Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time To Get Back To Reality

The weather has warmed up nicely today. We had some chilly days for the first of the week with the highs around 60....that IS chilly by Florida standards. Today is warm enough to go without a jacket, though, so I am taking the opportunity to open a few windows and let in some fresh air, and the kids are out enjoying it too. I love this time of year here in Florida! I think it is supposed to get chilly again for New Years Day, though.

The new year is fast approaching now. That means I have to start planning Sunday school lessons. At our church, we teach every other month, and starting January 3rd, it is my month. I have been trying to remind myself over and over that I need to plan. I am afraid that Sunday is going to get here, and I will not have done anything. Today, I decided to get started. I went by the church to pick up the supplies, only to find that December's teacher still has the stuff. I have called her and left a message for her to call me back, but nothing yet........oh, dear! Sunday is also Leah's birthday. She will be eight. It is so hard to try to come up with a birthday gift so close after Christmas.

I have been trying to get my mind in gear to get back to reality by starting to make notes on the 2010 calendar. We have really been goofing off since the girls got out of school, and it is about to catch up with us! Allison is supposed to know all the state capitals when she goes back to school on the 5th. We really need to get started on that again!!! We were studying before the break, but she has not looked at them since and has probably forgotten the ones she knew. Leah brought home a list of school supplies at the beginning of break that she needs to bring back to school on the 5th. I really need to get that done.

I want to get Rachel's room reorganized soon to include a study/work area. I am making it my New Year's resolution to work really hard with her on her speech this year. She is still struggling to talk, and you can just tell she has so much she wants to say. Right now, she communicates with one word requests. Many times I have a hard time understanding it. The teacher and I have started thinking about using an assisted technology device that would talk for her. I am not sure if that would be a good idea or not. Hopefully it would help her communicate better, but I am afraid it would decrease her desire to talk to us. If anybody out there has any good ideas, I am listening!!!! And thanks F for the suggestion about Signing Time videos. We have a few, but they are just words. Like you, I am not sure how we would have gotten by without them. I did not know they had videos with phrases. I will certainly look into that, because Rachel has loved the videos and watched them for years.

The girls and I are going to go over to Tampa tomorrow to visit with my sister. The 31st is her birthday so we are going for that, but we are also going to take care of her girls while she works all day Friday. Allison and Leah are looking forward to hanging out with the cousins for a second time in a week! Since my sister works at a zoo, we can get in free, so maybe we will do that for New Years Day......that is what we did last year, too. I think Mike is going to head up to Palm Coast to visit with his dad while the girls and I are at my sister's.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

We had a busy week leading up to Christmas. On Sunday the 20th Leah and I went to see the Nutcracker ballet. After the ballet, we met up with Mike, Allison and Rachel and the big girls went ice skating. Cocoa Village has an outdoor rink in the park along the river-the same park where we have our Buddy Walk-and the weather was chilly, so it was a great day to try it. The girls had a good time. Rachel is still too small for the skates, so she played on the playground nearby.

Monday, Rachel and I had to drive over to Orlando to see the ENT for a follow up after the tube insertion. The doctor said everything looked good and Rachel passed her hearing test this time! Yay! Funny thing is that since getting the tubes, she has been blasting her tunes on her little radio she got in October. I would figure she would be able to hear it better now! Go figure.

Tuesday I finally made it to the grocery store to stock up on supplies and after that I made one final trip to Walmart and Target. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally be done! I got home from shopping about 10:30pm and then sorted through all the Santa stuff. Mike and I were up until 1:30am! Uggghhh!

Wednesday the girls and I did some house cleaning-FINALLY-and then baked cookies. I was surprised that the girls pretty much did the cookies all by themselves. Rachel was not into it, so it was just the big girls. Thursday I started baking again for our Christmas Eve dinner. Leah was a big help with that, and it was fun to have her in the kitchen. After lunch, our company arrived. We went to church at 5:30pm and sat down to dinner about 7:00pm. I think Rachel was hungry, because she sat down at the table a good 20 minutes before it was done and just stayed...........waiting.

