Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ella's Birth Announcement













I know it is late. I know she's nearly 3 months. But I wanted a good picture and I needed two hands for more than two minutes.

School's out!!

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dance Fever!!

Michael and McKay's school had their yearly dance festival.

McKay danced a 70s' dance to the song "Hey, Hey We're the Monkees." He was not thrilled about the dancing, but he let his aide help him do the Monkey (dance step) and he seemed ok about sticking around for most of the dance.

Michael's grade did an 80s dance to the Lehi favorite...Footloose! (They filmed that movie here in Lehi, so it is a favorite of the area.) He was really into it and danced with a lot of enthusiasm. He was also really excited when he saw that I was taking his picture.

Then we went to a popcicle party with Michael and McKay's classes and listened to singing for both. (I'll upload those pictures in another post.)

Fun day! I even got a little sunburned! Good thing the kids are a little tanner than I am, so they escaped without a burn.










And a couple more...Awake!

I figured it would be a nice compliment to the sleeping pictures to have some of her cute little eyes open. So, voila, eyes open pictures.













Monday, May 26, 2008

What do you do on a cold, wet, rainy Memorial Day?

Well, first you call and find out the BBQ is cancelled, because of torrential rain and chilly temps. Then you do some laundry, a few dishes, pick up a little and then you decide to practice some low-light pictures and some photoshop. So, here is the result of my rainy Memorial Day. (Although we ARE grilling some burgers as we speak, since there is a break in the clouds for a moment.)




















































Sunday, May 25, 2008

Super Kitty!

We were out walking and I had to smile at our super kitty. He seems to think he is a dog. He just trots alongside the stroller and goes for the walk with us. As far as cats go, he is really social and it pretty tolerant of the kids.

In fact, when we first got him, he got to stay because he was so nice to the kids. When we moved to our house, he started haning around the yard. Then he moved to the porch. Then he kept trying to get inside the house. But he was always good with the kids and they liked him, so we decided we would feed him. We tried to keep him outside, and that went so-so. Once we went on a vacation, and let him stay in the garage and left food. When we came home, it seemed like he was limping. We discovered he had a broken paw, so we took him to the vet. They casted him and we took care of him, and we figured since we paid the $500 vet bill, we might as well sincerely keep him, because he was an awfully expensive cat. ;)

I knew he was an amazing cat the day we brought him home from the vet's. I came downstairs and saw him trying to eat and 3.5 year old Michael holding him in a semi-headlock (lovingly...of course) trying to feed him a green jelly bean to "make his hurt foot feel better." He was not scratching Michael's eyes out, despite being hungry and hurt. Rather he just seemed resigned. I freed him and he went to hide out under my bed, but I had a real respect for the cat. Not many cats in that predicament would have reacted like that.

He seems to fit so well though, because I am usually SO allergic to cats, but he doesn't really bother my allergies. He also is very tidy and doesn't shed. And he's super with the kids. He is just the perfect pet. OH! And since the area we live in is still kind of rural (it was quite a lot more rural when we moved here) he has kept our house mouse-free. That is another great perk. And he follows us on walks.

Bowl-a-rama!

For McKay's birthday party, we went to BYU Games Center and bowled. The kids all LOVED it! (I think the adults did too.) This was the first birthday party involving non-immediate family that we have done for the last 3 or 4 years. McKay just didn't enjoy having a bunch of people over. But this year, he was excited. It was people he saw a lot and knew, and so he seemed very comfortable.

With all of our kids, and the cousins and a few friends it was good we had grandparents and neighbors and aunts helping. We had the bumpers for the little kids, as well as the ramps for most of the kids. Michael liked actually throwing the ball, but the others seemed to favor the ramp.

Hannah had a particularly interesting approach. She would put her ball on the ramp and walk to the back of the chairs where the other bowlers were waiting, and then she would RUN up to the ramp and push the ball down the ramp. But even more she liked going around socializing.
Then we went over to the Creamery and got ice cream (mmmmm, BYU Creamery ice cream!) to go with the cupcakes. The kids all had a lot of fun and we even had people coming over scoping out the cupcakes...luckily we had Aunt Alison to keep out the riff raff. ;)
Sadly, when Garrett was slipping off the bench, Darwin grabbing his arm and it got sprained. We weren't sure if it was dislocated or what, so we packed up a little early and took him to the InstaCare. While we were there, the rest of the kids and I went over to our friends' house (they were at the party) and we played while Garrett got checked out and then BBQed for dinner. Garrett seemed to be doing well by the evening, and is doing fairly well this morning, though he is still tender. McKay also did really well. He wanted to sit in front of the house and wait for Darwin to come back, since one of his birthday presents was in the van and he wanted to wait and get it out. So I watched him and he did a great job staying in the front yard. I was quite impressed.
It was a fun party, minus the sprained wrist. The kids really loved the bowling, and I am sure we will go back many times.
OH! And the big bowling winners? McKay with 110. Steen (who is 18 months old) with 109. Michael with 100.



Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday, McKay!

Since it was 7 years ago this morning that I had McKay, it got me to thinking. It was such a battle staying pregnant with him. He was an escape artist from the VEEEEEERRRRY beginning. I went into labor with him at 25 weeks and they sent me home on bedrest, since I was just softening, not dilating. I went back at 26 weeks, and they assured me it was all right, but I asked them to check and I was a 1. They kept me and started an IV and then the midwife came in to check when she arrived about an hour later and I was over a 3 and 80% effaced. They started a TON of mag sulfate and scared me by telling me what his odds were if I were to have him that night.

Luckily, we kept him in. For 10 more weeks. With a lot of meds and bedrest. He just always has been an escaper! But when he came at 36 weeks on the dot, I was so relieved. He had only a little trouble breathing, but he was alive. I was sooo happy!



McKay is such a sweetheart and I know he really really loves his family unconditionally. He is one of my greatest sources of stress and anxiety, but because of that, the happy times also seem exponentially happier. (It's like...parenting on hyperdrive! Everything is just magnified a million times.) I've learned so much from him and he is a very gracious teacher. I imagine before either of us were born, he humbly accepted the charge to be a teacher of many many people, even though it would mean that his incredible spirit would not be obvious to others unless they really sought it.






Happy Birthday to my sweet McKay!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Preschool Graduate!!

Hannah graduated from preschool today! Well, actually she still has one other preschool for a couple of days. (She goes to Miss Shannon's on T, W, Th, and then Miss Jan's on Fridays. She was a peer model at Miss Jan's.)

Miss Shannon's preschool was fabulous for Hannah. Her social skills blossomed. Her academic skills soared. She learned so many practical things too. How to spell her first and last name. Her phone number and address. Her birthday. She learned to tie shoes. And she had so much fun doing it. Miss Shannon is an amazing teacher. (Her brother is McKay's teacher--Michael's former teacher--and he is amazing too. Must run in the blood!)

I can hardly believe that Hannah is going to be in Kindergarten in the fall. It seems impossible. I can still vividly remember when we brought her home from the hospital as a baby. And yet, she is really going to be 5 in August. I think preschool has prepared her well though. She really loved it and she learned a lot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Water!

I was doing Hannah's hair for school and suddenly it sounded like a shower or something got turned on full blast. I got up and ran around the bathrooms, kitchen, and outside faucets trying to determine what was on. Nothing was. Not good.

I came back in and listened more carefully and followed the sound. To the basement. Uh oh.

The sight that met me was kind of scary. There was water blowing out of the cubby where the water heater and furnace live. Luckily, the basement is not finished. An old piece of carpet on the floor, mostly just concrete and wood, and a little bit of drywall. Unluckily, the drywall was right where the water was blowing.

It took a second to determine the source of the water. I had to run and shut off the main valve first. (Even though it sounds like a long time, it was only seconds from when I went in the basement until I turned the water off.) I could follow the slower stream of water to the source now. The problem was the line between the cooler and the water heater had come off. Since it was such a small opening that the water was blowing out with strong enough force to hit the drywall and bounce back out. There is even a hole that the water bored almost all the way though the drywall. (We'll have to patch that...)

Darwin came home for a few minutes and determined the water was turned on too high, so he turned down the force of the water and reattached the hose again. I got out the steam cleaner and sucked up quite a lot of water. Luckily, the only "stuff" from the basement hit by the water was junk, so it was easy to toss. It also mostly went down the drain, since the drain is right there too. So I think it should clean up well. In terms of a "basement flood", it was really mild.

Ok, so...enough excitement for one day, eh? And it isn't even noon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What to do?

Overall, life is pretty good. The kids are healthy. They are smart. The house is usually tidy. Darwin is gainfully employed. I can't complain too much. But there have been a few things weighing on me lately.

