Monday, December 30, 2013

High Five for 2013!

I know a lot of people do High Five for Friday posts...and I actually genuinely enjoy reading a few. It is nice to accentuate the positive. We've had a rough, rollercoaster of a year, and I want to be able to look back and think that it was awesome instead of frustrating...because there really were lots of awesome things about 2013 when I sit down to think about it, and the awesome really does trump the crappy, stressful unemployed parts...LOL So, here we go! High Five for 2013! If I could figure out how to set up a link party, I would totally love to read some of your High Fives....I will see if I can figure that out. :)

1. Number one was a frustrating journey, but a necessary one and one that has ended up being a HUGE relief and blessing. I still have my moments of grief and despair, but that is a post for another day (and that day is coming soon, as writing about my frustrations often helps me to find clarity) What is No. 1? We are almost to the end of the diagnosis journey for figuring out what is causing Faith's delays. This journey started in a very frustrating place, and Jeff's unemployment, in an odd way, actually ended up helping to end that frustration and lead us to better help. I am grateful for Early Intervention programs, but the way that Idaho has it set up is kind of a joke, and led to many of my frustrations in the beginning. Here they were, telling me that they agreed with me, and their assessments said that something was wrong, but I wasn't getting the help I needed. Instead of one on one attention with a trained professional in all the areas she needed help, I was given a coach who had an early education degree, who met once a week with a trained professional. Our meetings were often frustrating as I felt like we weren't getting any useful information and it felt like a waste of 1 to 2 hours of my time every week... Jeff's unemployment led us to Rock Springs, WY...and the Wyoming Early Intervention program was leaps and bounds better. We were blessed to work with an AMAZING speech therapist who had been working in the field for 20 years. I felt like I'd learned something at the end of every therapy session, and while Faith's progress wasn't easily coming, the little victories were always celebrated and she did an excellent job of helping me to see the small successes we'd had.  We were on our way to working with an Occupational Therapist when life threw us another curve ball and we ended up back in Cache Valley again, but this time in Logan, UT. The Utah Early Intervention program is every bit as wonderful as the program we left in Wyoming, with the added benefit of an Autism Specialist who really knows her stuff. After going through another month of assessments, we've been able to come to the conclusion that we really, most likely, are dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder..and the best part is that they are trying to do everything they can to encourage a diagnosis and get it done quickly so we can better understand her needs and find therapies that are targeted for whatever disorder she is diagnosed with on the Autism spectrum. We will soon meet with Audiologists at the university to completely rule out hearing loss as the cause of her issues (and we've pretty much established that she can hear through other assessments. Even after she failed her first OAE exam, she passed the next we have a fairly good idea that she isn't having any issues with hearing).  We will be starting Autism classes in conjunction with therapy that will help us help her to cope in public situations with her sensory issues.  We will start speech therapy again soon, and, hopefully, a diagnosis will give us some better ideas for how to target her therapies.  I know this is not the ending of a journey, but the very beginning of a very long one...but it is the ending of this chapter of the journey and I am grateful for it. If we'd stayed in Idaho, we wouldn't have been able to get her in for a diagnosis until she was three years old!  I can't even imagine how horrible that would have been, and how frustrating. It would have meant she would have had to start preschool with no targeted education plan in place to help her and she would have ended up light years behind the other kids her age...ugh.  We are fortunate that God led us on such a roller coaster this year... the more I think about it, the more I realize that the roller coaster really was a means to finding a HUGE blessing for Faith. Here's to hoping that 2014 leads us to a definitive diagnosis and more marked progress. So far, we've learned the sign for milk, and a modified sign for juice. We are working on thank you and water...I will let you know how that works out...since it took me 6 months to teach her the sign for milk and she still doesn't get the sign for juice right 75% of the time..