Christmas morning the girls were up at 7:00am and ready to check out their loot. They got lots of stuff and since it was off and on cloudy and rainy, I was glad that they did not have any outdoor toys this year. That is a first for us! Allison got a Netbook and guitar: Leah got a Lego pirate ship and Littlest Pet Shop; and Rachel got a Kidz Bop CD, a Tinkerbell game, and a Leapster toy that teaches how to write your abc's. She likes the CD the best.

This weekend we have been beyond lazy and have done nothing. My sister came over to visit for a little bit last night and her two girls are staying with us until Monday. Leah and Allison are LOVING that. The girls really love to be together, but they are hard to take when they are all together!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It Is Begining To Look A Lot Like Christmas.....In Some Ways

Over the last week I have managed to finish up most of my Christmas shopping, finish putting up the lights outdoors, finish putting the Christmas cards together, and finish wrapping presents. So, it is starting to look a lot like Christmas!

It is not starting to "feel" a lot like Christmas, though. It has been really hot here, with the temps in the 80s! Sunday we loaded up the kayaks and kids and went to the lagoon for a few hours. The weather was beautiful.
This week is the last week of school for the girls before the Christmas break. They are getting excited! They are already starting to check out mentally. Leah just totally checked out today and stayed home. She got up complaining of a sore throat and stomach ache. She put on a good show, so I let her stay home. By 9:00am she was up watching TV and playing Wii. She has been fine all day! I think I have been had!!!!! So, you know what is going to happen......she will complain again tomorrow, I will make her go to school and they will call me two hours later to tell me she threw up or is running a fever and I will look like the mean mommy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It Is That Time of Year........Again!

One would think that it would get easier as the kids get older, but one would be wrong! Lessons learned...........1) don't lay down in the grass, because apparently the bugs swarm about six inches from the ground; 2) don't shake Rachel's toy in the air to get her to smile, because then you shake the camera too; 3) no matter how hard you try, Rachel is not going to smile for the camera; and 4) the older the girls get the more they are going to complain about having to sit down and have their picture taken!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time Is Slipping Out Of My Hands

Okay, so I have not posted anything since before Thanksgiving! I have no idea where the time has gone! We went to Grandpa's for Thanksgiving. He lives just an hour and a half North of us, so it was a nice trip. Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving.

Allison makes brownies.

Rachel hangs out with Mildred......and surprisingly, Mildred seems to like it.
Grandpa enjoys the weather.
Leah takes over Grandpa's chair!

We came home from Grandpa's on Friday, and my sister came over with her girls for a short visit. Allison and Leah were so excited to get to see their cousins!!! Saturday, Grandpa and Lou came down to visit us. They spent Saturday with us and headed to the airport Sunday morning to get Lou back to Vermont. Saturday evening we (me and Leah) put up our Christmas tree. Leah was a great helper, hanging around for most of the hard work. Allison and Rachel came in at the end and helped hang ornaments. Putting up a tree goes so much faster when you have three little people to eagerly (fight over) hang all the ornaments.

Where was all this help when I was putting the tree together and stringing the lights?
Rachel had a great time helping this year.
Today, Rachel and I were up before dawn to drive over to Orlando for surgery. Rachel had tubes placed in both ears. We had to be at the hospital at 6:15am and we are an hour and a half away!! Rachel did great and we were home by noon!! Kids are so tough! Now she is in the living room dancing to the music on one of her favorite movies. The doctor said to get her to rest today, and I figured that would be easy. I assumed I would have her sleeping on the couch all afternoon, but apparently she is feeling better with every passing minute. She is wanting to drink and eat, but the doc said to take it easy until dinner tonight, so all she has had is Gatorade and crackers. She wants milk and pasta with cheese!

Rachel watching a movie just before going into surgery this morning.

