Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Brandon!! 7 years old!

This year Brandon's birthday was tricky - we had only been in our home for a week.  We had little to no energy to have a birthday party.  Then there was the challenge of knowing what to get a little boy who has everything, truly, everything!  Fortunately we are learning that it really does not take much to make a child happy.  We had a simple family dinner at home with the extended family who could make it, and Brandon got a movie, some marbles, a best of all a giant stuffed crocodile and a bow with arrows to share with his brothers.  He loves his crocodile!

 Brandon had a very good birthday and he really enjoyed having his class sing to him happy birthday, once in English and another time in Spanish.

 Our family had a lot of fun testing out the bow in the back yard during his birthday party.  I am sure happy we have such a large backyard for these kinds of activities. :)

Brandon continues to be a joy and a challenge rolled into one.  Brandon is a wonderful brother to Grant and Trent.  Brandon and Grant have such a wonderful friendship - I love listening to them narrate their imaginative play.  I am so grateful that they have a friend all the time.  Brandon is also a very caring, protective and helpful big brother to Trent.  He will willingly dress, change diapers, feed and play with Trent.  And little make Brandon as happy as when he is making Trent laugh, he comes up with some pretty interesting antics to entertain his brothers.  Brandon is also very sensitive and loving, with me and with the rest of our family.  But the past year Brandon has become increasingly challenging.  Brandon has always been blessed with a strong will, a very strong will.  Jared and I are both strong willed in our own right, but Brandon has us beat.  And being the parent is exhausting.  At the end of Brandon's kindergarten year he began acting out more and more.  His temper would flare up daily, even multiple times a day and his temper became more and more violent.  There were even times when he threatened me with a tire iron and steak knives.  It got very scary.  Jared and I were both at our wits end trying to discipline, teach and raise him.  I was brought to my knees in tears several times wondering what was to be done.  I remember well praying and getting a distinct answer that we needed to start counseling with a specific counselor here in Heber, but I resisted.  Counseling meant being humble, it meant sacrificing a lot of time and money, both of which were in very short supply and I really couldn't see how it would help, even though I had good friends who had been to Dr. Monson and enjoyed great results.  Close friends and acquaintances were diagnosing him with bi-polar disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, and even Turrets, that was equally scary.  So I started searching online everything that fit Brandon and I finally reached the conclusion that Brandon had Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ODD.The Mayo clinic describes it this way, "Even the best-behaved children can be difficult and challenging at times.  But if your child or teen has a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness toward you and other authority figures, he or she may have ODD"  When I read that it was like a light bulb - yes thats it, then I read through the symptoms to see if he had any of them and nearly everything was a yes.
*often loses temper
*is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
*is often angry and resentful
*often argues with adults or people n authority
*often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
*often deliberately annoys people
*often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
*is often spiteful or vindictive

All of these fit Brandon on a regular if not daily basis.  I felt like a terrible parent, and it was exhausting getting "advice" from others about what I was or was not doing that was the problem.  I was sure all of Brandon's problems were directly my fault, the guilt was horrible!

