Saturday, April 30, 2011

Special Olympics - 2011

Emily and I - she is such a blessing to me!
Nicholas and Tyler - LOVE sweet Nicholas

Riley - rides my suburban and loves Hannah Montana!Tyler and Chantel - they are friends in the Resource Class

Tyler in his first race

Emily - sweet girl I drive to school

Keith - wonderful autistic young man with a great family!

I just LOVE Special Olympics! I love it because these precious kids get to feel a sense of normal as they run, jump, throw, etc like other kids and they ALL walk away winners! I love it because as parents of children with special needs we can connect with one another and know that although the needs of our children may vary from home to home - we all have something in common: our kids are special and have special needs that make our homes oh so interesting! Here are the highlights!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wax Museum - Take 3!

One thing about having my kids close together is that we are prepared for the Annual school events each year - the 5th grade Wax Museum is no exception!

This year it was Kestra's turn and she was Dolly Madison. She is SOOO into things like this and so after many attempts - we ended up just ordering a costume on-line. It was adorable though - of course she made it that way! Ha ha ha!

The kids not only dress the part, they have to write a 2 page report on their character and then also memorize a 30 sec speech summarizing the life of their person. Kestra did GREAT with this!! I am so proud of how hard she worked on this!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marriage takes 3!

This is a little different post in that it isn't necessarily specific to our family but at the same time it is ESSENTIAL for our family! Are you confused yet? No worries - I will explain!

Recently, the theme of marriages both good and bad has come up quite a bit. I have had several people celebrating anniversaries - my parents and my aunt and uncle to name two - and I have had some friends working on their marriages either through counseling or using books such as "The Love Dare" because they are hurting. I have spoken just in general with some friends about what it takes to have not necessarily a "happy" marriage but a strong and successful marriage. Joel and I have even talked about the good and hard times in our marriage...So - with all this going on I thought - hmmm why not blog some thoughts on the subject!

Before going farther - this is my disclaimer that this post is HONESTLY not meant for any one person in particular, so if it offends you, steps on your toes, or you think I have totally lost it (well that's a known fact) then well just know that it wasn't toward you personally! Ha ha! That being said - here goes....

Let's start with the successful and strong marriages that I have observed and the keys behind those marriages being successful.... In every case, I have seen that the marriages that are STRONG, SUCCESSFUL and HEALTHY are marriages that have ONE key person at the center: CHRIST! Notice I didn't say marriages that stay together because I know there are marriages that survive but I don't see them as healthy and strong.

Ecclessiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves; A cord of three strands is not easily broken." Now, I am not a theologian and don't claim to have researched all the ins and outs of this verse but as it applies to marriage - I have seen it to be KEY! In every case where Christ is at the center of each individual in a marriage's life and Christ is in the center of the marriage - there is unbreakable strength. The way it was explained to Joel and I in our pre-marital counseling was a beautiful picture of a triangle - as each person strives to grow closer to Christ; they grow closer to each other.

Okay - so does having Christ at the center make everything "happily ever after"? NO - it provides a firm foundation though that can't crumble.

Here are some other traits I have noted in these strong marriages:

1.) MARRIAGE is their #1 priority! It comes BEFORE KIDS!! BEFORE WORK!!! BEFORE FRIENDS!!! BEFORE CHURCH!!! BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT FOR CHRIST! Yes - you read that right - my marriage, my relationship with Joel is and MUST be second only to my relationship with Christ! If I put ANYTHING before that then I have allowed a serious threat to enter in.

2.) Communication - happens in a loving tone and with THE OTHER PERSON'S best interest at heart! "esteem each other as better than yourself" Phil. 2:3. You must always place them above yourself!

3.) Never speaking ill of one's spouse - when speaking about their spouse, I have never heard any of these people speak down or degrade their spouse. It is always loving and uplifting...

These are the top 3 but I know there are others.