2.  We got to spend an awesome year discovering "Silly Phillie"...seriously, the kid is a card! We started the year with "the Hulk"...she was perfectly sweet and wonderful...until you made her wouldn't like her when she's angry...LOL  but she has morphed into the sweetest little cherub chub with the sweetest mischievous smile on the planet.  We started to meet "Silly Phillie" around her 6 months old mark when daddy decided, for a laugh, to put both girls in the same crib to see how they would react...she responded with an emphatic "GET OUT!" and has been surprising us with her charm and silliness, non- stop ever since. She has since become a master at "The Cosby", a new dance craze that will sweep the nation (anyone who has watched the opening sequence of "The Cosby Show" as a kid will get that reference, if you don't, look it up on Youtube... she dances like Bill Cosby and its HI-larious!)  She has also become a polite little thief. If you have anything that she wants, she has become a master of smiling her little mischievous grin, sweetly saying "Tankooo (thank you)" and ripping it out of your hands...Her new favorite game is also to hand you something, have you ask if she wants it back, and then she says "Tankooo" as she takes it away...then she repeats it....for 45 minutes...she thinks its great...mommy thinks she never thought she would be sick of hearing someone say thank you...LOL.    She also says the most random phrases at the most random times and shocks us with her ability to grasp language...for example she randomly as "Where we goin'?"  as we're walking out to the car...she has learned how to say "no" (something I know I will regret in the coming months), and "hungee (hungry)".   She also loves anything fluffy, cuddly and sparkly. Jeff looks at her and thinks that she will be a tom boy...but the girl loves sequins and sparkles more than anything on the planet...she is also a GREAT shopping buddy. Nothing makes her happier than pulling things she likes into the cart and saying how "pitty (pretty)" they are.   Good luck parting her from her "pitty" things...she still hulks out better than the best of them... 2014 will be the year of changes for our "Silly Phillie"...we have started to see that she really is kind of spoiled. For example, she didn't start walking until a month ago, but not because she couldn't, she refused to walk because, like the princess she is, she prefers to be carried.  Jeff finally cured her of her inability to walk by forcing her to hold his hand and walk almost every time we went somewhere as a family...she quickly decided she would rather be able to walk on her own than have dad drag her everywhere.  Fortunately, in spite of being kind of spoiled, she has started to want to be a little helper...and hopefully this will come in handy come June/July...which leads us to No. 3...

3.  We found out that baby #3, lovingly deemed "gummy bear", is on his/her way.  I will share that there were months of wondering if we'd be able to have a #3.  I shared a few years ago that I was diagnosed in high school with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and had been told that I would likely never have children, and if I did, it would be a miracle.  Around Phillie's 5-6 month mark, I started feeling like someone was missing...I know...its crazy. I still had an infant in the house... but I couldn't help the feeling...and every time I tried to push it away, it only got stronger. After talking to Jeff, I found he'd been feeling similarly. When we coupled that with the issues I'd been experiencing with birth control pills (they were making me super sick, moody, and tired, and I was on a low dose pill) we decided we would just stop preventing and let God lead us.  Well...after 9 months of "not preventing", 3 months in a row where we thought I was pregnant, only to have negative tests, the missed period finally showing up 3-4 weeks late, and tears...I was beginning to fear and think that perhaps this was PCOS rearing its ugly head and that the two girls would be it for us biologically. This broke my heart because I truly felt (and still feel) that there were more children that were meant for our family. I had consigned myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen...and still cried about it daily when I was alone behind closed doors. In early October, my period was late again, and I was certain it was going to be another false alarm, so I refused to take a test for weeks. I couldn't handle the heartbreak of another negative test, and I just didn't want to go there...Finally, at the end of the month, we were preparing for the move back to Logan and I realized that if I was pregnant, I didn't want to do something stupid like try to lift a super heavy box on my own and hurt the baby, so I relented and took the test. Because I'd had such a rocky road getting pregnant, I was even more paranoid about telling anyone until we had been to the doctor and were close to the 12 week mark. I couldn't bear the thought of announcing it and having something go wrong. I finally announced it at the 11 week mark after we'd had several meetings with the doctor (because we found out that I was diabetic early on, he's been monitoring me closely), and I'd been reassured a TON that everything was fine. I am hopeful that 2014 will bring us another healthy, sweet baby to join the Nielson clan.