I continued to try and put up with it and work on the problems on my own, but by the time June came is was only getting worse.  Because Jared is an lawyer with the Utah Bar he qualifies for free counseling, so long as you go through their counselors.  Brandon was also included in this benefit, so we thought it was worth a try to hopefully save some money.  Our first visit was a NIGHTMARE!  It was everything I feared about going to counseling.  It was awkward and uncomfortable, I went in first to give the counselor some background and tell him what I was hoping to accomplish with counseling and then Brandon and Jared joined us.  The counselor would ask Brandon a few condescending and vague questions and then just stare at him waiting for an answer.  Brandon could see right through his objectives and was shy and near tears through the whole thing - it was such a huge step backwards - I'll never forget the pleading look Brandon would give me of help me, get me out of here, please don't make me sit here.  I knew right away that I NEVER wanted to go back to him!  Finally in August after we had moved into the Boudwins home we began meeting with Dr Monson.  What a contrast!  I went for the first visit alone, and realized that this counseling would be as much for me (maybe more so) than for Brandon.  I was so comfortable and at ease.  It was wonderful.  Then the next time it was just me and Brandon - Brandon was nervous, but he was quickly put at ease when he learned that he was simply going to play and then play some more.  Brandon learned to love Dr Monson as a Dr - after all, he didn't even give shots. :) For the rest of the year Brandon would go on his own for two weeks on Tuesday night and then Jared and I would go in without Brandon, two weeks Brandon, one week parents.  I loved our visits, and the learning that took place each time we went.  I also loved that we were getting support, encouragement, and real constructive advice, not just advice and accusing looks or comments.  We were being validated!  There were changes that we needed to make and it was hard to change bad habits, but the rewards were so worth it.  By March of 2015 we were done with counseling, knowing that we would be welcomed back anytime if needed.  This was such a blessing, because at just shy of $100 a visit and no help from insurance it was a great expense which we were happy to not have to pay, but we would gladly pay it again if or when it is needed!  Brandon is still not perfect, and we are still far from perfect as parents, but we learned some wonderful tools and I can now happily answer no to many if not most of the symptoms of ODD.  This has been a growing year for Brandon, but I sure do love seeing his progress.  I am constantly grateful and amazed at my Heavenly Father for trusting me with my children, and then being readily available to support and guild me in my efforts, if I will only remember to turn to Him and then trust and head the guidance I receive.  Being a mother is hard - but it is so worth it!!

New Home Sweet Home!

On Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 we were finally able to move into our new home!  To say we were excited would have been an understatement!  The previous owners told us they would be out by 12:00.  So early in the morning my sister Natalie and my mom came up to help me pack up and clean up the Boudwins home.  It took us a lot longer than we anticipated - I still can't believe how much stuff we have, and most of our stuff was in storage.  By 3:00 we were finally at a place where we couldn't really move forward until we emptied some boxes into the new house, but the previous owners were still there packing up.  We tried to be patient, but it was hard - it was funny how the roles had reversed.  By 4:00 we could not wait any longer so we dropped a few things off and my mom and sister had to leave.  I went back to the Boudwins and continued working hard until Jared came home around 6:00, we kept working and moving more over Cami and Derrick tried to help in any way they could, but Derrick was still recovering from his stay at the hospital and Cami was pregnant.  I was so happy and impressed when our new next door neighbor (Lynett McNaughten) came over and started helping right away, and she called her husband who was in his bishopbric mtg.  He, our new Bishop and the second counselor all came over, each with their truck and started helping - they each moved over our mattresses as well as a few other belonging.  There was a lot of cleaning that needed to be done before we got too settled in, so we limited our move in to the family room.  Because we moved in on a Wednesday we knew we wouldn't be getting the rest of our stuff out of storage until the following Saturday when more people would be able to help us.  So we planned on camping for the next few nights in the family room, but after one night Jared's allergies reacted to the previous owners dog and cats fur, it was covering the floor - there had been no cleaning done, when they left which was very disappointing.  Once again we were blessed when several women from our old ward and my mom came to help me clean.  These women worked SO hard scrubbing bathrooms, vacuuming, sweeping and mopping and cleaning kitchen cupboards and shelves.  Kelli Winn, Cami Boudwin, Sharece Rowser, Karen Edwards, Dana Brosnahan, my mom and myself made an amazing team.  
 While we worked hard cleaning the kids had a lot of fun exploring the big open basement, and the shelves in the food storage room made for a great place to play. :)
 The next day, Friday, I had carpet cleaners come to deep clean and hopefully get a lot of the pet hair and dander removed so Jared allergies would relax.  We spent that night sleeping in the living room with sheet and blankets draped over the windows.  It was another fun night of camping out. :)  That Saturday we were blessed with another army of people to help us move in.  The Kellers, Boudwins, my parents, several YM from the first ward, and another handful of men from the 1st ward all showed up to help us move in.  It was a very busy day trying to direct traffic and belongings.  Derrick and Cami Boudwin were very gracious to treat everyone to pizza for lunch and then when everything was finished we treated everyone to shakes from Dairy Keen.  By the time the day was over we had each of our bedrooms set up to sleep in, most of the kitchen unpacked and put away, and clothes and toiletries ready to go for church the next day.  We were SO tired, lucky for us we finally got to sleep in our real beds!!  Wahoo!!!!  And fortunately church didn't begin until 1:00 the next day, so we had time to get ready amidst the chaos.  On Sunday the boys were super happy to have their bathes in our new giant soaker tub. :)
 The next month was very busy unpacking and organizing our new home, my mom was wonderful to come up at least twice a week to help out.  I began each morning enjoying my time walking Brandon to school with Grant on his bike and Trent in the stroller, seeing hot air balloons always felt like a great start to the day. :)  Our home is less than half a mile from the elementary school and I can see 3/4 of the walk to and from the school, so Brandon has been able to go to and from school on his own without me being too worried. :)
We were SO busy settling in that mowing the lawn was the farthest thing from our priorities.  After nearly 4 weeks of going unmowed it was time to cut the lawn, but our poor mower had been in storage for nearly 2 months and it struggled badly with the nearly foot long grass.  We went over it on the highest setting and it still stalled often, but we persevered and got it done.  Our yard is HUGE, just mowing the lawn will take several hours each week, but the space will be so much fun!  We have so many fun projects in mind for the future. :) 

