Friday, December 9, 2011

Let's Play Catch Up

Hey All!

I know it has been about a bagillion eons since the last time I put a post on here, and I hope you guys will forgive me. In one fell swoop several months ago I found myself being swept away with the current of life with no life preserver and unfortunately my blog had to take a back seat to other, more pressing matters.

Now a days life is starting to balance itself back out...for the time being anyway. One thing I have learned is that the last thing you should ever count on is normalcy, because just when you get comfortable, that's the precise moment when your life will go up in a violent upheaval.

Anyway, I thought today's post could be just a year-end catch up:

And MY how things have changed!

Landon is doing very well in school, so far he has perfect report cards! He is learning to read by Spalding phonograms with which he is also learning to spell, and now he is starting to discover the freedom of being able to read words on a page! He is learning addition and subtraction in math and is doing surprisingly well. The kid never ceases to amaze me. He has charmed all of the recess aids in his school and has a crush on the teacher across the hall, "Ms. Taylor." He's had a few little girlfriends, though he has been holding hands with this current one for probably the longest...I even caught him carrying her backpack.

Kaden and I have really had a chance to bond over the last few months. He's really come out of his shell (though in the company of strangers he goes right back in it). He looks up to his brother, adores his dad, and has developed a stronger protectiveness over his little sister. He's a very tender-spirited little boy, the kind who tears up while watching certain parts of  "Despicable Me." Our favorite thing to do every morning is climb in bed after Landon goes to school and watch cartoons.

I've decided that toddlers are funny and peculiar creatures, and Myla is definitely no exception to that theory. She's the sweetest little girl who knows how to feel out a situation and lay on just the right amount of charm to get attention. She's also the kind of girl who will headbutt you square in the forehead if you're not watching. She has an even bigger knack for mischief, i.e., showcasing her artistry on our freshly painted walls, and just days before that she performed a little trick in which she earned the title, "Super Pooper Scooper."

As you can see, with these three, life is never boring.

Lastly, we bought a house!

...which is what has taken up most of the time the last few months. Who knew that buying a house getting it ready and moving would take so much energy!

I know. Everyone but me. That's just my talent in life: Grossly underestimating everything.

That's it for tonight! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Shower Buddy

Due to a family emergency, we needed to take an immediate trip out to Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. Yes, you read that right, Upper Black Eddy--I know, I would not have thought to put those words together either. We'll just call it what the locals do: UBE

Anyhoo, UBE is conveniently located a cool 3000 miles away from our little town of Maricopa, and with the cost of airfare, we decided to take the more economical and scenic route. Mistake #1. We also decided to bring along our camping gear and camp on our way out there. Mistake #2.

The first day we left the house at 3:00 a.m. and drove for a good 16 hours (including potty breaks and meals) and finally stopped for the night at a KOA in Oklahoma City, OK. I don't know what was up with the weather that night, but it was one very, very hot and humid night. Hmph. See, hot, humid, and Tasha go about as well together as pickles, cheese, and chocolate. UGH!

As we laid there on our air mattress (yes, I am a princess...I will not sleep on the hard floor if I don't have to) I could feel myself adhering to my bedding in a weird mixture of humidity and sweat. Even after an exhausting day, there was no way I could sleep comfortably, so I decided to take a shower in log-cabin-type structure at the entrance to the park.

Just taking the journey to the showers was an adventure, as it was pitch-black and I don't know who I scared more as I all but ran headlong into a tent nestled in the dark shadows underneath a canopy of trees--the massive dog inside the tent as well as her owner, or myself.

As I opened the door to the cabin, the still, eerie feeling of being completely alone yet not feeling completely alone raised my paranoia as well as the hairs on the back of my neck. To top things off, spooky-scary movie music sang in the back of my head as I checked all the rooms to make sure I was indeed alone.

All seemed well at first...but I couldn't shake the feeling that the cabin was completely empty, so I scurried into a shower stall, feeling safe after I locked the door behind me.

I should not have.

I went through the routine of starting the water and completely undressing as I waited for the shower to warm up. Mistake #3. Just as I opened the shower curtain to step inside I noticed a movement in the corner of the shower that would have scared the pants right off of me...if I would have had any on.

As I was standing there, in nothing but my nuthin's, this little guy stared back at me:

Fortunately I am not afraid of frogs, all the same, I didn't like the idea of the little guy landing on me without my permission. I told him if he would just stay where he was, I would only be a minute, then he could have the stall to himself again.

He didn't listen.

As I showered, I kept one eye on him the entire time. Of course, he started walking across the wall, and the closer he got to me, the more I got out of the shower...until I found myself standing in the little room infront of the shower next to the locked door.