Here is Rachel post op. She looks a little tired, but doesn't seem any worse for wear.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Did You Know..............

Below is a short video of Leah reading a Thanksgiving fact at her Thanksgiving party at school today.

Leah poses with her golden pineapple/turkey center piece. It is really cute, but what a waste of a good pineapple! Fortunately, Publix had them $2 off! There are two pictures here because Leah wanted to make sure that you could see both sides.... : )

Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!! We are going up to Palm Coast tomorrow to visit with Grandpa over the Thanksgiving holiday. My sister might come over here on Friday with her girls for a little visit too. It is hard to believe it is Thanksgiving, because it was 80 degrees here today.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Year Older

Today I turn 46!!!! My younger sister proceeded to remind me that I am now on the slippery slide to 50.......thanks, Jane! I am celebrating a birthday my mother never got to celebrate. I realized a few months ago that I was finally older than Mom lived to be, but it is now official. She never made it to 46. It is a strange feeling to be older than you ever knew your mother to be.

So far I have spent my day outside. First, I had to go to school and spray paint pineapples. Yes, pineapples. Leah's class will be doing a craft tomorrow at their Thanksgiving party that involves gold pineapples. Fortunately, that did not take too long, and I got back home and did some yard work. I had been working on the flower beds for the last two weekends pulling out some ornamental grass that was taking over and planting some small shrubs in its place. Well, two trips to Home Depot and 27 bags of mulch later, I can pretty much say I am done. There are just a few more little things I want to do. Below are some before and after pictures of the front walk.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Day.....Another Field Trip

I am glad to have this week behind us. It was fun, but busy, and I am tired. If you remember from the last post, Rachel had a field trip on Monday. Tuesday Rachel and I had our bimonthly trek to Orlando for speech. Rachel was not in a good mood that afternoon and was not very compliant with the therapist, but the therapist gave us some new words to work on at home. Thursday, Allison had a field trip. Her class went to a nearby education center. They learned all about the water cycle and discussed the sea grass in the nearby lagoon. They had to play investigators and try to solve the mystery of the disappearing sea grass. Below are some pictures of Allison's trip, including the required souvenirs (thank goodness for spell check, now if I just had grammer check!).

Today Rachel's class had a Thankful Feast. I had no idea what that was supposed to be and did not have time to eat before I went. The teacher had put together a cute slide show of all the kids. We ate lunch with the kids and parents in the classroom and watched the slide show. It was a nice little visit. After the feast I HAD to go to the grocery store, and I was really glad I didn't have to go hungry. I was very thankful that the teacher really meant "feast." I spend enough money at the grocery store anyway. I can just count on an extra $15 on the tab if I go hungry and the $15 is never spent on healthy food either!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

The weather here in Florida has been beautiful! Saturday the girls had a Fall Festival at their school. I had to be there to volunteer from 2:30pm to 4:00pm. The weather was perfect, and it was nice to have an excuse to sit outside! Below is a picture (albeit a blurry picture) of the girls riding the little "train" at the festival-Allison and Rachel are together and you can see Leah in the back in the blue shirt....I have no idea who the little girl in the front is, but she sure seems to be having a great time! Rachel liked that. The big girls had a blast playing in this huge blowup ball they were calling the hamster ball. You could crawl into the ball and run inside it....the kids looked just like a hamster running in those little plastic balls. They loved it, and the grownups got a good laugh watching!

Today Rachel's class had a field trip to Publix. I had no idea until the girls started school that you could go to a grocery store for a field trip! Allison did it in Minnesota, and I thought they did that because there was really no where else to go in Duluth. I was really surprised to get down her to Florida and have more trips to grocery stores. I have now been on the Publix field trip three times! It was somewhat interesting the first time, but it is starting to wear thin now. Rachel was not too interested in the goings on, but she did keep her little hair net on this time. On her first trip to Publix, I had to put the hair net back on too many times to count. Hair nets and children with sensory issues do not go together!

