Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 In Review - Part 1

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I feel like this year is closing a chapter on my family's life that is going to be much better closed than open.  Each year I like to look back and reflect on the previous year, but those same thoughts of the past year bring on anxiety and panic attacks for me.  Despite all this, we did have good things going on amidst the bad and want to share a bit of our year (good and bad) with you.

January - We rang in the new year (or shortly thereafter) with our first trip to the ER with the kids, wrecking our family (and only) car, a new scar for Issac, a new (to us) van, and emergency surgery for Mom. 

Isn't the van so nice?!

February - This month was better for us.  A new sister-in-law was added to the family, followed by our first nephew!  We also did a make-over on the boys' room and had family pictures taken.

March - While fairly uneventful in pictures...March confirmed our long-assumed suspicions that Ayden indeed has Fragile X Syndrome.  It was also the beginning of this blog, which has been theraputic for me as well as helping others.  March's unseasonably warm weather had us headed to the park as well, for the first (of many) 2011 weekend park trips.

April - A month of celebration for our family! We celebrated Issac's 2nd birthday with a Cars themed party while a 90 degree day in mid-April had us heading to the zoo with some good friends of ours.  Easter brought us to Grandad and Nana's house where we had an Easter Egg hunt in the backyard and took a trip to the park later that weekend.  It was a much needed month of family and friends.

May -Not nearly as eventful as the previous month, we again had some beautiful weather though that brought out the pool and two VERY happy boys.

June - The summer always begins our "busy" season and this year was no exception.  Ayden had his last day of his first year of school - a very momentous occasion! We celebrated Father's Day with Mr Awesome's family, then celebrated my 30th Birthday as well. June also brought about another exciting change to our lives, as we found out we were expecting our third little baby (and baby was in the correct place this time around)!

Since we had so many things happening, I decided to divide this up into a couple parts. Check back later this week to see Part 2!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time

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I love Christmas.  I love spending time with family, the food, looking back at the past year...but when you are doing extra traveling, messing with schedules, tons of people, and activities that aren't normal it just can wear on your little ones.  Especially those little ones with sensory issues that need the consistency of a schedule to help them function their best.

We've been very lucky with Christmas time.  Each year we spend two nights with each set of Grandparents split by spending Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my in-laws.  It's a lot of traveling, but so very worth it.  (Even those years where we are driving in a snow storm Christmas Eve night!). 

With Ayden, all of this becomes very trying at times.  Opening presents causes anxiety, the waiting while others open presents is difficult as well for him, thanking those that gave gifts is also a small struggle - but through it all he manages.  We do what we can for him, without letting him skip out on anything.  It's always been important to us that he learns to take part in family gatherings.  We do other things to help with the stress it causes such as allowing him to do his favorite things longer or eat all day if that is what he wants.  I know many other FX parents that will alter and change the way their family celebrates by doing things like opening all the presents for the kids and leaving them in a pile to attack on Christmas morning.  I don't have any issues with this as it works for some, it just isn't what we wanted.  It much more important to us that Ayden is a part of our family events where he feels accepted and welcome so when he does things like this outside of family, he will be much more comfortable.

This year really was one of the best years we've had with Ayden.  He was fussy and whiny pretty much all day on the 24th and 25th, but still did everything that was expected of him without having any temper tantrums or breakdowns.  That, and the fact he actually enjoyed opening gifts and playing with them really was amazing.   We had some bad times during the time we were gone with listening and napping (normal 4.5 year old stuff) but overall I think he really enjoyed everything.

Today, of course, both kids are exhausted.  (So are mom and dad!)  But as I take time to reflect on the strides Ayden has made since last Christmas - I remember that all that we push him to do is so very worth it.

I think my biggest joy of the past few days is that Ayden (and Issac) are finally starting to show us that they understand we expect them to be more well behaved away from home than at home. It was just a few small instances, but it was enough to warm my heart.

For those other FX families that had a more trying holiday season....know that it does get better.  And most importantly, know that the holidays aren't always something to dread.

I'd like to end here with a few pictures.  We don't get tons of good ones since the boys hate sitting still, but these are some of my favorites.


Friday, December 2, 2011

What to do when nothing seems to be working...

It's been a while since I've posted.  I mostly try to keep this blog very upbeat and positive, a place where I can share information and help others out.  Being positive is a very large part of that for me, so when I'm having a rough time, I tend to not post.  But, part of this life for us is dealing with those down/hard times as well as the good times.  So today, I'm going to share some of the more difficult parts of our life lately.