Now let's look at some of the things that I have seen in marriages that are struggling, or floundering:

a.) It is all about ME almost every case I have heard "I wish..." or "If only they would think abot ME...." or "Why do I always have to do..." - a marriage isn't about YOU, it's about them.

b.) Kids are the priority - please don't get me wrong, being a Mom is SUCH a joy and responsibility but it is NOT your primary role if you are married and your hubby has to know that he comes first! He shouldn't get the "left-overs" of your day but the BEST of your day! I have always looked at it this way - one day I will wake up and all my kids will be gone and out of the house, on that day I DO NOT want to look at Joel and realize I have nothing in common any many marriages of 20 + years are falling apart due to this. I want to wake up and go - WOW I have lots of life to live with this man!!!

c.) Time - they just haven't spent time investing in their marriage. It isn't something that is a side-thought or an "if I get to it" - it is a sacrifice and investment.

Okay - so this is where I will stop for now as I know that I have posted on some of this before.

As Joel and I are approaching the 16 year mark in our marriage and we are looking at so many of our friends and family facing hard times in their marriages or even worse marriages ending in divorce - we are burdened more and more to take an active stand in protecting and promoting the SANCTITY of marriage! It can be a bumpy road at times but it is also an exciting and rewarding one if it is approached as a MARRIAGE OF THREE!!! Love to you all and please know that NO MATTER WHERE you may be in your marriage, or if you have gotten divorced, etc we are here for you to encourage and come alongside - not to judge or condemn! We love you all so much!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's been an UGH week but God is FAITHFUL!

You know sometimes when you think "wow, everything has been going good, when's the bomb going to drop"? Well, this week was that bomb for us! Since Sunday's little "incident" with Tyler's hand we have also had some other "blows" that have been hard to swallow.

Since Tyler is where I left off let's continue with that.... Tyler has had fluid on his ears and although not infected, it was enough for the Dr and Audiologist to be concerned about. In addition, the Dr and his speech therapist have been a tad concerned about the nasality to his voice and the structure of his mouth. So, they recommended we go to our ENT Dr. We have had an ENT Dr here in Durango that is GREAT! So we called him, made an appointment and that was that UNTIL the night before...the ENT office called to let us know that when they last saw Tyler he was on Medicaid but now he is on CHP (state insurance) and they aren't a preferred provider for CHP! So, the next morning we got another referral from our Pediatrician to a different ENT and made another appointment.

The appointment was a disasster! Joel had to take Tyler because I couldn't get off (very hard for me but I think it was the best!). Basics of the appointment: Dr was mad that we hadn't seen him first, treated Joel like dirt due to being on CHP, said Tyler would have to "deal" with fluid on his ears and just have regular check-up to make sure it doesn't get infected, does have a minor cleft pallete issue but Tyler just has to "deal" with that although there is a surgery that can be done, Tyler will have chronic fluid on his ears but adjust! Yeah - SO not a good thing! However, he is the only ENT here that takes CHP. We are working with our audiologist to see if there is anything we can do and plan on a follow up with our Pediatrician to get his advice. So...that was that.

Same day as Tyler's appointment, Hannah had an audiologist appointment that morning as a follow-up to school hearing screening. We ALL thought it would just be a test error - even the audiologist. WRONG! Hannah has moderate hearing loss in her cochlear (inner ear) at the same level as the boys. The boys are worse only because they have mixed hearing loss - middle ear and inner ear. Result: Hannah now needs hearing aids as well. Talk about overwhelming for her and I! We both had some tears leaving the Audiologist's office...Since Tuesday Hannah has worked through it and although still nervous is accepting it. She will have TINY hearing aids that most people won't even see - they even were able to order the same color as her hair! How cool is that! However, I still have moments where I just can't grasp the fact that 3 of my kids - half of our family - will be wearing hearing aides! At approximately $2000 per hearing aid that is $12,000 walking around on my kids' ears! YIKES! This doesn't include the FM transmitters attached to Tyler's aides which is another $4,000. Although we have CHP and it pays for the hearing aides initially and the transmitters are the schools - we are responsible if anything breaks, gets lost, broken, etc! My mind reels at the thought!

