...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bryce Makes Me Smile...

Yesterday, after we spent the bulk of the day having fun with cousins and grandparents (Josh worked all day so we tried to have fun without him which is never easy...geez I love that guy!), we came home and needed to get a few chores done.  One job that really need to be handled was mowing the lawn.  It has been raining a lot here this past week and the grass was really unruly. 

We hire our children to mow the lawn (one of the few jobs we pay for...mostly we believe since they live here they should help take care of the place, although they do earn a small weekly allowance if they do their chores).  PJ, age seven, mowed the front yard which is pretty square and simple.  I stayed out with him because he is new to this job (we don't usually ask kids to try to mow until age eight, but he WANTS to do it -- he likes to feel big).

Once PJ was done, I moved the mower to the backyard for Bryce (who is nearly 11).  When I called him out he was less than thrilled.  The sky was getting a bit cloudy and dark and he asked if he could stop if it started raining.  I said, "Sure, if you are done," because I thought he would stop if he felt a single raindrop.  I was pretty sure he could finish before any rain started if he really got to it.

Well, when he was just over halfway done, it started to sprinkle a bit.  I was watching him out the window (young children maneuvering powerful tools still makes me nervous, even if Josh says that is silly).  the sprinkle started to get a bit heavier, although it wasn't really heavy rain.  I could see that Bryce was a bit frustrated so I grabbed his jacket and his dad's round brimmed hat and I trotted outside. 

I expected Bryce to get upset at me and tell me that these wouldn't really help, he just wanted to be done.  I expected him to pout and mutter under his breath how much he hated his mom. 

He didn't.

He smiled and sincerely thanked me.  He finished the job and came inside in a great mood.  The first thing he said when he came in was, "Mom, that was so nice of you to bring those things out for me, thanks a lot."  I nearly cried.  I felt so proud of my boy.  What an incredible young man.  I'm grateful to have this kid as mine.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recipes by Request (and because I like them)

I had a super adorable mom ask me to share some of the dinners we eat here at the DeMoux abode while cooking on a budget.  I have to tell you, first off, I really hate cooking.  It has never been my cup of tea (actually, I don't drink tea so that is no surprise). 
Ok, our meals may not be good enough for a banquet like
this, but they are good enough for our table!

If I can't prepare whatever it is in an hour or less I don't usually take it on.  That said, I don't use many pre-made meal items because they are too costly.  I don't buy bagged salad, I chop up a head of lettuce.  I don't buy pre-made lasagna, I make it on my own (from a super fabulous and simple recipe).  I don't buy cookies (very often, to my children's chagrin), I make a boatload of batter and then freeze it in zippered freezer bags to use when I need it. 

My sister-in-law has a cooking blog with her sisters and I do like many of her recipes.  Check them out here.

We eat a lot of simple staples like tacos and spaghetti, home made pizza, easy Chinese food and casseroles.  The internet is an incredible resource when looking for simple recipes.  Here are a few of our favorite meals that are not too labor intensive and not too costly but still taste great. 

Tara's Tacos (From my friend Tara Turpin who also has a great food blog)
(I have made a couple changes to her original recipe because I am feeding lots of people..this recipe will make 10-12 burrito style soft tacos)
2 chicken breasts cubed and cooked
1/4 cup minced bell pepper
2 Tbsp minced green onion
1/2 cup frozen (or canned) corn
1/2 cup black beans (drained)
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 Tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese (we use a combination of Colby/Jack cheese)
Burrito style soft tortillas
After cooking the chicken mix in all the other ingredients except the cheese and heat together.  After the mixture is heated, pour in the cheese until it is well melted.  Spoon a large serving onto burrito sized soft tortillas and fold into tacos.  Place on a cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 min (10 min each side).  Serve with ranch dressing.  These are super tasty and ALL of my picky eaters like them (plus, who can pass up a recipe with beans and corn and spinach that kids will actually eat!).  (Cost: About $10 to feed 8-10 people)

