Sunday, May 29, 2011

Visiting Teachers

This week, I have had both the opportunity to go visiting teaching and have my visiting teachers over. From both evenings, my life has been enriched and I learned much. I have amazing visiting teachers. Donnie has been mine for a while now. She is amazing. She always knows what to say and how to express the message in a way to touch my heart.

She has done so much for me and my family. She has been so helpful with Hayden and in helping him to go to Primary and his class.

As they sat in my home today, I smiled and my heart was overjoyed. I understood the importance of visiting teaching and how in a small setting we learn from one another.

I am grateful for the amazing women that I teach and that teach me. I love the Lord's program and have a testimony of the visiting teaching program.

I Love Love Love what one of the ladies told me.... We learn more from and are actually taught more by those we teach. We have to put forth the effort, so therefore we receive the greater blessings. A lot of times those come from the lessons, messages and discussions we have with those we teach. I have thought about that and am so grateful for all the wonderful sisters that I get to associate with. They are amazing ladies and I am thankful for their example and testimonies.

Church today

Today at church was a notable event. First of all, Gunter came with us and Hayden loved having his best buddy there. Gunter loved that they sang to him in Primary and made him feel welcome. It was fun to hear Hayden explain things to Gunter.

More importantly, Julie came to Sacrament meeting with us. As the Bishop and missionaries came up to her today, I laughed that it had taken me 25 years to get her into an LDS church building. She was very receptive and I think she enjoyed her time there. Brother Epps, walked over, laughed and said, "You are dead. I walked in once too and now I'm a baptized member of the church." He was so funny!

It felt so good and so right to have her sitting with our family at church. She is an amazing person and I only want the best for her. Whether or not she accepts the church and its teachings is up to her, it won't change how I feel about her, but I do know how much joy, happiness, peace and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought to my life. I do hope that she finds that peace and joy, no matter what her decision is. I love her and only want the best for her! It was a great day!

Weekend activities

Hayden had the BEST weekend. His best friend Gunter came over after school on Friday and stayed until Sunday evening. I also had Chase and Lauren all day Saturday, so we made a fun weekend out of it.

Friday the boys played on the trampoline, in the sprinklers, made mud jacuzzi's outside, played the Wii, played video games and had fun. Friday night, Thomas, Hayden, Gunter, Julie and I all went to Ah-So to celebrate such a wonderful school year! Yummy food, good conversation and the boys loved it. They stayed up late and watched movies and I was shocked when they were up before 5am.

Katie had to work, so we got Chase and Lauren on Saturday. We picked them up early and all headed over to the 8:50am showing of Kung Fu Panda. Such a cute show.

After we headed to Suzi's for pizza and then to the water park. The kids sure loved the lazy river, waterslides, splash pad and swimming pool. It was nice that it wasn't too scorching hot.

Lauren, Gunter and I on the lazy river. Hayden and I went around on it tons, just us. I LOVED spending time with him and even with his friends there, he wanted me in the water with him.
Me and Thomas. I sure love this guy and the wonderful father, husband and uncle that he is. All the kiddos sure adore him.
Hayden did it!!!! He conquered his fear of waterslides. Thomas went up with him and i was shocked when he came down, but he did it! After that, he wanted to keep riding the waterslides. So proud of you, Bubba.
The boys playing... Gunter, Hayden and Chase. They sure had a great time together.
After the waterpark, we hit Sonic on our way back to Suzi's to drop off the kids. Gunter and Hayden came home and continued to play until late into the night. They have WAY more energy than I do. They had fun and were fantastic!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mrs. Fett

Hayden was blessed with the BEST 3rd Grade teacher, Mrs. Fett. She has been the PERFECT combination of pushing him to excel with knowing where the line was to prevent pushing too hard. All while doing this, she continued to build his self esteem, encourage him and help him reach beyond what he thought he was capable of.
I am so thankful for the wonderful people, teachers, therapists in Hayden's life and how much they help to shape and mold him into the wonderful guy he is. I am thankful for Mrs. Fett and she will probably never understand how truly thankful I am for the extra time, effort and care she gave Hayden.

On Tuesday, Hayden asked Mrs. Fett, "Where will I be sitting next year?"
Fett: "Across the hall Hayden in Mr. Ariaus' room."
H: "I've decided I want to stay in 3rd grade. I won't be going to 4th grade."
Mrs. Fett's response was to go get a special lunch for Hayden and the two of them sat and talked during lunch and recess. At the end of the day, they had come up with a plan. Hayden will move on to 4th grade but have a desk in the 3rd grade classroom that he can go to anytime just by holding up a card.