The biggest is McKay. His running has been a little bit slowed down by the double-cylinder lock on the front door. But not a LOT. You'd think that would be the end of the story, really. But first he started trying to climb the trees in the back. The poplars are not really climbing trees and can be dangerous since the limbs can get thin quickly, so we had to saw off the limbs that he could reach so he would not get hurt. (He once got up 20 feet and a neighbor came and helped me get him down while I was about a week from delivering Ella, not so fun.)

Well, then he took it to the fence. He only needs a little something to step on to get him high enough to get over the fence. It is kind of tiring. And then I read stories like this http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2008/05/ashley-brock-2002-2008.html, and I feel very scared. But then, as Darwin has pointed out, no one wants to grow up locked up. Where is the middle ground?

He's just having a hard time lately. Last Friday, I read his note home from his teacher (they send them each day) and he pulled the fire alarm at school. (I don't think he knew what it did. But still...) He is looking for something different, but isn't at the level for it to work right. He wants to go outside and play with the neighbors. But instead he runs across the street without looking, he darts in the house without knocking, and he leaves but doesn't always come right home. So, that limits his freedom. He can't just "run out and play." But he wants to. He wants the freedoms that most 7 year olds have. We're trying to set up playdates for him. Little 30 minute things where we help him do the socially-appropriate thing. Cross the street and look, knock on the door, ask to play, come back home. It is working ok. We're trying to take him on walks with us where we practice staying together, so he can walk along with us in the store and not ride in the cart. I think these little things would really address some of his desire for independance...but it is just hard. And I am complaining for me and my frusterations.

But really, it has to be hard for him. In his mind, he knows what he wants and just doesn't get why he can't leave school and walk home in the middle of the day or why he can't just leave the house (via the fence) and go to the library alone. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. I just need to find it.

And then on the heels of this, I was worried because Ella is 2.5 months and only smiled rarely. I know kids have their own timetables for development (and I think all of the other kids, besides Garrett, smiled around 2.5-3 months), but really, this was one that worried me. But then, this morning she has given me much more liberal gummy smiles. Maybe this is in response to my many pleading prayers on this subject. I feel in my heart that she is ok, but it is not a bad thing for my nerves to have confirmations that things are going according to the norm.

Usually, I feel like I can handle whatever God feels I need. But, really, with how hard it has been over the last 9 months or so with McKay (although he is also one of my greatest sources of joy and amazement) I have been feel very fragile in regards to the potential of another child with special needs. So, Ella's little smiles this morning did a lot for my heart. Obviously, I will probably worry until she starts really speaking spontaneously, but the little assurances are really nice.

But, even if there was an issue, we felt so strongly and KNEW that Ella was supposed to be in our family. So, no matter what, we can handle things.

If only they made 12 foot fences...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Michael, my miracle

video

Michael has been asking for a new slideshow (so has Hannah and I think McKay would enjoy one too...) but it always takes awhile to find a song that really just fits, so ergo, it takes awhile to put one together. But this song makes me think of Michael. I really find him a miracle.

The strangest thing

I know that when new babies arrive, the older kids sometimes do odd things. But this started even before Ella arrived. Probably a good 3 or 4 months before she arrived. We pulled out all the baby stuff and Garrett found the binkies. He'd liked them marginally as a small infant, and outgrew them quickly. But once he found the binkies at about 20 months...he was hooked. Suddenly he really likes them. For the time being, I am content to let him feel like he still gets to be "little" as he adjusts to Ella, but soon enough, I think it will be time to start the process of weaning him from it. It just seems like such an odd habit to pick up at nearly 2.

But then, Hannah started sucking her thumb at 2.5 years old. About 3 months before Garrett arrived. Maybe that's why I am so zen over the binky. It is a LOT easier to stop than the thumb. I am about at my wit's end over what to do about the thumb.
I've just got to wonder how it is none of the kids cared much for binkies and thumbs as infants, but they become so enthralling once the kids become toddlers?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our night at the Symphony

It was GREAT! The kids really loved it. I was kind of nervous at first. They had a little dinner of sandwiches and chips and brownies and McKay was intent on running off. It looked bad. Michael, who is not usually a wanderer, also started kind of wandering around.

We made it through the dinner and we found our seats in the auditorium. Once we were in there, it was much easier. The kids were excited.

The program started and the kids were lukewarm about the Opera parts. But when the Symphony played...McKay snapped to attention. All of the kids, and really the whole auditorium seemed mesermized by the symphony.

One really neat thing was the all of the music they chose for the symphony was music McKay was familiar with, so he loved it. I think his favorites were from Carmen and the Can Can.

McKay was thrilled as he watched the symphony begin their program. He knew all the songs they selected, so each was so exciting for him.


