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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring Break!

My goal going in to spring break was to spend time with my family and relax as much as possible. I finished the work week with some terrible sinus junk, so I was relieved to turn off my alarm.  We did a mini stay-cation and went to Thanksgiving Point, visited my nieces, and checked out Antelope Island. 
Joseph playing with the dinosaur at the Museum of Ancient Life

Shae being silly :)
Spending time with my beautiful neices

Looking west from the north shore of Antelope Island

Shae found a tiny sand island

Looking east at the mountain from the north shore of Antelope Island
Checking out the bison statue

We had a fun week, but we ended with two of us on antibiotics :( Shae and I slept pretty much all day Friday. He's got strep and I have a sinus infection. He's getting his tonsils out in June!

Another awesome part of Spring Break was getting to watch General Conference. It just happened to be Easter Sunday, too. We spent each night reading about the last week of Jesus's life to remember why Easter is so important. Several of the talks in the conference sessions were great and I am excited to read them later!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Without Music, Life Would Be A Mistake" Friedrich Nietzsche

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." ~Victor Hugo
I recently saw a bumper sticker that has caused me some reflection.  It said "Musician: Driver has no cash."  At first, it made me chuckle. Then, I began to think, why are we so dedicated to our craft despite the small chance of financial stability? As I have had a week full of rehearsals and a wonderful concert, I don't know that words can adequately explain why I personally will dedicate so much time to participating in musical endeavors.  Nevertheless, I will give it a try.
This week, in rehearsal, we were playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony and there was a moment while rehearsing the 3rd movement that I got goosebumps on my arms. I felt the determination of the composer and the intensity of emotion all communicated perfectly.
Often, as a teenager, I would work through my emotions by playing the piano. I've never been one to be able to express my emotions, especially when lonely, sad, anxious, or depressed. Music has been an outlet for these emotions. I can remember spending an hour or two playing through all of the Mannheim Steamroller Interludes.
The most memorable experience occurred during my senior year at BYU.  I was learning the Poulenc Sonata for Clarinet and was having trouble getting the emotion just right for the 2nd movement. The composer used the French words "tristamente" to describe a deep sense of grieving and longing, I was given the suggestion to write words to the melody. So, I did. I wrote a letter to my maternal grandfather. He passed away a few months before I began playing the clarinet. The experience was actually a deeply emotional and spiritually moving one. I felt connected to a grandfather I never really got to know. Since that experience, I have felt a great pull to follow in his footsteps and find as many opportunities to perform as I can. 

So, to my fellow artists, dancers, and musicians, I know you understand. To those of you married to, or friends with, us crazy lot, thank you for putting up with our craziness.  Know this, we are more sane when we have our outlet.  I know that performing brings me sanity, energy, and a level of fulfillment that I do not feel in any other way. The great thing about music is that I know it can bring as much joy to those who are listening as it does to me when I am performing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

I've been reflecting lately on "Random Acts of Kindness." When we stop just long enough in our hectic lives to do a small act of kindness, great things may come. Maybe it's because I'm focusing on it, or maybe it's because the Lord knows I need it, but I've noticed more kindness lately.  Here's my ongoing list:

  • Someone sent me a Valentine's card in the mail with a gift certificate to 7-11.  She saw me there once with my family and she suggested it would be fun to take the kids out for slurpees.  We totally did and they LOVED it!
  • Jacob won a guessing contest and as soon as we get a sitter we can go to dinner and a movie using the gift cards he won! (I know, not a random act of kindness, but it's still awesome.)
  • A saw a co-worker today reassuring another co-worker today. Quietly and calmly, she took time to help another person through a difficult situation.  This particular co-worker is an excellent example to me of the importance of kindness.
  • EVERY time my son sees me - or any other adult he loves - in the hallway at school, I can expect a great hug! I wonder if he knows how awesome that is?
  • My lunchtime at work is always full of laughter.  I can always count on a couple of awesome ladies to supply some much-needed humor to help me re-charge. Today was especially helpful - I almost laughed soda out my nose! (Thanks, Peggy!)
Have you noticed acts of kindness lately?  Kid President has a great message about kindness that I think is totally awesome.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Looking Back: Autism Diagnosis

I blogged sporadically before, during, and after Joseph’s evaluations and eventual diagnosis of Autism/High Functioning Autism.  Here are my collected blog posts, unedited, from that time.  To the mom reading this: You are amazing.  You are the parent your child needs.  Intervention services will change everything.

