Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beautiful Child

Ian photographs well - awake or asleep. Here he is konked out after Max's birthday party on Saturday. I snapped a pic then passed the camera on to Tom to grab a few. Couldn't ask for better light...or a more beautiful little face!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Max!

So you are finally a big 7 year old. Congrats - it's quite an accomplishment! I hope that the next 70 years are just as productive - you are turning into quite the little man!

So in honor of his 7th birthday, Max had a party. In typical Phipps fashion, the August party involves water, pools, cake, slip and slides, and this year squirt guns and water balloons. We also added a pinata, which despite it's complete failure to behave in a pinata -like manner, it was a big hit. It was an afternoon that was under the threat of rain, but not a drop fell. it rained all day Friday and all day Sunday but was clear as a bell on Saturday (Whew! Was getting nervous about having 15 6 and 7 year olds indoors for two hours!). And a big THANKS to those of you who suggested alternate activities just in case - it was much appreciated! The kids splashed and played for about a hour, then we ate cake. It was an odd cake - not quite what I ordered, but close enough ( a soccer ball appeared on the cake - but Maya and Miguel also appeared o there, not wuite sure why they joined the party!). The kids ate it and Max loved the soccer theme, so all was well in that department.

Then, it was pinata time. Since we are pinata novices, we got one of those pull string pinanta that you can whack at until everyone has had a turn, then pull the stings and the candy will come out. Or so we thought. Tom and Dad hooked up this great rig so that Tom could move the pinata out of harm's way and all the kids could take a whack. Max was up first, and we covered hius eyes with a bandana. All was well with the first swing. He made contact then was encouraged to take another swing. Well, that's where it was apparent that our first pinata outing was not to be. Max hit the pinata and the pinata hit the floor. After a small giggle, Tom grabbed it, Dad grabbed Max so he wouldn't swing at Tom, and we all stood there laughing. So, Tom lifted up the pinata thinking that there's still the pull strings, so we were good to go. Wrong again. The kids pulled the strings and the strings all ripped off, but it took several punches from Tom to get the thing to spit out it's candy. So, we are NOT pinata masters, and while Ian and Sam are already demanding pinatas for their birthday, i'm honestly not sure what we'll do. Tom dumped the candy onto the heads fo the kids (yes, onto their heads - a few "Ows" and "heys!" and the kids had their 5 lbs. of candy. Maybe that's where we first went wrong. Do pinatas come with poundage ratings? Well, they should. At least the ones that I buy should - lord knows we overfilled it this time!

Anyway, it was a great party. The kids had a good time, the clean up was easy, and the weather worked out perfectly. Couldn't ask for a better 7th for the little man.
Happy Birthday Max!

Friday, July 27, 2007

It All Works Out

Tonight we ate dinner at Don Pablo's after picking up Baba from the airport. Tomorrow is Max's birthday party and it was pouring rain all through dinner (it was sprinkling when we got there but poured for a bit while we ate), and it was making the party plans for tomorrow look a bit sketchy. But, when we were walking out of the restaurant we saw this:

Isn't it beautiful? It was a big old double rainbow, but all I had was my phone to take this pic, so you can imagine what it really looked like. So, even if it rains tomorrow (cross your fingers that it doesn't) we saw one of the most beautiful rainbows we've ever seen...and Max wanted to hunt down the pot of gold at the end...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Year

Today is the one year anniversary of Mom's death. I can hardly believe that a full year has passed. It seems like almost yesterday that I was flying back and forth to Texas to visit with her and help care for her in her last two months. Those months went so quickly. There's so much more I wish I could have experienced with her and so much more in life that I wish she would have been able to see. But, I go on knowing how deeply she loved all of us, and how proud she was of the way we'd all turned out. She and Dad are truly the foundation upon which my character is built. Without both of them I wouldn't be the person I am today - stong, independent, caring, slightly off center...and the list goes on.

So, while I'm terribly sad that she's gone from our lives and that the kids won't ever know the really cool person that she was (the grown up part - they know how cool she was as their Mimi!), I am greatful that I got to spend the first 33 years of my life with her and really get to know her not only as a mom, but as friend. So Mom, this is for you:


I love placemats and always have. I don't like the regular run of the mill pretty placemats designed to make your table look nice, but the placemats with cool stuff on them. It all started out with the holiday placemats, but thanks to the recognition on the part of my brilliant mother that I simply adored all placemats, and that they could be a learning tool as well, my obsession slowly spread to all types of placemats. She started me off with a few learning placemats and slowly added to the collection over the years. This comes in handy when you have three active boys who don't particularly like to sit still at meals or eat quietly. So, mealtime conversation has evolved into discussions about how much things cost, or which president is on which coin (and why Baba gave Ian a dollar when he asked for one and didn't give one to anyone else - Ian was the only one who asked - smart kid - and you know that this topic comes up quite often).