Cream Cheese Chicken
2 Tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
2 chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 ounces cream cheese
1 package frozen broccoli
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Cube and cook chicken.  In a sauce pan stir together cream of chicken soup and cream cheese over medium/low heat.  You may need to think this a bit with some milk so that it is the consistency of a thick gravy.  Pour the cream mixture over the chicken and stir in the broccoli.  On your counter top, use two crescent triangle to make a square by pressing the edges together and roll it out with a rolling pin.  Place a spoon full of chicken/cream mixture in the center and fold the crescent over to form a pocket.  Place this on a cooking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Pour any remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle liberally with cheddar cheese then cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is another family favorite. (Cost: About $12 for 8 servings)

Taco Soup (I got this from a coworker -- Wendy Philbrick -- back before I became a mom)
I love this recipe because you can throw everything in a crock pot in the morning and ignore it until dinner time.  The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!
15 oz can whole corn
15 oz can kidney beans
15 oz can pinto beans
15 oz can garbanzo beans (aka chick peas)
30 oz can tomato sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 lb browned ground beef

Pour everything into the crock pot, juice and all.  Stir it well.  Cook for at least 2-3 hours and then enjoy.  Serve with salad and tortilla chips.  (In a pinch I have heated this on the stove top and it is still tasty, but it is much better when it has simmered all day). (Cost: About $8 to feed 8)

Yummy Lasagna (This was originally a Lion House recipe, but I had to tweak it because I am not willing to simmer things for hours so they can thicken...I don't have that much patience)

1-2 lbs ground beef (depending on how much meat you like and how much it costs that week)
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tbsp parsley flakes (I use Italian seasoning instead)
1 Tbsp basil
1 20 oz can stewed tomatoes (I like to use Italian stewed tomatoes)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 10 oz pkg lasagna noodles
Cheesy mix:
3 cups (24 oz) cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz grated Mozzarella cheese

Brown the ground beef.  Mix in garlic, parsley flakes, basil and salt.  Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste.  Simmer, uncovered...they say for an 1-2 hrs until it thickens, I say let it simmer while you cook the other stuff and then call it good. It still tastes fabulous. Cook lasagna noodles according to pkg directions.  Drain and rinse.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix cottage cheese and pepper, parsley and Parmesan cheese with beaten egg in separate bowl.  Place half the noodles in a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Spoon on half the cottage cheese mix.  Layer with sprinkled Mozzarella cheese then spoon on a layer of meat mixture.  Repeat the layers and finish with Mozzarella on top.  Bake 30 minutes.  Ooooh, this one is good! (Cost: About $15 for 12 servings)

Like I said before, I am not a cook.  I don't like cooking, but I do like eating tasty food so I put up with the chore.  I really believe it is possible to make delicious, easy meals without spending a fortune...that's how we roll.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Week with no Toys

Last weekend I had HAD it! (Some weekends are like that, even in Australia).

Everywhere I looked there were messes; it was much worse than normal.  For several weeks (like the entire clump of 21 off track days) kids seemed to be pulling a drop and run routine when they finished playing with one toy and wanted something new.  Our house felt like a disaster area.  I could hardly stand it.  I just can't keep up with six mini whirlwinds.

To make matters worse, the kids started leaving Wii games and DVDs on the floor and then as they ran around they would step on the discs cracking them.  We've lost eight disks to this madness in the past month.  It did not make for a happy mother.

Josh and I tried talking to the kids on several occasions.  We cajoled and pleaded and threatened.  We read this awesome Berenstain Bears book about privelidge and responsibility. Nothing worked.  The kids didn't seem to care. 

Last weekend was the last straw.  Each child in our house has a couple of assigned chores that he or she is to do every morning.  They aren't hard, clean their bedroom and straighten one other room and practice the piano (for those old enough to be learning piano).  This weekend every child told us their work was done.  We went to check the bedrooms and found pig stys.  The beds were not made, there were toys shoved in corners and under beds, candy wrappers dotted the edges (not to mention there shouldn't be candy in the bedrooms in the first place), CDs littered the floor.  Something drastic had to happen.  It was time to put the hurt on.

So we brought the heavy (I can say that because Josh served his LDS mission on the south side of Chicago -- which is the baddest part of town).  We had each child pack ALL of their toys into their toy boxes and then haul them out to our shed.  We also took all of the comunal toys (except Ellie's dolls) out to the shed as well.  This left us a house with virtually no toys (yup, meanest parents on the planet).

