Friday, October 25, 2013

Moving Forward

Its 1:30...

I am in desperate need of a shower, but I have two little monsters in the room next to the bathroom that are fighting sleep... I could be packing...but I just want a break after a morning of scrubbing the kitchen and packing the last of our dishes.  I still need to resweep and mop, but I figure that can wait until I've scrubbed myself down.

Its been a VERY busy last few weeks.

Jeff got a call about a job in Logan, UT...a job he apparently applied for over a YEAR ago, and they were JUST getting around to hiring for the position...It came at a time of kismet. Jeff had been unhappy for a while at Schlumberger, but hadn't been mentioning much because he didn't want to worry me...but it all came out as we discussed whether or not he should take a final interview in Logan.

After listening to his heart and concerns, we added going to a job interview in Logan to our weekend plans.

After a quick jaunt to Logan, an interview and a verbal job offer, we stopped in Logan Canyon to take some family pictures and headed back to Rock Springs with a lot to think about.

On Monday, Jeff received and accepted the official offer and moving became a reality.

I'm seriously bummed about leaving Rock Springs. I know I haven't blogged much about life here, but I will say that the people here are the friendliest people you'll meet (similar to Missoula, MT where I did my Master's degree).  The town is big enough that you can get everything you need, but small enough that people still reach out and try to be kind to everyone they know. Its the type of town where you can have a complete conversation to with strangers in line behind you at the grocery store. A bigger town with a small town feel...and I have loved every minute of it. I've been content here...

However, after some of the experiences and conversations Jeff has had with management since we made the decision, I am feeling very much at peace about this decision to head back to Logan.

I was surprised when we were back in Logan, how easy it was to slip back into routine and feel at home. I know that I will be okay starting over again. I know it will be work, don't get me wrong, but if my nomadic childhood (From 4th grade on I pretty much went to 2 to 3 schools for every grade with the exception of 9-11 grade when we were in Blackfoot) has taught me anything, its how to pack, be organized and start over with a smile and new hope that things will be better.

The Lord has surely drawn us back to Logan. The timing of the call, the age of the resume that they were using, the fact that Jeff's brother just happened to have a 2 bedroom rental in our price range open, and that the company is going to pay our moving expenses, all point to this fact.

The move here to Rock Springs did some very important things for us: 1) It allowed us to get out of the financial hole we'd fallen into when Jeff was unemployed. 2)It allowed us to save some money and pay off debts that had mounted after an ER visit for me while we were uninsured and 3) Most importantly, we were able to get access to the services we needed to find a direction to travel to help Faith.

As far as what is going to happen with Faith, I really don't know.

She failed one hearing test, and then 2 weeks later she passed it.

Our speech therapist (who has been AMAZING) feels really bad that she doesn't have a better idea of what is going on at this point. Some days she says Faith looks like a classic case of Asperger's or another low grade Autism Spectrum Disorder and other days it seems like she is completely deaf. She thought  that by now she would have been able to have given us a referral and we would have found the answers.

At this point, this is what we know: We will likely follow up with an audiologist to check and see if she has a malfunctioning cochlear nerve (ie some days it allows her to hear and some days it shuts off like she is deaf) This is a real thing, in fact, our speech therapist has another patient that is dealing with it and it was easily fixed with hearing aids....having said that, she also said that Faith's speech delay is FAR MORE severe than the speech delay that this other patient was dealing with. The other possibility is that there is fluid build up that comes and goes behind her ears causing there to be days when the ear drum cannot vibrate and days where it can, this problem would be fixed with surgical placement of tubes.  We will have to put off a visit with an audiologist until we are on new insurance in January, but our speech therapist said that shouldn't be a big deal.

We also still need to see a developmental psychologist, but were assured that the infant toddler program in Utah should be able to refer us to one free of charge or at a discounted cost for services through their program.  We just need to be sure if we can rule out any Autism Spectrum Disorder, and considering that some days she seems to show all the classic signs and others she doesn't, this assessment could be tricky.

We have had some encouraging developments in the last few days. Faith has most definitely learned the sign for milk. She will bring me her sippy and I will ask if she wants juice or water or milk and make all the signs as I say them and she without skipping a beat has been able to sign milk. She does sign water, but generally she doesn't want water and after I bring her water, she hands the sippy right back because she is unhappy with the contents. I'm hoping she will eventually catch on with the sign for water like she has for the sign for milk.