We also talk about what color states are (no, not red or blue states, although in this house that will be a normal topic of dinner conversation soon enough), and how long it takes to get from here to say, Idaho, and so on. We've also had all kinds of discussions about plane flights and driving and why Alaska is on the bottom of the map but how it's really above the top part, and why you really can't drive to Hawaii. Talk about confusing when you are four!
There's also a set of placemats that no longer grace out table. The kids have given up on the Periodic Table placemat and I've basically banished the human body placemat for meals. The periodic table is great when you are learning letters and numbers, but I guess it's just too boring for mealtime use. The human body, while cool to look at and chock full of info, was a bit much for meals. I wasn't so excited about discussing body parts and blood supply while chowing down. So, those are "retired" for now.

We also have some recent acquisitions. We were at the national Zoo and each little man wanted a placemat. So, we have three new additions to the family - the Saltwater Fish placemat, the Old McDonald placemat, and the Counting Animal placemat. These join the Solar System (we have two of those), the Power Rangers (yeah, not so educational but cool), the Multiplication placemat, and the favorite Dinosaur placemat.

So, if you don't have any placemats in your stash at home, check these out and see if there are any that float your boat. I'm sure there are, and they will be handy when we come to visit...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Time for Testing Again

It's time for the boys to start the next round of testing. I haven't mentioned this before in the blog (at least I don't remember mentioning it), but the little boys receive speech services from the school district, and have since they were 2.5 years old. Initially Sam was receiving fine motor therapy and Ian was getting speech therapy, but in actuality both were receiving speech services. Sam's fine motor caught up, and his speech was doing fine for his age, so he graduated when he turned three. Ian graduated from the Early Intervention program into the school district's program, which in Leander was a classroom based program. Ian thought it was super cool as he rode a bus to school for a few hours a few days a week, and was in a real class. Problem was, he moved into that class when he turned three (Feb. 25) and we moved mid-March. So, he went to "school" for a whopping two weeks. He did enjoy it and still talks about it to this day.

When we moved to Virginia he started receiving service here at home once a week. We loved the teacher and Ian made lots of progress. Along the way she mentioned that Sam needed re-evaluation as his speech was falling behind. The teacher in Texas told us that we needed to keep an eye on him and the his speech indeed started falling behind. He was evaluated and started receiving services this past Fall, and also started making good progress.

Along the way Sam developed some behavioral issues that we weren't sure how to deal with. He was overly aggressive, super emotional at inappropriate times, seemed to get himself all worked up for no reason, and was unable to calm himself down. He also was unable to sit still through a meal, or even through a short activity, and started hitting and pinching his brothers. He would spin in circles when he was overwhelmed and exhibited a few other off behaviors. Sam's teacher mentioned that he might have Sensory Integration Disorder, which is on the Autism spectrum. We tried a few things here at home and made huge improvements, and she decided that he needed to be evaluated so he could receive more services. While she was able to provide us with a bunch of info, and these few things we've done have improved his daily life greatly, he still has a way to go before he can control his body so his mind has a chance to do it's work (on the speech stuff for now - the rest of education later). Sam is a sensory seeker and is constantly craving input from his environment. His behaviors all point directly towards that and it's clear when we provide him with a little bit of extra sensory input, he functions much easier. Sam's speech has also fallen behind a bit more and he seems to be stuttering more lately, so we're concerned that his body is not only disrupting his ability to speak properly, but also is disrupting his ability to learn how to speak properly. So, Sam will be evaluated by an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and a psychologist. They will also interview us about Sam's behavior to get a clearer picture of what's going on.

Ian was also showing signs of some delays relating to trunk strength. He has general weakness in his trunk and has some problems with activities like throwing and coloring. They are going to have an Occupational Therapist do an evaluation to see if there's any actual delay there, and if there is they will provide services. They will also review Ian's speech testing to see how he's doing. He's made so much progress, but he is still pretty unintelligible if you are a stranger or if you don't know the context of whatever he is talking about. His testing comes in about two weeks, but Sam's starts tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the OT evaluation, so it should be fun for Sam. He doesn't have much trouble with OT related things (at least in my opinion), but hopefully if they do find something it will tie in with the other behaviors and will help them help us make sense of this all. Like I said some of the little things we've done to help Sam learn how to deal with his senses have made a huge impact, and if the school district provides more services for him Sam will be in a much better place once school starts in a year and a half.

