Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Volunteering and Judgement!

So, I volunteered at Sam's school for the first time this week. I LOVED it! I really liked the feeling that I was a part of his school and his education. I think that when parents are involved in their child's education the child really, really benefits. Your child sees that you think education is important, plus when you are around the school more often, you have a better idea of what goes on there. I also think its important for the teachers and staff to see that you care and that you are more aware of what happens at school. I have witnessed the importance of this first hand when I worked at a school.

Well, my job was to work the PTO table (also known as the PTA). I made sure the families had the school calendar and the school info card. I also gave out fliers about the PTO and tried to get people to sign up to volunteer. Boy, did I feel like a salesman! I had a whole little spiel about the PTO and the volunteering. I think I did an ok job, as I like people and tend to interact well with them (which is why I was/am? a social worker). I really don't like having to "hawk my wares", it makes me feel uncomfortable, but I can do it if that's what's asked of me. What was really interesting was people's reactions to the PTO table. Some people didn't even glance at me as they stalked by (obviously too important to waste time talking to the chipper redhead with the overly bright smile). Others listened to my pitch, we're polite and acted interested. The ones that really bothered me, were the moms that obviously looked down at me - a mom on the PTO volunteering at her child's school. You could tell this from the condescending look and the smart aleck smile hovering on their faces. Most of them looked like they were on the verge of actually laughing at me when I mentioned the PTO. It was obvious that they felt the PTO was a joke and I was one of "those housewives" that has nothing better to do than be on her child's PTO and run the school bake sale. Can you say annoying??!? You know what though? I am ok with it. I am confident knowing that I probably have more education that most of those bitter women and more kindness and happiness too. I am a housewife and hear me roar!! It makes me happy to stay home with my kids, take them to school and pick them up, volunteer at their school, and generally devote my life to raising them. I don't judge working moms (as I was, in the not far past, one of them) and wish more women would stop judging each other. Just do what's best for your family and what makes you happy!!

I have included some pictures of our most recent nature walk. I mean, if you are reading this blog, you probably know that I have adorable children and love sharing their cuteness with others :)

Looking at the seeds we found in a cool leaf
My happy boy loved the walk! Trying to teach Lilly how to roll down the hill. She kept scooting down :)
Sam was a pro at rolling down the hill! Swinging from the weeping willow like Go, Diego, Go!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Science experiments, Pinterest, and ear infections!

It has been a long week! Shaun has worked a ton this week and we only saw him on Tuesday night! Sometimes, the long shifts for the fire department and working for his dad on his days off can be hard on us. I am grateful he is able to earn extra money and has a career that allows him to work a second job, but we miss him :) I have been trying to keep the kids busy with projects and field trips to the park. I don't know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest. I have pinned so many great activities for the kids, and decided to try a few of them this week. Sam loves his science experiments and so does Lilly. I think I am going to try and have Shaun build a sensory table for the kids. It is just a table that has a hole cut out of the middle for a long tote to go in. There are so many activities and sensory type things to do! We experimented with baking soda and vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and yeast, we also made calming glitter jars. They had so much fun! I am going to try and start making or doing things I pin on pinterest at least once a week. I mean, what's the point of pinning that stuff if you never actually do any of it?!

Having fun seeing what happens when you drop vinegar onto baking soda!
Great sensory play once the baking soda became totally wet!
Hydrogen peroxide and yeast! We really need a higher strength peroxide so we will redo.
On a side note, poor Sam woke up screaming this morning. I thought he might have a headache and gave him Tylenol. Nada!! It didn't help at all. When I moved him downstairs (which involved lots of shrill screaming and sobbing in my ear) I noticed that he was holding his ear. Oh boy, ear infections are not fun! I have only had one as an adult, and it was some of the worst pain I have ever felt! My poor baby. I took him to prompt care and the doctor only saw some slight redness-WHAT?!? I couldn't understand that, considering the amount of pain he was in. The doctor then said that a middle ear infection could be starting up and that may be why he is in so much pain. Thankfully they gave us an antibiotic and we were in our way. You could tell he was sick since he laid on the couch all day long (that's in case the ear splitting screaming and crying didn't clue you in). I did think how lucky I am that I don't have to choose between taking care of my sick child or going to some big meeting at work! Just another reason I am so thankful that it's now my full time job to take care of my children (even when they are grumpy and causing me to go deaf from all the high pitched screaming!).

My biker gang! It took some maneuvering to push Ben and Lilly and the same time!
Ben had fun exploring the yard for some outdoor learning!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Schedule? What Schedule?