It isn't much progress, but its progress. I definitely feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall some days, but when we do make baby steps it makes it all worth it--even if its a fleeting moment.

For now, we will transfer her paperwork to Utah's program and try to continue with services there. Our speech therapist said she would give me some exercises to work on with her in the meantime.

Phillie has been talking up a storm.

The other day we were trying to get her to give us kisses and she would shake her head no and then bury her face in a pillow or blanket. Finally, I said, "Fine, if you won't give me kisses, I'm going to steal them." She emphatically shook her head and said, "You can't get 'em" before hiding her face again... Jeff and I laughed about it for the next 20 or so minutes.  She also asks "Where we going?" when we leave the house, says, "Let's go", "Love you."...and plenty more. She doesn't talk all the time, but the random outbursts of perfectly understandable phrases are always a source of a little chuckle. This kid is definitely a comedienne!

Packing with them around has been interesting. We've had several flips and konked noggins after the girls have decided its a good idea to crawl up on boxes to reach things they've never been able to reach before. I particularly have to watch them around the piano because they situate the boxes like stairs and try to crawl on top of it. Phillie has several "battle wounds" from her futile attempts to be "king of the piano" (kind of like that grade school game "king of the hill" only the winner is the last one sitting on the piano?)

All in all, I may not know where we're ultimately going to end up, but there is comfort in knowing we are headed that way together. I am so grateful for my husband who works so hard so that I can be home with my girls.  This new job will definitely stink because he will be required to travel weekly, but at least he will be home every weekend and he has a boss that fights for (and usually succeeds in winning) holidays off so he can be with us.  We also will be closer to family (his family is in Logan and the surrounding area), and that means a lot too. When he's gone, I will have their support and that means a lot.

Well darlings, onward and upward. I think I may actually be able to take a shower now...but while I'm scrubbing away how about you take a gander at the decent family picture shots we managed to get last weekend...and you're welcome...

I LOVE Phillie's face in this one...its probably the best one we got.
I was testing lighting and had Phillie on my hip...I figured, WHY NOT? LOL
I wish Faith had been looking at the camera in this one because I actually really like the composition of it.
Hugs and loves until next time, darlings...

Monday, October 21, 2013

2 Weeks Dinner Meal Plan- Bringing Crock-tober to a close

Its that time again...Meal Planning Time...

I apologize in advance...this is a really beef and pork heavy meal plan...mostly because my husband informed me that we're moving back to Logan, UT in 2 weeks and I needed to use what I have so we don't end up throwing it away...I went through my freezer and I am quite literally using EVERYTHING that is left...hence the current meal plan.  I had taken advantage of a beef sale a few weeks ago, so I have to clear out a couple of packages of steak and roasts. I apologize if this meal plan is a little more pricey than my others...Hopefully, you can find some good sales.  The next meal plan will be MUCH better and far more varied...I promise.

I also learned, after a week from Hades where we ended up eating more Hamburger Helper than I care to admit, that I need to have a few meals that could be cooked either in the crock pot, or on the stove...I try as hard as I can to get the meals into the crock pot during the girls' naptime, but last week we had several appointments that prevented me from being home to do so.

So...onward and upward. Here is the meal plan with links! Happy cooking and shopping, darlings!

1. Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole (I'm going to try this in the crock pot, preparing as directed but putting everything in the crock pot on high for 2 hours or low for 4...Hopefully, I will be in a position to tell you how it goes!)
2. Slow Cooker Tamale Pie
3. Ground Beef Stroganoff
4. Fall off the Bone BBQ Ribs (I'll be honest, the ribs never got made during the last meal plan. It always seemed like on the days I was planning on making them I was out of the house ALL DAY and had no time to put them in...hence the repeat.)
5. Amish Chicken (going to try this in the crock pot on low for 4-6 hours...we will see how it goes.)
6. Slow Cooker Meat and Veggie Stew
7. French Dip Sammies
8. Mongolian Beef
9. Carne Asada Tacos
10. Pork Chops and Scalloped Potatoes
11. Pork Tenderloin Roast
12. Polish Sausage Pasta (not a crock pot meal, but you need a few for days you just forget.)
13. Crock Pot Sausage Gravy over Biscuits
14. Butternut Squash Alfredo (another non-crock pot meal...decided that I need at least 1 meal a week that is not cooked in the crock pot because, let's face it, we run out of time or forget)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday, Faith!

