Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let the Birthday Bonanza Begin!


Samuel turned 6 this week! Now the boys are 6,7, and 8 years old. C-R-A-Z-Y.

We started out the celebrating with cards and presents, among which were...

a nice card from Joe and Larisa...

these from us... "Undew-wayah?!"

And a cool outfit from Great Grandma and Grandpa...

We were going to let Sam pick somewhere to go out for lunch, but we intervened when he picked "Kwispy Kweem". We went to McDonald's instead,

He DID get his way with dinner, though. He wanted Stromboli.

Stromboli is a new favorite for us. We had some at a Sbarro in Bham, and loved it. As far as I can tell, it's really just a rolled up pizza. We make ours with the sauce on the side for dipping.

We use the Pioneer Woman's pizza dough recipe (click HERE for the photo version of her recipe). We roll the dough out into a rectangle, and fill it with cheese and pepperoni and whatever other yummy stuff we have on hand. Tim rolls it up, and paints the top with a mixture of butter, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt. After sprinkling Farmer-Brown (aka Parmesan) Cheese on top, we bake it for about 8 mins at 500.

In case you want to try it (which I highly recommend if you like pizza) here's my tips:

~Yeast is not scary. I used to be afraid to try it, but this simple recipe helped me overcome my fear. There are lots of things that used to intimidate me about of which is the whole "lukewarm" water thing. How vague is that? But, I finally read that 110 degrees is about the right temp (which if you forget, I realized that it's printed right on the back of the yeast packet--how nice!) and it clicked that that's about how hot a hot tub is. By golly, a hot tub feels HOT to me right when I get in...which may be due to my poor circulation, or something. So now, I just make my water HOT. And I use a thermometer. But I only do that to make myself feel better, because I have not had a batch of yeast NOT work yet.

I know, this is a long tip. But just to illustrate my point, I want to tell you about this last batch of yeast. PW (that's Pioneer Woman) calls for 1-1/2 cups of water to 1 teaspoon (or a 1/2 a pack) of yeast. You sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it sit there while you measure your flour and salt and drizzle your oil. Usually, my yeast turns kind of floaty and foamy. Looks yeasty. Well, this time, it didn't. It just sank to the bottom of the bowl. What to do? When I looked online, everything I could find about sinking yeast made it sound like it was dead. I was about to pitch mine, and start over, when I noticed this little bit on the package about "testing" your yeast. So, I tried it: I sprinkled in a teaspoon of sugar with the water. After about 10 or 20 seconds - BAM! All the yeast popped up to the top of the bowl. It still looked funny, but I figured it was a good sign, so I used it.


Does it look weird to you? Yeh, me too.

But, look!


It worked fine! That is actually a double recipe there, but you get the idea.

~I have started doubling my salt, and decreasing my water. Here's my adjusted recipe:

Pizza Dough

1-1/4 c hot water (about 110 degrees)
1/2 packet of Active dry yeast
4 c flour
2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 c olive oil

~We like to roll and bake ours on parchment paper. It's WAY easier to transfer, serve, and clean up.

Chef Tim presides:

Usually, we make 1 stromboli and 1 pizza. But, for Sam's birthday, we had dinner at Tim's parents with all the fam. So, we thought we should make 8 strombolis. Whew! That was a lot of stromboli! We got cutesie and put letters on the tops to distinguish the P-epperoni for this kids, and S-upreme for the adults and the eX-treme with the jalapeƱos.


We made them all at home, and baked them at Sharon's.


Yum. Well, the picture doesn't look yummy, but it's all I got, and they WERE yummy, so...oh well.

After we opened presents...

...we sang Happy Birthday.

Sam looks like he just wants to get it over with and play some more with his new toys...

So. That was a fun day.

(How do these blogs get so long???)

Then yesterday we had his "Real"/"Other" birthday's a very confusing thing to have 2 parties when you are 6.

We had a bowling party.

Here's the highlights:

There was a fair amount of ball-launching.

More happy this time...


See the bowling pin on the table? It was party of the party package, and all the boys signed it.



Ahhhh...Happy Birthday Samuel. Now I need to start planning Trevor's birthday....