I mentioned on here a few months back about how we were having problems with Ayden hitting his brother.  He's always pushed him a bit, but it really got out of hand when school started in the fall.  Since then, it's gotten even worse.  There isn't an hour of my day that goes by where Ayden is not hitting, pushing, slapping, or doing some other type of physical damage to his little brother.  It has become a constant source of problems in our house and despite everything we have tried, it is not getting even a little better. 

The past few weeks, we've had the joy of another issue popping up as well - Ayden is just whining all. the. time.  This past week it really hit an all-time high frustration level as we quite literally listened to him whine from around 4pm to 7pm (bedtime).  Ayden's whining in the past has always been related to communication issues, and while I can't rule that out this time - I don't feel that is the case entirely.  He's doing a very good job using his PECS to communicate his wants/needs in sentences to us.  The problem that we are having now is that instead of giving him whatever he asks for as you do in the learning stage of PECS, we have begun to tell him no and this isn't going over very well.  At all.  We introduced the yes/no cards a few months ago, and he definitely understands them.  He will build his sentence and then hand us the yes card, so it is very clear he does in fact understand.  He just doesn't like it.  I believe this is fairly typical behavior for a 4.5 year old, but as he can not actually VOICE his frustration/anger at our decision he is using the only method he knows how and that happens to be whining and crying.  Understanding this though does not make it easier on us.  So...we get a frustrated and angry 4 year old, who then begins to not only whine and cry, but also to take out his anger by doing things like throwing toys, hitting his brother, yanking on the curtains etc. 

Of course, we have to add on the final complication to this entire mess, the fact that both boys have not been listening to us lately.  I certainly expect this a little, they are of course children.  My frustration lies in the fact that no matter how consistent we are or what we are doing, every day the same words are coming out of my mouth constantly:

"Don't hit."
"Don't push"
"Don't scream"
"Don't run in the house"
"Don't go in the kitchen"
"Don't get out of bed"

Some of these are directed at Ayden, and some at Issac.  Issac is doing very well with his speech, and has a very consistent answer to return to me as well. "NO".   I very much expect this from a 2 year old, and it has been happening a month or so - though it is always dealt with.   Usually I just need to look at him and he corrects himself to "Yes, mom".  So, it really shouldn't have come as a surprise when Ayden started telling me no as well.  It was actually kind of the icing on the cake.

I feel like I could handle a few of these issues at a time, but all of them together is just too much.  I'm tired, frustrated, and feeling utterly and completely lost.  None of our normal disciplinary issues are working right now.  (I'm sure being 7 months pregnant certainly is not helping things at all either.)   So I sit here, wondering what more we could possibly do.  What part of Ayden's behavior issues are typical 4 year old issues and what part are FXS issues.  Most of all, I wonder what I can do so he is his normal happy again.  It's difficult to explain that to people, because Ayden is one of the happiest kids I've ever met.  When you talk about a smile lighting up a room, you need only to look to him to understand that.  When he is happy, the world around him his happy.  His smile, his laugh, his loveable will never meet a happier child.  This is quite literally the first thing most people say to us, even that have known him for a while.  So when I say he isn't normal happy, I mean he isn't like I explained above.  He's happy, and it's noticeable - it's just not normal for him.

I don't have the answers right now for all this, but I do know it needs fixing.  The hitting just cannot continue especially as we will have a newborn in the house very soon.  I do know that it's something only Mr Awesome and I can work through though.  And we will, it's just taking time.  Through all of it we must be doing something right as these behaviors do not happen much outside the house.  It gives me hope that it will begin resolving itself as we continue to push forward.

We'll be doing our annual Christmas Tree cutting and decorating this weekend.  I'm hoping it will help them a bit to get out and do something different that Ayden certainly has enjoyed in the past and Issac should start to remember.   And hopefully, I will update soon with some of these issue getting better or resolved.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

iPad App Review - Kandy Fish

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For my first app review, I want to look at an app called Kandy Fish,  Kandy Fish is an Educational App for iPad by Emantras Inc.  The app sells for $0.99

Edit 10/13/2011:  The developer of Kandy Fish emailed me yesterday, less than 24 hours after the initial review.  I think that says quite a bit about the company for such a small blog like mine to be recognized.  Thanks, Punflay!

This particular app is one of Ayden's favorites.  He loves fish and aquariums, so was immediately drawn to it.  The app itself has many area it covers including a free-form color section, color matching, patterns, and drawing shapes.  It also includes a book that the app will read to you that includes most of those different learning areas with it.