It wasn't until he decided to come into the room that I was in that I gently told him "No." and pushed him back in the stall. One record-setting rinse off later, and he was back in his corner and I was dressed and putting as much distance between myself and my shower buddy as possible.

Still Kickin'

Hey there toys and squirels! (I totally stole that from my sister in law! She's the best!) I'm back from a chaotic month and a half and proud to say that we are still kickin'...though probably not as high as we "used t'could"...(admit it, you find my western twang least entertaining? No? Just lie and say yes.)

Anyhoo...recap on the last 30 days:

Landon started school August 8th. He attends Legacy Traditional Charter School and survives all day kindergarten. This school is a-w-e-s-o-m-e! They are so good with Landon. He has two teachers and two aids that look out for him and he has a great relationship with all of them. He is making great progress. He is able to recite the entire Pledge of Allegiance (video soon to come), count to 100, write his name (you can even tell what it says!), and yell "Mom! It's hot!" when I throw him in the shower without paying attention to the water temperature. These things may seem small, but for little Landon, they're huge.

Kaden had a REALLY hard time with Landon going to school at first; I honestly wasn't sure how I would make it through that first week. Leaving my "Little Man" (who still lives up to that name, especially compared to the 8th graders who go to that school) behind was hard enough, then to be pushing a stroller and dragging a 3-year-old little boy screaming for his nearly ripped me apart. I recall several times where I had Jim on the phone and I was just sobbing. BUT we got through it (thank heavens!) and Kaden is digging his Momma & Kaden time.

Myla is embracing her "terrible two's" with avengeance. She has this habit of getting into trouble (today it was a blue marker) and then, just as you are about to show any remote sign of frustration, she tilts her head back, smiles, and wraps her little arms around your legs. It's impossible to resist. Apparently the charm starts young.

We just got back from a fifteen-day excursion back east to Pennsylvania...I trip I will dive into more detail later this week, but I'll give you a peek: Three days driving, three kids, and almost 3000 miles. It certainly wasn't boring!

Hope this post meets you in good spirits...or at least a good survival story to tell! And don't forget, if all else fails, keep on dancin'!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Watch Me.

This movie is just over a minute long. Imagine watching this for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. In complete darkness. Think your brain would get rewired too? You bet it would!

This is a sample of the treatment Landon has been doing for the last 3+ weeks. In the clinic the poor kid had to lay on a moving table while watching just this flashing light and listen to music that hit various frequencies.

Anyway, we've been doing this treatment at home for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night for almost two weeks. I will tell you now, it takes A LOT of self disipline. Landon is making progress though. Slowly but surely.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of posts lately, with this treatment, buying a house, and getting Landon going in school, things have been a little hectic around the Nielsen Casa. But stay tuned! We may have some exciting news soon!

***Don't even let it cross your mind. The exciting news WILL NOT be a new baby anytime in the near future!***

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Insults of Weight Loss

Obsession with weight loss. Everyone has it. Heck, I have it too. I won't lie, there are times when I wish that I could return to the days when Jim and I started dating and I was a blissful 120 pounds. Haha...sadly, those days are LONG gone, and I don't EVER expect to return to the glory days of my early 20's.

Recently, however, I have been able to drop a good 15 pounds thank you to better eating and...well who am I kidding, I don't exercise, it's really just better eating and the new discovery of water in the Arizona heat. But now that I have lost some weight, I am starting to feel better. I can't help but feel like maybe, just maybe, if I loose a little more weight I might stand a chance of being one step of my children's determination to cause mischief. Maybe. So, now I'm pumped to loose more weight, and doing so comes with A LOT of nutritional research.

There are a thousand-point-five diets out there, and twice as many exercise DVD programs, gym membership offers, magic diet pills, drops and injections to help you on your quest for healthy living. Along with this helpful (and sometimes completely unbelievable)bundle of information are generally images like this:

While this picture is one of the more tame that I have come across, it is nonetheless an insult and a reminder of the things that I will probably never be able to do. I'm not being pessimistic on this one, just realistic. Let's face it, there are certain things you cannot recover from. I call mine thing 1, thing 2, and thing 3. I know several women who have had children and can perform something like this, I just happen to know that I cannot. Even if I was able to pull off a position like this, I'm utterly afraid I would look disproportionate in one way or another...probably several ways at once, starting at the head.

It just so happens that the author of one of the blogs that I follow regularly feels the same way. So, he decided to make a spoof on these companies. Check out his video! It's hilarious!

This is Dan Pearce on "Single Dad Laughing."To check out his blog, Click Here. He's a pretty funny guy who has a whole new take on life.

