Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Blog Address

I've decided to move my blog to a new address.  You can now read the adventures of the Villines family on my new blog, "Dancing in the Minefields" at www.dancingintheminefields.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nola’s 1st Haircut

Nola’s hair has been driving me crazy lately.  The front got too long and the back was about 1000 different lengths.  I finally decided it was time for her first haircut.  Here’s the before:

Nola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (1)

There’s a new place in Fayetteville called Pigtails & CrewcutsNola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (16)

It’s the only kids’ salon in the area, so I thought I’d give it a try since this is a special occasion.  We got there and there was a 30 minute wait.  We spent a little time outside enjoying the wonderfully cool temperatures.  After a while, we went back inside and the kids played with the train table.  Caleb spent a little time playing Angry Birds on my phone too.  Rudy joined us between his staff meeting and band practice.  Nola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (6)

When it was finally Nola’s turn, she chose the police car chair.  She didn’t like the cape, but she was easily distracted by some animal crackers. The stylist did a great job and evened her hair out really well.

Nola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (8)






I was pleased with the outcome:

Nola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (18)

While we were there, Caleb got a little updated ‘do as well.  He chose the airplane chair and enjoyed watching 2 boys play a video game while he got his haircut.Nola's 1st haircut 9.6.11 (15)

After the haircuts, we walked over to Lenny’s Subs for dinner, then came home for a walk.  I was so glad Nola did so well for her first haircut!

Friday, September 2, 2011

HUGE milestone!

This morning, right after Rudy left for school, Nola went to the door and said,

“Bye-bye, DaDa”

I almost passed out from sheer excitement!  She had never put 2 words together before.  Big stuff, people…big stuff.

On a related note, she imitated the word “fumble” one afternoon this week when the boys were playing backyard football.  Now, we think she’s calling footballs “fumbles”.  She says, “fuh-buh”, which could be football or fumble, but she says it with the same intonation that Rudy used when he yelled, “fumble” out in the backyard.

Her new teachers are reporting to us everyday that they just love having her in class.  They tell us that she is really funny.  She dances and loves music time.  She no longer cries when I drop her off in the mornings.  She really seems happy there, which – of course – makes me happy. 

As far as being funny… the new joke is for us (Rudy, especially) to ask her, “Can I have a kiss?”  She says, “No!” and turns her head away.  We respond by making a big deal (oh, man!  come on!) and she laughs and laughs like it’s the funniest thing ever!

I can’t imagine life without my girl. She’s wearing us out with her pre-2 tantrums, but we love her more than life itself.  She makes up for the fits with her kisses, hugs and grins. 

Filling Buckets

We had a good 3rd week of school.  Everyone stayed well!  We were excited because Rudy got an extra night at home on Tuesday since he didn’t have band practice.  Wednesday night was the first night of Wednesday Night Live.  Caleb started going to the K-2 Buzz class and I started a women’s study called The Frazzled Female.  Appropriate, right?

The week ended with a wonderfully happy surprise!  Caleb was chosen by his teacher as his class bucket-filler for the month of August!!!  Our school is doing an initiative this year focusing on positive behaviors.  We are basing it on the book, How Full Is Your Bucket?  The book explains to kids that when our “bucket” is full, we are happy; when our bucket is empty, we are sad.  The book teaches kids to fill others’ buckets by doing nice things and using nice words.  It also teaches kids to avoid dipping in others’ buckets by doing actions that hurt others.

bucket book

The kids (and adults) get recognized for positive behaviors.  Last week, Caleb got a “bucket note” from Mrs. Becky in the office for bringing in a lunchbox that was left on the playground.  Then, earlier this week, he got a note for picking up trash on the playground without being asked.  Finally, his teacher gave him a note for helping in the classroom.  He was SO excited because his playground note was read on the morning “mouncements” (announcements).  All of his notes are displayed in the hallway.

So, this afternoon, I opened his school folder and found a letter from Mrs. Christian saying that Caleb had been chosen as the bucket-filler of the month from his classroom.  I got tears in my eyes when I read these words:

“We are proud to announce that your child has been chosen as the classroom bucket filler for this month because they had more bucket filling actions than any other student in their class.  We want to recognize their actions by taking their picture and posting it on our website as well as submitting their picture to the paper to possibly be published in an upcoming feature.”

My bucket is overflowing!  I am so proud of my awesome little boy who chooses to make good choices at school.  He shows God’s love to other people with the choices that he makes more often than not.  He’s growing up and showing responsibility.  I could not be prouder of him if he won a Nobel Prize.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Really? Already?