Oh my goodness, Princess!

Where has the time gone? It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that the nurses were taking you out of your warming bed in the NICU to put you in my arms for the first time and now you are 2!

We've definitely had our ups and downs over the last 2 years, but you have been a trooper through all of it.

I am one lucky mamma. You are so sweet, loving, and kind and you rarely ever get grumpy or complain.  I'm still waiting for your "terrible twos" to set in, but maybe they never will because you're just so darn agreeable! You are such a good big sister and you make everyone feel so loved.

Thank you for choosing to come to our family. Thank you for choosing us to be your parents. I don't know if I could picture my life without you and I don't remember what it was like before you came. You just fit. Thank you for all the lessons you have been teaching me about patience and for giving me reassurance along the way that I am doing the right thing as your mommy.

You have turned into such a frilly, girlie girl. You love to wear your tutus around the house and you love necklaces and looking "pretty".  You still love books and reading, and I am grateful for that. You are always content to do your own thing, so when you bring a book and crawl into my lap it always does my heart some good. You have also started to become our tiny dancer. You love to watch musicals and shows with dancers and try to mimic them. Our ottoman has become your ballet barre and it makes me melt every time I see you dancing and practicing there. I think, if you could stomach it, you would constantly be twirling, you love it so much.

You don't say much with words, but you say so much with your actions. None of us have to doubt that you are happy and feel loved. Thank you for being so wonderful. We love you. It has been the most amazing two years that any of us could have imagined.

Mommy and Daddy

P.S. Here is YOUR slide show of the pictures we took of you this year. You have grown from a chubby little baby face to a little girl before our eyes. It has gone so fast!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Me" Time...

Life is hard.

I know what you're all thinking..."Thanks for that observation, Captain Obvious."

I've been really struggling lately to find balance.

Faith's therapy has been intensive and I feel guilty if I'm not devoting time to her when she is awake, working to help her overcome her difficulties with communication...then I feel guilty because Phillie is awake and here too and needs my attention just as much as Faith does...then Jeff gets home and needs voice students come over at sporadic points throughout the day diverting my attention from where I want it to be, then I need to get things ready for the Young Women (did I mention I was called to be the YW President last month at the end of the month?), and have my outside commitments like community choir...In short, I feel like Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings, like too little butter scraped over too much bread...

Yesterday, we finally got some news that we'd been waiting for...Faith failed her hearing screening.

We're not sure how much she IS hearing, as the OAE only tests whether or not the sensations sent up the nerve in the ear come back out...Faith failed on both ears. The next step is either to continue with the Infant Toddler Program's path and have one more screening done at the local elementary school (can't remember what they called it, but it isn't 100% accurate as it asks a very small, very wiggly toddler to sit on my lap facing forward while sounds play behind her, to her side, etc. and they watch to see if she responds to the sounds that are playing around her...) and THEN if she fails that being referred to an audiologist (likely at Primary Children's in SLC) to see how much hearing loss we're talking about OR I can just talk to her pediatrician at her well child exam on Tuesday next week to see if she will use the failed OAE screening as proof enough that she can just refer us directly on to an audiologist for testing... We will see what the pediatrician says on Tuesday, but our speech therapist said that given Faith's symptoms (not speaking, preferring to babble mostly vowel sounds, not responding to her name, spinning at random times (if its hearing loss, she is likely doing this to stimulate her otic nerve), not responding to sound stimuli around her (i.e. people snapping or clapping next to her head to get her to turn around), and her newfound penchant for using her soft palate to babble instead of her lips (again, likely to stimulate the otic nerve because that is probably how she can hear the sounds that she makes the best)), she would wager that the failed OAE is correct and we're dealing with hearing loss and that she wouldn't blame me in the least for wanting to skip the second test with the audiologist at the elementary school and move right to the more drastic testing to measure how much she DOES hear in order to get her the help she needs...speech therapist is wagering that since oto-toxic antibiotics are involved, we may be looking at hearing aids, but said there are any number of reasons why the hearing loss has happened.