As for me, I'm going to continue the healthy eating thing with the occasional warm chocolate chip/toffee cookie. Hey, if I can't keep up with my things, I might as well bribe them to come to me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Landon's Last Day at the Clinic!

Yesterday was Landon's last day at the clinic, which was a bitter sweet day. The whole ordeal was really hard on all the kids, and fairly exhausting for this momma as well, but it was worth it. We made friends with families just like our own and grew close to the SIRRI staff. It was a place where we felt safe, because there was not one ounce of room for anyone to judge each other. In one way or another, we were all in the same boat.

Landon made leaps and bounds during this program, especially with his vocabulary. He went from mumbling and barely putting two and three words together to using full-on five-word sentences!

We are now in phase two of the program, where we do light therapy at home for 20 minutes, twice a day for 18 days. School starts in just over a week for the kiddo where he will be attending an all-day kindergarten and will likely be working with a speech therapist. It will be so strange to have the little guy gone all day, but he is ready. He is eager to learn and seems to absorb e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!

Here's some pictures of the whole ordeal:

As soon as we got out of the car, it was a race to push the button on the elevator...

...just to push the button again.

Then it was takeoff! All the way up to the second floor! (Hey, doing this everyday, you have to find humor in the small things!)

Of course, as soon as we got out of the elevator, Landon had to go and push the button again. Just. Because. (I almost lost a straggler baby who ran to catch the elevator twice because of this. Hey, I never claimed to be mom of the year.)

Landon made sure he opened his own door. Every. Time. It didn't matter if the other door was held open for him, he had to open his own door. This is something that Kaden caught on to. Hey, at least I could walk through with a wiggly baby in my arms that I just fetched out of the elevator!

Then we made our way down this hallway. It was a longer journey than it looks. Especially with two kiddos needing a nap right about now.

Yes, that is Kaden giving up about half way through and laying down to take a nap right there on the spot.

You thought I was exaggerating, didn't you!

As soon as we got there, Landon would say hi to the fish...

...Kaden would say hi to Mr. Potato Head...

...and Myla would say hi to Nicholas...

Yes, they did seem to have a certain fondness of eachother...but they also picked on each other just as well.

Then Landon would go in for his treatment, and the rest of us would wait...and wait...and wait.
Then we would go for lunch and do the whole thing all over again. It was a long two weeks, but a small price to pay!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


BREAKING NEWS: Be on the look out for this baby! She is armed and dangerous! She can be sweet and charming. DO NOT BE FOOLED! This face means mischief. The sweeter it is, the worse trouble she is in!
She has already struck one household in Maricopa, AZ.

Statements were taken by one of her victims, the identity of which is confidential to protect the innocent.  

"I woke up this morning to this baby girl greeting me with sweet little kisses. The next thing I know she is in my lap with the T.V. remote in her hands. I mean, who does that? I was watching the news! I know now that it was a distraction.

"Anyway, she looked at me with these big, innocent brown eyes and a partially toothy grin, so I caved and settled in to watch morning cartoons with her.

"Then it became time to get ready for the day. I got her and my two other kids dressed, and prepared a lunch for each of them. While they were eating lunch, I thought I would slip away and take a quick shower. When I came out I was met with this:

"It's the most heinous thing I'd ever seen! I was only able to snap a couple of quick pictures before she took off running!"

So there you have it. The whereabouts of this baby are unknown, though she was last seen in Tempe. We expect that she will return to Maricopa. Please be on the lookout, and call authorities if you see this baby. If you do cross paths, do not engage!

Here are her most recent mugshots:

We're relying on you! With your help, we can catch this baby and make this country a safer place!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chew on This!

Talk about the things that make you go "Ugh!"

This little guy (haha! I said "little!" He is anything BUT little!) was waiting outside under the garbage can for Jim when he went to take out the trash the other day... Jim came rushing in shuddering during a spell of minor convulsions after he saw this guy. Two days later, he was still there, so we decided to get a few pictures.

Isn't he gross? Just look at how big he is next to the quarter! He's the size of my cell phone! Oh, and apologies for the name of this post, I had my brother in law in mind. He has this crazy desire to eat a  scorpion. I got somethin' better for ya, my friend!  Bon Apetite Bro!

So, if you live outside AZ, sleep well tonight. These are only pictures and this guy can no way get you. If you live in the same hot, baron abyss we do, lock your doors! You never know what crazy things lurk out here!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Do They Know You Love Them?

Howdy everyone! I hope you had a wonderful and adventurous weekend!

