Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Latter Days

I couldn't resist taking this quick pic before sacrament meeting started. The last three weeks or so we've really focused on trying to keep the Sabbath Day holy better, particularly during the sacrament. We've come a looooong ways from how bad it used to be but we still struggle. So we started working on a few other things to increase reverence and to emphasize the sacredness of the ordinances to them (no more snacks/treats/food at all, only books/the Friend to look at, and they have to sit on their bums on the bench). We've also focused on preparing for the actual sacrament beforehand at home, the major thing being feeding them a good lunch (so they aren't whining for food) and get ready earlier so we're not rushed and get to church early. All common sense but somehow we weren't doing very well with it. 
This came about from a training from the Apostles that was given in an extended ward council. The number one thing that the Apostles said to focus on for members of the church worldwide to strengthen testimonies and prevent people from leaving is to focus on Sabbath Day worship- I was shocked to hear that since I can think of a ton of other things I would've picked before that one. It really impacted me and TJ and gave us the determination to do and be better and to teach our kids.
I'm actually shocked to say we saw an immediate improvement the Sunday we decided to try harder. Since then each Sunday seriously has been better and a big change in the boys. I'm humbled and realize how big of impact me and TJ's behavior and attitude influence them. We're going to keep working on it, especially if it's direct teachings from the prophet and apostles. 
With all the worldly focus on same-sex attraction equality and supreme court decision, I've realized it's only made me more determined and focused on literally following exactly what the prophet says and teaches. That's our only safeguard in this life with all the chaos around us. And how blessed we are to have a prophet!! I've probably taken that fact for granted my whole life but now that I'm a mom needing to raise kids in a world where values are drastically moving farther and farther from the gospel it's a huge deal to me. 
Today I saw a gay pride shirt on the little boys section of Old Navy- it hit me so hard and for a second it almost made me sick to my stomach about how hard this is to raise children in today's world. But then I remember this quote from Elder Holland that I somehow ran across. It's stuck with me all day: 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's latest Facebook post is reassuring and full of positivity. We love and sustain Elder Holland!
"What a terrific time to be alive!
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most certain, the most secure, the most reliable, and the most rewarding truth on earth and in heaven, in time and in eternity. Nothing—not anything, not anyone, not any influence—will keep this Church from fulfilling its mission and realizing its destiny declared from before the foundation of the world. Ours is that fail-safe, inexorable, indestructible dispensation of the fulness of the gospel. There is no need to be afraid or tentative about the future.
Unlike every other era before us, this dispensation will not experience an institutional apostasy; it will not see a loss of priesthood keys; it will not suffer a cessation of revelation from the voice of Almighty God. Individuals will apostatize or turn a deaf ear to heaven, but never again will the dispensation collectively do so. What a secure thought! What a day in which to live!
If there are some bumps along the way while waiting to see every promise kept and every prophecy fulfilled, so be it. If you haven’t noticed, I am bullish about the latter days. In nothing could I have more faith than I have in God the Eternal Father, in Jesus Christ His Son, in Their redeeming gospel, and in their divinely-guided Church. Believe. Rise up. Be faithful. And make the most of the remarkable day in which we live!"
(For the full transcript of his address, please visit http://tinyurl.com/krstbel)

It's true- there is no need to be afraid!! We are so blessed and he's right- Rise Up! Be faithful! We can do this!! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ty's Graduation