Well...with this news, and the knowledge that I am likely going to be spending some more time in SLC and travelling there, I knew something had to give.  I'd been debating for a little while, as I've been struggling with balancing everything since we started therapies, quitting the community choir. I'd held off because it was the ONE thing I was doing for myself...but at the end of the day, SOMETHING has to give...and unfortunately, as much as I love it, its the easiest thing to cut out at this point...I've debated dropping voice students, but I want to wait to see what happens with the pediatrician, audiologist, and Faith's diagnoses before I do something that drastic, but that may end up happening too...

My family will ALWAYS come first before anything I do for myself.  I've decided that if I want "me" time, I will just ask Jeff if I can go get a massage or something when I'm feeling tense, and I will take time when the girls are napping to practice my music more and maybe even start composing  and arranging music again (haven't composed/arranged music in a while and that could be a fun way to relieve stress.)  Faith, Phillie, Jeff and time with them are more valuable than 2 hours at choir during the week.

I will say that, even though it killed me to write the director, I felt 100,000 times lighter after it was done. I knew I made the right decision.

Right now, I need to focus on being a wife, mom, therapist, chauffer, housekeeper, and historian...

The director was lovely about accepting my resignation from the choir and told me I was welcome back whenever I felt like things had slowed down a bit.

I am content. I know that some of you may be thinking that this isn't really a "healthy" way to look at things...that I should have dropped something else before dropping my "me" time, but sometimes the easiest thing to do, is the right thing to dropping choir, I've freed up 2 hours of time...time to be able to be there to put my babies to bed at night and enjoy their snuggles, time to cuddle up with my husband and talk about my stresses and what I've done during the day and listen to his stresses, and time to SLEEP!

In the end, I am a wife and a mother. I chose this path.  Its not a sacrifice to quit the choir... it would be more of a sacrifice to look back and regret that I wasn't able to be fully present because I was preoccupied elsewhere and I MISSED something vital and important. That is something I could never forgive myself for...

photo credit ME! Yep! I took and edited this, I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm doing a bomb diggity job as family historian, right?
Besides, who wouldn't want to be hopelessly devoted to THIS awesomeness?  Every smile, every giggle, every hug, every tantrum, or tiff over a toy is precious...and I will miss it can't get a minute back once its gone or I choose not to waste them...I choose to be present...this IS my "me" time.

Hugs and Loves until next time, darlings.
 ( want more cuteness? Here you go...and you're welcome.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Welcome to Crock-tober. 2 Weeks of Slow Cooker Meals

Its my a favorite time of year. The leaves are turning colors, the air is getting crisp and cool (or it did here in WY!)  and EVERYONE feels the need to bust out the best comfort foods they can think of....Well, at least I do. I decided to challenge myself this month to do a 100% slow cooker meal plan. I'm hoping this plan will divert me from curling up into a ball and crying "McDonalds! Pizza Hut!" on rough days where I just feel like I can't do another thing. I can pop the meal into the crock pot during the girls' first naptime and dinner will be ready by 5:30 or 6:00 that evening.

I hope I'm not alienating anyone by planning a month of meals for your slow cooker, but who doesn't love to come home, or sit and enjoy the smell of food slowly wafting from the kitchen?

Here's to challenging ourselves! (Well, or atleast to me challenging myself).

1. Spaghetti with crock pot Meatballs and sauce (You can look in the search query at the top of the screen for my crock pot spaghetti sauce recipe...however, if I have time, I will post a tutorial for the meatballs and sauce. :) )
2. Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese with Ham (* I'm going to be adding ham to this recipe and adapting it)
3. Baby Back Ribs
4.Garlic Lime Chicken
5. Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros
6. Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
7. Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing
8. Bacon Wrapped Apple Barbecue Chicken
9. Slow Cooker Tacos
10. Slow Cooker Bacon and Cheese Potatoes
11. Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini
12. Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sammies
13. Slow Cooker German Pancakes (ie breakfast for dinner)
14. Slow Cooker cheesy chicken and potatoes

Happy crockin', darlings!