Thursday, September 22, 2016

Back To School

No matter how much we wished it wouldn't, school time rolled back around.  There was added anticipation this year with our new aide.  The week before school, they called me and said they hired a new aide they thought was going to be great! We set up a meeting for us all to get together before school started.  We had a good meeting and the first thing that struck me about the new aide, Alex, was that she didn't seem intimidated or worried about any of the stuff we talked about (and we talked a LOT).  So I left the meeting feeling good.  From the time I got the call to the day school started, I ran in to SO MANY PEOPLE that knew Alex.  People knew we were looking for a new aide so they would ask about it.  When I told them her name, every single person that I told started going on and on about how great she was and how much we were going to love her.  All ages, all different ways they knew her, but they all had such wonderful things to say about her.  That made me feel so good and so encouraged going in to what I knew would be a big transition for everyone. The schools in town swapped locations so now the 2-4 grade is in the building where K-2 had been.  That meant Kanyon didn't have to change schools (much to his disappointment) but every single person in the building was new.  There wasn't a soul in the building that had ever worked with him or even seen him at school.  So this new aide had no one to help her or give her a heads up or anything. I felt like it was a bit of a baptism by fire, but she didn't seem phased by it.  Everyone was so excited and so prepared for Kanyon, so we couldn't help but look forward to a new year with lots of new faces.  

Speaking of faces, its hard to hold up a sign and not cover your face.  

Hold the sign. Look at the Camera. Smile.....or just open your mouth.  Its all so tricky. 

It should come as a surprise to zero of you that spazzy sister couldn't help but photo bomb.   

All 3 excited for Kanyon's first day! 

I went to put Kanyon in the car and Quinn ran back inside.  He was taking FOREVER to get to the car, so I went back in the house to yell at him to HURRY UP see what he was doing, and he was folding up this little note.  He put it in Kanyon's lunch box and said, "I'm giving him this because I won't get to talk to him or see him for a long time."  He's such a sweet, tender, thoughtful boy.  (He's also a little overzealous with the periods, but that's OK)

 Kanyon's schedule is tailor made for him.  We have yet to go 5 full days. Its just too much for him. We started out at 11:30-3:00 then we added an hour last semester so now we start at 10:30. The plan is to add to his day as he's ready.  The flexibility also allows us to do his swimming therapy Tues/Thurs mornings before school which gets him off to a nice, regulated start and it is 2 less days I have to go to therapy after school!  Anyways, I say all that to say that the day is already in full swing by the time we get there.  
Hurrican Kanyon made landfall at school and EVERYONE was there! The principal, the secretary, his Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and all of his teachers were at the door waiting.  In true Kanyon fashion, he blew through the door and starting chatting with everyone in sight.  We were so happy to get such a warm welcome!

They say it takes a village to raise a kid.  I say it takes a metropolitan area to raise a Kanyon.  
Here are the 3 main citizens of his large metropolitan area: 
Ms. Murphy is the Special Education teacher, his case worker, and for the most part, the one in charge of all decisions, planning, and everything else regarding Kanyon.  He's no joke when it comes to paper work, goals, meetings, and just over all complicated-ness but she hasn't batted an eye and has helped the transition to be smooth and easy.  

Mrs. Udelhoven is his classroom teacher.  She's got 20 other kids that she deals with, but she graciously welcomed Kanyon into the classroom and has made it a great place for him to be.  She's creative, active, and excited about teaching so this will mean only great things for us as we start 3rd grade! I sometimes worry about her. I remember what it was like to be a classroom teacher and how overwhelming it can be at times and then here I come dumping Kanyon in there on top of everything else, so I try to protect her sanity and be realistic about what is best for her, Kanyon, and the other kids.  Its sort of a balancing act, but she too has made it all look easy. 