What an amazing teacher to spend her lunch hour reassuring Hayden that he was ready for 4th grade, he was capable of the task, she believed in him and she provided an "out" for him when it became too overwhelming. I can't express enough gratitude to her and for her for her true compassion and love for Hayden. She is going to be terribly missed by Hayden, and me.

Horseback Riding

Hayden has been taking horseback riding lessons for the past 4 months. He is becoming quite the horseman. I am amazed at how he can just take charge of the horse. I love his picture and his facial expressions. So Hayden when he is proud of himself.
He is trotting now. I love the concentration this shows on his face.
He loves Noah, the horse.
He is not only developing a love or horses and riding, but has also learned so many problem solving skills, reliance on himself, built confidence in his abilities and developed an even greater love for animals.
I thought we were going to take a break from the summer but instead we are going to go at 6:30AM! I guess it is better if he sticks with it. He loves it and is learning so much! Plus, he is such a happy, excited boy after each lesson as he explains all the new techniques he has learned or mastered. I am so proud of you, Hayden!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IEP Meeting

Hayden's three year evaluations at school have been this past six weeks. I have spent a lot of time at the school with his teacher, principal, speech therapist, occupational therapist, Aide, Educational Psychologist, Special Education director and the wonderful front office staff.

These wonderful people love my son! What a wonderful blessing it is to walk into a room with all of these people and know that they love Hayden and want the best for him.

Hayden has qualified for all the services he is receiving now, plus more time with Jerry! Hooray! Jerry is the occupational therapist's therapy dog and Hayden LOVES him! The school has even hired a new 4th grade teacher and during interviewing he was specifically asked questions regarding Hayden and his needs.

IEP meetings are filled with all types of emotions. The reality of Hayden's situation, although always in the back of my mind, hits me front and center at these times. I see exact grade levels, see in black and white his strengths and weaknesses. I am presented with goals, I tweak them and we go back to the drawing board. The school's goal is for academic success, as Hayden's mom, I most value and protect his self esteem and do everything I can to make sure that he is set up for the most success possible in all areas. I am told by the psychologist how Hayden is coping and reacting when I am not around. Some of these moments are hard to swallow emotionally. I want pure happiness and the best for my son. It hurts me to see him struggle so much.

As those close to me remind me, all children struggle in one way or another. It is part of life. Oh how some days I wish I could take the pain of childhood away from Hayden and protect him from the ugly things in the world. I can't. I know it is my job to best equip him with the skills necessary to stand strong.

All of these emotions, goals, academic skills... all go into the long meetings of making sure that Hayden has the best opportunity for learning and success. I was thrilled today to sign the paperwork and make it all official. I am so grateful for such a wonderful team of people that all love and care about my son. I have truly been guided and blessed when searching for the right schools, therapists and teachers for Hayden. I am also excited for the IEP to be set in place and not have to be front and center in my mind and thoughts. Whew! That is a relief to have that in place for the next year!

Bishop's Home

Last Monday night we were invited to the Bishop's home for Family Home Evening. When we arrived, the Bishop let us know that he had invited families in the ward with special needs or autistic children. It was quite the experience and one I was very thankful to have been able to experience.

We have had several new families move into the ward recently and a couple of new converts. When I walked in, I had several people come up to me and say that they had been wanting to talk to me and asked for help.

As the Bishop opened FHE, he spoke of the special spirits that these children have. The Bishop had asked a couple of us to bear testimony or share thoughts on how we had dealt and some of our experiences. The Arnson's went first. Their son is 23 and they definitely have the most experience and longevity in understanding autism. Then, it was my turn. The spirit was unbelievably strong and the words just flowed out of my mouth. I had prayed that I would be directed in what to say and I was so thankful that the Spirit guided me in my thoughts and words and then very strongly testified to all of us of the truthfulness of the message. What a blessing to have the Lord's help, guidance and understanding. I am always so grateful when the Lord can use my experiences to help another.

I do have a testimony that these children have been sent here with special spirits. They are so close to the Lord. They love the Lord completely and are so sensitive to the Spirit. What a blessing to have been in a room with these special children and to bear testimony of their great worth.

