Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Year Ago...

One year ago today we closed on and moved into this house. I can't believe we have been here an entire year. Time has flown by. We miss all of our precious Muleshoe friends, but treasure our sweet new friends in Belton & Killeen, too. Just thought I would commemorate the occasion with a post.

Little Man's Video Montage

Jonathan hasn't had just a whole lot of blog time lately and I really want to catch up on here with all of his little milestones so I don't forget them. He is still on the verge of walking...we've been saying "any day now" for about two months now! But, he will actually walk down the hallway holding onto the wall..and then give up and crawl because it is faster! He just doesn't seem to have a huge interest in walking. Dr. Farmer used to say Benjamin was "very cautious" before he walked and I really see that with Jonathan, too. His pediatrician doesn't seem too worried. So, I'm trying not to be, either. Barefoot, he'll stand on his own for quite some time. As you can see from the following video, he wasn't quite as smooth with shoes on and mastering a stand:

We took another video tonight on the way home from LIFEGroup. We always say that we really want to "capture" that sweet little voice he has...and we finally did! Every other time he is talking and I turn the camera on he immediately stops, but tonight he was in rare form (as was Benjamin who really wanted to share in the spotlight). I truly apologize for the "Blair Witchiness" of the footage. You may want to take a Dramamine before pushing play. I just had to get him talking, though!

Some of his other words (besides "hi" and "bye" and of course the usual "daddy" and "mama") include:
BALL-- he loves any type of basketball or baseball he can get his little hands on.
EYE-- can't quite pinpoint it on his face, but knows the word.
DIS-- aka "this"; this is his classic word for anything he doesn't know the proper word for but wants to get his hands on. All day long I hear, "Dis...dis...dis."
NANA-- aka "banana"; he is now eating an entire one for breakfast, plus a whole slice of brown sugar breakfast bread toasted with butter! He seriously won't touch it if it doesn't have butter...such a southerner.
CHEEE-- aka "cheers"; he likes to clink his sippy cup with Benjamin's cup before they eat and they both shout "Cheers!" It really is quite funny. David and I laugh so hard when they do this. We have no clue where it came from! Jonathan is also usually the "cheers" initiator, too.
PEAZ-- aka "please"; he has found that it really is the magic word in terms of getting you what you want.

I am amazed that this little boy is already sixteen months old. Where has the time gone?
Jonathan, you bring us such joy every day. We love you, kiddo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

For some reason (and I can't quite put my finger on why) but we are all pretty wiped out by a busy week. So, we decided to stay close to home for Family Funday and go to Wazoo's, which is right around the corner from us. This is one of those huge buildings with about a dozen inflatables for kids to play on and run around.
This was Daddy's first time with us at one of these type of places and he even took a few turns sliding and bouncing! Jonathan had a blast and held his own among the big kiddos. We ended up not even taking him into the little toddler play zone because he was so into the bounce houses and all that those entailed.
Benjamin amazes me at places like this. This is one of the rare places that he physically can master. I don't know what it is about it, but his confidence is high and he just gets in there and does his thing. He'll climb the biggest of slides and scale the largest of the inflatable "rock-wall" type things without blinking an eye. It is quite interesting to watch him. It is like he is totally in his element. Even when other three and four year olds will cry at the thought of climbing the big slide at Wazoo's, Benjamin just goes for it and does great. For some reason, it also doesn't bother him that the place is so crowded, whereas in other crowded kiddo settings (like a McDonald's play area or a park), he'll sort of shy away from the craziness. Today was particularly hoppin' at Wazoo's since a local day care had brought every child in the facility to play. At first, I thought, let's not try this today, what chaos. But Benjamin really wanted to be in and a part of it all. I was so incredibly proud of him.
All in all, a super fun day. The boys are completely tuckered out and snoozing away!

He went around and around the big yellow pillar in the middle of this one!

Daddy getting in on the fun on the Enchanted Forest Bouncer.

Climbing out of an obstacle course.

Daddy and Jonathan tackled a big slide together!
This was the bottom of it; they were too fast for my camera.

Exiting the Pirate Ship bouncer. What a fun time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Day to You Two!

Just wanted to take a minute and wish my parents a Happy 53rd Anniversary! Have a fabulous day, you crazy kids. We love you so much.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For all of you Belton, Killeen, HH friends...

Okay, ladies...let's talk shopping. A few of you have asked if I know what shops are going in the new shopping center in Harker Heights. I knew off hand that Target (duh, it opens in three weeks!), Barnes and Noble, Chick-fil-A and Bed Bath & Beyond were in there. But, as I keep seeing new signs going up (Lane Bryant, Ulta, Dollar Tree), I started to get a little curious as to what else is going in.
I stumbled onto the best website that answered all of my questions! (By the way, Fred & Nyla...we're getting a Cracker Barrel!!). If any of you are interested, click here and then click on Property Browser. Select Killeen/Harker Heights and voila! Just mouse over the shops to see what is going where!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We're Baaaack!