We also stashed away the Wii bits where they can't be walked on (or played with).  The kids were not happy.  It has been a rough week. 

Gavin has prayed for his toys to be safe in the shed every night and told God how much he misses them. 

I have been surprised with the results.  The kids do miss their toys, and hopefully we have made our point about the partnership of priveledges and responsibility.  I have been surprised how many boys will play with dolls when that is the only toy available.  However, this endeavor hasn't really cut down on the mess too much.  We now find clothes and books and papers and silverware spread around the house (who knew kitchen utensils would be substitute play things).  Aparently I have missed the mark when it comes to teaching my children to actually tidy up.  I'll have to work on that.

As an added bonus, we decided to break Ellie of her Binky and move her from the crib to a bed this week (I wasn't really ready for that move, but Josh was determined so we compromised...we both have to win sometimes).  Losing her Binky has been a cinch, which I did not expect because she was awfully attached.  However, moving to a bed has been a nightmare.

Don't let that cute smile fool you (she is a photo freak and LOVES having
her picture taken), she turns into a banshee when left in her room behind the gate.
We have made this transition before so I expected a bit of getting out of bed and stuff, but this little girl takes the cake.  She was up over and over and over all night long and into EVERYTHING!  So we resorted to putting a gate in her doorway at bedtime.

So now she screams at night.

She is pretty stubborn and amazingly persistent and she hates being stuck in her room so she screams at us, sometimes for nearly an hour before she wears herself out and falls asleep.  It is almost funny (if it wasn't frustrating) because she gets so mad.  We do go silently go tuck her back into her bed, but she scoots right back to the door and yells at us some more.  The good part is that when she does get to sleep, she sleeps well because she is exhausted.

It has been an interesting week.  Life can definetely be one crazy adventure. 
Ellie just couldn't stay awake until nap time after a full night of screaming.  She is worn out.
(Also, note the Wii game and books on the floor ready to be walked on...that is exactly what I am talking about).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Groceries on the Brain

Let's pretend this is an adorable picture of the kids clustered around
a shopping cart.  Oh, how cute!

I've had a couple of people ask me lately how I stay in my grocery budget while feeding eight people every week.  I know there are people who feed their families on much less money than we do, but we do manage to live off a school teachers salary (shhhh, it's about $35,000 a year with additional $2000 - $3000 from his part time job). It isn't anything miraculous, I am no money magician, but I do have a few things I do every single week that help me spend less. 

My grocery budget is $120 per week.  You may think that's tons or you may think that's skimpy, but that is our budget.  We are feeding eight people so that is $15 per person for the week.  That seems reasonable to me (not to mention I have a hard time getting all our stuff for much less so it's where we need to be).

Like I said before, I don't have the time or patience for extreme couponing (patience has NEVER been one of my virtues) but here are some things that help me get out of the store without spending a fortune.

1. Walmart -- I shop at Walmart.  Love them or hate them, that is up to you.  I am in it for the deals and to me, they are the best.  On top of that, they price match competitors adds and accept competitors coupons so for me they are the bomb.

2. Ad Awareness -- Every week when the grocery adds come in the mail I go through them with a marker.  I circle everything that is a deal (that means I have to pay attention to how much things normally cost but after a couple weeks of watching you will be a pro).  Then I stash the ads in my grocery folder and don't look at them again until Monday when I make my grocery list (and price match the deals).

3. Make a List -- BEFORE I leave to go to the store, I make a list of everything we need.  I decide what meals we will eat for the week and jot down the needed items for those recipes.  I try to plan my meals around the deals from the ads so if tortillas are on sale, we'll have tacos or if spaghetti sauce is on sale you can bet on Italian night at the DeMoux house.  I also make note of the cost of each item rounding up to the nearest dollar ($2.58 = $3).  Then I add up my costs to be sure I am in budget.  Don't forget to put everyday items like catsup, juice mix, bread or cereal on your list.  Trim down your list by cutting non essentials like ice-cream or crackers if things don't add up.

4. Leave Leeway -- I ALWAYS leave $10 leeway in my budget for the things that I WILL forget.  It never fails that I get to the store and remember we are out of toothpaste or mustard or I see an awesome deal on garbage sacks and want to stock up.  When I add up my list I make sure it comes to $110 or less so that I have a little bit of room to expand when I need it.