In the midst of just plain being overwhelmed to the point I could hardly breathe - God brought a song on the radio. It is "Nearer My God to thee/Peace be still" by Allan Hall. I hadn't heard this arrangement before but the last part grabbed me SO hard and I just broke down in tears at the ability to rest in Him...

Here are the words to this beautiful song!
He says "Peace be still" Lifts His hands "Peace be still"
And like a child the winds obey him, When he says "peace be still"
He says "Peace be still" Lifts His hands "Peace be still"
And like a child, my heart obeys him When he says "Peace be still"

I have not found this song on You Tube yet and although put it on my computer, haven't been able to add it to a playlist - so you can google if you want to hear the whole thing but it is POWERFUL!!! I do have it on FB though. Also this week, I have had three close friends going through some job related issues and my heart has been heavy for them! However - I know that there is Peace when Christ speaks and am trusting Him for that!

Monday, April 11, 2011

If it isn't one thing it's another with my Tyler Bay...

Sometimes I find myself thinking "What can he possibly do next?" when it comes to my son Tyler! It seems there is always something that this poor kid either breaks, ruins, injures, takes apart, etc...he brings new meaning to the term "All boy!"

Yesterday - was no exception for life with Tyler. We usually get to church early due to Joel being on staff and most Sundays Joel and/or I have something to prepare or get ready. Most days, the kids hang out in either the youth room or the children's worship area and are just fine, but there are those times that well....siblings will be siblings and they get into a fight.

Well, thus that is what happened yesterday. Kestra was mad at Tyler and decided to "retreat" to her Dad's office and lock the door behind her. Tyler, was especially angry and decided to bang on the door - which happened to have paned glass! I am sure you can imagine what broke, kids freaked, hand cut, crying children come running to Mom and Dad, parents freak, clean it up, lecture like nobody's business, etc.

The ironic part of this story is that it was like a replay with a twist to an event that happened while growing up - my sister and Dad were rough housing and my sister's hand went through the glass on our front door! Guess some things just come back around!

It took me til tonight to take pictures and blog about it because I had to let all parties involved calm down and recover! Kestra was so heartbroken that her brother got hurt, Tyler was in pain but recovered emotionally, and Malachi who had a minor role was cool over all. As for Joel and I, we did pretty well once they got a piece of our mind! HA HA!

Today as I thought more about this incident and what ultimately caused it - Tyler getting mad at Kestra and pounding out his anger - I realized that I do that with God a lot! I get so angry and upset at the curve balls life throws my way and "shake my fist" . The result for me....a "cut" in my relationship with God. Even though Tyler's hand will heal and thankfully didn't need stiches, there is soreness, possible scars, and the healing takes time. In the same way, my cut relationship will heal in time but there will be pain, scars and it takes time!

I mentioned to the kids yesterday that we have to remember that when we lose our tempers and are mean to each other - the result isn't good and can end up in pain. Hmmm...when I lose my temper with God it isn't good and often results in pain! So - lesson learned for all involved!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Remembering the Important things....