We made it back from our few days of fun! We are exhausted, but it was well worth it. Corpus Christi was so much fun. We actually think we'll make this little excursion an annual thing. Next time we plan to stay on the North Padre Island, though. That was where we spent most of our the best beach in Texas I have ever seen! The North Padre Island National Seashore, in my opinion, is Texas' best kept beach secret. We just fell in love with the place. We also managed to make it into town to the Texas State Aquarium, cruise the harbor on a paddleboat, and eat some really tasty seafood.
If you are interested in seeing a bunch of crazy photos and getting our daily play-by-play, we actually kept up a travel journal while we were gone. Click here for the full scoop:
Now...back to reality.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day & We're Outta Here!

Just a quick post to say Happy Dad's Day to three of the best dads I know! Hope your day is fabulous! Also want to extend some father's day happiness to our brothers: Daniel, Samuel, Bud, Dale and Mike. And to all of the other wonderful dads out there!
We celebrated today surprising David with bfast in bed and a new Bible.
We are also heading out for the beach tomorrow! See you next week, friends!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is it Friday already? Wow, this week flew by for us. We had a great Family Funday, especially since Daddy is now off on Fridays through the end of July!
Here's a little movie quote that will let you know exactly what we did early this afternoon:
"Tonight, tonight we bowl." Any guesses as to where its from?

We made a trip on over to the Killeen Bowlerama. We also realized our kiddos are probably a little too young (and perhaps disinterested to bowl, yet). But it was a fun little outing. And Benjamin only managed to smush his finger once on the ball return.
I'll keep it short since I've got a bunch of chores to do. Here's a few pics from our day (or hour? We didn't even make it through a whole game. Sad, I know.)

"So, Daddy, do you think my ball will ever make it to the end?"

Jonathan entertained himself with the hand dryer thingy. I was so nervous watching his fingers, somehow he managed to make it out of the Bowlerama unscathed. Benjamin had a slight smushing incident, nothing too major. Only two tears.

This ramp thing was the key to Benjamin's bowling success.

We ended the event with Sonic drinks. Jonathan even got his very own water (how exciting, huh?). We weren't even a mile down the road before he managed to puncture a hole in the bottom of the cup and was soaked. This is why we ordered him water.
I will say that this whole experience let me know that I am a fabulous bowler. Or maybe it was those bumpers...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Saving Summer Carnival

Attention fellow bloggers: please play along! This was super fun to map out our summer should too!
A fellow ACU Mommy Blogger, Lynley, over at Casa de Phillips has challenged us all to save activity at at time! I noticed Jordan did this on her blog, too, so I thought it sounded like fun to play along. I am a few days late for the day this was hosted, but's summer time!
Plus, I love having "a plan." It makes it easier for me not to slack off when the dog days of August roll around. I also found a couple of great ideas from other carnival participants, including finding a new park each week to play at. (side note: I also went ahead and purchased the book that she listed on her site about the Fruits of the Spirit; I know it will be a good one because we have the "companion" book, Jesus and the Twelve Dudes Who Did. Good purchases if you're interested. We have loved the Jesus book ever since the Alaniz family gave it to us!)
Our summer time plans are probably quite identical to other families with toddlers out there. We have regular play groups each week with our church friends. At the end of the month, we are looking forward to David's parents coming for a visit. In July, Benjamin will have swimming lessons with Jennifer and a few other pals from our church. Also in July, I have had plans for quite sometime with (my very pregnant friend) Lori to head to McKinney for a long, long weekend of relaxation and kicking back at the pool with massages and major shopping. Ha ha, just kidding Lori. We are painting the nursery for her little bundle of joy! Which to me is the equivalent of pool fun. I know, I am such a nerd.
What I am really excited about is that we are leaving for our vacation in 3 days! Woohoo. We are heading down to Corpus Christi for 6 fun days of sun, fun and chasing Jonathan. Yes, I said Corpus Christi, not Galveston, as we had originally planned. This was a last minute change due to the fact that Galveston's forecast was looking a little sloshy for a week at the beach. But we are excited about our little family getaway!
To play along with the Saving Summer Carnival I put together one of my silly little poems (it's been a while, don't laugh at my sad little attempt) to really capture the spirit of our summer schedule:

Summertime is here, dear friends
On this we all agree
I ‘ve put together some big-time plans,
To keep two little boys happy.

Mondays are our “catch-up “ day
To get our week off to a good start
The hampers are full and the fridge is empty,
Chances are you’ll find us at Walmart.

But Mondays are also for our buds,
Because playgroup we hate to miss out.
So in the morning, we’ll make some time
To get over to Belton, ain’t no doubt!