When the kids got back from their field trip, they got to play on the playground for a while. Rachel was glad to get back to the school and swing. She spent most of her time on this swing. Out of all the swings on the playground, the teacher tells me that she will only swing on this one. After watching her on the playground, I now know how Rachel manages to carry home a handful of mulch from school each day! She loves to drag her feet as she swings on her tummy.

Unfortunately, this is going to be another busy week. Tomorrow, Rachel and I have to go to Orlando for speech, Thursday I have a field trip to the beach with Allison, and Friday is a Thanksgiving feast with Rachel at her school. At least we are running around in gorgeous weather!! I love the cooler days of "winter."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thank Goodness For A Slower Week

I am glad that last week is over. It was busy. Tuesday I kept Rachel home from school to take her to Orlando for a check up with the ENT and audiology and her speech therapy. Before we could head to Orlando, we had to run Leah and her tortoise to school for show and tell. Leah was student of the week, and it was her day to bring in five things that tell about her. I took the girls to school, went to Leah's room for about 20 minutes, and then Rachel and I headed back to the house to return the tortoise to his home. Then we headed to Orlando. At the ENT appointment, the doctor told me that Rachel had fluid in her ears and that her hearing is not 100% so he wants to put in tubes....yuck!! I thought we were going to make it without having to do tubes since Rachel didn't have them when she was smaller. We will be doing that December 8th, and it will make for several visits over to Orlando. I am not looking forward to that. At least the surgery is quick and does not have a painful recovery like the tonsillectomy.

After the ENT we played on a playground for about an hour, ate lunch in the car with Rachel watching movies and me working on my Sunday school lesson, and then headed over to the speech therapist. The offices are only seven miles apart, and I was able to work the appointments on the same day, so that was convenient! The therapist that we have been seeing, told us that she would be leaving the practice in January....uugghh! We really like her. We were seeing the therapist that founded the group, but one day had to reschedule with this therapist and found Rachel really worked better with her. We have also seen a third therapist at the office that does not work well with Rachel, so I am not sure what we are going to be doing in the future.

Wednesday, Leah was home with a fever. No other symptoms really, so she was back at school again in Thursday, thank goodness. Not sure if that was a good thing to have her back so quickly, because it meant I had to go to two lunches at school. It was the school's annual Thanksgiving lunch, and they invite all the parents to attend. Leah and Allison both still want me to come, which is great, but I hate sitting through lunch in the cafeteria with what seems like 100,000 kids! From the school I had to run to the grocery store. I had put that off as long as I possibly could. I did make it home with about 10 minutes to spare before the girls got home! As soon as the girls got home and ate a snack, it was time to take Rachel to horse back riding. The weather was very pleasant and breezy. Hopefully, the really hot weather is gone for the winter.......I will keep my fingers crossed for that!

Friday I spent the day trying to catch up with stuff around the house. I just hate house work. The place starts getting dirty before I even get done! Saturday had us back at gymnastics. I swear that the weeks are just four day long now. Every time I turn around we are having to go to gymnastics. Rachel is loving it, but it's a 20 mile drive. I wish it were closer. Mike had to leave Saturday morning and fly down to the Keys for some airshow/work thing, so the girls and I just hung out around the house Saturday afternoon. I watched the Alabama football game alone and kept texting Mike with the score because he did not have a way to watch the game.

Sunday was another nice day. It was warm, but not hot, so Rachel and I spent the afternoon, walking and biking around the neighborhood. Rachel just loves to walk. Unfortunately an uneven sidewalk tripped her up and she scrapped both knees, but she kept right on going. I finally walked too far for her and ended up carrying her for a the last little bit of the walk. I had no idea that I could wear her out. She usually is fussing when I am done that she wants to walk more!