We survived our weekend, which was filled with long travels, frustration and tears...and mom and dad aren't doin so hot either! Without diving into too much personal detail, I feel it's enough to say that we have felt a flood of emotions this weekend. There are certain inevitibilities that we have had to come to accept (it has nothing to do with Landon, by the way, he is doing great) and it has been a definite struggle for us. Which leads to today's topic.

Just over two years ago, an uncle of mine passed away. All my grandparents died either before I was born or while I was really young, so this was really my first exposure to mortality. During his funeral, something was said that really made me think about life. The heavy weight of mortality sank in as I considered how often I wasted time being frustrated because I was trying to get in the last word, or I was fighting to be right with any number of people in my life.

I especially considered this with my husband and the occasions he left for work frustrated because of a confrontation we had. I truly don't believe that there is an innocent side to any confrontation, but what if he left the house that day and got into a car accident and the last thing he felt was irritation with me? What if I missed a chance to tell him I loved him and I never saw him in this life again? Was the fight worth it? Was it worth a small victory, when in the end I would loose one of the most important people in my life?

What about my kids? What if I chose not to kiss them good night and something happened? Perhaps these are horrific things to consider, however, I would dare say that there are plenty of widowed mothers and fathers out there that would give anything to be able to say those last words, as well as parents who suffer the pain every day because they didn't take the time to kiss their child goodbye. A prime example of this is Mrs. Dugard when she didn't see her child again for 18 years.  

What I realized was that I was taking my family and the opportunity that I had to love them for granted, and this weekend was a manifest to that, which is the cause of this heavy topic today.

All I ask is that whoever reads this really takes a look at their loved ones, and take the time to show them you love them. They may or may not be here tomorrow, and in the event that they are not, do they truly  know how you feel? 

As for me, I want to dedicate this post to a very special woman in my life. I want to let her know just how much I appreciate her and everything she has done on our behalf. She has been such a blessing in my life, as she has given me an opportunity to have a grandmother...something that I've never had. I am grateful for the time and opportunity I have had to be able to love her.

We love you, Ri, so much. Thank you for all our memories and for being such an inspiration to us! You are always in our hearts and in our prayers!

Friday, July 22, 2011


This week has been tough for the whole family. Landon is doing great with treatments, but we're starting to see the treatments work. He's making progress in his efforts, but he's often tired, and quite a bit more irritable and frustrated. This is completely normal, and is a sign that his brain is exercising, similar to being sore the day after a good workout.

Kaden is especially having a hard time with all this activity. I don't think it's necessarily that he feels Landon is getting all the attention, I think being out of his schedule is really messing with him. He has a hard time when Landon is taken to the back, especially if we need to go to the car for a diaper change. It seems he's always afraid we're going to leave Landon behind and it puts him in an inconsolable fit.

Myla decided to grow up this week as well. We toyed with the idea of putting her in a toddler bed earlier, and before I knew it, she was sleeping like a big girl! Then, when she decided she didn't  need a sippy cup any more yesterday, my heart broke a little. I know that girl is destined for great things, I just wish I could keep her small a little bit longer.

As for me and Jim...we have definitely looked better. I think the word "frazzled" would be a good description. Constantly feeling like we're forgetting something is a feeling we're becoming used to. I suppose it's just good that we've managed to keep track of all three kids so far. (I only have three, right?)

I think this Saturday we'll just take it easy. We'll go to the park and feed the ducks and let the kids take a breather. Just one more week and we can resume a fairly normal schedule at home! (Landon will do another 18 days of treatment at home).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Quest

When I was young (I am still young, mind you) my dad was my hero. There wasn't anything that he didn't know or couldn't fix.  I used to walk hand in hand with him every Sunday evening; we would sing songs and he would tell me great stories like the "Wide Mouthed Frog," complete with vocal exaggeration and facial animation. I used to carry a bag on these walks of ours, the inscription on front read, "Interesting Things," which I would fill with knack-knacks and doo-dads that fascinated my seven-year-old mind. He was never so busy that I couldn't talk to him, and when I did, I knew I had his full attention. He picked me up when I was down, often times I left his shoulder soaked with tears. There wasn't anything that he didn't understand and couldn't help me understand. There still isn't.

I grew up along side my brother. We fought, as all siblings do, but I always knew he cared about me. He used to take me everywhere with him. Granted, this was before he could he would fold up a towel and position it on the cross bar of his bike (not the handlebars) and have me straddle it with my legs propped up so they didn't get in the way of his pedaling (yes, this was definitely not the most comfortable position in the world). We would ride around for hours like this. I don't even remember where we went. I just remember feeling completely safe with him (though, perhaps in this situation I probably should not have...) He was my big, tough brother, and despite our differences, I knew he would never let anything happen to me.