5. Stick to the Budget -- I don't care how great the discount is, if you are spending more than your budget week after week after week to stock up on great items then you are NOT getting a deal.  You will spend yourself into a hole while you stockpile stuff in your storage room.  I am not saying don't ever stock up.  I like to keep $100 or so set aside (not every week, but for rare occasions) for those just in case awesome moments.  However, if you are constantly "stocking up" pretty soon you will be broke.  Stick to your budget.

6. Childs Play -- Maybe the hardest part of all is shopping with kids in tow.  Combating the "mom can I haves" and the "can we go home yets" can be a nightmare.  However, if you are like me, you have to take the kids when you shop; that is just how it is.  So, I do a couple of things to help.  First off, we established ground rules early on.  Kids under six have to hold onto the cart at all times, kids older than six have to be right with me.  I assign the older children to find certain items for me when we are on an aisle so they stay entertained.  I also let the kids help pick which cereal or crackers or oatmeal we buy. 

Finally, we have a deal that IF the kids are good, they get a treat.  Our last stop is the pastry aisle where we buy a cheap box of donuts or other treat that the kids can share IF they have been good.  I make no excuses for not doling out sweets if they have misbehaved, but I do hang it over their heads while we're shopping ("Wow, that's not the kind of behavior that will earn a treat").  Maybe the best part is that I give the kids a budget for their treat and then let them choose what they want.  They have to weigh their options and costs and come to a consensus.  It is great practice for their own future budgeting.

Anyway, I don't purport to be any kind of wonder shopper, but we do manage to bring home the things we need without breaking the bank...and no one has starved yet. 
Look at all those happy (well seven out of eight's not bad) and well fed people.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A weekend with no rapture...

Thankfully, the world didn't end on Saturday so I get to continue blogging (I feel sort of bad for people who placed their faith in that prediction and now have to come back to normal life without having been "raptured."  I hope they will be ok).

Since we weren't translated, we had a crazy and fully stuffed weekend, but in a good way.  We got a lot done, and had some fun too.  I'll share some of the highlights (don't worry, I'll leave out the errands and spring cleaning and yardwork).

Thanks to a my mom we got this AMAZING deal on boxed pasta.  We printed a bunch of coupons from the "It Pays to Eat Pasta" site then combined them with a great deal at Smith's grocery store.  We ended up getting 76 boxes of pasta for $4.56 (and we'd have done better if I bought 80 boxes -- deals for every 10 --but apparently I can't count).

I am not a huge couponer, not that I have anything against it, I just don't have the time (or the patience) to really get into it.  I use coupons from time to time when I have them and I love it.  I do price match and do the best I can to get the best deal possible (feeding a family of eight on a school teacher's salary is not always simple).  

My mom and my sisters-in-law also bought the pasta (my mom ended up being paid $5 to take 100 boxes of pasta from the store).  Mom rented a canning machine and we spent Friday canning loads of pasta so we don't lose our amazing deal to weevil or some other nastiness.   

 After canning all that pasta, we decided we should eat some.  So we made the kid's favorite pasta dinner, spaghetti.

Logan and Ellie helped me dice up the mushrooms to add to the sauce.  I love that they want to help (even if their help sometimes means things take a little bit longer than usual).
After a beautiful day Saturday (which was great so we could work in the yard and just enjoy the sunshine a bit), it rained on Sunday.  I love rain.  It is my favorite kind of weather, especially when the clouds are really dark and ominous.  I'm not sure there is anything better than curling up on the couch in the front window to watch a lightning storm, and it only gets better if the power goes out.  I love that.

Anyway, we played in the rain (no worries, there was no lightning).  I took the kids out and we splashed in puddles and got soaked and loved every soggy minute of it.

 My new little garden plants loved all the rain as well.  How much fun is it to see something that you planted start poking it's nose up through the dirt?  The kids go out and count our sprouts every day.  Gardens are wonderful things.

So are families.  There is nothing like watching them grow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Logan Grooves This

Baby let me show you how to move this...

You gotta move this -- you're doin' fine!

There's nothin' to it, you gotta groove it
Shake that body for me!!