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for us all- Ty graduated from Giant Steps autism preschool!! Bitter because we are sad to leave all the people we've come to love at Giant Steps who have done so much for us and sweet because Ty graduated from all autism services (except for speech which he'll get through the school district next year but lots of neurotypical kids get speech too)!!! After over 3,000 hours of ABA therapy, attending, social groups, floor play, etc. and countless hours of driving to and from school and therapy, we've finally come to this point! 
Ty started school in Sept. 2012 at 2 1/2 years old and hasn't ever stopped going 28+ hours a week- a part time job! He's worked so hard and even went to school during the summers. I don't know very many toddlers/young kids that have worked as hard as he has and been to so much school. Amazingly though, he never once didn't want to go or complained about being gone so much. I, of course, sometimes felt guilty about sending him to so much school so young but now I KNOW it was what he needed and has made all the difference in the world. We've also been SO blessed that he received such amazing services. I can honestly say he couldn't have gotten any better services in this entire state of Utah- he got exactly what he needed and the VERY best and we didn't pay a dime. How incredible is that?? Heavenly Father led us to exactly what we needed and somehow things all worked out. It's not to say there wasn't an immense amount of prayer, faith, fasting, research and hard work involved or that all our problems are solved and Ty is "cured"- no such thing. But he's learned to overcome some issues, tolerate others and deal with the things he struggles with. If he's overly tired or hungry, I'm reminded that yes, he does have autism :) But it's starting to be less apparent when he's in a group full of kids his age. So far at T-ball we haven't had one single tear, nothing even close to a meltdown or any type of abnormal behavior. No one on his team even knows he's autistic. How crazy is that?? This kiddo has come so far these past three years!! 
If only I could've had a little glance into the future back when we got that official diagnosis at 2.5 years. My heart would've been calmed and I would've gotten more sleep at night. :) But this is life, right? Building that faith, knowing that Heavenly Father is going to help us through no matter what and somehow, all will work out for our best, is what life is all about.
Now onto kindergarten!!! 
We've decided to do a private school (too much $$$$!) but I felt that this is what he needs for our last year in Utah. Every single step of the way, when deciding where Ty should go and what therapies to do, it's always come down to how I felt- always. Even when it wasn't logical or seemed like a slim chance he could get in to where I felt he needed to go, if I felt that was right then somehow it worked out for the best. Words could never explain it. And TJ has been so wonderful in just putting complete trust in me. So I've come to rely on those feelings and this next step in mainstreaming to private kindergarten feels best. It's Kids Village, the same school that Levi has gone to in Orem. They are both SOOOO excited to go to the same school. There will be only 12 kids in Ty's morning class and it's an accelerated kindergarten class, which I'm pretty sure will be perfect for him since he's already reading complete books and doing simple addition and subtraction. One of his best friends from Bridges will be going there too and they have been SO welcoming to Ty. Not one single hesitation once they learned he came with a diagnosis and history. Total acceptance and excitement for him to come. The owner has an autistic son and understands so well. I just feel so lucky we get to go there and Ty cannot wait for August. 
I am a little concerned about all the time we'll have now since Ty has been so used to structure, routine and a full day of school. Now he'll go from 9 am-noon. But next year he'll have speech, start piano, soccer and basketball to fill up our afternoons. We also have implemented a job chart/routine at home that is working amazingly well and has led to less screen time since they have to earn it. I'm hopefully that next year we'll settle into our new routine and that he'll do well!! Fingers crossed!!

Well, it seems crazy that we're ending this chapter and starting a brand new one but if he can go forward with the same zeal and determination as he has, he'll do awesome!! :)

They sang about about 6 songs that were super cute with hand actions and movements. Ty had been practicing at home so he was ready! It's funny- I'd always hear him in the back of the car or playing with toys while singing some of his graduation songs. :)

Ty had 9 kids graduating from his class in Saratoga Springs that we've gotten to know so well- Hunter, Katie, Colton, Eveah, Xander, Robbie, Taye, and Jace. There are 5 Giant Steps classes across Utah County and about 12 kids in each of them. Ty was #120 when I put him on the waiting list in October 2012. I prayed SO hard for one entire year that he would get into GS. I just knew he needed to go there so bad!! They initially told me there wasn't room for him and he just barely missed the cut off. I was devastated and was scrambling to find something else since I had relied on him getting in for so long. But about a month later Janeen called and said there was one spot that suddenly opened and Ty got in!!!! I was SOOOO happy and knew our prayers had been answered. And I've been so grateful ever since. 

This guy was Commissioner Lee, some high up official that advocates lots of money for GS since it costs thousands and thousands of dollars for each kid to go there for a year and it's run by through government funding. Ty was called out to help hold the card and give it to him :)

Aunt Ginger and Ruth were so supportive and sweet to come watch Ty even though they have been watching Dezi's 5 boys for the last few days since she's at scout camp. But Ty was so happy to have all his cousins there and they even brought balloons!!

We just love Miss Ann!

