Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas! And blessings in the New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Neighborhood Family Christmas Party

Last year people in our neighborhood got together and we had a Christmas party. It was busy, LOUD, and a bit overwhelming. But the kids all had fun.

This year I happened to need to make a reservation at the Clubhouse for something and while there I learned there were only 2 more available days left in the month of December... so I grabbed one of the dates. Then I told my next door neighbor about it. Did we want to do a Christmas party again for the neighborhood kids? She said yes. Many others said yes.

So the Christmas Party was planned. I really didn't plan anything -- I was busy with the AFIT Holiday Ball and then when my grandfather passed away I totally missed the big decisions about the party.

We all agreed on the children doing a book exchange. Names were drawn and each child picked a book the other child would like.

The actual party was fun! A Christmas story was read to the kids.

There were cookies to decorate and eat.

And of course there were the gifts to open.
It seemed like all the children had a great time. I'm glad we could participate!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Diet Experiments

Back in the summer we made the decision to try some different "diets" for the children (mostly for William) to see if it had any impact on behavior, learning, speech, digestion... anything really.

First we started with Gluten free. I'd done research, talked with other parents, read up on message boards and was aware of timelines and probable outcomes. Some people said results should be seen in 4 weeks... others said 6 weeks. We went 7 weeks. Both of us were vigilant to see if any changes happened.

It sucked. Going gluten free is hard. And the kids had a difficult time with the transition. In the end we didn't see any change. The only real difference was that Will's oral sensory seeking increased but then in plateaued and dropped off.

Our next experiment was going completely casein free. That, I think, was even more difficult. The kids were on that diet for 5 weeks. At first we were going with mostly soy replacements but we believe Alanna and I were starting to have some negative effects. So the children were switched to Almond milk and I returned to dairy.

I should say that with both of these diets, Ryan and I didn't follow with the diets for ourselves completely. We were impacted by the changes though. Many of the common snacks were replaced by the appropriate ones for the kids... and my dinner recipes were altered to account for the special eating requirements.

Going casein free didn't really make a difference either. There was something we discovered -- a week or two after getting off gluten free and going casein free Will seemed to have gained weight. But in the end we summed it up that it probably happened because of all the carbs he had been denied before he was suddenly allowed to eat again. No other major weight or growth increases occurred during the casein free diet.

And after all the diet trials were over and the kids were allowed to eat regularly it seems Will is having a bit of a growth spurt. His oral sensory seeking behavior is still present, but he's not chewing holes in his clothes any more. He is doing amazing in school also. We did discover the crazy amount of apple juice the kids used to drink caused some changes in the children so we've cut that out. They still drink almond milk instead of regular and both like to drink more water now.

Overall I am glad that we tried out these diets. It was worth a shot. Nothing noticeable came from them but we can say that we did pursue them fully and took on appropriate time tables to see results.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Teacher/Therapist Gifts

This might turn into it's own tab eventually, but I thought I'd share some of the teacher, paraprofessional aide, and therapist gifts we put together for those who have such a big impact on my children's lives. I'll continue to add to this list as time goes on.

Christmas 2012 - "Healthy and Warm Winter Break" gift

  • Thirty One mini carry-all caddy
  • small box of tissues
  • Starbucks gift card
  • Bath & Body Works travel size lotion
  • Bath & Body Works travel size hand sanitizer
  • small box of chocolates
  • personal card from child

End of School Year 2013 - "Sunny and Happy Summer" gift
  • Gerber daisy plant
  • personal, hand made card from child
  • Cold Stone gift card

Start of School 2013 - "Quick Survival" gift

  • Pencil Box
  • travel tissues
  • travel hand sanitizer
  • chap stick
  • travel size Aleve
  • nail files
  • band aids
  • chocolate
  • personal card from child

Christmas 2013 - "Winter Goodies"

  • Thirty-One Mini Zipper Pouch
  • Lindor Truffles
  • travel tissues
  • Personal card from child

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Before Christmas is completely upon us I should write about Thanksgiving!