(or read a book)

It's been a wild weekend.  I love the reprieve of sweet little moments like this amidst the insanity!  Children are an incredible blessing (when they aren't coloring on their walls or their sisters).

Hope you have had a wild, but sweet, weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

G Graduates!

G graduated from pre-school this week.  As part of his advancement, he performed in Aunt Sand's Fabulous Pre-School Program. 
When Bryce was four we were blessed to accidentally stumble on the greatest pre-school on the planet.  The women who run the school are incredible and have been a great influence on each of our children as they have learned and played at school.

G has especially grown at school this year.  At home, he is the fourth child and is a sweet, pliable, sometimes timid young man.  He has a tender heart and soft feelings.  He happily goes along with whatever his older siblings plan.  He plays and runs like a linebacker, but he is a bit teddy bear.

At school he has totally come out of his shell.  He is a leader there.  He scoops up the other children and makes them feel important.  No one is left out when G is around, he is every one's friend.  As they have been practicing the program these past months he has also come out as a fabulous performer.  Whenever any child is absent, G volunteered to do their part, songs and all and his teachers said he knows every single part in the play.  He did refuse to fill in as Snow White, though...he had to draw the line somewhere.

Mostly, I just adore this little guy.  He is a sweetheart through and through (takes after his father, he didn't get one ounce of my spitefulness -- lucky kid!).  I really do love this boy!

Gavin had several solos in the program, but this one was my favorite.
All decked out for the Aladdin songs (he looks so meek...what a cutie).

This was going to be a night that I was amazing as a mother (that was the plan).  I would get dinner in the crock pot so it would be ready when we got home after the 6:00 programs.  Everyone would look fabulous and Gavin would feel super special when I placed a candy lei around his neck after his performance.   It didn't quite work out that way.  I didn't get dinner on so we were hungry and without food after the event.  We were in a mad scramble seconds before leaving searching for Gavin's other shoe.  I forgot about the lei until I got to the school.  Just take a look at Logan, bright red socks, green shorts (it was too cold for shorts but he was clothed so I didn't fuss) and a jacket on upside down (note the hood covering his cute bum).  Some nights Super Mom just doesn't show up, but we survive, and we still have incredible and memorable moments to paste in our scrapbooks.
Life with these people is incredible.

G as a stern and grumpy pirate in his program

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Windy Weekend

Josh putting together our awesome pirate kite.  It took him a good 20 minutes
just to get it assembled.  I laughed at him (I do that sometimes).
 This weekend we had a family adventure at the park.  It was fabulous. 

Once a month my extended family (all my brothers and their families) get together and during warmer months we take turns meeting at each siblings house to do a work project (trim roses, prep a garden, paint a room, you get the idea). 

This month was our month but we didn't really have a work project that would work for this so we asked if everyone would come have dinner and then trot over to the school to play baseball.  Our boys are always begging to play baseball but we just don't have enough players without help besides of which we have to chase Ellie and Logan around so we can't really focus on the game.

However, it was uber windy on Saturday so baseball was sort of out.  So we played at the park.  It was a fun afternoon and everyone was a good sport about the windy, chilly weather.  Thanks family.  You really made the day for my kidlets. 
This is Aubs with the cute turtle kite that I had put together in like
four seconds.  Ha!

Aubs and my brother Josh (that's right I have a husband and a brother named
Josh) trying to get my turtle kite to fly.  No dice.  It flopped all over but wouldn't take
to the sky.

Guess Josh showed me up after all,  his kite soared and he was the last
one laughing (but he didn't rub it in because he is a sweetheart).

Pirates of the sky!

Logan and his cousin Hayden tearing it up on the soccer field.

Ellie getting help from her Uncle Brian so she doesn't fall and break herself.

PJ enjoying the slide.

G all sad and upset over something and Grandpa trying to help him feel better.
I am very grateful to have the family that I have.  I have four sensations brothers on my side and four more amazing brothers on my husband's side.  We have awesome sisters-in-law and adorable nieces and nephews.  I am glad we can spend time with such incredible people...and have fun besides.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Poor, sad Logan.
 This weekend I was finally able to break out the summer clothes for the kids.  I hauled all the tubs into the living room (ok, to be honest, Josh did the bulk of the hauling) and sorted through things picking out summer duds for my sprites.