Kandy Kolor - This section is for free-form coloring.  Basically, a coloring book on your iPad.  I'm not a huge fan of this type of section in an app, but the kids do seem to enjoy it and it helps out with some of those fine motor skills and coloring in the lines.  Since we can't seem to get Ayden to pick up a crayon (or any other writing utensil) it does serve a purpose for us in him acquiring those skills. 

As you can see from the screenshot below, you can choose your colors and then basically just color like you would normally.  The arrows to the left and right of the pictures are how you choose different pictures to color.  It's fairly straight forward and simple.

Color Pots - This is a fairly easy color sorting game.  Four colors, four fish for each round (the colors change each time)...and you drag and drop the fish into their respective buckets.  There is a verbal prompt when you drop an incorrect color as well as a visual queue that it was incorrect.   When you get one correct, the app verbally tells you what color it is and when you have correctly dropped all four fish into their buckets you also get a verbal "awesome" remark before switching to the next "round".  It is a fairly simple matching game.  My two year old loses interest very quickly in this section, but Ayden plays it a lot.  The colors it covers are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Kandy Fun - This section is all about simple patterns.  Most of the patterns are like red, yellow, red, _____.  It is certainly not an activity for advanced children.  The verbal remarks consist of telling you what color fish you touch, telling you when you incorrectly complete a pattern with "Try again!", and of course "Awesome!" when you correctly repeat a pattern.

Kandy Time - This is my favorite part of this app.  It focuses on drawing lines and shapes - a fantastic fine motor skill activity!  It has a simple outline on the screen to "guide" you and verbal prompts to "Make the fish _______".   Both Ayden and Issac work on this part, though it is more difficult to get Ayden to do it - he much prefers other sections.  You can see in the screen shots below that it asks you to make the fish swim in a circle, then you draw the circle and the fish actually go swim around the line you drew.  The one downside to this section is that the shapes are very sensitive.  You have to get them very close to "perfect" for it to work correctly.  Regardless, it is perfect for beginning to draw shapes/lines.

Read - Essentially an app-read book that will read each page to you that goes over all you can learn in the different sections.  The person playing turns the pages, so there is some mild interaction.  It does not prompt you to turn the pages though, which is a slight downside. 

Overall Impressions - I love this app because there are so many things for the kids to do while using it.  It teaches colors, patterns, shapes, and focuses on fine motor skills while working on those different things.  Even the reading section has some fine motor skills as you are swiping to turn the page.  If your child needs to work on these skills, I feel the $0.99 price tag is quite acceptable. 

Developmental Age:  The developer recommend 3-5 years for the age on this, but I feel it is more suited for a 2-3 year range when used for learning.  My 2.5 year old has most of the skills needed for each section except the shapes drawing which he has picked up very quickly, I just can't see a 4 or 5 year old playing this more than once or twice.

iPad Apps - An Introduction

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I finally went out and learned how to take a screen shot on the iPad, so now I just need to get it out of Ayden's hands to actually get some screen shots of our "favorite" apps and get some reviews going.  For now, I'm going to start with an introduction to choosing apps to put on your iPad....  Because the most common question I hear from parents of kids with iPads is...what apps?  There are SO MANY out there and many of them have the same type of information just put together in different formats.  So where to even begin?  It can be overwhelming, and even more so difficult to gauge which apps your little one will actually use.  No one wants to pay for an app that isn't going to be used or that is just overall not useful.

For us, the first thing I did was make a list of things we wanted to accomplish with apps.  Communication, colors, numbers, shapes, fine motor, parts of a whole, and overall output of information were top for us.  Once I knew I wanted the apps to do, my search became easier.  The Apple App store is set up fairly well in that you can search for "color" in the educational apps category and get a decent amount of hits.  From there, I looked at screen shots, descriptions, and especially reviews.

Overall, I ended up with about 50 apps to try out.  Of course the real test was seeing which apps Ayden would actually instead of me even opening the apps I just let him pick and choose.  It became pretty clear over the course of a few days which apps he liked better than others, so I started removing apps and then looking for more to fill in gaps.  We repeated this process a few times, and each time I add new apps I just put the app on the iPad and Ayden will immediately gravitate toward new apps.  Sometimes he opens them and is done, but others he adds to his ever-growing list of apps he loves to play.