Last week was great at work.  My intern started on Monday and I really like her.  I think she’s going to be great.  My scheduling wasn’t as complicated as it has been in the past and there were only a couple of minor shifts that needed to be made.  Things were really rocking along.  I took off Wednesday for Nola’s appointment, which I hated to do in the 2nd week of school, but it was a matter of priorities.  Thursday was good, but I was really tired.  I felt run-down all day, but chalked it up to lots of interrupted sleep with the kids both having nighttime coughs.  I got a lot done at work, then went to Weight Watchers and came home.  By the time I got home, I was ready to just crawl in the bed.  I ate dinner, then sat outside watching Rudy play with the kids for a little bit.  I started feeling nauseous so I came inside because I thought it was from the heat.  Rudy took the kids to the park so they could burn off some energy and I could have some quiet time.  I fell asleep in the chair.  Before the night was over, I was SICK.  I managed to get a stomach virus that knocked me out for 2 days.  I had to call in sick to work on Friday.  We had planned to go to Frisco Festival and have dinner with Nana, but that didn’t happen either.  (The boys did go Saturday night, though.) 

It’s now Sunday night and I haven’t left the house since Thursday evening.  Rudy has gotten a milder case of the virus and has been in bed all day today while I’ve fought off a headache and fatigue just enough to take care of the kids and do a couple of loads of laundry.  Nola had a mild case too, with a few gross diapers, but no throwing up.  Caleb has been the superstar of our group (KNOCK ON WOOD) and has been so incredibly patient and well-behaved.  He was so worried about me on Thursday night when I got sick.  It was very sweet.  We’re all planning to go back to school tomorrow…back into the germ pool.  UGH!  I can’t believe we’ve started this junk already!  I was determined this was going to be a better year for us with illnesses.  We aren’t off to a very good start! 

The Strong Not-So-Silent Type

Thanks to the wonder of the internet and its networking, I have been blessed to be in a circle of parents who are weathering the ups and downs of raising kids together.  Many of these parents are women who I know from various points in my life.  Some of them I haven’t seen in over 20 years, but the sounding board and advice seeking nature of Facebook allows us to help each other even when we sometimes don’t know there’s someone out there who can help us.  I truly believe that God uses our technological developments to intersect our lives when they need to be intersected.  Such an intersection happened to me in the past couple of months that has been a true blessing.

I’ve posted on this blog a couple of times about my concern regarding Nola’s slow speech development.  I even talked about her evaluation this summer.  We had just finished the evaluation and I was pretty sure that therapy was the next step on our journey when one of my sorority sisters read my evaluation post and contacted me to tell me that she might have someone who could give me some advice.  Her mom works on a multidisciplinary team that evaluates kids from birth to three.  Emily said that she had mentioned our situation to her mom and her co-workers at a dinner party and they offered to see her.  I was absolutely blown away by her thoughtfulness to bring up our situation and by their willingness to help.  At the time, I thought we were on a pretty straight path, so I told Emily that I wanted to give therapy a shot for a little while and see what happened, but that if we didn’t see expected progress pretty quickly that I would get back with her.  As things turned out, we didn’t end up qualifying for therapy outright and I made the decision to wait. 

One night at dinner, I did a little evaluating of my own and realized that Nola doesn’t make some of the vowel sounds that she should.  My SLP intuition combined with my maternal instinct just kept nagging at me.  I completely and totally trusted the evaluation results that I got at Imagine.  The SLP who evaluated her was great and I didn’t doubt her findings at all.  But…I had the opportunity to have Nola seen by someone who truly specializes in the 0-3 population and could tell me if she needed to be assessed in other areas to encourage her speech development.  I mentioned it to Rudy and we agreed that I needed to contact Emily.  I did and she put me in contact with her mom.  (I’m not giving names or specifics because these kind and wonderful women did this service for me out of the generosity of their hearts and did not charge me anything to do it.  As much as I’d like to shout my appreciation from the rooftops, I certainly don’t want to get them in any kind of trouble.)

When I was on the phone with her, she asked me a lot of questions and I gave her a brief run-down of Nola’s situation and history with her ears, etc.  She told me that she and the SLP on the team were going to be in Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday (8/24) and that they would visit with me and meet Nola that morning.  I didn’t even hesitate.  I took a half day off work and made plans to be there.  It turned out that Emily’s mom didn’t get to come due to change of circumstance, but the SLP did come and we spent almost an hour with her.

Of course, Nola clammed up when we got in the room with a stranger and didn’t do much talking.  Fortunately, I had thought to shoot a little video that morning while we were eating breakfast so that the SLP would be able to see her real communication skills.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to that either because she was so focused on eating her grapes.  But – she did talk a little bit and because I’m a pretty reliable and informed reporter, we were able to work through it. 

The conclusion was exactly what I hoped for.  More than likely, Nola’s chronic ear troubles are at the root of the speech delay, which is pretty minor.  She has lots of word approximations – just not a lot of sounds in them.  If we can keep her ears dry this year (wouldn’t THAT be a miracle in itself?), she’ll likely be able to catch up.  (She does have a cough/cold (lingering now for over 2 weeks!), but so far no ear drainage.)  Our goal is to have her caught up within 6 months – by the time she’s 2.  If not, I’m supposed to contact the SLP again. 

