Friday, February 26, 2010

2 new releases from AnnaBV today!

AnnaBV Designs is releasing Like a Dream today at ScrapOrchard. It's soft and pretty and I thought it was perfect for scrapping a gorgeous photo of Jenny. Anna also teamed up with Faith True, also from ScrapOrchard, to release a bright and fun kit called, Only the Lucky. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, it's full of cheer. It also has a coordinating wordart pack! I just had to use those funny photos I took of Dominic yesterday for this one.

Like a Dream

My Layout

Only the Lucky

Only the Lucky Wordart

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Funny Boy

Dominic loves to clown around when I pull out my camera. I got a kick out of his faces today.

Today was Anna's anually IEP. No real surprises. She is doing well but falling further behind in math. They added science and social studies goals for 3rd grade since she really needs so much support to learn anything academic. They also modified her social skills goals to really focus on managing her anxiety. What's so funny about this is that they are using the same approach Kathy, the behavioral specialist, recommended for us at home. We will all be on the same page!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Day

We actually had snow here yesterday. It was almost magical. Huge, heavy flakes drifting down plopping on your skin as if to say, "Hey, wanna play?" Everyone was outside. Anna and I went out after lunch and attempted to build a snowman. Upon putting the head on top, it promptly fell over. I couldn't wait for Dominic to get out of school so we could all play together. I made Anna wait to do too much so that we wouldn't use up all the snow in the yard.

After coming back in, Anna and I laid down. I was up at 4 am yesterday and Anna was up at 5. She was under for almost 2 hours for the procedures and was still tired and wobbly after getting home. We slept and slept and slept. I woke up 2.5 hours later and Anna slept 4 hours. Daddy had already picked up Dominic from school and they were home (Anna and I are still staying at my mom's), so I called him to say that Anna was still asleep and they should go on outside.

We never did get our family romp in the snow but Jenny went out with Dominic and Daddy and took a few pictures. I also got some pictures earlier in the day when it was really coming down. By the time Anna got up, most of the snow was already melting, there wasn't much left, and everyone had headed in.

It was nice while it lasted.

I realized with much sadness late last night that an entire day had gone by and I hadn't seen my son. It makes me teary-eyed even thinking about it now. My mom kept Dominic for us Monday night and took him to school yesterday morning, then Curtis picked him up from school and kept him overnight. Anna was fragile yesterday so that is what she needed. But my mommy heart broke a little with that realization. I crept over to Curtis's about 9:30 last night, spied on my sleeping son, and kissed his fingertips.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We're home and she did great!

Everything went very smoothly this morning with Anna's MRI. They didn't even put in the IV or take blood until she was asleep. She woke up great, no disorientation or discomfort, and we are home now! Thanks for your prayers and support.

Monday, February 22, 2010

MRI tomorrow

Anna's MRI and abdominal ultrasound are in the morning tomorrow. We have to be at the hospital at 5:45 a.m. I haven't told her yet fearing a night of anxiety and perseveration.

Wish us luck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New releases today from By Becca and AnnaBV Designs!

Happy Friday, everyone! My designers both have new kits out today.The first is from By Becca at ScrapMatters and is called Taste of Provence. It is designed to capture the colors and feel of traditional fabrics of Provence. Full of rich colors and detailed elements, you will reach for this kit over and over again. Kit Cat by AnnaBV Designs is being released at ScrapOrchard. It's fun and whimsical and can be use for kitty cat pictures or anything really. It also comes with a coordinating wordart pack and quickpages.

Taste of Provence

My Layout

Kit Cat

Kit Cat Wordart

Kit Cat Quickpages

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We have a new behavioral specialist working with us through Integral Care (formerly MHMR). Her name is Kathy and I'm really impressed with her. She came to the house last Friday and did an intake interview with me... she was so thorough! Three hours later, I think she had a good handle on what Anna's challenges are and what we are looking to get out of our time with her. Initially I had wanted a behavioral specialist to help Anna and Dominic get along better... Anna is constantly rejecting him because she is afraid of him. He is loud, unpredictable, and causes her to be on guard all the time, anticipating the next boo-boo or screech. As he gets older, this gets better and Curtis works with him coaching him how to lower the intensity around Anna. At the same time, I hate that he already feels a sense of responsibility when he does cause a meltdown in her. Anna and I are continuing to live at my mom's house, 2 doors down from our house, while Curtis and I figure out how to put our marriage back together. What has been interesting is that both kids have had big developmental gains living in separate houses. Both kids are more independent, more competent, listen better, and overall seem happier. Sigh. What does this mean for our family?

Anyway, Kathy really helped narrow our focus to create some concrete goals. Kathy is going to observe Anna at school next week and she was also here on Monday for an observation. First off, she said that in a typical family, an 8-year old girl and 5-year old boy would not be getting along or playing together all the time. So to expect a socially-challenged, play-skill-delayed child to want to engage with her brother is just unrealistic. What we should be focusing on instead is helping her self-manage her anxiety and stress. These skills will help her more in a variety of settings and situations, help her be less dependent on me, and help her in the future as she gets older and the stresses get more complicated. So how do we do this?

We are already doing a lot of behavioral supports in the home. But I need to be more consistent with them, such as using the timer to increase independent play and using the sticker chart with rewards for positive behaviors and chores.

Kathy suggested social stories... where we create short, homemade books that we can laminate and have Anna carry around. Each social story can be about something very specific, like going to the grocery store. We use Anna's picture in it and review it with her before the outing. First we identify the stress... awareness and acknowledgement of the behavior, then we give her the language (stress looks like, sounds like, feels like) and triggers, then the strategies for coping (take a break, set a timer, reward, etc.). I think these will really help with specific, targeted behaviors during predictably stressful situations.