Speaking of Trevor...we have had a much better week! Monday was a low point, but even it had blessings. I think bitterness was creeping in on Trevor, but we had a good talk about it, and he and the boys we able to make things right. He has been much more cheerful since then. Thanks everyone that prayed for us...we are feeling more encouraged.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Trevor Saga 5

This last Tuesday we went to Birmingham for Trevor's re-evaluation. You can read about his first evaluation here. Once we were done with our 30 day therapy program, we took a month long break before having Trevor re-tested. I was very eager to get the results, but, alas, I feel no more enlightened now than I did before the exams.

Let's see...first we tested Trevor's Visual Fields.

That's when we chart the area of Trevor's peripheral vision that his brain is processing. There was some improvement, but his fields are still quite restricted. This is where (some) of Trevor's clumsiness comes from. I really don't know if he has become less clumsy over the last 2 months...maybe if I had been documenting every spill, trip and crash I would be able to compare better. But, since this is reality, I haven't been documenting that.

Then Trevor's reading fluency and number reversals were tested. His reading was no faster than before. I keep meaning to ask him if he understood that he was supposed to read as fast as possible...but I keep forgetting. Good news...his reversals were way better. That is, he made significantly less mistakes on that test.

Then, his hearing test...the one I was most eager to see about. Drum roll....Trevor's hearing was...Ta Da!...somewhat better. Sort of anti-climatic...I know. That's how I felt about it, too. Before, Trevor was off-the-charts in 4 frequencies (remember, off-the-charts is NOT desirable). Now he is off-the-charts in 1 frequency. Better. Overall, his hearing is a little less sensitive, but not as much as I was hoping for. Not yet, at least. It's possible we could continue to see change...though I don't understand how that works. I guess sometimes we don't realize the extent of our expectations until they go unmet, eh?

(expectations...that reminds me of sitting in marriage counseling with Tim, and our pastor asked us what kind of expectations we had for our marriage. I'm pretty sure I said I didn't have any. And I'm pretty sure I remember the pastor raising his eyebrows and asking, was I sure about that? Seriously...who was I kidding? Of course I had expectations...which, incidentally, have been exceeded in every possible way. So, I'm thinking I'm not very good at "reading" myself...Ahh...blissful ignorance.) was the "brain timing" test (the one where you clap and try to stay with the signal), which I thought Trevor did much better with...but we forgot to cover that in the evaluation meeting. SO, that wasn't too helpful yet.

Then the eye exam with the Dr...which, as with the last time we tested, I don't have much to say about. I cram down so much information during that exam that I just don't know where to start. Basically, it showed that Trevor's vision was about the same as before.

So...they were able tell me that there were some changes here and there...which is about what I knew already.

I do see a connection between the brain-timing test and Trevor's new get-up-in-the-morning-skill. One of the things that this test reveals is planning skills. Trevor's improvement on that test matches his improvement in the mornings getting ready for school.

My Conclusion:
We really need God's wisdom and guidance as we consider how to move forward. The Sniders suggest that we do an intensive home-based vision therapy program which could last the better part of a year. It is hard to be excited about that when we are still feeling a little let down by the first part of the therapy. While Trevor has made some progress, for which we are very thankful, he didn't make as much as we hoped.

Tim and William are still plugging away at their therapy. We had them retested...Tim's still making some progress, though less than the first couple weeks, and William still showed no progress. This will be the last 2 weeks of that therapy...progress or no. Both guys got a new color of light. If this doesn't do it for William then all that is left to do is the Sensory Learning Program, like Trevor did. Can you guess how eager we are to start that again?? Ha ha. Not too eager. Oh, pray the Lord would lead us clearly! Who knows, but He alone, whether more therapy will produce results? We are weary of this struggle, but are hanging on to hope!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our Big Orlando Trip

Since so many people ask about how Trevor is doing, I'll start with an update on him:

Trevor is doing goodbad.

"Goodbad"...pretty sure that's not a word...but shouldn't it be? I mean, I feel goodbad a lot. I know there is some great word out there that means "goodbad" but I just don't feel like digging it up. I'm in more of a make-it-up-as-you-go mood. (Mom, feel free to help me out here...)

Anyway, back to Trevor.