So I wrote out a schedule for this week that involved cleaning and activities for the kids. Unfortunately, I haven't been following it like I should! I did windex the door windows and mop the kitchen Monday, but was unable to mop the rest of the house because my mop broke! I was supposed to dust today, but that didn't happen. Lilly spent the night with my mom yesterday and Sam is spending the night today. I went over this morning to exchange the kids and ending up staying until after lunch. Wouldn't you know it, 4 minutes away from my moms and Ben throws up all over himself and his car seat. I had to turn right around so I could get him out of it. It was really bad and needed to be washed before he could use it again. So, Lilly and Ben took a nap while I waited for it to get washed. That took up my whole afternoon plus I had to take something to Shaun at the firehouse. We didn't end up getting home until after 6pm!!! We have a play date tomorrow, but hopefully I will get things accomplished while they nap in the afternoon. It is taking me a while to get into a rhythm for cleaning the house, shopping, taking care of the kids, and spending quality time with them. I am going to try and stick to the schedule I made for myself as closely as I can. We will see what happens! I also want to start going to the gym, but I have to figure that part out still!

Having fun swimming at Nonn'i's. Trying to walk!
In other news, I upholstered a wooden stool to use with my makeup table. The stool I have been using for years is finally toast. I had this great wooden kidney shaped stool that has been floating around in my dining room. My mom gave it to me years ago and I have been trying to find a use for it (besides decoration). I am really happy with the results. I have never upholstered anything before, but my mom showed me how and helped me figure it out. It really makes me want to complete even more projects! I am going to have to start a list of projects I want to do. Speaking of projects, Shaun finally completed a few around our house! We have an awesome coat tree, but there really isn't enough space by our front door and we need more hooks! So, I bought two hook racks and Shaun installed them in our entry way. One high and one low so the kids can hang up their own coats! He also put up a shelf in the bathroom (been waiting years for that one), installed a tv wall mount in the boys room, and took down Lilly's crib and put up her toddler bed. Yea for getting stuff down around the house! Hopefully, we can keep up the pace.

Picture of the stool before I upholstered it. I forgot to take a picture before I glued on the paddling!

It's so comfortable now and really cute!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Language, Language, Language!!!

No, this post isn't about dirty language (even though my husband needs to be reminded about cleaning that up every once in a while), it's about Sam's use of language. This has always been one of his struggles. He has an advanced vocabulary, but struggles to use language appropriately. It is a struggle for him to use original language and he often has trouble with conversational language. What this means is that a lot of what he says are phrases that he has heard before. Sometimes they fit the situation and sometimes they don't. He repeats a lot of lines from shows he has watched. This has been a big struggle for us. When he does this we always tell him to use his own original thoughts and to stop repeating. He becomes obsessed with certain shows and begins to repeat whole episodes verbatim. He hasn't repeated whole episodes in a while, just lines from the shows, but I can't tell you how unnerving it is for your child to sit and repeat the dialogue of a show he saw once. When he starts to do this we have to ban that show at our house. First it was Little Einstein's then Max and Ruby, and now DocMcstuffin. I am always torn about whether he should even watch TV, but he really enjoys it and I limit it to a couple of shows a day. His language has been showing a lot of improvements, but vacation has totally thrown him off. His attention has been poor and his language has been out of whack. He has been repeating lines from DocMcstuffin all night and he hasn't seen that show in days. There are times when it doesn't seem like he has any issues and then, Bam!!! Its totally obvious that he isn't a typical 4 year old. I still savor and am elated by every normal conversation we have, and I wonder if that will ever change.


We were trying a homeopathic medication called Respen-a, but stopped it to try an ADHD medication. You have to have a prescription for Respen-a and can only get it through certain compounding pharmacies, and it's kind of expensive, especially since most insurance companies don't cover it. We did see improvements in his language and social skills when he was on it. It is supposed to help with the symptoms of autism i.e. social skills, language, and repetitive behavior. Its just a patch that he wears in the middle of his back. I plan on having Shaun call and refill it tomorrow, especially after his struggles today. I'm not sure if we will continue with the attention meds or not. They seemed to make him a little emotional when they started to wear off and I'm not 100% sure if I saw a significant improvement in his attention. I want to see what his teacher thinks when school starts. Well, here is hoping for a better day tomorrow!

Fun feeding the ducks at the park before we were driven off by an angry gang of geese
One bite for the ducks, one bite for me!
Ben loved watching the ducks!



Friday, July 6, 2012

Vacation take two!