  When we moved in there were two places in the basement that Brandon could hardly wait to turn into dragon caves.  One was a crawl space (yes, another crawl space) the sits under our mud room/laundry room between the house and the garage, and the other was the space under the stairs to the basement.  The crawl space is a very involved project, which we simply can not do on our own, but the one under the stairs was very doable.  So for his birthday (11 days after moving in) My mom and sister gave him, a large piece of carpet, a curtain, and two cans of left over paint, as well as a few lights to make the dragon cave more appealing.  Brandon and I spent a Saturday together painting and putting his cave together.  He was sure proud of it!
 Half of the basement is dedicated to the children for playing in, that is where all their toys live as well as our old set of green leather couches, a basketball standard, a play structure, and most of the empty cardboard boxes from when we moved.  It is a child's paradise as far as I am concerned, but the boys don't want to spend a whole lot of time down there.  At first we thought it was because it was so dark, so my dad came and installed four more lights for their space, but that doesn't seem to have helped.  I think what it really boils down to, is they are still not used to having so much space to live and play in, and they are not used to being so far away from me.  The basement is a bit scary when mom is all the way upstairs - or worse, up two flights of stairs.  :)
 So now we are all moved in and settled - so here is the grand tour of our wonderful new home.
When you walk in the front door immediately to your right is a set of french doors that lead to our formal living room.  The hard wood, fireplace and beautiful mantle sold us on this house from the minute we saw it.  I love that I have a place now to put my future baby grand black piano, and then a place to have piano recitals. :)  I also love that this room can be a formal dining room when I need it to be.  The furniture that we inherited from Wyn and Dee Anns IF condo fits beautifully in this room.  We searched all over for curtains that would be a balance of modern and classic to suit my personality and the furniture's personality.  I love the curtains we found.  We also bought new throw pillows to tie things together.  We still need a rug, but they are super expensive and finding just the right one is very tricky!  We also need to someday find something to go on the wall opposite the fireplace.  But for now, it is perfect - we love this room it is so cozy and inviting, the light from the windows is bright and refreshing and it is the perfect Christmas room!
 I also love that the room can be closed off when we are not in it with french doors at both entrances.
After you walk through the living room you exit the second pair of french doors into the kitchen/dining room.
 This kitchen is so much bigger than our old one, and the cupboard space is amazing!  I wasn't sure I would love the tile floor which is actually a dark green and white color, but I actually do like it a lot.  Unfortunately several of the tiles and cracked and the grout is wearing away, so some day it will need to be replaced, but until then we will enjoy it!  We were also surprised when we moved in that there was no fridge, we missed that part where they said they were taking theirs with them.  It was an unexpected cost, but it is sure nice to have a fancy brand new fridge!  I love the storage, and the french door style that has so much space.  It was a hassle to live for the first week with no fridge - coolers aren't all that fun.  But the new fridge is wonderful.  I love having SO much counter space, and I really like the double level counter at the bar - it is great for working on.  The counters are made of white tiles - who ever thought tiles on a counter was a good idea, must have been crazy!  I'll never understand it - cleaning the grout between the tiles is a nightmare - another project for some future day.  For now I will just be tremendously happy about the space, and lighting in the kitchen, and of course me wonderful new fridge!!
 And a space for a kitchen table - what a concept.  This is something our old house simply did not have.  We can now comfortably sit six people around the table and still have space to spare.  I also love all the light that comes from the sliding door to the back yard!  I love my decorative shelves in the corner.  OH - and that white door in the back by the fridge leads to the mudroom/laundry room which then leads to the garage.  It is a very big space, where the dogs kennels can live and it has LOTS of storage space and another big bright window that looks out the front yard and drive way, so I can watch the kids playing outside while I am doing laundry.  For the first few months of living in our new home our old washer and dryer worked well, but then one day - for who know what reason, besides age the dryer died - no more dry clothes.  For a couple of weeks we were able to air dry clothes on the bed in the guest room, until we finally got a new washer and dryer.  We were once again blessed when one of Jared's co-workers told us that his dad sold high end washer and dryers and he could get us a set for an excellent cost.  Will the blessing ever cease?  I certainly hope not!  I love my new washer and dryer - they work SO well, much better that the other ones we had were old and didn't always work well, but these new ones are amazing!!