And this is Mrs. Alex.  The new aide!!!  I don't know how much they pay her but I know its not enough.  She is with Kanyon every minute of the day. She carries out his daily schedule which is quite hectic and busy.  She manages all of the transitions, helps him eat lunch, goes to the playground with him, spends one on one academic time with him, and even changes his diaper y'all. Just the physical toll of handling him and helping him is enough to tire most people out.  Good thing she's young!  She feels like God led her to this job and we are thankful to have her and know that she followed God here.  Again, we see God's faithfulness.  So far, things have gone really well with Alex.  They seem to be adjusting to each other well and she has great ideas to help situations that are tricky.  Managing Kanyon's emotional state is the hardest gig there is and a day is full of ups and downs. She has navigated them well and even generously leaves her hair down so that Kanyon can play with it when he wants to.  Ha! She gives me great updates every day and I expect this will be great relationship.  Though we miss Mrs. Shelley (his previous aide) so much, our worries and fears are gone now that we have Mrs. Alex.  Again, God provided.

I feel like I'm supposed to have really strong feelings about inclusion and passionately fight for my kid to get the academic experience he needs.  I don't really have strong feelings about inclusion and I thankfully don't have to fight for anything.  We've always been treated so wonderfully both in Texas and here.  I want Kanyon to be with his peers and I want Kanyon to learn.  Sometimes that looks like him being in the classroom with his peers doing what they're doing, and sometimes that looks like him in his own little tiny closet room working one on one with his aide or Special Ed teacher on academic goals that are at his level.  I feel good about this and think its the best thing for Kanyon. As he figures out how to navigate his emotions, frustrations, disappointments, and excitement, I think it will open doors to more time in the classroom with his peers.  Until then, I think is best of everyone that he's not in there all day long.  It takes a lot out of him to sit and concentrate on work, and he does best when he's got less distractions. As of now, he spends Science/Social Studies and part of the reading block, Music, P.E., Library, and Lunch with his peers.  The rest of his day he has his other therapies, adaptive P.E. at a different school, time with Mrs. Murphy, and one on one time with Mrs. Alex in his little room.   I'm so glad we are working with teachers and schools that are more than willing to do what it takes to make this work for him and we look forward to more learning. Its just so fun to watch! Every kid in town knows could you not?! We hit the scene with a shiny green walker.  While the walker has been traded for a shiny new blue crutch, there's still only one Kanyon.  He has a hard time keeping up with names and stuff, but kids are sure sweet to come talk to him when we see them in town.  I talked to his class again this year about Kanyon and answered any questions they might have.  By now, most kids know the story, they know him, and are pretty used to having him around. We went to a movie a few weeks ago and we walked in after the previews had started.  Kanyon immediately said something too loud, I "shushed" him and we made our way down the isle.  I sort of laughed to myself "Well, everyone knows Kanyon is here!" and about that time I saw a shadow come running across a row and I heard a little boy say "Hey Kanyon! I'm here too!" It was pretty sweet that the boy recognized Kanyon's voice and was so excited to see him.  

Alex sometimes sends me pictures during the day.  He's working as hard as he can!  

We got Kanyon all settled in the last week of August, then the next week Quinn started.  I decided to homeschool one more year.  I have a lot of reasons and no reasons all at the same time.  Which means if I tried to explain myself it would be a lot of words and a lot of confusion.  But at the end of the day, I just wanted one more year.  I was excited to get started and make a few changes from last year and move forward with some things we enjoyed. He of course wanted a sign for his first day! 

Here we go with another year of school!!!  

Monday, September 19, 2016

End of Summer

Our friend Mrs. Kimberly paints Jaylie June's fingernails every Sunday night at small group.  For Jaylie's birthday, she gave her a whole set of fingernail polish! Of course the new polish called for an immediate custom manicure.  J, as always, was completely engrossed in the experience.  Especially this part that I took the picture of-the planning phase.  Which color is going to go on which finger?? Important things.  

Sayler and Hayen were in town with their Dad for some ranch work.  We loved having them at our house one evening.  Quinn was clearly a little perturbed about the picture taking.  