We are on our second vacation of the summer… I know! Two vacations in one summer, crazy! Our parents have been asking us to go for years and we decided to go ahead and do both trips while we still have two incomes coming in (I still get paid until the end of the summer). This one is going well so far, except for the fact that the DVD player in Shaun's truck stopped working! The kids didn't watch any movies yesterday and managed to entertain themselves. Two full days of driving is a lot for kids and a DVD once in a while can sure help break up the boredom. Luckily, I brought crayons and coloring books, their Leapfrog Tag readers, stickers, and felt boards. Today has been a little more stressful, but they are holding their own. I hope to get to relax a little more on this trip. We are spending a week on the beach with my parents. They rented a beach house and we plan on only doing a couple of activities besides the beach! I will update once we are there and settled.

Lilly's princess felt board
Blurry picture of my happy little guy!
Sam's felt board. Great purchase from Michaels!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summertime Fun!

This last week seems to have gone by in a blur! We have been busy with lots of activities and crafts. I have definitely noticed a difference in the activities I have been doing with the kids. When I was working, I really didn't have as much time to do craft/sensory activities. I would try and cram them in during the weekend. With all of the family and friend obligations we usually have during the weekend, activities sometimes got pushed to the side. This is a nice change! We found some great activities on the Melissa and Doug website. The one we decided to do was ice and water pirate ships. The kids had a great time helping me make the pirate ships and they also had fun decorating their paper sails (which were kind of a flop once in the water!)

Putting stickers on their sails! Sam did a great job cutting his out
My niece spent the night last night and everyone had a great time! Sam has been super excited about this. She ended up sleeping in his room, and he couldn't have been happier. We took all of the kids to the movies to see Madagascar 3. It was actually a really good movie! The kids loved it, but with popcorn and drinks, it ended up costing us about $60!! Plus that's not paying for Lilly or Ben! It's definitely going to have to be a special treat kind of thing. Today the kids woke up early and we started crafts right away. I bought these dollar water paint booklets, and the kids really enjoyed them. It was kind of hard to get the paint from the little strip of paper on the bottom of each page, so I ended up buying watercolor paints from the dollar store. They worked fabulously! I absolutely love the dollar store! There are so many little thing and things for the kids to do there. My parents bought Sam a small trampoline for his birthday and we haven't had the time to put it together, so my dad did it for us yesterday! The kids are in LOVE with it. Sam was so excited and it's the perfect size for them :) big shout out to my dad for doing that. It's going to definitely provide lots of entertainment, plus I think it will be good for Sam.

Enjoying crafts at 7 in the morning!
Sam jumping on his new trampoline!
In some not so good news, apparently Shaun's insurance is giving his OT trouble about paying for his therapy!!!! I received a call from his therapist telling me her boss has been calling the insurance to try and resolve the problem. In the meantime, she had to cancel all of his sessions!! I am sooo mad! Sam has some fine motor issues, especially with his pencil grip and strength. He has some sensory issues and has REALLY benefited from his OT sessions. Shaun was supposed to call his insurance company today to find out what the problem is. It had better get resolved quickly! I can't send insurance companies. I feel like it is always so difficult to get things to work, and they don't really want you to use your policy. I will definitely update on what we find out.

In the meantime, we are going to be relaxing and experiencing new things this week!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Vacations...Fun, but Exhausting!

We got back from Florida late Saturday night and we are all exhausted! It was a fun trip, but it took a lot out of us. We went with Shaun's parents to Orlando, Florida. We ended up going to Disney world for two days, Seal World, and one day at the beach. The kids had a great time and really enjoyed meeting some of their favorite Disney Characters. They really haven't watched a lot of Disney movies, just Peter Pan and Cinderella. Sam is in LOVE with Peter Pan. He pretends that he is Peter Pan all of the time and loves all things that are related to pirates. Lilly really likes Tinkerbell and Cinderella. So, it made their day when they met them.
The Shaw Family's first time at Disney!

Wow! Disney world sure is exhausting! We only went to Magic Kingdom, but we still saw maybe a sixth of the park. I didn't realize it would take close to an hour to actually get to the park (you have to park your car, catch the tram, then catch the ferry or train). Once we were inside the park, it seems like we had to stop between every ride for food or bathroom or just a rest! I think we will definitely go back, but maybe when its not so hot outside! We bought little fans to clip onto the strollers, so that helped a little bit, but I know Ben was kind of miserable. We brought lots of drinks and snacks to help keep the kids happy. We also tried to save money but bringing a soft cooler with our lunch in it. We would buy a soda and sit in one of the air conditioned cafeteria-type restaurants to get out of the heat for a while. I would definitely recommend doing that if you ever go to Disney World!