When I got older, I finally got the opportunity to get to know my oldest brother (something that is hard to do from 800 miles away, especially with a little sister who had the attention span of a sparrow). He is literally my twin; the fact that he is the oldest and I am the youngest has nothing to do with the matter. No one else gets me the way he does. He was my positive reinforcement growing up, always loving me for just exactly who I was, no more no less. He probably doesn't know how much it still means to me when he tells me he loves me and he is proud of me.

I remember the day my sister fell in love. At first I wasn't really thrilled that my soon-to-be brother in law was taking my sister away from me...but it wasn't long before I came around. It was hard to ignore that he adored my sister. He loved the quirky things that made her who she was (there are many of these things, and she won't deny any of them, which is one of the things I love about her). He treated me like his little sister, razzing me and giving me a hard time, but at the same time he took care to let me know that there was always a place for me in their home.  I remember the way his face would light up when he made my sister laugh, which would make him laugh harder. I have a deep respect for him and their marriage. They probably have no idea how closely I watched them, or how much I would model my own marriage after theirs.

Between these four men in my life, I had a check list of what I wanted in a husband: I wanted someone like my dad who would put me back together when I fell apart, who would always take the time to create memories with me. I wanted someone like my brother who always made me feel safe, and like my other brother who was never shy about letting me know he loved me and how proud he was of me. I wanted someone like my brother in law who would adore me, who would do anything to hear me laugh. More than anything else, I wanted someone who would do all of this not only for me, but for our children.

It was no easy task finding someone who fit the bill, but then I met Jim.

I don't get sappy about our relationship very often. It's not because I don't believe that Jim is my knight in shining armor...I just sort of have a reverence about him and our relationship, and for that reason I don't feel the need to publicize it very often. Today, however, I want to.

I remember the day I met Jim  at work, which is a story I'll dive into more detail at a later time. I had dated all types of guys up till then, but he was different. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get him out of my head. So I nurtured a close friendship with him. We used to live across the parking lot from each other, and I remember passively looking out the window to see if his car was in it's spot, always kicking myself later for even caring. I remember one time his car hadn't come home all night (as though he wasn't in it..haha!) and it was 2 o'clock in the morning. Panic ran through me as I tried to sleep that night, so much that I tossed and turned all night. I hated that I cared, but no matter how much I tried not to, I cared that much more. His car did come home at some point, by the way, and I can only assume it brought him with it.

I remember the day I realized he cared for me the same way. It happened so naturally that it barely seems like it happened at all. It was the usual phone call, "Hey, do you want to grab some Chinese Food with me?" That was the first night he took my hand in his. I remember because mine fit so perfectly in his. I realized he was everything I ever wanted, he was a little piece of all of the men in my life. We've been inseparable since. Six years of marriage and three kids later, the rest is history.

I won't say that marriage has been all peaches and roses. In fact, sometimes I wouldn't even give it the credit of lemons and dandelions. We've both come a long way in these 6 years, but one thing has always stayed the same. At the end of the day, and no matter how irritated we get with one another, I remember that his hand is the only one that mine fits perfectly in.

P.S. Leave Comments! How did you know that your significant other was "the one?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brazilian Lemonade

Picture Courtesy of
"Our Best Bites"

I don't normally blog about recipes. I mean, there are about a thousand and a half recipe blogs out there, and I won't ever pretend to be one. However, there is a recipe that I HAVE to share, because it is insanely good. Brazilian Lemonade (though I would call it a Brazilian Limeade seeing as there is not an ounce of lemon in it).

I got the recipe off of the "Our Best Bites" blog. If you want to check out their specific how-to's, click here.

Otherwise, go now! Don't wait till tonight! Call in sick if you must! You'll thank me later!

Brazilian Lemonade

4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 c. sugar
6 c. cold water
6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk

Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.

Wash limes thoroughly with soap (I just use hand-dishwashing soap or regular hand soap); you need the soap to get the wax and pesticides off of the limes because you’re using the WHOLE lime, baby. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.

Place 1/2 of the limes in your blender.

Add 1/2 of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk; DO NOT leave this step out unless you will die of a horrible sweetened condensed milk allergy because this is the secret ingredient! You may want to taste test it at this point; I used giant, thick-skinned limes tonight and didn’t test it and it came out a little bitter. If it’s bitter, just add some more sugar and maybe a little more milk.

Serve immediately over lots of ice. This does not keep well, so don’t make this in advance (although you can cut the limes, mix the sugar water, and measure the sweetened condensed milk in advance). Serves 4, although I can pretty much guarantee you that people will want more; I usually plan on 1 1/2 servings at LEAST per person.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just How Hot is it in Arizona?