We got the SWEETEST mail ever! The Rotzler Fam sent Jaylie June a Racquet and Jog T-shirt for her birthday and they sent me one "just because". We love sporting our classic Longview, Texas gear and we loved it even more when we found out Mrs. Rebekah and Meg have the same shirts! TWINS!!! 

Me and the kids rode our bikes to part of the creek and these 2 couldn't resist a little dip.  They were leaning over and dipping their heads in the of those things that starts out as "just hair" getting wet and turns into completely soaked kids.  Good times.  

So this is our fleet.  Me on my bike pulling Kanyon and Jaylie June in the trailer.  Kanyon has outgrown all of our other strollers that are regular strollers for babies.  A friend of a friend suggested this and we've loved it. It is a special needs stroller/bike trailer combo. It will fit him until he's 5'4'' or 145lbs. Until she can ride a bike with a little more endurance, J gets to ride along with Kanyon and there's plenty of room for both of them! 

I am not sure what was going on or how this came about, but I know the picture makes me laugh.  

The boys like their beds pushed together and they usually end up something like this.  Seeing your little kids sleep sorta makes you think you can make it through another day with them...little monsters! They're fun, but there are some days I NEED to see them sleep so I can feel like I can wake up and do it all again.  

Kory and Quinn on the swather working on the second cutting.  

June girl chilaxin' with her Sports Illustrated taking in all the Olympic info. 

Quinn did another lemonade stand.  His cute sign says "Lemonade 25 cents.  Be Happy" 

My "Big City" shopping list was long and needed to be dealt with, so me and Jalyie hopped in the car and headed to Billings for a day of Big City errands.  Outside of Scheels she asked me to take her picture with the Abe statue.  She was acting all shy and giddy like he was a real person. 

and this one too.  She's hilarious.  There were other statues, but she seems to be most interested in former Presidents. 

Kanyon had a nice ride on the Buddy seat with Daddy one day baling hay.  He's a pretty good little riding partner.  

Jaylie's first friend here was Raylynn and they have almost the same birthday.  We went to Raylynn's party and she got this cute ceramic tea set, so they opened it and had a tea party on the spot.  

Kanyon and Daddy headed at me on the swather, coming to get their lunch. 

One evening I needed to take Kory supper in the field so we took some of our friends with us. They'd never seen a swather and they all got to take a ride! Here's Declan at the wheel! 

The swather driving kiddos! 
Aiden, Quinn, Kanyon, Declan, and Jaylie.  

Y'all.  This is Jaylie.  She always dumps her business IN THE KITCHEN.  Its like her favorite place to play and its NOT MINE.  

For some reason, the kids wanted their faces painted.  J wanted a bunny and the boys wanted to be eagles.  This was the best I could do (Jaylie's bunny teeth had already rubbed off).  I can't even believe Jaylie's pose.  

She requested an individual shot.  Heaven help us. 

Low Rider


Gram and Chief got the old Jeep running again just in time for Jona's birthday party.  It was a HIT.  They drove and drove until the battery went dead.  This is our friend Easton taking Jaylie for a spin.  

Our sweet niece Jona Rae is 1!!! We HAD to get her a cozy coupe and I think she liked it! 

Summer is nearing the end and that is NOT a good thing.  I still have a hard time figuring out why it ever has to end.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Juney Turns 4!!!!!

Time marches on and before you know it, your baby is turning 4.  I'm not sure I've had any of my kids soak up their big day like Jaylie June did.  Of course there had been lots of birthday talk and planning leading up to the big day, so we had our plans made! The boys ended up being gone most of the afternoon and it was SO MUCH FUN just me and the birthday girl getting ready for her party! 

She picked out her own balloons.  She walked in and made her decision quickly and confidently.  "Light pink and dark pink and light purple and dark purple." You got it girl!  
Crammed in the car pleased as she can be! 

We made her cake and when I say "we" I mean "we" in its truest form.  She wanted to help (and have her opinions) about every little thing.  