Here’s the funny part:  I’m supposed to stop telling her to “say” things.  How hard is that for an SLP???  I’m supposed to continue to provide a language-rich environment (which we do naturally), but not try to make her talk.  I am supposed to accept her approximations and attempts, build on them and respond appropriately (which I do naturally).  I just can’t use the word, “say” (as in, “say more” or “say please” or “say up”).  The hardest part is stopping myself from trying to get her to say things that she’s said before that I thought were cute or surprisingly well-articulated (as in, “say hey you guys”). 

Why can’t I try to get her to say stuff?  Well…it seems that Nola is a bit of strong-willed girl.  She’s pretty much only going to say what she wants to say and doesn’t really care if it impresses me that she says what I want her to say.  What we’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks is that if she does something new and we make a big deal out of it, she usually gets mad.  (For instance, her daycare teacher told her she was “shakin’ it” and Nola stopped dancing, through herself on the ground and scowled/glared at the teacher.  Attitude much???)  So, if we hear her say something cute like “hey you guys” or “oh, man” or “lemonade” and then ask her to repeat it, she might not ever say it again…just because we want her to.  For just that reason, she’s not a very good candidate for therapy at this point.  I see a LOT of reverse psychology in our future.

Since the evaluation on Wednesday, I’ve heard lots and lots of words.  Just by accepting her approximations, I think she feels more free to try to talk.  She’s imitating more words and then sometimes using them again.  The greatest thing I’ve seen lately is that she’s starting to try to sing.  This morning, she was trying to sing itsy-bitsy spider.  I couldn’t tell what she was saying or pick up the tune, but I knew she was singing and I figured it out by the hand motions.  It was awesome.  She also does “no more monkeys jumping on the bed” complete with shaking her finger.  Her dancing has gotten hilarious, though we (of course) would never mention it to her!  She shakes those hips back and forth like nobody’s business! 

So, my mind is at ease.  We’ll do what we know will help her.  We’ll continue on our path and watch those ears very closely.  I’ll pray that she catches up quickly, but know that we have a plan if she doesn’t and I’ll trust that God has a plan bigger than mine for this little pigtailed cutie:

nola pigtails

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Week Down

Thanks so much to everyone who offered words of encouragement after Caleb’s rough day last week.  Just so you all know – I am not worried about him one iota.  He will be just fine.  It’s just a rough transition.  We are learning a new process and new roles and that’s to be expected.  It will be fun to look back at that post when he graduates and smile about his first week of kindergarten.

Thursday and Friday were great.  I had kindergarten recess duty on Thursday and that was the only time I saw Caleb during the day.  When I went into the cafeteria to get the K’s, I saw that Caleb was drinking chocolate milk.  I had sent his lunch in his lunchbox and knew he didn’t have any money in his account, so I asked him how he got milk.  He said, “I asked for it.”  Sure enough, he had asked one of the cafeteria staff for some milk and they gave it to him…for 50 cents.  After recess, I went straight to my computer and put some money in his lunch account.  That afternoon, I told him that when he takes his lunch, he only gets what’s in his lunchbox.  I never thought about the fact that he wouldn’t know that.  He had never had to take a lunch before.  He told me that he drank all of his Capri Sun and was still thirsty.  That afternoon, we bought a new water bottle for him to take to school, so that he can get water if he drinks all of his Capri Sun.  When I saw him after school, he was proud to tell me that he stayed on green all day.  We left right after school to buy some new inserts for his shoes, that water bottle that I mentioned and a quick stop by the bank. 

Friday was show & tell day & Caleb was so excited!  He took his Junior Razorback lanyard and pass that had come in the mail on Thursday.  He couldn’t wait to tell his class that his LaLa and Pops had gotten him a membership to Junior Razorbacks and that he will get to go on the field before a Razorback game.  He was also excited because he was going to get a tray in the cafeteria.  Pizza Friday!  I went in the cafeteria to say hi and found that all he had was chocolate milk, his water bottle and one piece of pizza.  He said he didn’t like the other stuff they had (green beans, cucumber slices and nectarines).  I told him that *just this one time* I would go get him something from my lunchbox so he wouldn’t be starving in the afternoon.  I grabbed some applesauce and a rice krispie treat (his usual afternoon snack) and took it to him.  I sat with him while he ate.  He said, “Mama, I have to tell you something in your ear.”  I bent over and he whispered, “That girl sometimes talks in Spanish.”  I smiled big and told him that was pretty cool. 

After school, Jan spent the night at our house.  We had delicious grilled chicken and then went out for frozen yogurt and a drive.  As I write this – Nola is napping and the rest of the family is bowling.

With that, we have one week of school behind us.  Just over 170 days to go…