Below are the school pictures for the big girls. Rachel's picture came earlier and is posted in an earlier post.
Leah Second Grade. Allison 5th Grade.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall In Florida

I know that most of the time I am complaining about how warm it is and how I miss the change of seasons down here in Florida, but it is not all bad. Yesterday was a beautiful day, still hot, but beautiful. After church we loaded up the kayaks and headed out to the lagoon for a little while. Since we did not head out until about 2:30pm, it was not too hot (and being on the water helps a lot too). It may be warm here year round, but it is beautiful here.

The kids wanted to swim, but it just isn't deep enough in most places. Here they waded around for a little bit.
This is a canal in one of the neighborhoods on the lagoon. Lots of big boats. These are the kinds of places to find the manatee. Finally, at the end of the trip, we came across one. He got really close to the boat. It was very cool! No pictures of that though.
Okay, this is fall color in Florida. I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but in the fall, the tips of the branches turn. I am not sure it is leaves or blooms. It looks like leaves, but not like the leaves on the tree that stay green. Anyway, at some point the tree will lose it's leaves for a few weeks and then it buds out green again. Not quite the colors of New England, but at least it is seasonal! Mike just bought the second kayak last week and was thinking he should have gotten another oar, because we only had three oars. Well, Leah is not much of a paddler so we did not give her one. After about 10 minutes in the boat she decided she wanted to sit at the very front of the boat. When Allison saw that, she wanted to sit at the front of her boat too. Needless to say, she never got back to paddling. Turns out that instead of being one paddle to short, we had one extra paddle. Looks like before long, Rachel will be a paddler though.
The end of a fun day. Here the girls hang out in their favorite spots on the boat and try to collect mangrove seeds. They were seeing who could collect the most.

Halloween Has Come And Gone.....

It looks like we are all well again. Hope that will last for a while. Rachel finally made it back to school last week. It turns out that three of the four students in her class were out the same week she was with the same symptoms. Fortunately all the little one were well and back at school last week, and everyone was in attendance for the Halloween party on Friday. All the kindergarten classes dressed up like scarecrows and paraded through the halls of the school. The older students line the halls and cheer the kindergartners as they march by. Everyone seemed to have a good time. After the parade, the kindergarten classes had their Halloween parties. Below are some pictures of Rachel in her scarecrow costume and at her party. She enjoyed the Cheetos at the party, but was not so keen on all the attention her little friend was giving her........he was distracting her from her food!

Friday we jumped into the holiday mode and carved pumpkins. Due to the heat and humidity, you cannot carve the pumpkins any earlier, because they don't last long. I had to put them in the trash today because they were already yucky! Gotta love fall in Florida. Below are some pictures of the girls and their pumpkins. Don't let the pictures fool you.....I had to do most of the work. The girls were eager to get started, but it did not take long for them to get bored with it and ask me to do it. At least they picked out the faces that they wanted. Rachel was not interested at all. She decided she would rather go up stairs and listen to her music while we did the carving.

Saturday, the big day was finally here! Leah REALLY loves Halloween and was so excited to finally have it here. They tried to occupy their time with playing outside, but kept coming in complaining of being bored and asking how much longer before they could get dressed up in their costumes. I made them stay inside after they came in around 4:30pm. It was so hot out, I figured it would do them some good to come in and rest a little and cool off before they had to head out trick or treating. Finally the time was upon us and they girls were able to put on their costumes. I was sooooo happy that the girls had costumes that required very little work this year-no makeup, no hair paint, no wigs. They were able to get dressed without my assistance! Well, Rachel needed assistance.......and some convincing. She dressed, or more accurately, I dressed her up as Snow White. It was an old costume of Allison's but still in perfect condition. As soon as I got it on her, she started saying "Off." I was not sure I was going to be able to keep her in it to go trick or treating, but she quickly got used to it and seemed to understand that wearing the costume meant getting to go out with the big girls. She even kept the little headband on, which really surprised me. Not only did she stay in her costume, but she walked the whole neighborhood with the big girls. Usually we do half of the neighborhood, we stop by the house and drop Rachel off and then finish off the rest. This time Rachel would have none of that, and she made it all the way through. She had a GREAT time!