I asked her if she wanted to lick the beaters and when I turned back around to take if off the mixer, she was already taking me up on the offer! 

While the cake was in the oven, she requested to take a bath since she could have the whole tub to herself.  She basked in her solitude and relaxation.  

I got her presents out on the table and she was DYING to open one. I let her open this little one and as you can see by the smile, she was PUMPED. 

After she opened her present, we were on to her drink requests.  Pink lemonade and yellow lemonade.  Done.  

Y'all.  The cake.  She's been wanting a "cow cake" for weeks and weeks.  She has had it all planned out for a long time, so it was fun making all her dreams come true.  She knew she wanted a "Mama cow eating grass with a baby calf nursing and a bull and then the mud and poop and stuff inside the gates.  Then sprinkles." She told me exactly what colors she wanted and exactly where the tufts of grass needed to be.  She was a little disappointed that all the cows couldn't fit on the cake, but she was happy with the bull being on the cake plate with his water trough....which was full of blue sprinkles.  All her, y'all.  Inside the corral, she wanted a salt and mineral tub so we put it in there and she filled it with sprinkles. She placed her own candles for the finishing touch.  I had ZERO creative control with this cake, but it was really fun!  She was so pleased and I actually felt legitimate fulfillment making it just like she wanted it. It was pretty much an afternoon of whatever she wanted and it was so fun to be able to say so many YESes! 

We decorated the table with some more of the cow/ranch toys and picked some wildflowers and some alfalfa for the decor.  A nice fun mix for the girly ranch girl. 

She requested "gopher soup" which is a sort of taco soup I make that she LOVES.  Somewhere along the way she started calling it gopher soup...I think my mom started it.  Nothing says hot August summer like a warm soup, but everyone in attendance went right along.  I tried to balance it out with nice summery watermelon.  

Here are the party go-ers! FUN! 

Gay Gay and Nanny Lou got her the Calico Critters Treehouse and the Phillips cousins added to her critter collection. The gifts were a hit for the whole gang! Even little Jona joined the fun.  

In all of her birthday planning, she told me that she wanted slippers with a stick.  She meant high heels.  Her plastic dress up shoes weren't making the cut because they weren't slippers (I think that means closed toe with a strap) and they weren't a stick.  I searched high and low and finally found these shoes on Amazon.  They are completely ridiculous and perfect.  What blows my mind is that these aren't sold as "dress up" shoes.  These crazy things are real shoes for some folks! My kids aren't quite that fancy, but she can sure dress up in them! She was a little disappointed that the heel wasn't totally pointed. I guess she was hoping for tried and true stilettos. I assured her that all heels have to be flat on the bottom so you can stand up. That was good enough for her and she went on clicking on our hard wood floors all day long.  Nothing says Jaylie June like a cow cake and blinged out high heels! 

 Jaylie June, June, Juney girl, all the names we call her, but rarely just Jaylie.  I could try to sum this girl up in a few sentences, but that would be impossible.  I could gush about all the great things about her and her hilarious antics.  I always find myself at a loss to describe her or give examples of funny things she says or does.  Its hard to pin point specific things....its like she just IS so many fun things.  Some of her comments and ideas pretty much scare me out of my wits about what that might mean in 10-15 years! But for now we are getting a kick out of it.  When a heart attack throws you and your "family plan" for a loop and they say "no more kids", overnight she becomes the baby of the family. There's a lot of things that go along with that, but we joke that if she is in fact the end, at least we're going out with a bang.  
Happy Birthday Jaylie June....if the first 4 years are any indication, you're gonna be a BLAST to raise!!!  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cousins are Here!