I was pretty much caught up on my blogging during the month of November... then Thanksgiving actually happened and I fell off the writing wagon yet again.

This year's Thanksgiving was, surprisingly, relaxing. We were invited over to a friend's home and we were happy to go... especially since I did not have to cook a turkey this year. It can be difficult not being "home" for a big holiday but I recently realized that it has been almost a decade since I've spent Thanksgiving with extended family. Our Thanksgivings are usually spent with local friends who are in the same situation we are -- far from home.

In the morning we took things easy and I did prepare a few dishes we would be bringing. Of course we also had the parade on for the Will and Lana to watch (what little bit they did choose to watch).

Then when it was time to get ready we made sure to have somewhat coordinating outfits because we were going to take a family photo to send out for Christmas cards. Originally I had set up a shoot date with a local photographer a couple weeks prior at one of the local parks, but when my grandfather passed away and I flew home for the funeral, I had to cancel. Once I came back it became so freakin' cold in Dayton that I didn't really want to spend a lot of time outside.

Anyway, we arrived at Allyssa and Josh's house and got the photos out of the way (in front of their nice fireplace) and the kids went off to play with the other kids. We all stood/sat around and socialized while finishing up the preparation for food. Some other friends, Bekah and Eddie, were there as well.

Everyone enjoyed an easy meal, conversation flowed, laughter. It was just nice.

After eating we transitioned out of the dining room so we could play a couple games. Well, a few of us did. Josh and Ryan just laid back and relaxed... the rest of us played Catchphrase and Headbands.

Before it got late we headed home to finish unwinding and get Will and Lana to bed. No Thanksgiving night shopping for me! But I did go out around 9 the next morning to pick up a few items.

That pretty much wraps up our Thanksgiving. It was easy. It was simple. It wasn't stressful.

I was and am thankful for my family and good Air Force friends.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

AFIT Holiday Ball 2013

It's finally over!

After planning since March on the AFIT Spouses board, the AFIT Holiday Ball took place and was a success!

It was a lot of work, long hours (especially nearing the end), and stressful putting everything together. But it all did come together! What a fun night!

The ball took place at the Club on base. We had it all decorated with center pieces the board members created. Each person left with a special etched glass. And my job was to make the programs for everybody at the tables.

Our table... I actually made that centerpiece
We also had a raffle with almost 30 prizes to be won by the end of the night. All the proceeds of those ticket sales were to be given to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in honor of the wife of the chancellor who passed away earlier this year. She was a lovely woman; so warm and friendly. She treated us all like family and we were all so sad to have her go.

The socialization was great. I made sure to sit at a table with friends but also with husbands whom Ryan would be comfortable to be with and have plenty to talk about. So we had a fellow masters physicist, a PhD physicist, and a nuclear engineer.
Rie Ann and Matt
Lindsay and Sam
Katie and Joel
Ryan and I looked great too!

It's fun to get dressed up every once in awhile.

When it came time to eat we were happy with how it worked out. Each table was dismissed by a Christmas song (no dreary table numbers being announced by the DJ). Guests just listened and chatted and when they heard their table song they headed to the buffet.

Then after food the announcements and recognitions took place. Board members were recognized. Some people spoke briefly. And finally we got to drawing the raffle winners.

Obligatory photos also occurred.

AFIT Spouses Board: Katie, Bekah, Shannon, Chelsea, Me, Jessica, Allyssa, Diana, Rie Ann, Lindsay
Husbands of the Spouses with the Chancellor (though Sam ducked out!)

Then came time for dancing. That was a blast! Most of us commented that it turned into a middle school party because a majority of the men stayed behind at the tables. It was obvious that all of our brilliant husbands did not feel they had the appropriate skill set to dance the night away... so the wives just got together and had a fun time. All the popular group dances were played (of course). It was a blast! A great way to celebrate the completion of such hard work and planning.

Me and Allyssa
Me and Stacey
On the dance floor

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mom's Visit

At the end of October my mom came out to visit with us. She had come out in March for Will's birthday party... but only for like 4 days and we were busy with party preparations that there wasn't much time for sight seeing or other fun things.