9/8/08: Joseph's age: 2 years, 8 months
So, I'm sitting here, 40 weeks pregnant, getting ready to read an article about inner peace. Joseph is playing with his blocks as I start reading and all of a sudden, he walks over to me, looks me right in the face, and starts giggling for no apparent reason. It's the kind of giggle that you can't help but laugh along with because it's so darn cute and funny. I'm glad he knew I needed that!

2/20/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 2 months
Joseph is getting taller everyday. His doctor wanted us to have his speech and behavior "evaluated" because he screams at her every time we go. Now, Joseph has had a problem with screaming in the past, but we turned off the TV, and his screaming dramatically decreased. So, now he only has screaming fits when he is in a stressful situation - i.e. doctor's visits, tired, or hungry. I don't mind the doctor recommending this, but I am frustrated that she hasn't seen the calm side of him. Luckily, when the evaluation screener came to the house, she saw Joseph's apprehension to a new person (he screamed a little), but after 15-20 minutes, he totally warmed up to her and even showed her all his sign language and recited almost his entire vocabulary to her. So, we'll see what happens at the actual evaluation.

3/10/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 3 months
Joseph actually slept all night in his own bed and in his own room!!!!! I'm a little excited about that because he is 3 years old and this has never happened before! I'll try to get some pictures posted soon!

5/1/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 4 months
Joseph is doing very well with his reading and has 3 or 4 books that he likes to read to me and Jacob. We have a great occupational therapist that comes over every week or so and helps Joseph with some of his behavior issues. Sometimes, Joseph gets over-stimulated and stops using his words to communicate (i.e. screams and hits). I'm learning how to use different techniques to help him cope. Yesterday we started using a weighted vest for a little bit and it seemed to keep him calmer than usual. I have some sewing patterns to make my own since we are borrowing one from the school right now. I also might make him a weighted blanket so he can hopefully stay in his own bed all night. Joseph is also going to start preschool at the end of August after we get back from Utah. 
All of the things that have happened since we moved into our apartment really makes me feel that we were supposed to move when we did. The school district has done so much to help Joseph already. He has more testing to go through before we know exactly what the diagnosis is (Asperger's or PDD). I am truly grateful for all the wonderful teachers that are helping us. I was really starting to feel like I was just a bad mother who couldn't handle my 3 year-old, but now I know that I'm not a terrible mother. I can finally hope that things will be just fine.

5/29/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 5 months
Joseph is getting better with all the new strategies his occupational therapist has given us. He loves is velcro schedule. He also loves hanging from the pull-up bar when we put it up in his doorway. I want to get a swing to attach to it. It's neat to see how certain types of play actually help Joseph calm himself down. Not only is his behavior improving, but he is reading more everyday! He still has his moments and we are working on getting him to be better in Nursery at church, but I am thankful for what he has accomplished so far.

9/3/09: Joseph's age: 3 years, 8 months
September - Joseph started Pre-School!!!! (Okay, it was actually Aug 28). He takes the bus to and from school. His speech has already started improving and I am beginning to catch up with housework while he is away.

12/15/09: Joseph's age: 3 years, 11 months
Joseph is having a blast at pre-school and has learned A LOT! His social skills and behavior are greatly improved. He also recently started Occupational therapy to help him with some of his sensory issues. They have gotten him to feed himself peach mango applesauce, which is quite a feat. He is also going to start some extra speech therapy, too. Earlier today, I met with Joseph's "education team" at his school. We went over his goals and talked about how much progress he has made since starting in August. We are always amazed at his reading ability. He will be 4 in January and is reading at about a 2nd grade level. I did find out this morning that Joseph has an official educational diagnosis of Autism. We've basically known that for a while now, but had it confirmed by a school psychologist today. I am SO thankful for all of the early intervention he is getting.

1/2/2010: Joseph's age: 4 years
Joseph is continuing to make progress at therapy. He has some steps to eating that have helped and just started speech therapy to complement his occupational therapy. I'm sure when he starts pre-school again, he will make more progress. Having a normal schedule again only makes things better. He is turning 4 years old tomorrow!!! Happy Birthday Joseph!

11/30/2010: Joseph's age: 4 years, 11 months
Joseph - Is also growing (and constantly eating) - apparently this is a preview to the teenage years! He is making tons of progress and is now able to go to sunbeams classtime without mommy or daddy. We are working towards staying for all of sharing time. He recently participated in the primary presentation at church and read a scripture in front of the whole congregation! (He was so excited to hear his voice in the microphone). He is doing well at pre-school learning to play with the other kids. His reading is still amazing - I would guess maybe 2nd grade level. It's hard to believe he will be turning 5 in just about a month!