Clint, Rachel, Ro, Nolan, and Marion came to Montana by train! They rode the train 24 hours from Chicago to Glacier National Park! We loved hearing about the train experience, sleeper cars and all! They all gave it 2 enthusiastic thumbs up! My cousin Jay, also referred to in our extended Spencer family as Baby Jay (he was the last of the cousins and it was a way to differentiate between my Dad Jay and Baby Jay), had made plans several months ago to come visit us this week.  So when his time overlapped with Clint's crew, he decided to join them in Glacier.  So Jay flew in and  took our Suburban to meet the others at Glacier.  They spent a couple of days seeing the Park and then drove to our house.  We were counting down the minutes til there were finally here! Its sort of torture knowing they're *so* close! 

There were Beanie Boos for all!!!! If you come all this way,t he least I can do is provide some "party favors!" 

It was Fair Week in our town, so we got to enjoy the parade! I always love parades! 

The amount of candy thrown out was remarkable!  They loaded up their shirts full of it!

Some friends of ours have a pond up in the mountains, so we went there to try to do a little fishing.  It turned out to be more of a tiny bit of fishing, then zip lining, then paddle boating.  So while we didn't catch any fish, we had a lot of fun in an absolutely GORGEOUS setting! 

The "big" cousins! 

Ro and Quinn made rafts out of cat tails and watched them float across the pond. 

We dined on gourmet hot dogs roasted over the fire. Or just hot dogs over a fire probably semi coated in ashes.  As you can see, Juney didn't seem to mind! 

Group GoPro selfie! 

Its hard to beat sitting around a fire on a summer night. 

I can't make this picture turn around but Jaylie managed to do this "looking for her Kangaroo book".  To make matters worse, Baby Jay was staying in her room....we kept getting on to him for junking out his room! :) 

As always, Jay was generous with the children ALL over him all. the. time.  He's a gem.  

We went to the fair one afternoon to check out the animals and such.  How can you NOT go to rabbit agility when you get the chance.  It was hot and I parked in the wrong place, but we still had fun.  Kinda.  Baby Jay was teaching Jaylie to skip.  

There were a couple of free "rides" there so we let the kids do this one where they get in big plastic balls and roll all around in a pool.  The line moved INCREDIBLY slow, but there was no turning back once we started.  So we waited FOREVER and they all finally got a chance to do it.  The kids said it was worth the wait.  Glad they think so.  

Y'all Travis Tritt played the concert this year!!!! And you better believe we went! We found a very  brave babysitter to watch all the kids and we enjoyed a trip back to the mid-late 90s.  It was pretty much a sing along and it was so fun! We were dying at his dance moves.  He's pretty unbelievable....thats the best way to describe it.  I'm not saying his dance moves were unbelievably GOOD, just unbelievable.  We had blast! Its the first concert Rachel has ever stayed awake for!! Now THAT'S saying something! 

Not sure when this was, but we went hard all day every day and way too late at night. The kids were SO tired, but couldn't stop the fun! 

Its so handy to have cousins who will read to you (and let you play with their hair at the same time).

Our city pool got "upgraded" this summer so we were excited to take the cousins to it.  It was a blast for all of us...slides races! synchronized diving board tricks! Wohooo! 

It can get a little chilly if the wind blows at all, so the best way to warm up is to lay on the warm concrete.  So we did that like a bunch of cold blooded reptiles.  You know how I mentioned we ran the kids ragged the whole week? Ro fell asleep on the concrete. Out like a light.  Complete with a puddle of drool.  

On our last full day we floated the creek and despite the tubes loosing air and the over all tricky-ness of keeping kids together and on the same tube as us, it was a great adventure! But no pictures cuz our phones would've totally gotten ruined. 

The whirlwind week came to an end, documented by a porch picture of course.  Clint and Rachel's visits each summer have become the highlights of our summers! 

We got a few extra days with Baby Jay so that was extra fun! We were SO GLAD he wanted to spend some of his short break with us.  We love him SO SO SO SO SO much! 

When we took him to the airport, this was Jaylie watching him walk in.  We all shared the feeling. We hated to see him go. 

He kept telling the kids he'd be back to see us again, so on the way home from the airport, Juney drew this map and dictated this message for him.  Can't wait til next time!