Trevor is still getting up in the mornings on his own. He gets up, and gets ready, and pretty much takes care of himself. Well, except for combing his hair. He hates combing his hair. But we're working on that.

Like I've said before, it sounds small to say that Trevor can get going on his own now, but, really, it is

H U G E.


We had to take Trevor off his medicines in order to do therapy last November. That has been difficult, but good. His antidepressant, in particular, is slow to clean out of his system. Over the last few weeks Trevor has become increasingly anxious and sensitive. Some of his old issues are having trouble falling asleep because he is having "bad thoughts", having meltdowns in school when he makes a mistake, and hoarding things that don't need to be saved (like pencil shavings).

That's sensitive stuff, and I am a little uncomforable putting it out there for everyone to read...but I really desire to be open and helpful for those who love us and care about what's going on, or who are in the same situation we are, or for those who want to understand more about OCD or aspergers.

(Also, Samuel is still snorting, and driving Trevor crazy. There's nothing to be done for it in the car--except to knock Sam out with an antihistamine, which we did on the way to Orlando recently--but at bedtime, Trevor has learned it's better to just go read somewhere else while he is waiting for Sam to get to sleep. Then he sneaks into his bed, and hopefully konks out. Perhaps I need to have an allergy test done on Samuel??)

So, goodbad...that's how Trevor is doing.

On the bright side, we are heading to Bham in 2 days to have Trevor re-evaluated. That is exciting. I can't wait to see the results of the 2 evaluations side by side. I really can't even guess if we will see that there was measurable improvement, or not! Also, Tim and William will have mini-evaluations to see how they are progressing.

Ahh...the fun part:


We had such a great time with my family in Orlando. We hit the road at 11:00 on 1/1/2011 and arrived in time for dinner at a CiCi's pizza buffet.

I guess it's been awhile since the kids have been to a buffet, because they were completely enthralled with the buffet concept.

Now, how should I recap a week's worth of activites, and 350 photos in one post??

Maybe I'll just give some highlights from each day.

Day 1:

Went to Downtown Disney where we spent a good deal of time (and a fair bit of money) at the Lego Store. (Kids: this is a good store to go to with GRANDPARENTS). We also went to see Tangled...and loved it. (I admit, I was skeptical about whether the boys would enjoy it, and really, whether the grown-ups would enjoy it...but, it was a hit. It's fun for big boys and little boys, big girls and..well... I assume it's fun for little girls, but we didn't test that out.)

Day 2:

Epcot was great! Boy, the week after New Years is a good time to go. Samuel missed a couple days of school, but the crowds were do-able. We walked right on to more than one ride.

We especially enjoyed:

The aqauriums in the Nemo exhibit.


The Japanese drummers (which I HOPE you got a picture of, Mom, or Kim?).

And the shooting water thingies.

Day 3:
We stayed home and took a break. The kids played Wii, and the grown-ups played games.

Day 4:

Here's some cute pictures of the fam enjoying the boys at Magic Kingdom:

In line for the Peter Pan ride...


On the People Mover...

At the Indy Speedway...


Note, there's not many pictures of William with the fam because he was glued to my side almost all day long!

Day 5:

We hit Unversal Studios Islands of Adventure with Kim and Miles (who have a great picture of the 4 of us on their camera...hint, hint, Kim. Maybe you and Mom can send me a disk of pictures once you're done unpacking-or whatever.)

That green roller coaster was a doozie.

We really enjoyed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter...

The Butter Beer was really fun and de-licious. We went on the Hogwarts ride and it was super fun and really brain-muddeling. It took about a week and a half for me to recover from that ride (plus the other 2 rollercoasters we went on). It is definitely not for people that get motion sick...but I'm still glad I got to do it. If you are a Harry Potter fan, here's a link to check out about the park...CLICK.

Day 6:

Gatorland was a refreshing break from the Theme Park frenzie.

The alligators were beautiful, and there were lots of them.



Sitting on a real-live alligator, and feeding the Budgies were favorite activites.

Fun, fun week. Thanks Mom and Pop!

It's great to get back to a I just need to start planning a birthday party! Sam's big day is coming up in just over a week!

Ahh...the fun never ends. :)