Michael was very interested. He wondered about the huge bass drum in the background.

Hannah also loved the night. She wanted to dance to all the music. Ella was quiet and attentive the whole time. Actually, the whole audience was amazingly attentive. It might not have been a night of perfect symphony silence, but they were wonderfully well-mannered.






We're taking all the kids to the symphony tonight

Are we crazy?

Nope!

It's the Utah Symphony and Opera's Evening for Children with Autism. The whole family can go and they pick fun and entertaining music, and the noise level is not a problem. It sounds like the perfect evening for us.

I'm going to bring my camera and I'll update on how it went, but I am really excited for this!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

At times like this

I think I could have 20 kids ala Michelle Duggar.

They're so sweet and innocent. They are just adorable and close to heaven. I sit back and contemplate the sibling bond they have, and I reflect on how it will grow throughout their lives and how they will always have it as a strength to lean on. Their sweet and innocent beauty is just so obvious as they sleep. They exude peacefulness and tranquility.

And then they wake up.

That whole 20 kids thing? Nah.

Don't look too close

I warned you.

Michael brought this home from his class fishing trip. I am kind of torn between proud and reaaaaaally grossed out.

I think I will leave this one to Darwin to deal with. (I just double bagged it and stuck it in the freezer...outside.) This is also why I really like Gardenburgers. No guilt. The poor fishie looks a kind of sad.

But, yay for Michael!

Ok, so solve one problem...

And another one pops up. Or climbs up.

Yeah, the wonder fridge is also a wonder climber. Garrett loves it. I find him hanging out up there all the time.

It's kind of cute, but really, I'd prefer he didn't. I guess my bright idea to keep the eggs and such out of reach just was not to be.

Thank heavens for metal handles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I'd be totally remiss if I didn't mention all the cute things the kids made for Mother's Day. (I'll probably edit the post with pictures tomorrow. But in case I get too busy, here's the text.)

From school Michael made a picture frame with his picture and a very cute and scrapbook-y letter M. (It has 2 panes of glass.) As well as a cute handmade card.

McKay gave me some flowers in a "pot" made of a cup surrounded by painted popcicle sticks.

Hannah made a watercolored card with her name printed inside.

They all made me "flowers" made of skewers with cookies between gumdrops at church. Mmmm. My kind of bouquet!

They all picked out a magazine on digital photography for me. See, they know me!

Right now, I am enjoying a wonderful gift. Garrett is snuggled right next to me, asleep. I just don't have the heart to move him right now. I'm enjoying his comfortable weight against my arm. This is just the way to end Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Date Night!

Woohoo! Darwin and I went out yesterday. (Well, we took Ella too.) The kids were pretty excited to have babysitters and delivered pizza.

We went to Applebees and it was nice to sit and chat, but it was awfully busy. The upside of that is that we ran into two other couples we knew and got to talk a little. The downside was it sort of felt like the waitress was shoving us out the door. So we left a little earlier than we otherwise would have.

It was windy, so walking around outside would have been just slightly uncomfortable. So we went to the Target. It was right in the parking lot, so not far. The aisles were large and nice to walk down. It was clean. So, it was nice to just walk around and talk some more.

I felt nice and recharged when I got home.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Oh! Look at what I found!

video

This is cool! Back 2 summers ago, Darwin started with a new job. They sent him and the whole family out to Washington DC to train. The family stayed for about 7 weeks and then came home for school. Darwin stayed a bit later. He came back in October.

It was such a great experience though. The kids STILL talk about when we were in Washington DC. I am shocked Hannah remembers. She turned 3 while we were out there, so it was quite long ago for her. They remember the apartment, that we dubbed "The Treehouse" since it was on the 4th floor and pretty much in the treetops. We had a great time, and considering we had 4 kids, the 3 bedroom apartment served us well, surprisingly. We also loved the pool at the apartment and made use of it nearly everyday.

The kids really enjoyed going to all the monuments and museums too. I am surprised at that too. They were fairly little. Michael had just turned 7, McKay had just turned 5, Hannah had her 3rd birthday towards the very end of our stay, and Garrett was 4.5-5.5 months old. It wasn't Disneyland, in terms of constant dynamic "entertainment." But, the kids really enjoyed the whole experience. They still remember and talk about a lot of it. I am really glad we got a good camera right before we left. (Although, it was the beginning of an obsession for me. I always liked cameras before, but finally having a good one showed me just WHAT pictures could be.) Looking back at the pictures is still enjoyable for the kids and for me. They can tell me stories and they want to go back again. I am glad we have that. We have a watermark in the history of the Rehart family. It is really pretty neat.