I am not going to mince words in this post - the past week has been ROUGH, no it has pretty much STUNK! There has been so much going on that my mind is just reeling with the enormity of it all. First, a friend of our close friends went missing in Colorado Springs last week. As hard as hearing that she was missing was, learning how circumstances in her life have fallen apart the past few years was heartbreaking. She is still missing and we are praying for her return and for her family as they are left wondering. Second, Tyler has had fluid on his ears for some time now and we had an appointment scheduled with our regular ENT Dr for yesterday, only to learn that they wouldn't take the state insurance that we are on now. So - had to go to the Pediatricians office for them to look at him and then determine that yes there is still fluid, yes he needs PT tubes and possibly some other work on his nasal cavaties, and to then refer us to another ENT Dr that will take our insurance and so we will be going there on Tuesday along with taking Hannah to an Audiologist appointment that same Dr offices! Third, the whole weakened economy that our Nation is in is rapidly hitting the community that we live in and it is so hard to see the ripple effects. From school budget issues, to loss of jobs, to church budget issues, etc. We know that God is here, we know that He has a purpose and a plan but our hearts are broken as we see suffering. Needless to say the above mentioned items and some not mentioned have led to a very emotional few days. However, in the midst of it all God has reminded me to count my blessings and focus on the most important things in life. Here are just a few of the things that I am trying to focus on for the coming weeks: 1. God IS Sovereign, He DOES have a plan and it is for our good and not to harm! 2. I have an AMAZING husband and we are blessed with a wonderful marriage because of God's grace and work in our lives. 3. I have 4 WONDERFUL children who each and every day are growing closer to God and are teaching me lessons of faith, prayer, and trust. 4. We are provided for - we have been blessed with the ability to give to others as well. 5. I serve the King of Kings and have the freedom and ability to come before Him and lay my burdens down! With that, I am off to spend some time catching up on house work in the home God has blessed me with!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coupon Shopping/Grocery Game

Ok - so I have to admit there are a few New Year's "Goals" that I haven't kept up with - like excercise (working on it), eating right (ugh!), drinking water - on again/off again...however, there is one goal that I have not only kept up with but am really getting to where I ENJOY it - Grocery Shopping with Coupons!!! I must say - Suzy Homemaker I am NOT! I don't like cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc but at the beginning of the year I resolved to do what I could to help us save money. I remembered that I had used the back in Lewisville Tx and then I also saw that one of my friends really was saving $ by using coupons - so I decided "I'm in!" The results have been amazing and my family LIKES the food I buy! Ha ha! We have gone from a pantry and fridge filled with white "Great Value" labels to very colorful shelves with name brands which I have almost NEVER bought! On the average I am saving between $300-$400 a month in groceries. Some have asked how much I spend in order to save that much and it is around $300 per month. I know I can probably save any more and I am still working on learning how to "play the game" better. However - our grocery budget has always been around $300 a month and so to spend the same amount of money and get twice the groceries has been AWESOME! I stick pretty much to the ideas and suggestions on the site with the exception of looking through and anything I need that may not be on the list but I have a coupon for I use the coupon at Wal-mart - also, I watch for coupons that may be expiring and then IF I need or will use that item - I then go ahead and use it! One thing I am learning to do is STOCKPILE! When things are on sale for 10/$10 I buy the 10 - doing this has meant that we have a BIG supply of things like deodorant, hand soap, bar soap, hot chocolate, cake mixes, cleaners, etc. however with a family of 6 we go through a lot of this stuff too! The other advantage is that our income drops for 3 months in the summer when neither Joel or I are working for the school so by stockpiling on some of these staples now - we can be ready for the leaner months. Here is my basic routine - obviously there can be changes with our crazy schedule! Sunday - BIG day in that it is the day I get the Denver Post and pull the coupon inserts. I then write the date on the front of the inserts and put them in my coupon folder. Next still on Sunday - I pull the list from I change her sort order to Savings amount because I generally don't buy anything with less than 50% savings unless I need it. Following that - I print the list and gather coupons, using the same method on the site. My main shopping day is generally Monday. I try to set aside the majority of the day because even though Durango is small it still takes awhile to go to 3 different stores - City Market, Albertson's and Wal-Mart. Well - there you have it the one goal that I have kept and actually really enjoy! Joel has even gotten to the point that he will come with me sometimes (he likes watching the total amount go down at the register!) The kids are also into it because often times I come home with treats like Danimals Yogurt, cookies, etc! Today was really fun - wish I had the camera - I went shopping by myself but when I came home the whole family jumped up and was all excited and helped unload!!! I enjoy making this a family event too!!! They were rewarded for their help with steaks for dinner - Buy 1 get 1 free!!!!