 The family room is so cozy and I love having it as part of the great room with the kitchen and dining room.  We had planned on moving our very old broken green leather couches into this room, but a few weeks prior to us moving in my mom found this set which was practically brand new at the DI for $200.00.  She and my dad gave them to us for a moving in gift (as well as so many other things along the way).  The couches look so nice and they are comfy and not broken ;) a nice touch, don't you think?  :)  But they are very deep and my short little legs don't even come close to reaching the floor when I want to lean back, so we started looking for throw pillows to fill it out.  When I say we, I mean my mom.  She was my personal shopper for several weeks after we moved in, she is blessed with both the time, interest, and great location to be able to shop around, so if she found something she thought I would like she would send me a picture for Jared and I to decide.  That is my kind of shopping!  I love the pillows that she found!  Then I was thinking I just needed a good blanket to throw it all together and I remembered that I had requested to have the yellow, blue and white afghan the Dee Ann had made.  It went perfectly well in that space - I love it!  
 From the dining room/family room you can either go through a door and down the stairs to the unfinished basement (which I have no pictures of) or you can go down the hall which leads to the man floor bathroom, the office, the front door, and the stairs leading to the top floor.  I love this little hall way, with a perfect space for my entry table and mirror, and the beautiful hard wood floors.  I also love having a coat closet that is just for coats, and I am super grateful the previous owners left the cute coat rack and mirror, they look great and get used often!
 This main floor bathroom has so much storage and space, I love it.  I also love the natural light and fresh air from the window!  And I really appreciate that we can have a bathroom for visitors that doesn't double as the kids bathroom!
 Our office - do you know - I love having a room dedicated as an office space and not having the office in my bedroom.  The closet in this room is huge with several built in shelves to house all of my crafting supplies, all of our games and puzzles and much much more.  All of the furniture in this room was handed down from Wyn and Dee Ann.  I love having a big high quality desk (that I didn't build myself and doesn't fall apart) I love the extra book cases, and the filing cabinet with tons of space for files and a place to put the printer and other electronics.  I love having a place to finally put up Jared decorations, it makes it look like the perfect man cave for him.  I also love that there is a dedicated nook in front of the desk which our fish tank fits perfectly in.  I no longer have to look at an ugly dirty fish tank right when I walk into the house or when I am sitting in the main part of our house - it is hidden, out of the way, but still in a place that Jared can enjoy it - and for some crazy reason it doesn't get dirty in its place - we have yet to have to really get in a clean it!  YAY!  Another great feature to this room is the big window that looks out to our front porch (a very southern, cozy front porch - which we love) and the front yard and flag pole.  Its a beautiful space!
 And up the stairs we go - this is the view from the front door.  My boys were so happy to finally live in a house that has stairs, because for eight years we were the only people in their world who didn't have stairs.  Its funny the things that are a big deal to kids.  My legs are still getting used to stairs, they are a lot of work :)
 At the top of the stairs just to your right is our master bedroom.  This room actually deserves to be called a master bedroom.  It is luxury at its finest and I feel spoiled every time I am in this room.  I love all the light and the view from our windows, both day and night.  I love that the little window above our room don't need coverings for privacy, so I get to sleep under the stars and the moonlight. :)
 Our bedroom has space to spare, the reading corner is so cozy and inviting, it is a favorite place to spend quiet time.  Another blessing came when Natalie moved out of her apartment and no longer had space for her treadmill.  We knew we wanted to get one, but getting one for free is much better!  I love being able to watch TV and exercise in the comfort of my room with a shower immediately available!   This room also has his and hers closets and they are big, (nearly walk in) with built in shelves!  The storage in this house is amazing and wonderful!