While I was working on Logan's clothes we came across this awesome baseball outfit that we bought when Bryce was small.  It is really cute, I love it.  It's one of my favorite 3-year-old clothing items. 

Logan was duly impressed and wanted to put it on.  Super!  We got him into it and I headed to the closet the finish putting things away.

When I came back Logan was in tears.  He glared at me as I walked into the room.  I had no idea what I had done to earn his displeasure so I asked what was wrong.

He told me "I look stupid."  Then with a pouty, forlorn look he said, "If I wear this shirt all the kids will laugh at me."

The imfamous baseball shirt...super cute, huh?
I laughed, I couldn't help it.  I guess he was right about the laughing, although I wasn't laughing at how he looked.  He was pretty mad at me after that.  However we sorted through the shirts and found a more acceptable one.  We changed his shirt (although I wasn't happy about it) and Logan felt much better.

I didn't expect to have wardrobe issues with the 3-year-old boy.  I thought that was a teenage girl thing.  I expect these sorts of things from Aubrey, but whining about style issues is not what I expected from my pre-schooler. 

Hopefully we can get him into this adorable outfit another day...without the drama.

Logan, much happier, in his Bob the Builder t-shirt.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I am a dog person.

I make no apologies for that.  It is just the way I am.  I traveled to Earth with a greater appreciation for canines than felines.

This week I learned that maybe there is a biological reason for that.

I went to visit a friend who happens to own some cats.  She has one cute little Siamese kitty that is particularly fond of me.  This cat jumped up on my lap for some attention, so I petted it a bit (I prefer dogs, but I don't wish the death of cats or anything). 

The cat was shedding a bit and some of her hair got near my face.

This is what happened.

Right after I got home from her house.

Me smiling through my trauma (ok, it really wasn't so bad)

 My eye swelled up like a balloon.  It was itchy and puffy and awful.  Bryce told he me couldn't stand to look talk to me when I looked like that and quickly left the room (I forgive him).  Logan told me I needed to go to the doctor.  The kids were adorable, they told me they would handle things if I needed to take a nap.  Josh wondered if I'd been in a fight when he got home that night.  It was all sorts of exciting. 

I had taken an anithistimine that morning because of some seasonal allergies, just imagine what I would have looked like if I hadn't had those drugs in my system. 

Five hours after the cat incident.

The next morning it was still pretty puffy...but Bryce would talk to me with it like this.  Whew!
I still plan to go see my friend regularly, but I may be a little bit more cautious around that cat.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Artism: The Art of Autism

Click the picture to learn more about the book.
Today I finished an article about this book. 
The pages are loaded with art created by people in the autism spectrum.  They are from all over the world and are all different ages, but they have all created incredible works of art.  They explode out of the shackles that autism used to try to hold them back and have found a way to express their talents and share their souls in an amazing way.

The author of the book, who has a son with autism, told me she spoke with a lady recently who told her that while she adores her son, she hates autism.  Then, this woman stopped herself and said, no, that wasn't true.  Autism is part of her child and she cherishes that child for who he is, autism and all.

This subject is pretty close to my heart.  I have a remarkable niece who has Rett Syndrome which, according to Autism Speaks (the nations leading autism awareness group), falls into the autism spectrum.  Her abilities are not such that she can paint pictures or sculpt with clay.  She cannot speak or even sit up on her own.  However, this little girl has changed our family in an incredible way.

Her name is Becca and you can learn more about her and her amazing life at her blog here.

Her courage and indomitable spirit are inspiring.  She may not be able to talk, but she lets people know what she likes and what she doesn't like.  She loves Disney princesses and has a boyfriend (I did tell her she was too young for that, but I am pretty sure it is just a crush).  She loves being with other kids and adores M&M's. 

Life for her has not been easy.  She is trapped in a body that doesn't let her share her thoughts and feelings the way she would like.  However, she doesn't let that stop her.  She still smiles and laughs and makes everyone else's life better just by being here.

I am constantly amazed by my brother and sister-in-law.  Instead of lamenting how hard things are they have molded their life around Rett Syndrome and have found joy in the journey.  That doesn't men life is simple.  My tiny little sister-in-law still has to lift a growing Becca in and out of the crib and the bathtub and that isn't easy.  Neither are the feeding sessions where Becca regularly chokes or the struggle to just get her shoes on. There will always be surgeries and medical bills and medications and doctors after doctors after doctors, but they don't let that run their lives.  They are inspiring.