This time she came we got to do some fun stuff. I mean, she got to see my busy schedule (therapies, school, church) but she also helped with Halloween. You remember my disaster Halloween, right?

The Friday of her visit I was able to take her to the Creation Museum. I really, really enjoy that place! We went through all the exhibits and spent some time in the gift shop. Will and Lana were pretty squirrelly so it was definitely time to go outside.

It was cool to see the changes in the garden area from what it looked like in August to what it looked like in the fall. This time I was able to ride the camel and so did my mom!

Then, of course, we enjoyed being with the animals at the petting zoo.

On Saturday we headed out to Amish country. I had been wanting to go to Ohio's Amish country for quite some time and Ryan wasn't really that interested, so it was fun to go out and enjoy it with my mom and the kids.

It took us about 3 hours to get to our first stop - Roscoe Village. It's a restored 1830's canal town. We checked out the visitor's center and played in the children's area. After that we wandered a little bit down the street, chatted with the blacksmith, shopped at the little grocery store, and enjoyed the calm atmosphere.
The blacksmith's place... where Lana asked the man if he had a baby in his tummy.
Next was Hershberger Farm and Bakery in Millersburg.
We spent time looking at the puppies and browsing the shop. I chatted a little bit with one of the girls helping me with my purchase. Then we went to the barn and spent a LOT of time with the farm animals. We bought food and fed Big Ben (the biggest horse in Holmes County) as well as the cows, goats, sheep, and ducks. For some reason I always enjoy spending time with farm animals and the kids do too.
the kids holding adorable, cuddly, Havanese puppies
Mom feeding Big Ben. You can see Will and Lana looking at the chickens in the background.
this goat was so bossy for food he actually smacked me on the should with his hoof when my back was turned on him
there was actually a goat on the roof of the barn

We went in the store and bought some yummy food for sale. I picked up a pie, which we baked and cooked a couple days later.

Then we headed down the road and ended up at Guggisberg Cheese, home of the original Baby Swiss cheese. It was cute and quaint and, again, we purchased a few snacks. Across the street we ate a late lunch at the restaurant.

We did have one more stop we wanted to make... Lehman's (a huge hardware and appliance store that specializes in the more simple and traditional way of life) but unfortunately we were unable to find it.

On our drive we saw a lot of horses and buggies. It is fascinating to see all these people walking on the side of the road or riding in the buggies, regardless of the crummy weather. Will kept asking why they had to use horses, he couldn't grasp the idea that people would not be driving in cars.

We did pass through the main part of Berlin and boy was it busy! There were many places we passed by that I would love to check out. I told my mom I definitely had to come back there and spend more time enjoying the area. It is so beautiful and peaceful out there.

But it was time to head back. Something that sucks is that I had no signal on my phone... so I couldn't pull up my maps app. And the GPS was not in Ryan's car (remember, my van had broken down on Halloween). Oops! We took the longer scenic route back to I-70.

And wouldn't you know it, I run into another difficulty. Literally.

I'm driving down the highway, going about 75 mph in the right lane. The sun has not set yet. I see a huge hawk up on the hillside and sort of watch it as it alights and swoops down and goes up again. It is hunting something. I'm watching as it gets closer and closer to the road. And of course I think, "it's going to whip right back up as the car gets closer". These thoughts and observations are happening in split seconds. Then the big hawk is very, very close to the car and I realize it's not pulling up and I can't swerve out of the way.... BAM! It takes out the passenger side mirror.

It is gone. Absolutely gone!

All of us are fine. I couldn't pull over or anything so I kept driving and stopped at the next Rest Area where we survey the damage and photograph the missing mirror and bird poop now on the side windows.

After that we continue without incident back home.

On Sunday there was church and just general taking it easy. Then on Monday my mom left to return home to Washington.

Overall I say a fun visit. Of course it seemed to have flown by with everything we were doing. Now the kids talk about getting to see Grandma again at Christmas.

********Oh, and I will note that we did get our mirror replaced. $300 deducible and insurance had to still pay above that. Stupid bird!********