A great source is the website Moms With Apps.  Not only do they have fantastic reviews of apps, they also have something called Free App Friday, where they review apps and have either discounted or free apps specific to that day.  While this isn't set up for special needs kiddos, it is setup for family friendly apps - specifically to "promote quality apps for kids and families". 

Apps for Children with Special Needs is also a fantastic website to check out as a resource.  They review and have videos of apps specifically designed to help you decide if that app is what you are looking for.  They also have great programs for acquiring an iPad for those that may not be able to afford it.

I mentioned above how I use reviews on the app store to help me determine if an app is good to download or not.  I think one of the most important things we can do to help out other parents is leave reviews for apps - good or bad!  Just make sure you are constructive in why you do or don't like the app and how the description matches the actual app.  "My son didn't like this app" or "This is terrible" aren't going to help anyone make decisions, so be thoughtful and detailed about what you did or didn't like and why.

I'm going to start adding reviews for apps over the next week or two.  I have my list of about 15-20 apps that I'm going to give detailed information on their uses and how Ayden and Issac utilize these apps.  We have a unique perspective in that one child has FX/Autism and the other is on target for developmental milestones - I think it makes for interesting outcomes myself!

For now, please feel free to message me with any questions about apps, and also to leave your choices for favorite apps as well!  I would LOVE to get others input!  You can either leave a comment here, or look for my email address in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Minocycline Trial

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We received a nice call a few weeks ago asking to enter Ayden into a clinical trial at the Mind Institute.  It turned out that he actually surpassed the age limit on the trial between sign-up and when they would be actually doing the testing, so we couldn't get him into that specific trial.  It is all seeming to work out though, as the same person was running that trial as is running the upcoming Minocycline trial!  She was very kind, and informed me that Ayden would for sure get into the Minocycline trial, to which enrollment would be happening mid-October. 

What does this mean for us?  Most importantly, Ayden will be seen at the Mind Institute and have a visit with Dr Hagerman.  For those reading that haven't heard of Dr Hagerman...she's basically the leading expert in the world on Fragile X.  (No, you did not read that incorrectly - I did say world).  Of course, this would also put Ayden on Mino, which is something Mr Awesome and I are actually hoping will help him out a decent amount. 

The tricky part to all of this?  We have to either fit in a visit to California before the end of the year, or wait until after the baby comes and go after that.  I think waiting will more than likely be the most beneficial, especially as we should have the baby tested by that point in time, but much will depend on what they want to do at the Mind Institute.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oh, Brothers!

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We have an interesting phenomenon happening in our house recently.  First, we have Ayden who is pretty much completely non-verbal.  Second, we have Issac who at 2.5 never ever stops talking is now speaking in full sentences. 

I don't talk about Issac much on here, and mostly that is because he's developing at what is considered the "normal" rate for children.  It's certainly not that he's less important, but I try to focus on what it's like living with Fragile X in our lives.  I'm sure the older he gets, Issac will become more a part of everything as I know he is going to have his own unique experience with FX.  But, I digress.

The phenomenon I referred to above deals directly with Issac.  He loves his brother dearly.  He wants Ayden to do the same things as him and be in the same room with him most all of the time.  Sure they fight, but they are brothers and that is very much expected.  As we've progressed with Issac through saying words to speaking in sentences just recently, we've noticed Ayden started to say some of the words Issac would say or do things Issac would do.  It is a great thing to see, though a bit backwards for the younger one to be teaching the older of course.  It has been just recent though that Issac has now started doing  a few things.

First, he has begun to order Ayden around.  It will happen after mom or dad tells Ayden to do something where Issac will repeat what we say.  "A-A-Bay go get shoes!"  We are slowly correcting this behavior, but it is a weird thing for me to see happening.  Second, Issac will just decide Ayden needs or wants something that he himself wants as well and be very adamant about it.  "A-A-Bay want cereal too!"  Finally, he will just do things for Ayden if he is having a difficult time doing them (or pretending he can't).

This last thing is what is bothering me the most.  We try to make Ayden as independent as possible but he fights us on it tooth and nail.  For the most part, he would just rather have someone else do it for him.  It's a huge problem, especially as he will pretend he doesn't know how to do something and be extra cute asking for help (lots of kisses, hugs etc).  Plus, it's getting worse!  It is taking a lot of constant communication with anyone that is around Ayden to be sure they are making him do things on his own....but even his own brother will help him out!