Mostly, I hope that people will take from the book the idea that autism (or any disorder) doesn't define a person.  Just like some people are nail biters or diabetics or are tone deaf, people with autism are still people and they have the same needs and feelings as everyone else.  They still love music and hope for hugs.  They still have good days and bad days and look forward to parties and dessert.  These precious souls bring a beautiful depth to the world that it would be sad to lose.

Becca is a blessing.  I can't imagine our family without her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Tuesday was a fabulous day.

Aubrey and Parker decided to put together a party (we have parties on the brain as several kids have upcoming b-day parties for friends so our fridge is littered with eye popping invitations.) 

They spent a  couple of hours getting everything ready and they were super secretive about bits and pieces of the planning. I was really proud of them for sticking with it and being so creative. 

They called me in about 10:30 that morning.  SURPRISE!!  They had decided to throw a party for ME!  They are so cute.  No wonder I adore them!

We played some games that they had made up.  We had a robot drawing contest, we danced the "Chicken Dance" and the "Bunny Hop" and shared our most embarrassing moments.  They even made a pinata (although Gavin filched it before we got to it).  It was a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday morning.
 As soon as I pulled out the camera to take pictures of Aubrey and Parker, Ellie started following me around saying "cheese," "cheese," "cheese" while she patted my touche.  She wanted me to take her picture, so, of course, I did.  What a little sprite.
 Then, she found her cell phone (which often masquerades as my calculator) and she spent some time chatting with her peeps. 
Finally, Parker included her in our party by pulling out her baby book and enjoying the moments of her life (the few that have actually made it into the book...I am soooooo behind on my scrap booking). 

Hooray for Tuesdays that are nothing really special, but are filled with moments that make life so worth while.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

Logan, incredibly proud of himself on Friday because he
poured his own cereal for the first time.
What a GREAT weekend...overall.  We celebrated Josh's birthday, we (finally) planted our vegetable garden, and we honored our moms.  All in all it was a wonderful few days.
I feel like a traitor for saying this, but I don't usually love Mother's Day.  I am grateful for the chance to honor the moms in my life and I appreciate that my little crew tries to make me feel special. 

However, the amount of arguing and mess making on Mother's Day always seems to reach epic proportions and any scolding seems to be followed by someone questioning, "Mom, you are having a good Mother's Day, right?"

I try really hard to smile and say, "You guys are the best, I love you," or something cheesy (but true) like that, but the day is often difficult.

This Mother's Day did bring me several beautiful moments though.  During church, all of the primary kids (age 3-11) were called to the front to sing a couple of songs they have been practicing for their moms.  I always love this (even when I didn't have kids of my own it was my favorite!). 

However, my little three year old refused to make the trek to the front.  He wanted nothing to do with it.  We coerced and pleaded and finally I just pulled him onto my lap to watch the other kids.  It would be silly to make a big deal out of something like that.

As the kids at the front started to sing Logan turned to me and asked if we could sing too.  He knew the songs and he wanted to sing along. 

So we sang.

He and I quietly joined our voices with those on the stand and we got lots of funny looks from the people around us, but I didn't care one bit.  I got a lap side serenade and I loved every minute of it.  I guess I am grateful he wouldn't go up to the front after all.  I felt all gooey inside, what a great feeling.

I also got to enjoy the creative poem that my eleven year old wrote for his grandmother.  It culminated with the line:
"Your heart is a sword that stabs me with love."

I love it!

I hope you all had a beautiful Mother's Day.  I'm sure the day wasn't perfect, what day is, but I hope you had one of those moments that reminded you why being a mother is often the sweetest part of your life (next to smooching your sweetie).  Happy (belated) Mother's Day everyone.

We schlepped off to Murray High School to surprise our dad
with birthday pie.

Six little students enjoying their chocolate pie.

Our newly planted garden.  No, silly, you can't see stuff growing yet, you
have to be patient.

We also spent some time spreading wood chips  in some
areas of the yard...and this little baby (we love you fabulous
new air conditioner) got its first use this weekend.  Hooray!

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