I am humbled to have been chosen to be Hayden's mom. He teaches me every day. I just pray that the Lord will continue to bless me with the ability to teach Hayden while he teaches me. I know the Lord is helping me. He continues to make up the difference every day when I fall short of what Hayden needs. He helps me to be the mom that only He knows and believes I can become. And, I do know that with the Lord's help, I can become the parent that Hayden needs and so deserves. Having Hayden has truly taught me that the only way to parent is with the Lord's help and guidance and with Him, miracles can and do happen!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Father's and Sons

Thomas and Hayden loved Fathers and Sons outing. Yes, this is the only shot we have. It is all the boys gathered around Hayden while he is playing Angry Birds. I am glad that the boys did go get filthy dirty and Hayden came home after having had a great time playing in the fire, hiking and doing all the fun boy things!

I am so thankful for the wonderful father that Thomas is to Hayden. Hayden adores his dad and was counting down to having an entire weekend with his dad! I sure love my boys!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Girls Weekend!

We had the funnest girls weekend away. Jerlyn, Rosie, Suzi and Jodi.... we all took off at noon and Friday, drove to a B&B in Prescott. Sunday was Jodi's birthday and we decided to celebrate in style!
I loved spending time with some of my favorite people! We ate, shopped, laughed, talked, shopped more, relaxed in the jacuzzi, shopped, talked, ate more and laughed! It was such a great weekend.
Rosie was our personal shopper for the weekend and was determined to outfit Jodi and I from head to toe. We have some cute outfits now! One of the funniest moments was Rosie and Suzi dragging Jodi and me into Victoria's Secret for new bras. I have to say that I am sure that the workers there thought we had been drinking. We were laughing hysterically and I am sure we made fools out of ourselves. But, we had a GREAT time!
I loved every minute of our wonderful time together. I am telling you, Suzi and Rosie DEFINITELY know how to shop. I now have the cutest swimsuit, best fitting jeans, and some adorable outfits.

And, this post wouldn't be complete without mentioning why we went, to celebrate the birth of the world's greatest sister! I still remember the moment I found out that she was a girl. I had been praying for a sister during my mom's entire pregnancy and I was elated to have a sister! I have happy to say that 32 years later, I am even more thrilled that I was blessed with such an amazing sister and best friend! I love you, Jodi! Always have, always will!

Lehi's Dream

Hayden was talking to me one night last week. He had been "chatting" with Jesus again. He brought me one of his Book of Mormon hero cards and asked if there were scriptures that went with them. I said yes and he said he wanted to read about Lehi's Dream.

We read about the Tree of Life and I explained the spacious building, straight and narrow path, iron rod, tree of life, etc. I also explained how Satan uses different areas to try and tempt us away from the path we should be on ie: peer pressure, teasing, mocking, etc. He said, "Where would bullying fall?" We talked about it.

Hayden says, "So mom, the Holy Ghost can make you feel good, and Jesus can help things come into your mind and he can also help us find answers other places like the scriptures?"
I replied, "Yes, why?"
Hayden: "Well, I was having a problem and so I prayed about it and I felt like I needed to read about Lehi and I would know what to do?"
Me: "What is going on?"
Hayden: "Mom, I am taking my problems to Jesus and he is helping me to deal with them and he is teaching me. I thought your job, mom, was to teach me that Jesus has the answers. I understand that and isn't it better that I learn it from him?"
Me: "Absolutely, but I am here too, to help."
Hayden: "I know, but this isn't anything that Jesus and I can't handle together."

So, what am I supposed to say to that? My son is figuring out that although I don't have all the answers that he knows where he can find them. I feel so happy inside yet a little unneeded. It is all I can do to just let him handle this situation alone, without me.

Katie's Graduation Party

I can't believe Katie graduated from College. I have ALWAYS loved Katie, She was a little spunky kid at my house when my mom was sick. She said and did the funniest things. Katie made me so excited to be a mom. I remember Robert, Lisa and Katie moving to Utah when she was only 18 months. I loved spending time with her. Then after, my mission, I lived with them and hung around Katie a lot when she 5 to 7 years old. I sure love her.
I am very proud of Katie for making it thru to graduate. Way to go, girlie! You worked hard and succeed. I am excited to see what your future holds. You are so incredible and I know it will be amazing!
Suzi, Katie, Jerlyn, Lisa and Jodi
Aunt Lisa with Macie.... too cute!
Thomas couldn't stand to see Talmage on the sidelines so he helped Talmage in the water.
It just wouldn't be Hayden in the water without a squirt gun! My funny boy!

We sure loved getting to see my mom's sister, family and all of our cousins and cousins' children. These cousins were great friends of mine growing up and continue to be a support and source of comfort when I need them. Love the times we get to see each other and spend a few precious moments catching up while we laugh and have fun!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Celebrations

This weekend, I have been pampered, spoiled and have above all else felt very loved and it isn't even Mother's day yet.

