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