 And we have an on suite master bathroom.  I always felt a bit funny calling our bathroom in the old house an on suite master bathroom because it hardly felt deserving of the title, but this bathroom definitely deserves the title.  We have our own sinks - it was never a real big deal before, we like each other well enough that we could share a sink just fine ;) but having our own is so fun!  And that tub!!!  It may not get used often, because the stall shower is more efficient on the day to day, but it is such a luxury when we do get to use it.  It is almost too big - I never thought that was possible!  :)  The boys get to use it much more regularly, and it so fun that all three boys get to have their baths together, (for a little bit longer anyway) it is a party every time!

 From our bedroom you have this big wrap around hall with the boys bathroom followed by Trents bedroom, a beautiful window, then the guest bedroom and lastly Brandon and Grants bedroom.  I know it is silly, but this hall way is wonderful, I love being able to look over the banister to the main floor, and being able to look to the other side of the hall to the other rooms - it feels so spacious and open.  And it is of course a fun place to cause trouble for little boys who love to throw things over the railings. :)
 The boys bathroom is another big space with lots of storage - I actually have drawers that are empty - I never could have dreamed of such a thing!
 Trent's room is wonderful!  He has two big windows for LOTS of natural light.  He has a view of the corner so he gets to watch lots of cars drive by - he loves it!  In fact - car was his first word!  He has a huge closet with built in shelves and lots of space to play.  I love sitting in his room and watching him learn and grow as he explores all that is around him!
 A guest room!  What a wonderful thing!  For eight years we either couldn't have guests, or Wyn and Dee Ann who are our most frequent guest would sleep on the couch or a blow up mattress, or if they were lucky in their motor home.  None were ideal situations, but now we have a beautiful and very comfortable room for our guests to stay.  This room does not have a closet, weird, but fine as we don't need the storage and our guests don't really need a closet, but the windows more than make up for the lack of a closet.  There are two big windows which let in lots of light and one has the best view in the house.  We enjoy the room so much, that if we are having a hard time sleeping in our own bed, we sleep in this room instead. :)  I also love that I know have a place to display the art work that Jared's maternal grandma (Grandma Erma Ward) painted.
 The last room is the boys room.  It is the smallest room in the house, but with the boys having a whole basement of space to enjoy they don't really need a lot of room.  This has plenty of space for sleeping, reading, and storing clothes as well as a very few select toys.

I feel so tremendously blessed to live in this wonderful home of ours!  Eight years in our little humble and well loved home was more than we anticipated spending their.  There were day when we wondered if we would ever be able to move into something bigger.  There were days when it was really hard to be grateful for our small home, and we wondered why we being punished.  I am still ashamed about those feelings, because really we were SO blessed to have our little home when compared with the many other people in the world who would have loved to live there.  And truly in many ways, less is more.  Less house meant less house work - more time for other activities.  But with this new home I can see our future.  I can't wait to host many family parties comfortably.  I can't wait to watch our kids grow up in this house and not feel like we are on top of each other all the time.  This house is truly a dream come true, and a tremendous blessing that I don't feel deserving of.  I couldn't be more grateful!!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