So, while I'm a bit apprehensive about this testing, it's more along the lines of "how can I get Sam to misbehave so that they get a good picture of what his trouble is" instead of the "Oh my gosh there's something wrong with my kid" variety. We really want Sam to be successful at whatever he chooses to do in life, and while his sensory stuff is mild, it's still there. Any help we can get for him early on will be much better for him in the long run.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sam's Trip to the Dentist

Recently all three boys hit the dentist for their 6 month check up. All was well and good until the dentist peeked at Sam's x-rays. She saw a shadow - the dreaded "there-might-be-a-cavity there shadow that dentists can spot amongst the highlights and shadows of the x-ray. I've got to say that the x-rays themselves are pretty cool - you really can see all of the teeth in their little heads - ALL the teeth. Max had a bunch that were almost ready to pop out, and Ian and Sam had a stash ready to go in a few years.

Anyway, back to Sam. He had that little shadow and so we scheduled a follow up to have the cavity filled. It was a smallish thing that was on a baby tooth, but it was one of the last baby teeth that he would lose, so it really needed to be filled. That appointment was yesterday. You might think that it was traumatic since I'm just now getting around to posting about it, but that's not the case. It went surprisingly well - Sam was a complete trooper.

We had an early appointment and he and I headed over there, arriving on time. We had to wait for about 10 minutes, but it was no big deal as Sam had no idea what was about to happen. We had explained to him what was going on, but having no idea really what a cavity is or a drill or anything like that, he really wasn't sure what was going on. The hygienist and the dentist came in and hooked him up to the laughing gas, and set up Cars the movie so that he could watch it while they were working. The laughing gas and the movie did their jobs, and when the dentist came in to start working, aside from being slightly distracted by the movie, Sam did exactly what he was told and hardly flinched when they administered the Novocaine. He had a tear running down his cheek, but said that it was because it tasted bad, not because it hurt. Amazing.

He sat through the whole thing - about 20 minutes when all was said and done, and didn't take his eyes off the screen. He even managed to laugh at the first few scenes of the movie. Did I say amazing already? He went through the whole thing and not a peep about the drill, the having to hold still, or anything. Simply amazing. Sam is my hero (until he turns back into the little 4 year old boy that he really is...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our California Trip

We had a great time in California over the Fourth of July holiday! We headed out there to celebrate my youngest cousin Alan's graduation from high school. We flew out at the crack of dawn on July 4th, so we were able to catch the fireworks with the family at Disneyland. The boys were so exhausted that Max and Ian slept right through the fireworks. Sam woke up in a foul mood right before the fireworks, but you can't blame him - we woke them up at 3:30am eastern and it was 9:30 pacific when we were seeing those fireworks! Anyway, cool show - lots of fun.

Then we hit Disney, celebrated Alan's graduation with family, got to hang out with Ray (who is in California for the summer working), got to swim a bit in Ann nad David's pool, and got to meet Baby Skye!!! She is Kelly and Colin's little girl, and she is adorable! I even managed to squeeze in a trip to two scrapbook stores - one very cool and the other terrible. Managed not to break the bank but got to check out some of the cool new stuff!

So, here are some of the pics from our trip. It was one of those great vacations as well as a good time with family!

July 2007 CA Trip

Powered by Smilebox
Click to play Make your own Smilebox

Monday, July 09, 2007

So we're in the car today (Max, Ian, Sam, and I) and Max blurts out: "So Mom, I forgot how the baby is actually born from the mommy. Can you tell me again?" Dang Tom for riding in the car with our good friend Matt. Dang Max for being so inquisitive. Dang me for answering all of his questions and encouraging him to ask them! Well, not really. I just love this stuff, but wasn't ready right at that moment to explain how it really happens. I told him that I'd sit down with him later and explain it. Tom's going to love this one...

And I'm adding it to the list of questions that I've gotten in the car - along the lines of "What does God do for me" and a few years ago: "Where do babies come from?"

Gotta love the kiddos... ;)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

It's a game show for me!

Man, do they have my number over there at the Fox channel. There's a new show coming out this summer called "Don't Forget the Lyrics," hosted by Wayne Brady. Wayne Brady is THE FUNNIEST guy on TV today. He's multi-talented, and honestly, this format might be a complete waste of his talents. But I'm glad he's on my game show.

Let me explain. I know the words to just about every song out there...four words to be exact. No more, no less. There are a few fromt eh 80's and a few kids songs that I know more words, but for the rest it's four. I most likely know the song that you are thinking of right now, but I don't know more than four words of it. I can most likely hum the tune, but again, not sing enough of the words to even get a title sometimes.

So, you can see what the draw is for me to this new show. I'm not holding my breath as it's on Fox, but Wayne Brady is cool, and I might actually know a few of those words...certainly not enough to win the big bucks though. Maybe one day I'll learn a few more words...