Baby toes




I just thought I'd share, because really, WHO doesn't like tiny baby toes? Ella was kind enough to model hers so I could smile over them forever. Sigh...they grow too fast!

You know the kids have taken over the house

When you cut your finger badly enough to warrant a band-aid, and when you go to get one you discover you have a grand selection of Dora, Disney Princesses, SpiderMan, VeggieTales, and Curious George. But no just plain, skin-colored band-aids.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mugging

When I pull out the camera, the show starts. Some of the most fun pictures I have are the result of the kids hamming it up once they see that there is a photo op in the works. I just thought I'd share some of the recent fun results.









Open Door Policy

Well, not AS open anymore. We've been having some issues with McKay and running away. He is getting old enough it that I would let him play out front, but there have been issues of darting into the street, walking into neighbor houses, and running off without telling me where he is going.

So, we now have a locked door policy--or MORE locked. McKay has gotten very smart at defeating locks. The top slide lock was rendered pretty much useless by the window ledge (functioning as a step stool) and a growth spurt for McKay over the winter. So, we've resorted to a double-cylinder deadbolt. I was resisting this one, since it can be a lot more dangerous in a fire, but the danger of McKay getting hit by a car was becoming far less theoretical, so voila! Double-cylinder deadbolt.

We also had to put one of those code garage door opener panels up. INSIDE the garage. We moved the little doorbell-looking button waaaaaay high and then installed the panel. Now we need a code to open the garage. Plus, the backyard gates are bolted. To the outside observer, we probably look like the most paranoid family in our little rural community--unreasonably afraid of burglers. Not so. It is more concern about escapees. I THINK we are at a pretty safe level. But then, everytime I think that, McKay outsmarts me. So, watch this space for a post about McKay defeating these locks too. He's a smart one.

Still, I might just get enough time to clean today, since I won't be chasing McKay all over the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

At the beep...

...Please close the fridge.

Yeah, the kids tended to leave the old fridge open a lot.

We just got a new fridge. The old one, in addition to being left open a lot, was quite old and had really messed up seals. So, really, leaving it open was not AS big of an issue as it could have been. Cold air was always coming out and the compressor was running constantly. Then the handle broke. It came with the house when we bought it, so it was at least 13 years old. Maybe older?

So, today the new one arrived. It is a lot bigger and there is only a scant few 1/10ths of an inch of clearance between the cabinet and the fridge top. Whew. But hey, it looks like it REALLY belongs.

BUT the greatest part?

If the kids leave the fridge door open after getting a drink of milk or something...it starts to beep. Suddenly the kids are RUSHING to close the door. I think I can live with this development!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ella's 2 month check up

Even the doctor seemed shocked it had already been 2 months. Of course, that is probably one mark of a good doctor too. They rememeber your family enough to be shocked that 2 months has passed.

Ella is doing great. She is 22.5 inches and 11 lbs. She is actually quite a bit smaller than the other kids at this point. They have all been 12-13.5 lbs by now. Even Michael, who was so tiny at birth. They had all hit their "off-the-charts" stride by this point for sure. Some even earlier. Not just in weight, but height and head circumference too. Ella was squarely on the 50th percentile. So obviously she is not teeny, but she is teeny to us. I have to say, it is really fun that she is getting so much use from her 0-3 month clothes. The others were well out of them at this point.

She continues to be a very sweet baby. Great sleeper, good eater, interested watcher. The perfect profile of a 5th baby, no?

Ella's Blessing

Ella Claire was blessed by her dad yesterday in church. The blessing was lovely. One thing I really noticed was that he blessed her with peace. In other less formal blessings that he has given her he has mentioned that too. What a wonderful thing to be blessed to have in your life. She also was blessed with many other promises, and they were wonderful. But my mind kept coming back to the blessing of peace.


We were able to see lots of friends and family for the blessing too. That is always really enjoyable. The kids had a lot of fun with friends and cousins at the lunch and Ella slept through most of it. She was nice enough to pose for some pictures for me in the morning though.


Oh! I was really impressed with us though! Church started at 9 am and we got all the kids ready and dressed and Ella got her pictures taken and we still got there MOSTLY on time. We just missed like half of a verse of the opening hymn. Go us! There is always some question on how early we will get to church when it is 9 am church. But it is a little easier towards the end of 9 am church than it was for the 2:30 church we had most of the year thus far.