She also suggested videotaped interactions where we video Anna to show her the anxious behaviors to start to teach her to recognize them in herself. Then we give her tools for coping. Anna loves watching herself on TV, so I need to charge up the camcorder!

Kathy recommended some books, which I've already ordered from Amazon. These include:

~Don't Pop Your Cork on Mondays!: The Children's Anti-Stress Book by Adolph Moser
~Incredible 5-Point Scale -- Assisting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Understanding Social Interactions and Controlling Their Emotional Responses by Kari Dunn Buron
~Building Social Relationships: A Systematic Approach to Teaching Social Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Difficulties by Scott Bellini

To build Anna's relationship with Dominic, we start by setting up some playdates with an older girl or two (and we have the perfect girl in the neighborhood, she is mature, sweet, and patient with Anna) that have a timed structure with a beginning, middle, and end. Once Anna is comfortable and engaged with this level of play, we introduce Dominic into the play for a short time. Hopefully, she will be willing to play once she realizes that it's only for a set amount of time.

I'm feeling optimistic about helping Anna. We are still giving the Lexapro a try though I'm not sure I'm seeing a signficant difference in her overall anxiety level or coping. I'd love to get her off of the Risperdal since it's caused so many other issues... I'm thinking that if she's not anxious and stressed all the time, she won't be as aggressive so she won't need the Risperdal. Though we forgot to give her the morning dose of Risperdal last Wednesday and she was not a happy little girl. She's getting big enough that her hitting hurts.

Anna's MRI and other testing has been scheduled for next Tuesday, February 23rd. We have to be at the hospital at 5:45 am. *Yawn.* I really appreciate any positive thoughts and prayers you can spare. We had an incident this weekend where I thought I saw some seizure activity and it is just so yucky. It's been since the 4th of July last year for any seizures, I hate that even after all this time, I'm still on guard every minute.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Loads of Love by AnnaBV Designs

Anna has a sweet new mini-kit out today at ScrapOrchard called Loads of Love. Just in time for Valentine's Day, these non-traditional holiday colors go well with your sweetheart photos and can be used for any scrapping need. There is also a coordinating alpha!

Loads of Love

Loads of Love Alpha

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Friday, February 5, 2010

New kits by Becca and AnnaBV Designs!

By Becca is releasing a boy version of her baby kit this week at ScrapMatters called Boy Blue. It has a coordinating wordart pack also. It's the perfect kit for scrapping all of your baby boy photos. AnnaBV Designs is releasing a kit about pregnancy this week at ScrapOrchard called Special Delivery. It also has a coordinating wordart pack. This fun kit has elements for documenting your pregnancy, whether you're having a girl, boy, or letting it be a surprise.

Boy Blue

Boy Blue Wordart

My Layout

Special Delivery

Special Delivery Wordart

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January 2010 Siggies Slideshow

Here are the siggies I made for January!

Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Corpus Christi

Jenny and I had a great time in Corpus Christi this weekend. It all became very real seeing the campus and dorms and Jenny's excitement. I can hardly believe my baby girl will be going off to college this fall! Texas A&M University Corpus Christi is going to be the right place for her.

We arrived on Friday and took in the beautiful view from our hotel balcony. Directly to our right sits the USS Lexington. We went for a walk on the beach, had dinner at Pier 99 in the shadow of the Lexington, then rested for a bit. We went back out for some frozen yogurt then called it a night.

Saturday greeted us with the most beautiful sunrise I can ever remember. We spent the day on campus, got to go to a mini-lecture about the blood flow of alligators (actually quite interesting and the professor was a riot!), had lunch there, saw the dorms, then headed back to the beach. We had just enough time to go the Texas State Aquarium, then we headed home. It was wonderful getting to spend so much time with Jenny and I'm so excited about her future adventures!

You can click each picture to see a bigger view.

The view of the bay from our hotel room balcony.

The view of the beach from our hotel room balcony.

The hotel had these little tiki huts on the beach. This was taken from our hotel room balcony.

The view to our left from our hotel room balcony.

The view to the right of our hotel room balcony.

I love palm trees! These were outside of our hotel room.

A view of the bridge from the Texas State Aquarium's parking lot.

The view of the USS Lexington from our hotel room balcony.

Jenny in front of the USS Lexington.

Jenny in front of Corpus Christi bay.

The moonrise was breathtaking as the sun set.

The moonrise was beautiful as the sun was setting.

Jenny looking at the moon.

Jenny in front of Corpus Christi bay looking at the moonrise.

In front of the USS Lexington, the moonrise was so pretty.

A Blue Angel jet mounted in front of the USS Lexington.

The USS Lexington lit up at night (this was my photo of the day for January 29th on my 2010, A Year in Pictures blog).

I tried to get a picture of the moonlight on the water, but I didn't have my tripod and it was really windy... so it ended up with a lot of motion blur. But the overall effect is pretty.

In the hotel room, Jenny was on her iPhone.

Jenny trying on a hat in a souvenir shop.

Saturday morning in Corpus Christi... this was the view from our hotel room's balcony (this was my photo of the day for January 30th on my 2010, A Year in Pictures blog).

The seagulls are very aggressive if they think you have food and were quite tame in letting you approach them.

Seagulls taking off.

A seagull in flight.

Jenny in front of the Texas State Aquarium.

The dolphins like to swim upside down in their tank.

A little alligator in the aquarium.

We had such a good time and I'm really looking forward to visiting Jenny often once she moves there. The kids are going to love the beach and the area attractions!

Thanks for looking!
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