11/2012: Joseph's age: 6 years, 11 months
Joseph is in first grade and is completely mainstreamed.  He has made amazing progress and only goes to therapy once a week now.  He will be 7 in about a month!

Joseph's current age: 9 years, 1 month - A follow up post is in the works!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Anxiety's Like a Rocking Chair."

. . . "It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far." Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home
To anyone who has known me for a while, you know I'm an anxious person.  I've dealt with some level of anxiety from the time I was in high school. 
This morning, I attended a Relief Society women's meeting.  During the meeting, the speaker talked about what we should do when we are fearful or overwhelmed.  She talked about Mary and Martha in the New Testament.  Martha gets a bit of a bad rep for her words, but I think we are often like Martha. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." We are invited to remember the Lord always, but we distract ourselves with to-do lists and sometimes complain that we feel alone in our struggle. The Savior told Martha: "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful."  It was a wonderful reminder to me that my worries are known and recognized by a loving Heavenly Father and that He asks me to remember to prioritize the gospel in my life.  The speaker went on to say that not only are our worries known, but that we can be supported through our worries by relying on the teachings of the gospel.  We all have moments when we feel like we are sinking, but if we let faith replace our fear, we will be able to keep going. Sometimes, part of that answer is getting extra help through therapy, counseling, and medication. Nobody should feel ashamed for needing this help, either. It's another blessing from our Heavenly Father to assist us in functioning at our potential so that we can serve others, too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Coworkers Are Better Than Yours

I found this picture from June 2014.  I have the best co-workers - those in the picture and those that aren't.

Sharing on Facebook

I love to keep in touch with family and friends on Facebook.  As a military child, I've moved a lot, so it's quite a treat to keep in touch.  I used to think that Facebook was a virtual doldrums, with no actual positive aspects.  While it certainly has that potential, when you have self-control and a bit of foresight, you can make Facebook a great, positive thing in your life. You can maintain connections with important people and #sharegoodness with others.  People are even using Facebook to help others learn more about the gospel.
I used to think, "I am so glad Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were not around when I was a teenager!"  Mostly, I think that because of the choices I made in high school and the choices of some of my friends that put me in some interesting situations.  Then, I wondered if my choices would have been the same if I knew there was a possibility of my parents seeing it!  I am sure that if my high-school self was Facebook friends with my mom, young women leaders, aunts and uncles, I would have altered a few of my choices.  Maybe I would have been able to stay in touch with friends from Youth Conference and Girls' Camp.  Maybe I would have been excited to share and pin quotes from General Conference meetings at church. Maybe Social Media would have been a positive influence?  I know I am trying to make Social Media a positive part of my life now. So, as my children continue to grow, I hope I can show them how to be an uplifting member of the Social Media community.  It's important to be aware of the pitfalls of technology and #fightthenewdrug .  
So, what do you think of Social Media?  I used it today to share with my friends and family the latest school project that Joseph has been working on.  He finished his model of the planet Uranus.  Yay for 3rd Grade Core Knowledge

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mark Twain

Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."
Jacob and I have been contemplating this quote as we have made big career decisions lately.  Jacob has discovered a career path that combines his ability to connect with others and his love for technology.  I have been at a crossroads of sorts where I need to decide between pursuing a musical future in education or an administrative one.  As I have spent time reflecting on these decisions, I am reminded of our most important role - our family role.  I am a daughter of God, a wife, and a mother.  These roles are why I was born.  I was born to be Jacob's wife, Joseph and Shae's mom, but also I was born to teach.  I was born to be a musician.  It is important to remember why we were born, but remember that there is always more than one reason!

A Return to Blogging

Yes, I fully realize that my previous blog post, over two years ago, lamented the fact that I had neglected my blog, so this may come across as an empty promise.  Recently, I have felt the pull to start blogging as a sort of journal.  So, here are the highlights of our family's life since November 2012.
December 2012 - I graduated Summa cum laude from Peru State College.  Shortly after, I severely sprained my ankle when I slipped on some black ice in a Wal-mart parking lot.  I was off my feet just long enough for my paperwork for my teaching license to be processed.
January 2013 - Joseph turned 7!  I began substitute teaching in Bellevue and Omaha and furiously submitting job applications.
February 2013 - Jacob had a birthday.  I kept substituting and applying.  I also planned to fly to Utah to attend a teaching career fair at BYU.
March 2013 - I flew to Utah and interviewed at Good Foundations Academy and interviewed with 4 other districts at the BYU career fair.  I stayed with Ashley and Cally Cason and was able to look at a few rental possibilities if my interviews were successful. I also had surgery to correct some abnormalities with my ovary.
April 2013 - Still applying for jobs, Jacob and I went to the temple.  I felt really optimistic that GFA would offer me a job, but we hadn't heard anything.  After attending the temple, we both felt that a job would be offered.  When we got home, I had received an e-mail that I had in fact, NOT been offered a position, but I was next on the list if anyone decided not to return.  I was devastated, but the witness I received in the temple carried me.  Two weeks later, I was offered a position at GFA to teach 3rd Grade!  Of course, I accepted!
May 2013 - We started making preparations to move and I applied to teach Summer School at Chandler View Elementary.  The principal offered me a position! Joseph finished 1st Grade at Wake Robin.
June 2013 - I taught summer school for 4 weeks and had a blast.  The principal wanted me to interview for a full-time position in the fall, but I had already signed my contract to teach in Utah. Josh and Laura had a baby boy!  I was so lucky to be able to see him at the hospital shortly after he was born.