My grandparents drove all the way down to come watch too- they're always so supportive of us and it's nice having them there!

Ty's favorite- Mr Nick!!!

We just love all our teachers!!

It was very nice- after the graduation they provided Brick Oven pizza and snow cones for everyone at the park! The boys loved it and it was a great day!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Last Day of Preschool

These boys live for eating popsicles outside. And Shaddie has to be right there with them. 

The boys will play together for hours and it's soooo nice when Shad is sleeping because I can totally work on my things and they are just playing together so well. This was when they were playing school and Ty was the teacher, reading a book to Levi. They didn't notice me watching- so funny to hear them play!

I was talking to Ty's teachers for a few minutes when I was picking Ty up from school last week and came back to Shad having a bloody nose and the police man out of his car seat and passed out on the floor of the van, ha. 

For the past year I've been slowing work on getting us completely water storage prepared. Last week one of my final things to get was a filtration bucket and I went to pick it up from a guy in Saratoga Springs who put it together for me. They lived right on the shore of Utah Lake so Levi and I went to check out the docks. So crazy how big it is and it's just a lake! I'm definitely still an AZ girl- mesmerized by bodies of water :)

A common sight- the 3 boys playing on the trampoline, often in their underwear. I'm waiting for the day that Shad will fall off and break his arm!! 

We are right in the middle of weaning from the soft sippy cup to a hard top one. Shad loves to bite the nipple part and make the hole bigger so the milk just dumps out and makes a huge mess. He is SO particular about his sippies!!! It's awful!!

Ty's last day of Giant Steps Preschool was June 25th, 2015! Can't believe the year is over- we were so lucky and blessed to be in Miss Katie's classroom and apart of the program!! We'll miss it so much!

He had some amazing teachers- Courtney, Nick, Ann, Brooke, Kaitlin and of course, Miss Katie!

I opened Levi's summer workbook that we do two pages out of daily and Ty had filled this out- I was quite impressed!! His school had him memorize our address and my phone number! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Father's Day

Father's Day was simple but great this year. The boys had so much fun picking out new sunglasses for TJ at Costco and kept saying things like, "Dad, there's nothing hiding under this blanket!" and "We're just acting normal!" haha. We had biscuits and gravy for breakfast and then went to Guy and Ruth's new house for dinner that night. They recently moved to a new house that has some land so it was fun to see it all and hear their plans for it. 

My cousin, Sheila and her husband Kyle are moving to Montana so it was fun to get together to say goodbye and see little Clair. Ty really liked holding her and they kept saying, "she's a girl because she has a bow."

These boys literally do everything together....they thought it was SO cool they could both go at the SAME TIME!

Trying to get a Father's Day picture with Grandpa Guy was pretty much futile! Guess that's what 1 pm church does to three grumpy kids. 

Ty was so excited to match Shaddie :)

Shaddie doesn't watch any movies or shows yet- has zero interest and the attention span of a goldfish- but lately he's been sitting there pretending to watch for a few seconds just because the other boys are doing it. 

My view everyday at the gym when I'm waiting for my turn to come get the boys. Shaddie always sees me first and runs and grabs the other boys. It's entertaining to watch him communicate that mom's here!!

Yesterday we went to Lindon Pool, one of our favorite pools to go to since it's so kid friendly. The boys loved the lazy river- we would just go around over and over. It's so nice this year that Shad is kinda afraid of the water and sticks right to me. I just got to sit on the edge and watch the older boys play in the pirate pool with Shaddie right beside me. It was actually pretty relaxing and the perfect weather. The only downside is that Levi always gets so cold so fast even on blazing hot days- drives me crazy. Hopefully he fattens up one of these days.

I'm surprised by how much more comfortable Ty has gotten with the water this past year. He now loves standing under the giant buckets that fill up and dump water over when they get full- he used to HATE those. I only have him wear the floaties just when I'm by myself- he's pretty safe in the shallow water and is smart about it. He's also very conscientious about the lifeguards- he calls them the policemen of the swimming pool. :)

He was so cold so I had him lay down on the hot cement- I know AZ people are thinking I'm crazy but this is Utah; the cement is nice and warm. :) Before I knew it, he fell asleep like this. Once again, my child that can sleep anywhere.