The Special Peacock

26 05 2010

Originally, I was going to do an end-of-the-quarter post with all my art projects (such as they are). However, I was so excited about our peacock (read: to be done) that I wanted to post these pictures.

Now, the class is called 3-Dimensional Design, and basically we use a variety of objects to make sculptures. Fun!

This particular project is called “Art and Nature,” and it’s been our only group project for the course. The parameters were to make a site-specific art piece using natural materials.

Lo and behold: Team Peacock (that’s Yan, Trang, and Wendy) totally rocked it. 

I must admit that being a florist in another lifetime helped out some, especially since I’d worked with natural materials before.

We scrounged around, feeling slightly criminal  (Yan always made sure I was the one holding the clippers), finding all the materials right on campus. We found salal and ferns just growing wild. (We paid good money for those greens at the shops I worked for in Idaho.) 

I’ll let you know how his dried leaves hold up after a week in the rain . . .

Just Call Him J.D.

17 05 2010

My baby brother graduated from law school on Saturday. Since I wasn’t going (tell me trying to entertain four children during a commencement speech–no matter how well-done–wouldn’t be torture), we had our own ceremony at my house while he and his family were here for Eden’s baptism.

I knew that cap and gown would come in handy sometime.

I made him dance like this, and told him to do it at the real thing. I don’t think he did (lawyers can be so stuffy!), but I like to imagine it happening anyway.

Me, posing with the graduate and his tassel.

Both of us dancing. It doesn’t get any better than this.

And the obligatory mortarboard-poking-my-eye-out shot. That never gets old.

(Really. I have an almost identical picture from his high school graduation–except I had short hair and was pregnant with Zack at the time.)

Love you, Mike! Sue the pants off of them, whoever they are.

But I Can’t Wait Until I’m Eight . . .

14 05 2010

For then I’ll be baptized, you see!

 The girls have asked for donuts instead of cake for their last birthdays . . . which is easy for me, but murder for poor Zack. “Donuts are my favorite food!” I readily admit the gluten-free ones I made don’t taste donut-y at all. He gets extra scoops of ice cream to make up for it, though.

I will say that between her ‘family’ party (shown here), her [first] friend party (too busy to take pictures), and her baptism, Eden has been partying hard pretty much all month long.

E’s surprise gift–after all the presents were open–was hiding in the back of her dad’s car!

She really IS a Glamour Girl . . .

Here she is, posing on her baptism day. Thank goodness Grandma helped finish the dress . . . I was having time management issues. (So, what’s new, right?)

I had to put this one in. Excited, much? She was jumping around–because she was wearing a jumpsuit, of course.

Mother and daughter.

Parents, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sister were there to support Eden. (I neglected to get a picture. I’ve found that when acting as hostess, there are too many other things to worry about.) We are so grateful for them and the effort they made to come.

I love you, Eden, and am so proud of your decision to be baptized.

Mother’s Day

10 05 2010

Have I really not posted anything since the first? Wow. It’s been crazy busy around here, with Eden’s baptism this weekend, which I will write about soon. This morning, though, I wanted to post the poem she wrote me for Mother’s Day. You always hear about how your actions speak louder than words to your children, but I didn’t know if I really believed it . . . until I read this. Turns out, Eden knows me pretty well.

One of the People I Love

I am a mother. I am kind, loving, and I care for my kids.

I like hearing my kids play nicely together.

I see the kind smiles on my beautiful children’s faces.

I am a mother. I am kind, loving, and I care for my kids.

I pretend not to be grumpy in the morning.

I’m worried when my children get lost.

I cry when my kids miss the bus.

I am a mother. I am kind, loving, and I care for my kids.

I believe that the church of Jesus Christ is true. I believe that the Book of Mormon and Bible is true.

I dream that my daughter will become a beautiful mother.

I try to make a difference by being a good influence.

I hope that we will be together forever.

I am a mother. I am kind, loving, and I care for my kids.

[I may or may not have cried a lot when I read this. I’m so grateful for all the mothers in my life and their examples to me, especially my own. Thanks for everything!]

May Day! May Day!

1 05 2010

(Did you know any time you write something on May first–email, blog posts, journal entries–you have to title it ‘May Day! May Day!’? Well, you do. It’s a rule.)

In honor of Autism Awareness Month which we just finished (we also just finished Mathematics Awareness Month, but that has no bearing on this post), I thought I’d write a few of my thoughts about autism, seeing how I’m aware of it every day.