Tuesdays we plan to make a big splash
Over at our neighborhood pool
Because we certainly live in Texas,
And in summer it takes water to stay cool!

Wednesday we’ll go exploring
To a new park each and every time!
Killeen has some really fun spots, ya know,
And it won’t cost this Mom a dime.

Thursday is for around the house,
Chores and such we’ll get done.
While Jonathan snoozes each afternoon,
His brother will be baking up some fun!

Friday is of course our Family Time,
Since Daddy is home to play...
From picnics to movies to the lake,
We’ll always make it a special day!

And there you have it, all summed up.
Our summertime at a glance!
Now head on over to Casa de Philips
And give your Summer a chance!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Are You Ready For Some [Arena] Football?

Monday night we had a fun time with our friends, Steve and Becky and their kiddos, Cade (who is Benjamin's buddy) and Miss Gracyn (adorable!). Our evening was filled with BBQ and a wild game of Arena Football! Becky and I definitely appreciated that Arena Football is a lot faster-moving than regular football, the clock doesn't stop quite as much! It was pretty entertaining to watch, too, especially with a very overly-animated announcer who had us cracking up.
Our county has a team called the Cen-Tex Baracudas that call Belton home.
It was an action-packed evening of fun and trying-to-talk-over-the-hilariously-loud announcer.
Jonathan really enjoyed "boogie-ing down" to all of the crazy music they played. He was a hoot to watch. The boy definitely has rythym and knows when to strut his stuff.
Benjamin and Cade really took it all in, too! Everyone was pretty worn out by half-time, so we headed home to tuck 'em all in.
Fun times with fun friends.
The boys side of the row...taking it all in.


Could she be any cuter?

Benjamin and Cade checking out the beverage line-up.

There really were other people at this game, our tickets were just one of the last rows filled! This is our bunch (I'm behind the camera!).

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Today's funday was a little more run-of-the-mill than we think we'll
normally do, but Jonathan has a little cold virus thingy so we didn't
want to wear him out. The really fun part was that we were able to
spend a little time with Daddy, too. We brought lunch up to David and
hung out at the school for awhile. Since school let out Wednesday, a
lot of the building was empty-- even the gym! So we (they) played
basketball and ran (crawled) off some serious energy.

We took the following photo of Jonathan at David's desk:

And it looked amazingly familiar to one from a few years ago (anyone recognize this crazy kid?):

We stopped by the library on the way home to sign Benjamin up for their Summer Reading Rewards Program which involves a pizza party, a swimming party and a treasure chest of prizes. Oh, and reading. We went home and Jonathan slept the afternoon away. Benjamin and I made banana bread since Benjamin is becoming a non-napper. I watch Food Network fairly often during naptime (huge Paula Deen and Robin Miller fan), and I think Benjamin is now enjoying it, too. We filmed his very own cooking show clip while making our banana bread. Just to clarify, there are a few more ingredients than bananas, flour and sugar in this recipe. In fact, I'll put the recipe at the end of the post. It is the EASIEST banana bread recipe I have ever seen and great for preschool-aged kiddos to help with. Benjamin loves "smooshing" the bananas. It's also quite moist!

The Next Food Network Star:

And that wraps up #2 in our Family Fun Friday series. I changed the name to add family. After thinking about it, our summer is basically full of fun days with play groups and play dates, swimming lessons in July (thanks, Miss Jennifer!), and various other activities. I wanted to make Fridays just about family time. We also found out that we were mistaken in thinking that David was only off Fridays in July...this rings true for June, too (starting the 13th)! So, it will truly be a family day! Fun stuff. Have a great weekend!

Benjamin's Banana Bread (it is shamefully easy!)
3 ripe bananas
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
Mash bananas with fork or potato masher. Stir in all ingredients. Pour in greased loaf pan. Bake one hour in preheated 325 degree oven. Could it get an simpler?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Some Love for Camp Hope