Friday night, Julie and I went to Kona Grill for dinner and then to see Billy Elliot at Gammage. I was in awe of the dancing and the sheer talent these young actors had. Absolutely incredible. Best part, spending time with Julie and having her encouragement to move forward with the toy drive, new parent liaison group and starting a new non-profit group. (More info to come... lots in the works). As I expressed my doubts of "having what it takes" to go forward, she reassured me that I can do this and it will get easier as I start doing it. Assurance was also there that it has taken my village to help raise Hayden and that the wonderful village of people in my world, will also be there as I move forward with my new responsibilities. It was so great to just spend time with her chatting and making plans for my future. I am so grateful for her in my life. Her encouragement, love and support is something that I truly cherish!

Saturday, (my boys were at fathers and sons outing), Suzi, Jodi and I shopped, went to lunch and a boutique. So fun. I laugh so hard with these two. They are two of my biggest supporters when it comes to me trying to navigate the daily challenges and adventures of motherhood. They always encourage, show love and tell me what I so desperately need to hear. Plus, they both love and adore Hayden. I am so thankful for all the "mothering" and wonderful examples they are to Hayden.

Saturday night, Thomas, Hayden, Talmage and I were lucky to get to go to dinner with Joyce. I am so grateful to be her daughter-in-law and each year that passes, I grow to love and appreciate her more. She is a good woman, wonderful grandma and humble example to me. She is always willing to serve us and step in when and in whatever way we need her. I enjoyed dinner with her and talking with her about all of our upcoming events.

And, I know that Thomas and Hayden will spoil me absolutely rotten tomorrow. I sure love my guys! They are my world and I am so very grateful for them! I feel very very loved!


Jake called me up on Friday and asked if he could stop by. A few minutes later, Jake and Rosie were at my house. Jake hugged me, told me what a wonderful sister I was and how grateful they were for me in their lives.

He then handed me a Dolce Spa gift certificate for an entire day at the spa, including, Organic facial, 1 hour massage, Spa Pedicure, Hair done, Make up application, Lip Gloss and Lunch. He told me I deserved a day of pampering.

It kept getting better, he told me to keep quiet that they were then headed to Jodi's and then to Suzi's to surprise them, as well.

I am so lucky. So blessed. Feel so loved! I sure love my brother and his wife and are am so grateful for all the wonderful ways that they make sure that I know that I am loved! I love you Jake and Rosie!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day brings so many feelings and emotions. Grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mother to Hayden. Grateful for the wonderful women in my life that mother, protect, encourage and love me. Grateful for the wonderful women that teach me and encourage me to be a better mom and are there for me on the days I am not sure how to keep going.

Since my mom has already passed out of this life and on to the next, it is always a reminder to me that another year has past. I always take the time to reflect on the past year, what events have unfolded and sort of create a check list on all the things that my mom has missed out on, all the times I wish I could have talked to her and sit and reflect at what I have learned and how I have grown.

Jodi expressed it wonderfully on facebook today...If flowers grow in heaven Lord, then pick a bunch for me, place them in my Mom's arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her that I love and miss her with all my heart, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss on her cheek and hold her for a while. Happy Mother's Day Mom, I miss you so so much! xoxo's

Friday morning, I bought a beautiful pot of yellow mums. They were some of my mom's favorite flowers, cheerful and full of happiness. I took them to work on Friday and intended to head to the cemetery after I picked Hayden up from school. I couldn't do it. Those darn flowers had brought me so much happiness that I found myself just overwhelmed with joy. After calling Jodi, we decided the flowers would be much more loved and I would spend more time remembering my mom with the flowers on my counter than on the cemetery floor. Best thing... they were Sunflower Sue brand and each time I look at them I smile and tell Hayden a story about my mom. It has been wonderful!

I am so thankful that I have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and that I WILL see my mom again. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of eternal families. I am so thankful for a kind, loving and caring Father in Heaven that prepared and implemented such an incredible plan that this life isn't the end. And, although I miss my mom (some days oh so much). The knowledge, the absolute definite knowledge, that I will see her again, hug her and be able to express my gratitude and love for her, carries me through and I feel so very blessed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Changes coming

The last year has been a struggle for me. I have felt the Lord pushing me, teaching me, refining me and forcing me to grow. It has scared me, it has absolutely pushed me to my limits and taken me well out of my comfort zone.