Here are my thoughts (taken from a previous post, written last August) upon learning Colby’s diagnosis of autism:

He’s 31 months old and doesn’t say any words at all. He babbles some (more frequently now), and occasionally gets out a “Da!” or “Mum-mum-mum”, but most often we rely on a tug-Mom’s-hand-until-we’re-in-the-general-area approach. Luckily I’m a pretty good guesser.

We suspected autism early on, but there were lots of things to try first: hearing tests, walking (some kids start talking once they aren’t focused so intently on walking), triadic eye gaze, etc. About last November, I got to the point where I realized this child, the son who has my name along with a gigantic portion of my heart, had a disability.

I grieved.

There were so many expectations I had to let go of, and I hadn’t even realized they were there: graduation from high school, college, mission, marriage, grandkids.

It hurt.

I hurt for him when I thought of so many experiences I’ve had and enjoyed that he might not have. And I hurt for me, wondering if he’d ever speak to me and be able to tell me he loved me.

It took some time, but I realized that Colby is the way he is for a reason: for him, yes, but probably more so for our family. We need him. He might go on to do all those things and more, but he might not. We will love him (love him, love him!) no matter what.

At the beginning of July (talk about waiting lists–autism evaluation is CRAZY), Colby was evaluated and given the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Even though I was expecting it, I was still surprised at the blow it gave me. There was still a tiny little flame of hope in my heart, one I didn’t even know about, that was holding out for, “Guess what–he doesn’t have enough vitamin A. Give him these drops and he should be talking in no time!”

However, the shock was brief. I had already grieved the child I thought I had, and was embracing the one I was blessed with.

He truly is a blessing.

If you could hear his laughter, you would know why.

Colby is joy personified.

And the world needs more of that.

I am beginning the daunting task of coordinating various therapy efforts. I’m not good at things like this, appointments and whatnot. It’s scary to me. I also don’t understand the school system at all for special needs kids, and what I need to do to ensure he gets all the services he should. I need to be his advocate, but I’m not good at advocating. I’m good at accommodating, but that’s not the same thing. I’ve been praying for a backbone, for the courage to be the squeaky wheel. Because you know what they say about squeaky wheels . . .

They’re the ones that get the grease.

(squeak, squeak)

And who deserves grease more than this munchkin?


(This picture makes me want to hug him until his eyeballs pop out.)

That was written at the beginning of the autism journey for me and my family. I have read, I have studied, I have watched, and I have learned. Here is a picture of Colby today:

Playing with my iTouch. He loves that thing, and can be seen (oh, so often) kicking back with it, miraculously finding Jane Monheit in my music or spelling out the names of animals.

Like this:

Seriously. Legs crossed and everything.

Last September, Colby and I dove in to several different therapies: play group, occupational therapy, and occasional physical therapy. He had something every week day except Friday. I was with him through everything, and it was fun seeing his progress.

In January, after he turned three, he was no longer part of the county’s early intervention program. Instead, he was grafted into the school district special education program, early childhood education. Again, he had class four days a week, but the daily time was increased from two hours to a full school day.

A full school day! At three years old!

That went against every grain I had. For my other kids, I had done Joy School (and loved it) and always felt like maybe kindergarten was optional. (Technically, it is.) Kids are supposed to be home! Their mothers should be with them! Their mothers can teach them everything they need to know!

Putting Colby on that bus (a BUS! He’s only THREE!) was a gigantic leap of faith for me.

Sometimes, though, those things you take on faith end up reaping the greatest rewards.

Entering school, Colby had maybe five words/word approximations. He now knows over 30 and adds to his vocabulary almost every day (he said ‘Cheese’ two days ago).

He is able to sit through Primary with his Sunbeam class (this is all hear-say, since I’m not in there anymore)–which is tough for any three-year-old.

He can sing the alphabet song.

He can trace the letters of his name with his finger.

He knows the entire alphabet by sight.

He knows animal sounds and names.

This might not sound like much, I realize. But when you talk and talk to a child who is unresponsive for literally years, and then you ask him, “What does a cow say?” and he “Moo”s back, well, let me just tell you I could do that all day.

I am so grateful for his wonderful teachers and all the time they spend teaching him the things I couldn’t. I’m so grateful for a country that believes in educating all of its people, and for a state who has made this program, and others like it, possible. With the recession and budget deficits, a lot of programs are being cut.

I’m so grateful this one wasn’t.

We’re taking this journey together, baby steps, with lots of help from other people and from God. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.