August 2014

Brandon began his first day of first grade, his first day of ALL day school on Thursday,August 19th.  It was another rainy day, but that did not stop him from being very excited to see his friends again.  A week before school started I went shopping for school clothes at the DI and I was so happy that I was able to completely outfit him in great quality clothes for less than $100.00.  That included shoes and winter clothes.  YAY!  Brandon is sure a cute first grader!!
 Right before school we met up with two of his best friends Jason Rowser and McKell Brosnahan who were also beginning first grade with Brandon.  Not only was the first day of school a big deal but it was also his first day in the full dual immersion program.  He would spend the first half of the day learning in English and the second half of the day learning in Spanish, then the next week he would trade and Spanish would be first and English would be last.  His English teacher was Mrs. Iordachescu and his Spanish teacher was Mrs. Nichols. Jason was in Brandon's class (the green class) and McKell was in the blue class so they were all in dual immersion together.
 Brandon did very well for his first day of school - he was excited to take his home lunch and have three recesses and he was very excited to see friends again.  It was a bit unique going to school for the first two weeks in a temporary home, but Brandon didn't seem to mind the chaos at all.
 The next day was Friday so to celebrate the beginning of school Sharece and I took the kids to Wasatch State Park for some fishing and playing.  As a rule I do not take my boys fishing - thats Jared thing to do with them.  But Sharece has no problem taking her boys fishing, so I was grateful that Jason was happy to share the fishing with Brandon.  Just as we were about to leave Jason caught a fish.  Jason loves to eat fish, so they always take them home - Brandon and Jared always do catch and release because Jared doesn't like to eat fish.  It was amusing to see how the boys dealt with the differences and with each other.  Brandon was pretty upset that the fish died, but he handled it pretty well.  :)
 I still can't believe he kissed the dead fish - YUCK!
 YA - YUCK!!  funny boy :)
 I love these two boys and their fun friendship!
 So Heber is a small town - we knew that when we moved here, we also knew that it was a growing town.  While we don't want it to become a big city, we do look forward to the right kind of growth and we look forward to watching our children grow with the city.  Well Heber has very little in the way of recreation for families, and NO swimming pool worth going to.  Brandon's girl friend's, Rachel, mom was one of the lead organizers to get a swimming pool put in.  I help her put the float together - mostly working on the backdrop of the float.  Then our family walked with several others in both the Heber and Midway town parades.  Brandon and Grant were good sports to ride their bikes and cheer about the pool - while Jared and I (and Trent in the stroller) helped pass out flyers about the pool.  It was an interesting experience.  Unfortunately, Wasatch County voted against the pool, it was very disappointing!  It was a very heated debate in the county, but I am happy that at least my boys were able to learn a bit about the voting process.  

 After one of the parades we took the boys to the zoo - all Summer long we have been waiting for the new Savannah exhibit which would feature the giraffes, zebras, lions and a few other animals, to open.  With its opening the train was finally up and running which Grant could not be more happy about.  It has been fun to watch the zoo grow and change from how Jared and I enjoyed when we were children.  The new exhibit is awesome!  It was fun to visit!

 My brother Scott continues to work on his photography talents and he is getting amazing - he is doing weddings, graduations, and many more other venues, but my favorite pictures will always be the candid pictures he gets of my boys.  This one melts my heart - my little Trent is SO very cute!!  I love looking at this picture!
 And while the quality of this picture is not nearly as good as the one Scott took, I still love it.  Brandon and Grant decorated Trent with stickers one day while on a car ride and Trent seemed very happy about it. :)
 One of our last Sunday's living in the Boudwin's basement we decided to go on a family walk - even though the weather still threaten more rain.  The sunset at the end of our walk was amazing!!
 Cami and I would walk Brandon and Jason to school in the mornings with our kids tagging along and Sharece would walk them home.  Occasionally we were all able to go together and get in a good long walk while we were at it.  Grant and Patrick seemed to enjoy the opportunity to ride bikes early in the morning!

 I will greatly miss the days when Trent falls asleep in my arms!  They grow up too fast - I know everyone says it over and over again, but that is because it is so true!  And no matter how much I cherish the moment and take pictures of it and try to linger in the moment as long as I can, I know that nothing I do will slow time or make me miss it less when the time has passed!  But at least I wont regret missing the moment when I had it!