place)
Last night was my first time with my new Young Women's group. I took them out for ice cream so we could plan and get acquainted (there are only 2 girls--otherwise that would get expensive!). Guess what the Laurel class activity was? They learned the YW theme in ASL! I think we're in the right place. Its been really nice to talk to some of the parents with deaf children about their experiences, too.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My break is over

Two weeks ago I was asked to serve as the Mia Maid adviser in YW, and I was thrilled. I thought, now I can have all the fun of working with the Young Women, and less responsibility! Today, I was sustained as 1st Counselor in the presidency. Somehow, I think the Bishopric tricked me! Just kidding-- I love working with the Young Women. There are only two Mia Maids, but since I have no adviser, I get to teach every week. There are also no activities planned, so I have a lot to do already. Fortunately, Christian will be around this week, so I won't have to juggle a new calling on top of all four kids. We were also asked to take some of the interpreting responsibilities for Rachel--20 minutes during Sharing Time. My skills aren't really good enough, but neither is Rachel's attention span! My plan is to start taking ASL classes at the community college (in all my spare time). I feel like I had a little break over the last month, but now, with the demands of getting Rachel to and from school every day (25 min each way, and no, there's not a bus available), getting her connected again with doctors, Hannah's gymnastics class (once a week), and now this calling, on top of Christian's frequent travels, I think my break is over.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cheap meals

Just a question to anyone wishing to respond: What are your best, inexpensive meals? (And will your kids eat them?)

Hannah's mistakes

Hannah's a smart kid, and she has a pretty good vocabulary, but sometimes she tries out new words for the first time and doesn't quite get it right. Its pretty funny. The other day, we were putting the girls down for naps and were trying (in vain) to explain to them that they needed to stay put and rest. Hannah said, "Yeah, or there'll be coincidences!" (meaning consequences). And then there was the time she was mad at me and yelled, "Murderer!" (She watched a lot of Lion King at the time). She tries so hard to be a little Mom, too--like last night, when she brought Nathan a drink of water before bed, and rather than have him sit up to drink, she gave it to him while he was laying down and poured it all over his pajamas and pillow. You have to wonder, what was she thinking? And then I realize, she was trying to help, trying to care for her brother, and trying to be big. She's getting to that age where she'll remember some of what happens now when she is an adult, and that makes me worried-- what if her first memory of me isn't great? Its so fun to see her learning to read and write. She tells me sometimes that she's a better Mom than me (not that hard to do), and other times that she can't do anything at all. She's got a lot of confidence, but has these major mood swings like 5-yr-old PMS.
She's becoming so much more of a little person, rather than just a kid!

Adventures in Michigan

Sunday mornings are always hectic, especially with 9:00 am church (and a 25 min drive). This morning it wasn't exactly snowing, but it looked like a blizzard because the wind was blowing around the snow already on the ground. It looked pretty bad, but then, my perspective on what amounts to bad weather has changed a lot since moving here. So, we diligently packed our kids in the car and headed to church. (Earlier that morning, we found out that we had no hot water--one of our kids---shall we guess which one?-- turned off the pilot light to our water heater, so we had a choice of ice cold shower or not shower. What a way to wake up!) Because we live close to a couple of lakes, the wind was intense and blew a lot of snow around. At times, we couldn't see even the front of the car! We presevered, partly because we live out of our ward boundaries and had no idea if it was so bad everywhere. We also didn't check our phones. It took around 40 minutes to drive to church, and the freeway was especially treacherous. When we got to church, we didn't see any cars and decided to check our phones... Church was canceled due to unsafe driving conditions!
The temperature is currently 7 degrees, with the wind chill making it feel like -15 (give or take a little). And to think I wore high heels and a knee length skirt to church! I need to learn a few things about living here...

Friday, February 8, 2008

I need help!

Okay--in most every way, Aaron is an ideal baby. He is happy, healthy, totally cute, and we love having him in our family. The problem? He wakes up more at night now than when he was a newborn! Of course, after I feed him he'll usually go directly back to sleep, but the problem is that I'm waking up several times every night--I haven't slept longer than 3 hours at a time in weeks. I don't know if its because he's growing so fast, he's genuinely hungry, or if he's just in a really bad habit. But I'm tired! Really, very tired. Last night, Aaron went to bed at 7:30. I fed him at 11:15, just as I was trying to go to bed. He was up again at 1:30, Rachel got me up at 3:00, He was up again at 4:00 (Christian gave him his plug and he went to sleep without nursing-but I still woke up), then 5:30 and 7:30. Just not good. Any ideas?
My camera should be fixed soon, so pictures and more interesting updates are on the way.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hannah says...

We just got a new load of snow, and its been snowing all day. Hannah said its like living in a snow globe!