Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Birthday Videos

Nairi's 3rd Birthday

Samuel's 1st Birthday

Birthday Celebration Samuel and Nairi

 When your birthdays are 8 days apart you get a combo party. :) Fact #45 of family life. Samuel's birthday is March 24th and Nairi's is April 1st. We celebrated early because the kids also have 3 cousins with birthdays the end of March and first few days of April so the next few weekends are taken already.

 Keira and Israel have their own photo books we made with the help of Snapfish. Nairi has wanted her own for a long time so we finally made her one of her first 3 years. She loves it. Kids love looking at pictures of themselves.

 Mikes vanilla cupcakes with Oreo cream cheese frosting.

Trying to keep the baby from burning his hands is a challenge. He wanted to grab that candle SO. BAD.

Nairi first 3 years

  Birth 4/1/2011
 Keira holds her sister
 Mike and Nairi
 2012 first birthday

 2013 2nd birthday
 2nd birthday
2014 3rd birthday.
Nairi you are growing up! You are the most fiercely independent child in this family. You insist on doing everything yourself. You go potty by yourself, get dressed, put on your shoes and even zip your jacket  (something Israel can't even do yet!) and a million other things. You have a very passionate personality and definitely are the most challenging child we have had so far and you can be difficult to deal with at times but we can't stay mad at you long with that cute face and those curls!!  You are Samuel's favorite as he knows you are always gentle with him and never hurt him by accident as Keira and Israel sometimes do.  You love to pat his head and kiss him. You love love love baby dolls, Squinkies, Barbies and dress up. You will sometimes color with the kids but you don't have the patience to color the way they do. You are still a great eater and your favorite things are sausage and chicken and green beans and pasta and sweets of course.  You are very particular about your clothes and never let me pick them out. It amuses me because I remember Keira being super picky about her clothes at this age too but she would only wear dresses and tights and you refuse to wear tights and will only wear dresses on Sundays. You instead insist on wearing only 1 or 2 outfits. You love playing outside, riding your bike and jumping on the trampoline all things we are hoping to be able to do again soon if winter ever goes away! Right now your current obsession is the game Memory and puzzles.  Happy 3rd Birthday Nairi! We love you!

Monday, March 24, 2014

12 months of Samuel

 Birth 3/242013

We have been privileged to have 12 months of  smiles and love from the happiest boy ever! Samuel everyone loves you so much. We are so happy you have been born into our family. I can't believe your first year is done already! You don't walk yet but you can cruise, yesterday you started letting go while standing so we assume you will walk in the next few months. You can say Mama, Dada, Ball, Car and Attttt-Ohhhhhhh. You have 2 bottom teeth and I think you are working on some more as you have been a bit cranky and not eating the past few days which is unusual for you. You are so distracted by your siblings and life in general that its very hard to get you to nurse ANYWHERE besides your bedroom which is challenging when we go anywhere!
You love yogurt, cereal bars, apples, cheese and most things we eat.  Your favorite toys are Israels cars and trucks and Nairi's Squinkies. You love it when Daddy wrestles with Israel and you always try to get in on the action.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Worrying and Education