4. We got to move back to Cache Valley.  I was so bummed when we had to leave Preston to move to Rock Springs, but I was even more torn when we were leaving Rock Springs to come back to Cache Valley. I had my "safety net" there. I had lots of friendships that I'd developed, I also had therapies in place for Faith along with referrals to see specialists to get her diagnoses was a tough, tough call.  While I do miss my friends in Rock Springs terribly, and still kind of feel like a hermit here in Logan, I am glad to be back close to family again, and back in the beautiful valley that I love so much. While Logan is getting bigger, there is still a magic that surrounds this place. The mountains that surround it constantly amaze me with their beauty. Beyond that, my husband is FINALLY once again happy with his job.  He was so bummed and lost when he was laid off at Boomerang. Even though he wasn't doing what he was hired to do (yet) he liked waking up to go to work every morning. While I loved Rock Springs, I didn't love that my husband was cranky, and miserable every day. He hated getting up for work, he hated going to work, and he didn't have enough time to rest in between shifts to let the day wear off and be geared up to go back again. It was the last straw when they continued to refuse to put him on payroll, and the offer for his current job came at just the right time. He now is excited to go to work. He loves his bosses and the people he works with. He loves his job. He has time for the family (even though he is usually gone 3-5 days a week, he has time to relax and unwind when he gets home and really be present with us.) While I don't feel I've found my "niche" yet here in Logan, I definitely am more at peace knowing that my husband is happy and content. To hear him come home and say that he sees himself keeping this job for a long time is music to my ears.

5. We got to put an offer in on a house!  While we're still working out the details, and not everything is set in stone yet, we have been reassured that, barring extraordinary circumstances, we should be able to buy the house we've put an offer on and be closed by as early as January 31.  Since things aren't set in stone, I don't have pictures to show you (sorry, darlings).  I will show you pictures if and when we are closing on the house and have a set day to move in. Keep your fingers crossed for us, and, if you're the praying type, keep us in your prayers. All forms of good vibes are appreciated. It will be nice to be building equity instead of throwing our money away on rent, and it will be even nicer to have ROOM.  Our current apartment, while I'm very grateful for it, is very small for our needs (to be perfectly honest, when you consider we're a family of 4, soon to be 5, its downright teeny!)  It will be so nice to be in a place that we can spread out in, decorate however we like, and most importantly- get a dog to help with Faith's therapy goals. She really responds to animals and we've been wanting to get a dog to help her work on socialization skills and communication skills for quite some time, but we haven't  been able to because we've been renting. It will be a really big blessing to have a place of our own. We are trying to be frugal and prudent with our money, so we've opted for our first home to be a townhouse that fits WELL beneath our priceline. There is enough room for it to be a good 5-7 year home with a very low mortgage that will allow us to pay down debt and save up so that we can buy something bigger when we are more ready. It will also be a great investment property so, if we should choose to do so, we can put it up for rent and continue to have our money working for us and not for someone else.  We are really praying that everything continues to move forward like it has been. This property, and its owners, are truly an answer to our prayers. We found it, a for sale by owner situation, on a whim after being VERY unhappy with the realtor we'd been working with. I was really starting to wonder if we would find anything that we would be happy with that would fit in our price range...and the sellers were worried they would have to post the property with a realtor if they didn't start getting any notice soon. We actually contacted them and came to look at the house THE DAY they had decided that they would contact a realtor. As soon as we came, and a few hours after our visit texted them to let them know we were definitely very interested, they decided to hold off until we'd heard back from them. Here's to hoping that this really is a situation where God has guided us to one seems like it is so far, but who knows what the future will bring. For now, I am looking at it as a HUGE positive for us and have had my prayers answered as I've seen sign after sign that we're doing the right thing.

Here's to was quite the year...there were downs, but there were so many more ups! I'm excited for 2014. I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, so I guess I'm lame and don't have anything to share with you.  I do want to pick a family theme for the year from the scriptures, so I've been working on that, and I'm hoping I can either get my own Cricut or access to one so I can make a vinyl cut out of the scripture to put on the wall in our living room in the new house. We will see how that hope plays out...LOL... More than anything, my goal for 2014 is to remain positive and do my best to encourage the rest of my family to be positive as well.  While the Lord may throw us curve balls, if 2013 has taught me anything, its that the curve balls, while crappy at the time, really do have blessings attached. You just have to be willing to bear the burden well until the blessings manifest.  If any of my hopes for the next year (Faith's diagnosis, the new house, etc.) don't work out, it is my prayer that I will continue to have faith in and find joy in the journey. Every black cloud TRULY does have a silver lining.

Hugs and loves until next time, darlings.

P.S. My morning sickness has FINALLY tapered off enough that I feel like I can start making meal plans again! (YAY!) As we need to go grocery shopping this weekend, expect a new one on Monday at the latest.  Don't expect it to include ANY crock pot meals, as I still am having MAJOR issues with using it (major issues that involve being sick all day as I smell stuff cooking in it...sad day.) but we shall find a way to eat tasty meals that don't involve a lot of demanding prep time...I have 2 toddlers and a rapidly forming baby bump..ain't nobody got time for time consuming dinners.

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