Sam meeting his idol 
Poor Ben! It was SO hot!
The beach was really great! The kids loved playing in the water and in the sand. Ben did a great job and loved crawling all over the place. I was afraid he would constantly put sand in his mouth, but he only tried that a couple times. We are going back to Florida in July (I know we are crazy) with my parents. They rented a house right on the beach, so I know the kids will love playing there everyday. I am hoping this is a more relaxing vacation! We only have one big activity planned, so that should help with the relaxation part. My mom has gotten tickets for us to go on an actual pirate ship (well not actual pirates, but an actual ship). Sam is going to LOVE this. I can't wait to see his face when we pull up to the ship. It should be a nice vacation, but I am not looking forward to the long drive. Since the kids have to stop so often it takes a total of about 24 hours for us to get there-It should take around 18. The kids did a great job, but its still a long trip!
They had so much fun! 

I have so much to do around the house, especially since we left in a bit of a hurry and its a big mess now! Oh well, I am sure it will all get done! Before I know it, we will be leaving again,  but I am going to try and leave the house in better shape this time :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

First Official Week!

Well, this is my first official week as a stay-at-home mom! It's not really going to be a regular week, as I am trying to get everything ready for our vacation Thursday. I am already loving this feeling! Even though I had the summers off at my former job, this feels different. It doesn't feel like a vacation, it feels more real and official! I have been noticing people post some pretty snarky Facebook posts about stay-at-home moms this weekend. I really, really hope that I wasn't like that when I was working. I don't think I was ever rude or looked down my nose at homemakers. I am pretty sure I was just envious and wistful about it. I think I am going to have to get used to the snide remarks, but I sure will stand up to them! I really don't think one is better than the other, it's just what is best for your family and what you can manage. I have wanted this for four years and am so thankful that it has finally happened, that nothing can knock me from my cloud (at least for a while!).

I have a lot I want to accomplish this summer, cleaning and organizing, as well as working on things with the kids. Sam is four and is already reading, so I want to work on improving his reading skills and his handwriting. Lilly still needs to master the basics; recognizing colors, letters, and numbers. Sam was so advanced in those areas that it is hard for me not to worry about her :) I know that she is right where she is supposed to be, but I want to give her the best start possible.

We haven't shared this with a lot of people, but we are pretty sure Sam has hyperlexia. Basically, he has advanced academic skills and an unusual interest in letters, words, and numbers, but has a delay in language and social skills. There is debate about whether hyperlexia is on the autism spectrum or not, but that doesn't really matter to us! He has not been formally diagnosed, but does receive speech (language) and occupational therapy. He is also in a special education preschool classroom to help with his language and social skills. I can not say enough good things about his preschool experience so far. We were so worried when he first started, but he has made so many improvements that I am thrilled with his progress! I cannot wait to see what kind of improvements he makes next year! It's really hard to tell at first that he has any delays, but once you have a converstation with him, you will notice that he uses a lot of learned phrases and has a tendency to repeat lines from shows he has seen. He is such a wonderful, funny, sweet, michevious little boy and we are so lucky that his delays are not more serious. Some days when he is having a melt down, or I have to repeat a direction for the fourth time, I have to remember that!

So that's the plan for this summer; clean, organize, play, explore, and learn!! It's going to be great!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last week of work!

Tuesday I will start my last week of work! I can hardly believe that this is happening. I have wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for so long that it doesn't seem real yet. A lot of different things prevented us from financially being able to afford for me to stay at home. Thankfully, the last couple of years things have really fallen in place for us. Between Shaun getting on the fire department, working for his dad, and decent tax returns we have finally paid the majority of our large bills off! We made some decisions that weren't so great when we were first married and I was completing my graduate internship, which paid less than $400 a month! We definitely learned some things from those experiences and will be giving our kids some serious financial advice when they are older. 

Last week I said goodbye to most of my co-workers and some of the students. My principal didn't announce to the kids that I was leaving, so a lot don't know. I really wished that it had been announced in some way. In my role as school social worker, I interact with almost all 350 students. A lot of them rely on me when they are in crisis or just need someone to talk to. I am a little worried that someone will need me and become upset when they realize I am gone. I don't know if that is arrogant or not, but I do worry about next year. I was at the school for four years and really built some trusting relationships with students. Who knows, the person that replaces me could be so great that no one even cares that I'm not there anymore! 

I will spend next week sorting my files and all of my materials. I have to decide what to keep, throw away, or give away. We don't plan on me going back to work, but you never know so I will probably store most of my good materials. I plan on leaving several files explaining the different events and responsibilities that I am in charge of. When I first started there, I was given an empty file cabinet and a desk! The person that was in my position before me left me nothing! I don't want that for whomever replaces me. It should be an emotional, but hopefully relaxing last week of work!