So, we're working slowly towards a solution.  Working with Issac is important as well as working with Ayden to find the proper motivation to WANT to do these things for himself.  We haven't seen much progress yet, but it will come.  More than likely Issac will learn more quickly than Ayden...but we'll get there either way.  In the meantime, any advice would be welcome.  :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Big Reveal and A Big Win

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This weekend was a busy one for us.  Being this is our last baby, we decided instead of calling everyone to tell them about baby's gender that we would have a party to celebrate and share with our entire family at the same time.  It's a new "trend" in pregnancy right now, to have these parties called Gender Reveal parties. 

Normally, a gender reveal party works like this:  Mom and Dad get the ultrasound done, and the technician writes the gender on a slip of paper then gives the parents-to-be an envelope containing the gender.  Said envelope is delivered to a baker who then makes a delicious beautiful cake with the inside tinted either pink or blue.  (You know, blue for boy, pink for girl).  Family and/or friends are invited and mommy and daddy cut the cake to reveal the gender to themselves and everyone else at the same time.  While I have no issues with this, it wasn't the right way for us to go.  I knew myself, and while I would be happy for a little boy I knew finding out in front of everyone would not be a good idea for me.

So...we revamped the method a little!  I got some boy and girl balloon:

Then stuffed the balloons with little papers. The papers were carefully folded, so no peeking would occur through the balloons....and revealed the gender and name of baby on the inside.  The idea is, that everyone picked their "team" color balloon (team pink or team blue) then they would all pop them together and find out.  Let me just say, this turned out fantastic and so. much. fun.  My shortsightedness in remembering to find objects to pop the balloons with also worked in our favor because everyone could be creative about how they popped their balloon - of course they all wanted to be first!

So....we gave the okay to pop the balloons....

The whole thing really was a huge success.  We had such a great time just eating and spending time with family, plus being able to share this with everyone together was something I would recommend to every mommy-to-be.  It was even better for me then sharing we were welcoming the first baby grandson to both sides of the family. 

While the entire day was utterly fantastic, I would have to say one of the best parts for me happened when I laid down to go to bed that evening.  Because while I was entertaining and making sure everyone was eating - Ayden was playing with his aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  So much so, that it wasn't until I thought back on the day that I realized not once did I hear him scream, cry, or whine.  Not one time did I have to attend to him breaking down and get him out of the hustle and bustle of having 15 extra people in our house.  He didn't even freak out when everyone popped their balloons - something which normally would send him into hysterics.  Look at the pictures above during the balloon popping and you can see him just hanging out in the middle of the crowd.  I'm just so proud of him for how well he did he entire day.  And I look forward to more days like this, because for once I didn't worry about how to help him enjoy the day - he did it without any help.   It's these type of days and moments that make all that work worthwhile.  It reminds me that there is hope when we have bad days and helps me to keep going.  It is worth it.  There is hope.

And as for Ayden...he's going to be a big brother again........
Only this time, it will be to a little sister! (You didn't think I'd forget to share this part did you?!)

If you are interested in seeing the rest of the pictures from our big can view them here: BBQ and Gender Reveal Album

Monday, September 26, 2011

Where Have We Been?

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Seems like 2011 keeps finding ways to knock me down, but I keep on getting up!

My newest adventure involves yet another trip to the emergency room followed by another surgery.  I was fine last Saturday morning even participating in the JDRF walk with my nieces' team and spending the afternoon with family.  By the time 7 PM hit though, I was in so much pain I could barely move - abdominal pain is nothing to joke about under normal circumstances, but being pregnant, I called my OB who had me come in to get checked out.  I was hoping it was just that I have over-done it like my OB suggested at first, but I was fairly certain that was not the case. 

Luckily baby was dong perfectly fine, and we found a nice strong heart beat right away.  No contractions.  No bleeding.  Lots of abdominal pain though!  They quickly rule out any type of bladder or kidney issues and by the time my blood work came back it was not a surprise to see an elevated white blood cell count.  I was admitted overnight and sent to ultrasound to check for appendicitis.  The ultrasound was inconclusive (and very painful I might add) as they couldn't find my appendix.  A CT scan usually is the next step, but being pregnant we of course wanted to avoid that.  The doctor decided to wait until morning and check my blood again to see what we found, of course keeping me on some good pain killers overnight.  Blood work was again inconclusive in the morning, so it was decided to send me for an MRI.  Ever had one?  They are pretty terrible.  About an hour of sitting totally still with no one around while in a big tube magnet. I shudder to think I"ll ever need one again.  Thankfully, the results of the MRI were much better than the ultrasound and we found I for sure I had appendicitis.  While it's never "good" to have something like this, the timing as far as the pregnancy is concerned couldn't have been much better. 