However, during this time, I have learned to trust my Savior, really talk to my Savior and help my will align more with his.

And, although I am not thru the storm, some moments I see a glimmer of light at the end, calling me and beckoning me to keep the faith, trust the Lord and keeping moving forward towards my Savior.

It has been a very humbling year, I have had to rely so much on others and really learn to trust my Savior. Looking back, I have learned a lot, I have changed and I am definitely on the path that He wants me to be on.

Yesterday, I saw a glimmer of my future, the plans the Lord has in store for me and the course and direction that the Lord wants my life to take. And, as much as I don't know how I am going to do it or why the Lord believes that I CAN do it, the fact remains that He does believe in me and if He thinks I can, then I KNOW I can. And, truthfully, I am REALLY excited for this new adventure.

Newport Beach

Sunday we headed over to Newport Beach for a little relaxation in the sun before heading back to Arizona. I love sitting on the beach, listening to the waves and feeling the ocean breeze. Perfect day for me. Sure love this guy!
Suzi and I at Newport.
The boys just got in. I was so surprised. They had sand toys and didn't think they would venture into the water, boy was I wrong.
It was a wonderful, although short couple of hours before we headed back home. It was a perfect weekend getaway!


What a FANTASTIC day at Disneyland. We entered the "Happiest Place on Earth" at 7am with very few guests. The boys raced to the rockets, Buzz Lightyear, Matterhorn and then waited for the Indiana Jones ride to open.
Suzi loves the rockets as much as Hayden. I'm not sure what she is going to do when Hayden no longer will let her ride with him. I think I have a picture of Hayden and Suzi on the rockets from every time they have been to Disneyland together.
We were the first ones to ride Indiana Jones and the boys were scared but loved it. I loved listening the Hayden and Braden go back and forth about the boulders, jeep, lights and jerking motions of the ride. They were trying to figure out what was "real" and what was fake. I found myself enjoying just eavesdropping on their little conversations.
Hayden and I, love LOVE love Brother Bear and have seen it so many times. Hayden had so much fun playing with Koda and Kenai. He always tells me that we are "buddies" just like Koda and Kenai. I sure love my boy!
As the day went on, the lines got longer. We used fast pass and rode a ton. We did however, had to wait for the Toy Story Arcade ride. It was a hit and we rode it twice. One of the funnest rides at California Adventure.
Stitch with Braden and Hayden. I love Braden trying to copy him.
Hayden found Goofy. He absolutely loves Goofy ever since he was little, about 4, and Goofy took his hand a skipped away with him. He always asks Goofy if he remembers trying to get him to live with him instead of his parents. Thankfully, Goofy always shakes his head yes and grabs Hayden's hand and swings it. Hayden honestly believes that he is Goofy's favorite! Oh how I love watching him with Goofy!
I sure love these two guys and my world revolves around them. They may be goofy but they are mine and I am so very grateful for them and the joy that they are to me!
While waiting for World of Color to start at California Adventure, Suzi bought the boys swords and they had sword fights. They were absolutely hilarious as they were creating their own entertainment for those around us! Silly Boys!
I loved that Hayden and Braden became better friends and closer cousins over this short weekend. They had the best conversations, laughed, pretended they were superheroes, shared excitement, encouraged each other and did great at compromising. I sure love Braden and his funny personality.
Suzi, once again, thanks for a phenomenally fun weekend! I can't wait to go back. It is definitely the happiest place on earth! (At least one of them). Although, by Midnight and having spent 17 hours there, I was exhausted and really ready for my bed. I can't believe the boys made it from 7am to Midnight. Fun fun times!


Friday morning I woke up early and had the house clean and laundry done. Thomas, Hayden and I had weeded the yard on Thursday night and we were pleasantly surprised that we didn't have a single plan for the entire weekend, as that never happens.

Suzi called at 7am and said she was dying to go to Disneyland and did we want to go. I laughed at her and she asked what better I had going on. I couldn't think of an excuse, so I picked Hayden up from school early and surprised him and told him we were headed to Disneyland. We quickly headed home to pack and picked Thomas up on our way out of town. As a bonus, Suzi went and picked up Braden to go with us.

We were off.... arrived at the Paradise Pier Disneyland Hotel at about midnight, opened Disneyland at 7am and stayed all the way until midnight.

Sunday we hit Newport Beach and basked in the sun. Then made the trip back home to Arizona. It was a whirlwind but so much fun. (Pictures to follow) So glad we went! It was great to be back at the Happiest Place on Earth.