When we hear from friends and family, the first question is always, "How's the family?" And before I even have a chance to answer, the next question is, "So...just how hot is it out there?"  During the summer months, so far we have seen a high of 116, I think. It may have actually been hotter, but after a while, numbers become irrelevant. Let me illustrate for you.

Let's take a trip down imaginary lane for a moment. Let's imagine that you're on vacation. You spent the extra money and went somewhere tropical and extremely exclusive. Palm trees sway in the breeze, and your room even has an ocean view. The sky is a perfect, cloudless blue, and the turquoise ocean is calling your name, beckoning you to come and take a swim. This is what you have been waiting for since you booked your trip!

You slip into your bathing suit, grab some sunscreen, throw on your sandals, and your legs run out the door faster than your body can catch up.

The intoxicating smell of tropical vegetation, salt water, and sunscreen fills your head. All your stresses, one by one, wash away with the crash of every tide. You find a prime spectator position on the beach, toss your towel and bag of sun and swim supplies down, and then you do the unthinkable: You take off your sandals.

The second your foot touches the hot sand, a burning sensation radiates up your foot, through your leg, and you find yourself in, what I like to call, a thermal fit (the crazy, though highly entertaining dance one does when one walks in hot sand).

That feeling of unforgiving hot sand under your feet and between your toes? The one that doesn't go away for several seconds after you sit on your towel? That is what the Arizona heat feels like... all. over. your. body. Like I said, after a while, numbers become irrelevant. Summers here are killer. Otherwise, Arizona is great!

On a side note: I know you are probably wondering how Landon did yesterday. He did really well. The ladies who work there just adore him (no surprise, he's such a little stud!) It will take some time to see how he responds but so far the stimulation seems to excite him. He seemed a little more energetic and involved last night than normal. His responses seemed to be more on cue as well (it usually takes him a while to internalize our requests before he gives an answer or performs a task).  I have started a daily log of his progress, and I look forward to sharing it with all of you after these 30 days are up. I will share another progress log at 90 days. Thanks for all your love and support! Love you all!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Today is the Big Day!

Today is Landon's first day of treatment. He is going to have two 30-minute sessions , one at 1p.m. and then again at 2:30 p.m.

We are anxious to see how this helps him learn how to communicate with us! It's been a struggle for so long, trying to meet his needs when we don't know what bothers him or why. He is such an incredible and loving little boy, and I am so excited to see him flourish!

Wish us luck!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Freight Trained

I felt compelled to write this post because of the downright, no good, patience-tapping week that I've had.

Case in point: Wednesday, while I was in the shower, mischievous little Myla Bean got her hands on some butter and SMEARED it into the couch. I took a deep breath, grabbed the steam cleaner, cleaned up the greasy mess and went on to make lunch for the kids. Within 20 minutes all three kids had struck simultaneously. When I came back into the room, Myla had grabbed her brother's PB&J from the table and mashed it into the couch, right where I just cleaned. At the same time, the boys had torn apart the front room and the kitchen, spilling the milk, spreading jam on the table, and leaving the last of the Apple Jacks all over the floor.  In that same moment, the vacuum wouldn't work, and the water heater decided it needed some personal time off. All three my kids almost all went up for adoption that second, and it was only noon.

Believe it or not, the whole week shot straight downhill from there, leaving my head spinning on it's only slightly attached axis. Despite my best efforts to keep everything together, it all fell apart anyway, and by Friday morning I was in tears and feeling about this big... give or take an inch.  

But then something happened. Friday afternoon, I did something good for myself. I made myself a protein shake, turned up some music and danced around the house like a moron. To complete the picture, I belted out off-key notes, serenading my children with my lack of talent. They thought it was great and it was just what I needed to unwind, re coop, and pull myself back together. Do you know what I realized? No matter what, I wasn't going to let anything stop me, not even butter on the couch. Nothing is going to claim me, because it's never as bad as it seems.

I reflected on the past week, and all those who had approached me about one thing or another, and I realized they or the people they were venting about probably had just as rough a week as I had. I was forced to recognize that I did the very best I could this week, and considering the obstacles I had, I made it through relatively unscathed, which was pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

One of my favorite quotes came from a dear friend of mine, Wendy. I'm bolding it so that it sticks in your memory like it sticks in mine.

"No matter how bad you think the day is--if you are looking down at the grass and not up at the roots, everything else is okay." ~A.U.

So, if you had a bad week as well, guess what? Today is Saturday. Do something good for yourself! You deserve it! Make that protein shake, turn up the music that makes you say, "You know what? Forget this week! It's done, and next week promises to be just as exciting! Bring it on!" And join me in dancing like the village idiot, because what else have we got to loose? Next  week is going come whether we like it or not, and chances are it's bringing a U-Haul of baggage.