July 2013 - We said goodbye to everyone in Bellevue and packed up our Budget truck.  The missionaries in our ward were so helpful.  One of the Elders had worked at FedEx and he fit all of our stuff in the truck like a tetris expert.  We started calling him Elder Tetris.  The Carey family also helped a ton!  I am grateful we were able to leave on good terms.  This move was so different from the move to Virginia.  I cried a lot when we moved to Virginia.  I cried a little for this move because I knew it was where we were supposed to go. One of the first places we visited was Temple Square. My parents came to Utah shortly after we arrived and we had a great visit!

August 2013 - We settled in to our new place and quickly became fast friends (again for Jacob) with Beth and Shae Cason and often hung out.  It was great to have immediate friends!  I started teaching towards the end of the month.  I was immediately impressed with all of my colleagues and loved the culture in the school.
September 2013 -  Shae turned 5! Teaching my first year while having Joseph at school proved to be too challenging, so we decided to pull Joseph out and try homeschooling.  It was difficult, but necessary.  A week later, I was in a car accident. :(
October 2013 - Jacob had some major issues with his medications and ended up in the ER.  It took a few weeks to get back on track, but he did lose his job because of it.
November 2013 - THANKSGIVING!
December 2013 - We had our first Christmas in Utah and it was a great time thanks to the generosity of friends.
January 2014 - Happy New Year!  Teaching is not easy! Joseph turned 8 and was baptized!  My parents came out from Nebraska and Pam's girls came up from Salt Lake, too.  It was a lovely time.  Beth gave a great talk about the Holy Ghost and gave Joseph a blanket.  Jacob baptized Joseph and my dad confirmed him.

February 2014 - Joseph and Shae were officially accepted as students at GFA and I was looking forward to having them at school with me in the fall. I successfully auditioned for the Chamber Orchestra Ogden!
March 2014-May 2014 - Life goes on . . .

June 2014 - I finished my first year of teaching and I was exhausted!
July 2014 - On a total whim, we looked at a townhome in Pleasant View.  We totally fell in love and they had an opening for the end of the month!  We moved!  My parents and Pam's family came to visit just before and after we had moved and celebrated birthdays.  We had all of my nieces over, too, and the boys loved seeing them! Jacob decided to begin attending the LDS Business College and complete a new degree program in Social Media Marketing!

August 2014 - We had a huge turnover at work and a lot of new teachers started this year.  I was anxious, but everyone was great. Joseph and Shae love attending GFA and hanging out in my classroom before and after school.  Both adapted quickly and are making friends.
September 2014 - Jacob started school and LOVES attending LDSBC.  Shae turned 6! I was given an award at school for demonstrating Respect.  It was humbling and I was quite shocked.
October 2014 - My second year of teaching was going much more smoothly than my first! We got a cat, too.  She's a siamese and we named her Maggie. Jacob and I also went to an Orchestra at Temple Square concert - just like our first date!

November 2014 - Thanksgiving was crazy!  We had Pam and all her girls in our house.  It was fun and the boys loved having more people to play hide-and-seek with.
December 2014 - Jacob and I made it through the first weeks of the month to get to our Christmas breaks.  We had a nice, quiet Christmas and it finally snowed!

January 2015 - Happy New Year!  Jacob finally stayed up until midnight for, I think, the first time since we got married.  Joseph turned 9! He had a Mario Kart themed party and a few friends came over to play games. I (finally) received a calling to play the piano in primary at our ward.  Jacob started his second semester at LDSBC.  Shae tested 2 grade levels ahead in reading and 1 grade level ahead in Math!  He is learning so much!  Joseph loves being in 3rd grade down the hall from me and is making excellent progress.

So, now that I've caught up on lots of stuff, what will I be blogging about?