Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Thu
20
Nov '14

Wesley’s 7th Birthday

I never posted memories from Wesley’s birthday in September, so…

He went to school in the afternoon, and we had a friends-birthday party afterward. Wes picked an Angry Birds theme.

I always make Wes a birthday badge to wear to school.

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His grandma and grandpa donated the beautiful balloons.

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The kids colored.

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We played a game in the backyard where they tossed a ball at a wall with piggies, like unto Angry Birds.

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My friend offered to make this terrific Angry Bird cake. It was chocolate and Wes liked it.

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Grandma and Grandpa dropped by afterward with presents!
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We are glad to have Wes every day. He constantly reminds us what life is all about by forcing us to slow down, have fun, and love.

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Carissa’s 4th Birthday

I realized I never put up memories from our Carissa’s fourth birthday party in August. We had a party with friends (and grandma and grandpa). Carissa picked the theme: Hello Kitty. For the Big Day, she wore her Hello Kitty (pajama) shirt and put a pink bow in her hair like Hello Kitty.

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We started with coloring Hello Kitty pages and decorating Hello Kitty sugar cookies. The kids liked this part. Wes liked eating the frosting.

We did “Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty.” John did the terrific job of drawing and coloring Hello Kitty on poster board. I would have just free-handed it, but he made a grid with pencil first so it was all proportional and it looked really good! Carissa still tells me today that she can remember how she could see when it was her turn to pin the bow on. But that’s because she was obviously cheating and peeking.

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Next Carissa opened presents. The kids all want to help. She got some amazing gifts that are very reflective of HER: lots of arts and crafts type of things, nail polish, a Hello Kitty umbrella, etc.

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Then we moved to the backyard where we had decorated a canopy and had the birthday cake. When I asked Carissa what kind of cake she wanted, of course it was Hello Kitty. I showed her lots of pictures on the Internet of Hello Kitty cakes and she clearly showed me that she wanted a cake that looks just like Hello Kitty. And then I–the non-cake decorator–had to figure out how to make it. I think it turned out really good.

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We ran out of time for the pinata, which we saved for Wesley’s birthday. The kids had fun and Carissa had a beautiful celebration of her wonderfulness. We are so blessed to have Carissa in our family. She is full of creativity, full of life, full of opinions, full of surprises, and we are glad she’s here to stay.

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Mon
27
Oct '14

Today, the Dentist

We started our morning at the dentist. We are grateful to have dental insurance, which we never used to have, and I intend to use it.

Today was maybe the fourth time my kids (the two older ones, anyway) have been to the dentist. The first time was when Wes was about four, and Carissa one or two. It was a total train wreck. Wes had meltdown after meltdown. (Carissa did fine.) After that I stayed away from the dentist and eventually chose a different one to go to. I think I’ve also found my voice as a parent since then, recognizing that for Wesley’s needs I really need to talk to the people who work with him and help them understand and prepare for his challenges curing the visit.

I’m learning that Wes needs consistent exposure to difficult experiences to help him adjust. I have an appointment set for him next month, and every month thereafter, to get him into the dentist and help him get used to being there. As soon as we exit the lobby (fun area) and enter the main part of the dental office (scary area) Wes gets nervous. It’s written all over him. I know it’s because of his previous medical experiences of many kinds (drawing blood, getting x-rays, sleep study, having tonsils looked at, etc. etc. etc.) where because of his unwillingness to do the things he’s asked to do (hold still, open mouth, do this or that) he has been held and forced against his will to do it. Sometimes as a parent you think that’s the only way. The job gets done.

But it has its effects.

So Wes is super nervous and non-compliant at any medical office. Today he did really good overall, but that’s because we didn’t make him sit in the x-ray chair (DEATH! HORRIBLE DEATH!) or even in the chair that leans back where the dentist examines him. He also didn’t get his teeth cleaned. There was a moment when I tried to force him to sit in the lean-back chair for his exam but it was clearly a bad idea and we adjusted. Dr. Ryan just sat next to him and really nicely showed him how he was going to count his teeth. And then Wes complied. And that’s why we’re going back next month too.

Carissa and Elizabeth, on the other hand, did everything they were asked to do. Even Elizabeth! I was shocked that she sat still and obeyed the x-ray tech and didn’t cry or fuss or anything. And the same thing when Dr. Ryan looked at her teeth. No problem at all. And she’s not even 2 yet!

Carissa said she didn’t like the x-rays, which I can understand since she has to hold something in her mouth and it’s kind of big and awkward, but she didn’t cry. The kids all got rewards from the treasure machines at the end and I took them home, relieved.

Until next month.

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Sat
18
Oct '14

This weekend stuff

Realized I didn’t know where Elizabeth went, and found her behind a closed door. Sneaky girl sneaking around with my black waterproof mascara.

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Wes is giving another talk in Primary (church) tomorrow. The topic is how the Proclamation to the World on the Family helps our family. Wes is a good reader and can read most of the words himself. Very proud of him!

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I took Elizabeth our for errands today. She lasted through 2.5 stores before she didn’t last anymore.

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Yesterday I took the kids to the mall (to visit the Halloween store for costume ideas) while our carpets were being cleaned (the sound scares Wes). We got sidetracked into the amazing toy store and came out with this new digger for Wes. He plays happily with it in our sandbox, which is starting to get too small for his 7-year-old body.