I went in for surgery that afternoon, and came out perfectly fine with a very healthy baby.  The concern of course was that the surgery would irritate my uterus enough to send me into preterm labor, but despite a few contractions we never had issues.  I'm now a week post-surgery and while very sore, I'm doing well all things considered.  Baby is kicking away and very healthy - we had a level II ultrasound a few days ago that was pre-scheduled and did go very well.

We're hoping the rest of the pregnancy proceeds without any other complications.  I'm halfway there, so it's looking good.  Still considered high-risk due to some other issues, but all this means really is we'll be seeing baby on ultrasound once a month unless something else is detected. 

So...that's been our last week or so!  I hope all of you out there have had much more productive weeks than I have.  Hoping to resume some normal posting in the next day or two.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

45 Lessons Life Taught Me

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Sometimes, you're given just what you need to make it through the day.  A fellow FX blogger shared this on her blog today.  I thought I would take a few minutes to share with my readers as well.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:"

01. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

02. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

03. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

04. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

05. Pay off your credit cards every month.

06. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

07. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

08. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

09. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past, so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness, but you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?".

26. Always choose life.

27 Forgive everyone everything.

28. What other people think of you is none of your business.

29. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

32. Believe in miracles.

33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

34. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

35. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

36. Your children get only one childhood.

37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

41. The best is yet to come.

42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

43. Yield.

44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

45. The most important sex organ is the brain.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Day of School 2011

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Since this is our first year of school that I've had this blog going when school starts, I wanted to start a new tradition for Ayden.  At the beginning of the summer, I was able to post our first and last day of school pictures from the first year in ECSE.  Well, this year I decided to write a letter to Ayden.  Not the typical "this is how Ayden is doing" but instead a letter meant especially for him that hopefully I can share with him someday.

Dear Ayden:

Today was your second year of pre-school, or ECSE as it's proper name.  We have a few changes this year in that you are heading to the "big kid" class in the afternoon.  It is a big change for you, as you still haven't stopped your afternoon naps and school happens to fall right during that nap time!  I know this change will be difficult for you as has any change in your habitual life, especially one relating to sleep.  I'm hopeful though that this transition doesn't last too long and that your love for school will help you overcome any issues you have with change.

I'm so glad you have the opportunity to go to a place you love for a few hours each day.  I will always prefer to have you here with me, but know that for now this is best for you and your dad and I will always do whatever we can to help you be the best Ayden you can be.

Already today, you easily fell back into the routine of waiting for the bus.  When I got your school shoes and backpack out of the closet, your entire face lit up!  We put on your shoes and backpack, then headed outside to wait for the bus and of course get some first-day-of-school pictures.  You'll probably get a good chuckle out of this when you are older because your mom always has a camera, I'm sure that won't ever change!  As the bus pulled up, you grabbed my hand and walked there with me where without looking back you got onto the bus and into your seat from last year - even buckled yourself in!  As I was talking to your bus driver, Dave, you sat very patiently just looking at us like "C'mon, I'm ready!"  I was a very proud mom seeing how independent you are becoming.  Sometimes when you're with me all the time, I tend to forget and just do things for you instead of waiting for you to do them yourself.  I'm getting better, but even moms have a few things to learn.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add in a little snippet about your brother Issac here.  I think he had the most difficult time with school this year.  He's not used to being without you, but especially not used to napping in your room alone.  He cried and banged on the door for a good half hour crying and yelling things like "A-A-BAY BACK!" and "GET UP, A-A-BAY!".  He took not having big brother around a little more difficult than I expected, but was so excited when you came home.  I don't think he looked at you once the entire evening without saying "A-A-Bay BACK!", which also happened to be his answer to his favorite part of the day.

You also were very excited to arrive home.  I arrived at the bus to find you waiting at the top of the stairs squealing with delight.  As much as you love school, I'm so glad you are just as excited to arrive home.

I'm very excited to watch you grow and change again this year.  We have such an excited few months in front of us as we will be welcoming another member to our family before school is out.  I was a lot more worried when we were welcoming your brother, but I know this time you will be just as an amazing big brother if not more.

Last, though certainly not least, remember that I love you, Ayden.  I know you probably won't remember this day when you are older, but I hope this letter will give you a small glimpse into your life as a 4 year old and you'll be able to see that the one thing that won't ever change is how much your dad and I love you.