I wasn't going to blog about this, but blogging has truly become a place to store memories as well as other info. I just wanted to recap today's therapy sessions so I would remember some of the cool things we did and maybe I can start implementing a lot of them at home.
We had a different PT this time, her name was Rebecca. She was nice and will be our PT from here on out. It took Benjamin a little bit to warm up to her. It was probably because she kept calling him Ben (even after asking me several times what he went by!). This really doesn't bother me when people do this, it is so commoon. And it would seem logical that he would go by Ben; we just have never done that. No reason. And if you have ever called him that, don't worry! I just think that folks think he is being rude when he doesn't respond. He's not. He just doesn't have a clue who this Ben guy is. He may very well decide to go by that one day.
Shanna was our OT again. Man, I really do like her. Benjamin does, too. It is pretty obvious that she really "gets" him and how to work with him. She picks up on very subtle things, too, that he does. She also takes extra time to explain to me why she is doing something with him and how to do it in case I want to try it at home.
Today he worked on balance (on the big square swing and sitting on an excercise ball), kicking a ball with his left foot (he very strongly prefers to kick with his right, to the point that he almost can't kick with his left), jumping, riding a special trike (we get to take one home for keeps soon--so cool!), lots of muscle-strengthening for his hands including cutting a straw while holding the scissors a certain way, finding coins buried in thera-putty and various other things.
In our home in Muleshoe, we had two old vintage-y school desks put together in the living area to form a sort of kids' table off to the side. I really miss this. I have now used these desks in each of the boys' rooms as a bedside table and don't really want to change that...but I just might! I think it would be good to have a small activity area in our living room again. I tried to avoid this like the plague in this house since we have a playroom, but I'm warming up to the practical side of it. I'm thinking about getting B his own excercise ball here at home to sit on and work on some of his therapy stuff and color in his coloring books (that kid will color around the clock-- maybe not very well, but he sure loves to do it!!). He loved sitting on the ball and Shanna explained how incredibly helpful it is.
That's all I know. I just wanted to get it down "on paper" before I forgot anything.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Good Times with Good Friends

It is such a treat to get to see old friends. Okay, not old, but friends who you have known for quite awhile. (Now that I'm in my thirties, that old word has a different conotation.) Our friends Jami and Jason are following their hometown team to the playoffs in Austin and we were able to spend a little time together yesterday. It just feels good to see them. It always does. They are one of those families that we painfully miss from our Abilene time. I remember when they came to visit us in Muleshoe a few years ago. We were sitting next to them at church and hearing their beautiful singing voices really got to me and David. Sweet, sweet people.
It's strange now how, literally, EVERYTHING has changed. David has known the Wests a bit longer than I have, but when we were all in Abilene, none of us had kiddos yet and both Jami and I worked for ACU at the time. Now here we are, five years, four kids and three big moves later. But we picked up just where we left off and had a great time.
Love you guys. (Go, Tigers, Go!)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Our First KISD ARD

Being married to a school administrator, I have heard the word ARD a lot. It is a meeting to assess a special needs student in terms of progress, etc.. It stands for Admission, Review and Dismissal. It is funny how we found ourselves "on the other side of the table" at this morning's meeting and it was a whole new ballgame.
It is sort of strange to sit in a room of eight people and discuss your child in a formal meeting. These people have spent a lot of time and energy reviewing Benjamin and assessing him. It was quite a process. I am so thankful to those of you who steered us in the school direction, because we will be utilizing their services starting in August. More on that in a bit.
First of all, it was a little bit of a different outcome than we expected. For one thing, Benjamin is now officially classified in KISD on the Autistic level-- a word we hadn't prepared ourselves to hear. One of the ladies used the word autistic child several times and for a moment, I felt myself almost tear up. But I stopped her to ask for a little clarification before I became a blubbering mess in the middle of this meeting.
An Autistic child scores between 85-115 on the scale they use to rate them, Benjamin is at an 85. Which is good. This means he is extremely high-functioning in terms of the label Autism. On the Asperger's scale (same thing 85-115), he is at a 97. This was what we truly expected to hear. But, since Asperger's is a form of Autism, he is classified as Autistic. A little over-whelming? Yes. But, we were also given some good news that this diagnosis is still "fluid" and at his age and the early intervention, in a couple of years his numbers on these two scales can decrease-- even significantly.
We will be receiving in-home therapy for him from the school twice a week starting in the fall. Someone will actually be coming to us-- very cool! I was so happy to hear this. Benjamin is already enrolled in the Christian Preschool at our church for the next year. I was a little worried that we were going to have to take him out of that and send him (gasp!) to elementary school two years early for a few days a week to receive services there. I wasn't exactly ready to send him on his way to real school, yet. We also do two therapy sessions at Camp Hope every week, which we start Thursday (hooray, love CH)! So, we are well into this whole world of Asperger's and finding out what we can do as parents to help our little boy thrive. Ironically, two of the KISD women in our ARD both have children with severe Autism and they were sooooo helpful. They made us feel good when they said they would rather be in our shoes (with Asperger's) anyday. One of them has also advised us to join the local support group for Autism. We will also be going to an Autism workshop at the end of June that the school highly recommended for us to take part in, too.
I know this journey is just beginning. Right now, we are still trying to wrap our minds around the situation. But, I feel so happy to have an entire plan in place for the next year on how to begin to help Benjamin learn some amazing things. I know God has been with us every step of the way. At first, we struggled to deal with our insurance, but that too had a silver lining in the brand new Camp Hope facility. Then we wondered about a diagnosis and KISD was there to help.
Thanks again for your prayers and support. We continue to be blessed by them.