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." ~Japanese Proverb

Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Back to You

I've had a few questions and comments via e-mail and Facebook about Landon and this program we have enrolled him in. Rather than answer individually, I thought I would do an answer section on here.

When Landon wasn't talking at 18 months, we knew it wasn't that he was never going to, it was that, from what we could see, he didn't seem ready for learning. To put pressure on the matter, we were told that the magic age for children's learning was age 3. We later learned that this wasn't really the case.

When he was enrolled in school while we lived in Utah, his inability to retain information was not due to the lack of effort from his teacher and her aids (though I definitely would not speak as highly of the early intervention program we had him enrolled in prior to preschool). In fact, the reason we were able to work through a lot of his hang ups was that support system, and to this day he still remembers a lot of the lessons they taught him. They are a phenominal group of ladies who make a difference in not only the lives of the children they touch, but their parents as well.

The problem, however, is his ability to process information and then utilize it, mainly because of his SID. See the brain really only has a handful of ways that it is able to receive information, which is all of the senses. When the sensory system is off, the body's ability to get that information and process it is off as well. This is the case with Landon.

So, what is going to happen? Landon's sensory system is going to be retrained to accept information by vestibular stimulation (he lays on a motion table), auditory retraining (he listens to music through headphones that hits different frequencies), and visual stimulation (he focuses on a light above him that changes color and flashes on and off 6 times in a minute). In  'Tasha' speak: "Musical Flashy Light Therapy." For a better understanding, click here.

So, how does it work? Well, right now Landon's brain is only able to receive, process, and express so much information. Imagine holding a narrow PVC pipe, and dumping a pitcher full of water over it (water would be information), some water would get in, most would be missed. This therapy opens up those channels so that more information gets in. I could try explaining beyond this, but I would never be able to do it justice, so if you're curious click here.

Sensory Therapy doesn't stop after this program. We are currently looking into a program in Tucson for Sensory Therapy when this program is done. Don't worry, we will document Landon's progress through this adventure. It will be such a relief to unlock this puzzle!

If you or someone you know is looking for therapy for children or adults who have ADHD, Autism, brain trauma, aquired brain inury, behavioral problems, developmental delays, learning disabilities, or Dysfunctional Sensory Integration check out

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Adventures of Buzz, Woody, and Stinky Pete

Today's post is dedicated to our adorable little bubba, Kaden! Without him, we would be utterly lost. He adds light and character to a life that often gets  drowned with concern and worry.  I honestly don't know what this family would do without him.   

As of the last few weeks, the new favorite, "repeat several times a day until mommy takes them to the park because she can't stand it anymore," movie has been Toy Story 2. Little bubba absolutely adores this movie, and applies it's lessons to daily life.

For instance, Kaden absolutely believes that he is Buzz Lightyear when the movie is playing... constantly telling me, "Mommy, I Buzz Eightear!" and "Buzz Eightear to the rescue!" as he soars around the house with his toy buzz in hand. He has about five of Buzz's in various sizes that he cannot go to bed without any of them! It's so cute! 

He makes sure to involve Landon in all of his Buzz roll playing (naturally, scrawny little Landon always plays Woody), and it's funny how it's true to life. I would say a fair comparison of the friendship that he and Landon have would be comparable to Woody and Buzz Lightyear. He is always looking out for Landon (not so much Myla) and if everything is not alright with Landon, Kaden is right there by his side to cheer him up. I never expected to see two siblings as close as these two.

The part of Toy Story 2 that is taken most to heart, though? Stinky Pete. Apparently fart jokes become funny at a very young age, though up until now we hadn't really given a name to them. Now, whenever anyone breaks wind (usually one of the boys...haha, like I would ever admit to it...) Kaden bellows "You're Stinky Pete!" Yep, that's Kaden to a "T!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Light at the End of the Nightmare

Today I am going to get a little more deep and personal than usual, but it is something I just have to share.

Just over 5 years ago, I delivered a healthy baby boy. He was absolutely beautiful; a perfect combination of me and Jim with olive skin, almond eyes, stick straight hair and a dimple in his right cheek. Like I said, perfect.

He grew healthy and strong, and the three of us took many adventures together. He was charming; his laughter made all the girls coo and even grown men became mush under his spell.

At 13 months he started walking, and we couldn't keep up! We would go to the park and I would chase him and chase him, we'd play "Peek-A-Boo," and ride the swing. We ate spaghetti for dinner with green beans several nights a week just because they were his favorite.