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Carissa showed me this picture she drew of our family in her Hello Kitty scrapbook. I like the buttons on John’s shirt, the color of my coat, how tiny Elizabeth is, and the thought bubble above Carissa’s head that shows she’s dreaming of Hello Kitty.

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Wes and Elizabeth both like blowing bubbles a lot.

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Fri
8
Aug '14

We finally did something fun

We finally did something fun together.

After dragging my three kids to my physical therapy appointment I took them to a splash pad to play.

The personality of each kid is apparent:

1) Carissa: Put on eye protection and stay to the edge of the water.

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2) Elizabeth: Run like a crazy woman through the water and get as wet as possible, as fast as possible. And then retreat to Mom for a snuggle in the towel.

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3) Wes: Drink the water.

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Sat
12
Jul '14

May, Part 2

Still going backwards, approximately from the middle of May back to its beginning.

This is Carissa. True Carissa.

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Homemade beach time.
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Sometimes if I’m feeling down all I need to do is watch my kids fold laundry to remember that in spite of all my many failings, I have taught my children how to do one useful thing.

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If I remember right, the night this picture was taken Elizabeth came down sick. Happy to have a happy memory of the day before she turned ill. This picture was taken not too long after I found her in the corner unscrewing the lid of my mascara and clearly knowing she wasn’t supposed to be doing that. That is true Elizabeth, mischievous to a tee.

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For Mother’s Day I took Carissa to Sunroc to buy my annual gift-to-myself-but-really-from-John that is my Mother’s Day flowers. Carissa was the ideal shopping partner at a flower store, and she selected a couple small pots of petunias to bring home in addition to my big pots.

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We also celebrated with lunch at Tucanos. I got a pink carnation. Elizabeth really liked the Brazilian lemonade.

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I took Wes and Carissa (and Elizabeth) to the haircut place that I always take them to, 30 minutes drive but so worth it for the fact that they specialize in kids’ haircuts and I don’t have to do it myself. John and I used to cut Wesley’s hair at home but it was so awful, with one of us holding him down and the other cutting as fast as possible. This place has been helpful. BUT the last two times I’ve taken him here Wes had total meltdowns. This particular time was his Worst. Ever. EVER. These pictures are the calm after the storm. Wes is super sensitive to noises and the sound of clippers is terrifying to him. I only just realized how bad it is so I think from now on it will have to be scissors only.

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Carissa just had her bangs cut. I can’t really take her without letting her get something cut, even if she doesn’t need it, because she likes it so much. Total opposite of Wes.

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After the haircut I took the kids next door for a much-needed break and lunch. Wes wanted to sit at the table by the window, and he sat there all by himself on the tall stool while I sat at a lower table with the other kids. Mmmmm, Cheetos.

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Carissa’s preferred outfit for enjoying cake.
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Fried PB&J. Saw it on the Food Network and YES, that is a bath of butter, and YES, it was sooo good and sooo bad at the same time.
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Carissa painted a picture of her preschool teacher to give her at the end of the year. I thought the brown hair was really good! She’s painting herself next to her teacher.

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Dinner party. Only the finest guests.
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In May Wes’s transitional kindergarten class made a visit to the BYU duck pond. I went and took his sisters, too.

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Me and my Carissa.
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On May 1st I took the kids to the Salt Lake City Zoo. Naturally it was the first day of their summer season, which means the prices were higher. Oh, well. It was a good day to visit.

I started by trying to get my kids to give me a nice pose and smile at the entrance. So much for that.

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Our favorite spot was the elephants. The caretakers were out feeding the mama and baby elephant and had the elephants doing tricks for us. They even sprayed water all over us. Twice. Kind of gross if you think about it but the kids thought it was great.

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Sea otters. (?) The kids loved watching them swim back and forth and trying to find them in the water.
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A break at the top of a very steep hill at the top of the zoo.
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My expert navigator.
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Wes likes to stop at every grate he sees, no matter where it is, even if it’s in the middle of a street, to see if there’s water in it and if he can toss rocks inside.
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Of course we went on the carousal. This was Elizabeth’s first time.
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How else to end the day than with ice cream cones?
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On our way home I stopped at SLC’s Trader Joe’s. I love that place, and you can only find it around here in downtown SLC, but it was NOT my favorite visit this time. Elizabeth was in the front seat of the cart and Wes and Carissa were hanging off each side. They were all over the place and not listening or obeying and when one of the kids pulled on the side of the cart the whole thing fell over, groceries and Elizabeth and all.

Elizabeth wasn’t even strapped in because the strap was broken in the cart. I knew this but just wanted to hurry through the store anyway because obviously the kids were tired and acting like it. She was OK but I was a hot mess of tears.

It turns out that Trader Joe’s has some angelic employee whose job it is to make everything better. She came over and immediately helped us get a new cart with a working seat buckle, transfer everything over, and then she showed Wes and Carissa how in the store there’s a stuffed seagull hidden, and if they could find it they would get a treat. So she helped them find it and gave them each stickers and a sucker (all-natural, of course). And while I’m standing there in the aisle trying to mop up my own tears she comes over with a beautiful bouquet of flowers that she said I could just take home.

So that was not our finest hour but I still love Trader Joe’s.

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