" Thank you for everything you've done for me. I love you!"
One of the most fun parts of parenting is watching a personality develop. This is even more fun if its a pleasant sort of personality. And seeing your child grow and learn new things and become independent is really a pleasure. Since Keira started school we can see its sometimes hard for her to focus. She is a dreamy, imaginative child and still spends much of her time in "own little world." She is also what we would call pokey. She moves at the pace of a turtle. But personalities come in all types so we didn't worry too much. And what she lacks in speed she makes up in sweetness. See the orange card  ( above picture) she recently gave me? She is so loving and sweet. She makes me many notes and cards and presents every week. She also struggled with exhaustion last year but we chalked it up to her being barely 5 and attending full day Kindergarten. Mid way through Kindergarten her teacher mentioned her handwriting and how awful it was.  Awful is probably not the best word to use but its pretty awful. Her letters are all different sizes and she writes with a odd mix of caps and lower case letters, she forgets spacing between words and her actual letter formation is messy and hard to read. We worked with her on weekends and all summer. This year in first grade its actually gotten worse. As she writes and tries to think about spelling, punctuation, grammar and composition she gets confused and ends up writing even more sloppy and doing things like reversals that she wasn't doing before. She struggles a bit with multi step math problems as well. Her private school is definitely academically rigorous and I know that the things they do in Kindergarten now are probably the things we did in first grade when I was little.  Now if you are not reading half way through Kindergarten you might very well be "behind. " Note I think these are private school standards not public. And there is something to be said for academic rigor and I am a big fan of it but.... maybe not so much at 5 and 6 years old.  And just so we are clear we absolutely LOVE her little Catholic School. Its a gem of a school for sure.
Anyways come January of first grade we had the conversation with her teacher about holding her back because of her hand writing and because of "emotional immaturity "  Her grades are good and she reads very well so we were unhappy with the thought of holding her back simply because of handwriting and "emotional immaturity." She is one of the younger kids in the class and definitely on the young side emotionally. But she doesn't cause any trouble in school for sure.
So now we are researching alternative charter schools, private schools, and  public schools ( would be academically easier for her) but neither of us are big fans of regular public schools but we want to make sure she is the best place for HER.  I know I know why not just home school? Its just not a hat I want to wear unless I absolutely have too.
 We have great insurance this year so I took her for an OT ( Occupational Therapy) evaluation back in early February because something just wasn't right in my mom gut and any seasoned mom knows to trust her mom gut. She struggles with certain areas ( writing, multi step math)  and not others ( like reading) and since she was little we have noticed that she is terribly uncoordinated. It took ALOT of effort for her to learn how to tie her shoes and ride a bike with no training wheels. There are other things she can't do like bounce a ball and catch it, play hopscotch, or jump rope.  And I just needed another opinion. Israel is getting older and learning to write and he effortlessly writes letters that look equal or better than hers. Something isn't quite right. It should not be this HARD for her.. Last week we finally got the report from her testing. She scored below average and well below average in most areas of motor  proficiency. Overall her score was equal to that of someone who is 5 years old not almost 7. In one area  (Bilateral Coordination) she scored below a 4 year old level. She was also given a test of handwriting skills in which she scored well below average overall. Other clinical observations included that she has poor motor planning and that a new motor plan is extremely difficult for her to learn. She also has trouble with sequencing ( difficulty knowing and organizing the steps to take to accomplish a motor plan that she has not yet mastered.  Which also makes sense why she struggles with anything that is multi step. Even multi step directions seem to confuse her.
But some things are starting to make sense. Like why she does everything slower, why she is always running late and can't move fast to save her life and why she is so so tired after school ( her brain is working twice as hard to process the info and make sense of it )  .  I guess some parts of a writing difficulty falls under speech therapy so she had a speech ( even though she has NEVER had any issues speaking)  evaluation  as well to get some more info. She has a oral and written language test ( Owls-II) and the Jordan Left-Right Reversal Test ( for Dyslexia) and a listening inventory done with the Speech Therapist.  She had significant difficulty with the Reversal test. She was a given a page with many reversed letters and was to circle the ones that were reversed. She circled 6 but missed 14. On the oral and written language test she scored average on listening comprehension, average on reading comprehension, average on oral expression and  and below average on written expression. Its worth noting that Keira preformed significantly higher on reading comprehension compared to written expression. This magnitude of a difference that she had occurred less than 1% of the time. Which makes sense to us because she reads really well and understands what she reads really well but writes horribly. They also noted that she has all the markers of dysgraphia.
  What exactly this all means I do not know. Does she have a learning disability? Is she just a developmentally "young" kid? Does she have Dyslexia? Are her writing issues just stemming from motor planning issues and poor coordination or is there something else there ( dyslexia etc)  I didn't realize learning issues were such a gray area.  I thought you either had an issue or you didn't. Even the diagnoses of one seems vague. Everything I read and everyone I talk to tells me something different. Hold her back a year in school, don't hold her back, get her coded and get her an IEP, don't get her an IEP, wait and see how things pan out as she grows and develops, don't wait for her to grow. So now we worry and try to figure this out. Worry that she is not in the right place.  Worry about what the next step exactly is???Worry that maybe the right school costs too much.  Worry about her soul and her faith education if we have to take her out of Catholic School. Worry about having a learning disability if she does have one, worrying about what to do with the learning disability and how to help her and how to educate her educators on things that might help and figuring out what those things might be. And praying of course that we can make the right decisions. And waiting. Wait for the school lotteries to happen. Waiting, praying, and worrying. I am good at all but the praying part. But I know she is God's child too and I pray and know he will help us figure this out.
For now we know that she will have OT ( to work on her motor skills) and Speech Therapy ( to work on bring her writing up to grade level) weekly this summer.