At 18 months everything changed. I took him into the doctor for a well child check up, and the doctor expressed concern that Landon hadn't started talking yet. Up until that point I hadn't thought much of it. Then we started noticing other things about Landon. His food preferences became slimmer and slimmer, he cried when he heard loud sounds, and became scared of many different tactile sensations i.e.; grass on his skin, or a bowl of uncooked rice, the texture of yogurt, and so on.

We enrolled him in an early intervention program to help. That's when the word first started coming out: Autism.

I remember putting him to bed that night, seeing my baby for the first time as the world saw him: Broken. Abnormal. Different. Imperfect.

I crept back into his room after he was fast asleep, and held him close. My baby, the one I held in my arms that very first day...everyone thought he was broken. My mind couldn't wrap around the concept. Was it my fault? 

Every hope and dream I had for him and his future washed away that night, only to be replaced by fear. All I could think about was, Does he even have a future? Is everything ruined? Most importantly, What is going to happen to him when we die? There are no words that could properly express my broken heart, and how scared I was for my son.

I held my baby tight that night and cried.

After early intervention, he went to a Special Ed Preschool. He made improvements, but nothing substantial. As he got older, he still didn't talk, only using maybe 15 words regularly at age 4.

It's amazing how suddenly everyone became an expert. Parents started to look at us with bewildered, even accusing stares when they heard him jabber, or when they saw him cover his ears and cry at loud noises. We started to feel pressure to get him diagnosed. I was even told by teachers and parents alike that we didn't love our son, we were neglecting him and living in ignorance. But something deep inside us felt it was wrong. We felt we needed to give him a chance.

The pestering got worse. I took him to see a pediatrician right after we moved here who told me that I was not doing enough to give him the care that he needed. We searched desperately for programs that would help him, and were disgusted by their lack of their organization and professionalism. As we continued to look for answers, we received even more bullying from others. People at the park, and even church members informing us that there was something wrong with Landon and there were programs for him if we would just get him diagnosed.

Feeling emotionally battered, I called a friend and absolutely fell apart over the phone. She told me one the thing I really needed to hear: "Landon is going to be just fine, because you will make sure he will be. He has you and he has Jim, two of the best parents in the world, and you will make sure that he gets taken care of." She probably has no idea how I have clung to those words since then. 

We accepted that he was likely Autistic, and forced ourselves to come to terms with it. We went back and forth on what was best for Landon, spent a lot of time on our knees praying, and ultimately we still felt that it still wasn't right to have him diagnosed. It wasn't only about the label, it was about medication, and trusting professionals when our instincts told us not to.

And then we finally received an answer to our prayers, after thee and a half years of endurance. We found a private program that specializes with kids like Landon, children who have SID, developmental delays, Autism, learning disorders, ADHD, brain trauma and so on.

We took him in to be evaluated for treatment yesterday, where he got an official diagnosis: Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Developmental Delay. That's it, and it's completely and non-medicinally treatable! He is otherwise age appropriate, and in no way Autistic.

Both Jim and I have felt a flood of emotions in the past 24 hours. For the first time in a long time, there is a spot of light at the end of this nightmare! Our son has a future! He can do what ever he wants with his future. The world is his to take on, and with that smile of his, he'll conquer it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

If You Give a Baby a Laptop

There once was a baby named Myla,
a good little mother was she.
She took one look at Daddy's computer
and thought "How thirsty it must be!"

So she shared her milk with said computer,
taking care to make sure it was extra full.
Then she closed it back up and put it away,
and now that poor computer's screen is dull!

(not actual laptop)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I survived the Haboob!

What would you do if you saw this coming toward you?

One thing you quickly learn about living in Arizona...respect the storm!

Last night as we were eating our dinner, we looked outside and noticed that our trampoline was about to take flight with a vicious wind, and in a matter of seconds everything went BROWN.

We ran outside to weigh down our trampoline and there was dirt EVERYWHERE! It blew around us with a stinging whip, getting in our eyes, ears, and any other exposed nook and cranny. Frantically, and half blind, we searched for things that were heavy enough to hold down a trampoline in 60 mph winds.

When we came back inside we looked like we had just played a roll in The Mummy.

Following shortly after was a light show in the sky, rain and flash flooding. Welcome to monsoon season in Arizona!

We didn't think it was much more than a dust storm until we heard today that it apparently was bad enough to keep airplanes grounded and kill power to several cities, and it wasn't just a dust storm, it was a Haboob (that's right "Haboob").

Check out this video, it looks like something straight out of Hollywood! It was quite possibly the coolest thing that has happened to us in a long, long time!

Welcome to Phoenix everyone!