Mike has a M-F job so we know he will be around on weekends and the kids always ask when its going to be the weekend so that daddy is home. I will admit I really really really look forward to the weekends too. Its hard being on my own with all the kids for 10-11 hours a day. We eat breakfast together every morning around 6 before Mike heads to work and Keira to school but it's more of a rushed  frantic time and dinner together doesn't always happen.
We have always spent Sunday together as a family and being Catholic, we always go to Mass as a family on Sundays as well. Back in the Fall Mike and I went to a talk by Catholic Mom Blogger Leila Lawyer http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/  and her husband at our parish. It was a fabulous refreshing talk and one of the things she talked about was making Sundays a special family day. She had wonderful ideas and since then we have made more of an effort to truly make Sunday stand out from the rest of the week. Our kids are still pretty little and definitely are not saints and since they have to sit still and behave and be respectful and say prayers etc every Sunday am we like the rest of the day to be fun and exciting for them.  We make an effort of having big breakfasts on Sundays with special things we don't usually have like bacon and homemade cinnamon rolls ( or in the case of the above picture Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread). Mike and I limit our computer time on Sundays and really make and effort to read, color,  and play games with the kids. The kids know that Sunday is family day and although they often complain about going to church ( they really are too little to understand the importance of Mass ) they enjoy Sundays alot.
 Sunday dinner is a big affair with dinner and a homemade dessert. Throughout the week there is alot of discussion on what the  Sunday dessert should be. We reserve dessert making for Sundays and the kids look forward to it all week. (That's not to say that we don't ever eat dessert M-F because we do (when it's not Lent) but its usually just a cookie from the pantry). To make it really special we eat in the dining room on our "company plates" and the kids really really enjoy this. They always say in the morning. "We get to eat in the dining room tonight right?" I never thought it would be a big deal to them but it is. We often have guests for dinner like grandparents or cousins and that makes Sunday fun too.

Boston Children's Museum 2014

Its been awhile ( as in over a year) since we have spent a day at Boston Children's Museum so since I was savvy and snatched up the library pass we spent a good part of today there. Kids love that place. Its really  an awesome place and some place I would want to go if I was a kid. But its not cheap. It cost us over $40 to get in and 4 of us were half price and Samuel was free. Add in the cost to park and yeah. That is why we only go once a year or so. Today just happened to be a rainy Saturday and the place was PACKED. Its the first time we have ever gone in such a crowded place with all 4 kids and it was a bit nutty. I thought were  for sure we were going to lose someone. Thank goodness there was two of us adults to keep watch and one kid ( aka Samuel) doesn't have  full use of his legs yet. 
 Matching shirts purchased for the boys by daddy
 Nairi's other favorite shirt which happens to also be Halloween themed. Between this shirt and her orange Boo shirt that is  pretty much what she wears 99 % of the time.
 Keira is such a free spirit.

 My snuggly baby.  I think he is teething again and he has become my little barnacle. MAMA! He yells if I go out of his sight.

 The water room. My kids could spend all day in here. Who doesn't like to play with water?

 Boston Children's Hospital was doing an exhibit where the kids got to pick out a stuffed animal and name it, bring it to admitting, then the Dr's, then the lab for a blood draw, then xray and then the eye Dr's. It was really really cute and life like and the kids enjoyed seeing their animals get blood draws and xrayed.
 The first time he zonked out in the Ergo- EVER. I thought we were golden but then he woke up exactly 8 min later. So much for the napping on the go thing.
 She chose a bear that was half her size.

 Family Picture!

 Every boy's dream. His own bulldozer.
 He pronounces car like a  Massachusetts boy. Caaaaahhhhhhh!