Fall Pictures

November 10, 2014



My beautiful four!   I needed some white on white shots because I want to redo my bedroom and I wanted to frame some kids shots on the wall.

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I love how he always wrinkles his nose when he grins.
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And my girl always gets the most picture time because she is much more interested in sitting in front of my camera than her brothers.



Here is the current state of my room:

I recently moved the bed to the center and added sheers.  This one change made a HUGE difference to our living space.   I have long wanted to redo our bedroom as we have never had “real” Master Bedroom furniture in 20 years of marriage.   I realized that I am in dire need of my own quiet space and it needed to be conducive to alone time or even quiet tv time with Jim.  We get next to none of that (we put our kids to bed quite late).

My plan is to stage this.  1.  Have mom repaint and add crown molding.  2.  Pictures of kids above bed  3. Switch to a darker wood laminate floor.  4.  Convert bedding to white  5.  Consider an interim fabric or iron headboard  6.  EVENTUALLY add cherry bedroom furniture.

I can’t decide though if I want individual frames of the kids, or gallery wraps, or standouts, or individual shots with a group shot, or a storyboard….????   Considering this for a storyboard option (gray background not included):



State Fair 2014

November 10, 2014



Daddy took the day off so we could spend a day at the AZ State Fair.  That is one of the highlights of our fall.   I took some snapshots (above) with my phone but for a professional photographer, I am TERRIBLE with my cell phone.  I hate shooting with it.   I finally ditched it and took a bunch of short video clips instead.  I put a 4 minute video together of our fair day and ended up glad I took video instead of images.    I would post it but I used commercial music so I can’t put it on the internet.


Troy was a crack up.   He was TERRIFIED of the petting zoo and was screaming that the animals were going to bite him and he tried to run out of the Dinosaur exhibit but he LOVED the rides including the roller coasters.  I have him on one roller coaster with his hands in the air copying his big brothers and just having the time of his life.  No ride looked too big.  He was so excited about the roller coasters at the fair that he could not stop talking about it the day prior and I was SO sorry that I told him in advance.  He was persevering on the topic to the point of insanity.  I finally had to ask him to stop talking about it because he kept asking if we could go now over and over.  He even went so far as to put his fingers over my mouth and say, “Don’t say no mommy!  DON’T say NO!”  Can we go wide the woller toasters now? Wook at me!  Wook at me mommy!  Can we go now?”  I kept telling him “Tomorrow Troy” over and over and he finally asked me to apologize for saying that “Say sowwee mommy!  Don’t say no!”  He even woke me up at 7:00 AM on fair day to ask if it was time to go get on the “woller toasters”.

We decided that the chicken strips at the BBQ place were some of the best in Phoenix.  SUPER good.   Speaking of good food, we went to a mini fair at CCOJ on Friday with Jamie and Jodi and Jodi introduced us to the Waffle Crush truck.  YUM!

GFF Camping Trip 2014

November 10, 2014

As always, we had a fantastic time at family camp this year.   Jim and I booked a cabin at the Happy Jack Lodge for 3 nights (which is cheating I know) and stayed in camp during the day.  We just weren’t quite up to tent camping this year and were looking for what was simplest.

One MAJOR win this year was that Troy FINALLY made friends with Missy (Jodi’s dog).  Missy is Troy’s very first furry friend and the ONLY animal he is brave enough to go near.  It took some convincing but he eventually accepted that Missy would not eat him.  All other animals in the world are still suspect though.

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Tanner got him in the eye with a flying object and Troy was pretty worried about him.
I am sure my mother will LOVE this picture but I couldn’t resist – us five kids have seen that look and that finger a time or two hundred.  LOL   No one was in trouble – I think she was retelling a story.
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You just have no idea how big of a deal it is that Troy is walking that dog.  HUGE.
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Troy and Lucy
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I love my GFF family and family camp is a highlight of our year!

First Day of School 2014

November 10, 2014

This year school has gone remarkably well in the first 8 weeks than years past.   It takes such a long time to get in the groove of homeschooling.  This is my ninth year of teaching…can’t believe I have been doing this nearly a decade already.


Tanner is in 8th grade this year.   We are using the following ccurriculum for Tanner:

Bible – Tanner, Ty and I read together each day.  We started with Acts this year and are now in the book of Romans.  It has been a wonderful experience having talk time with the boys each day and getting to talk through difficult and mature topics.

Math – Teaching Textbooks Algebra.  YIKES.  Why oh why must I teach algebra?  This is NOT fun.  I am to the point where I really need to start school an hour before the boys and do the entire lesson myself first.  The beauty of teaching textbooks is that if the student gets the problem wrong, they can watch how to do the problem.  Tanner’s personality finds failure to be excruciating though so depending on the program to teach him is miserable for him.  He needs mom to tutor.  Unfortunately, mom gets 50% of what Tanner struggles with wrong as well.   Every year I hope everyone will be less mom dependent and for a variety of reasons, we just don’t seem to be getting there.   To date, I read the algebra lesson but I don’t actually do the whole thing myself.  I DO NOT want to make the time for that.   I think I am going to have to though.   In order to teach it, you gotta know it and algebra is not my friend right now either.  I have three more kids to take on the algebra journey so I might as well bite the bullet.

Geography- We have been using www.seterra.com.   They have a list of maps they need to get through this year and I allow them to advance maps once they have scored 100% in less than 2.30 minutes FIVE times on each map.  I am doing this as well and Tanner is doing much better than mom.  To date, he is two maps ahead of me.

English – IEW – Tanner and Ty are both doing the IEW Narnia book with me.  I have continued to love IEW.

Grammar – IEW has a FIX it series and Tanner is doing The Frog Prince book.

Spanish – Rosetta Stone Level 1 – Tanner is doing great and really seems to enjoy it.  I am taking this with this kids as well and so far have thought it to be a great program.

Handwriting – Daily practice

Spelling – www.homespellingwords.com

History – We switched from Story of the World back to Mystery of History this year.  Tanner is working through Volume 1

Science: Apologia – Exploring Creation with Physical Science

Typing:  Weekly practice using Typing Instructor.  Tanner averages about 50 wpm.



Ty is in 5th Grade this year (can you believe it?)

Bible – same as Tanner

Math – Teaching Textbooks – we are doing Grade 5 a second time.  He was a year ahead but I felt it was time to slow him down.

Geography - same as Tanner

Typing – Handwriting without Tears has a new typing program so I switched Ty over to that this year

Spelling - same as Tanner

Grammar – IEW The Nose Tree book

Writing - same as Tanner

History – Story of the World Volume III Early Modern Times

Science – Apologia – Exploring creation with Astronomy

Spanish – same as Tanner and Ty is doing well (he even spells in spanish well)



Tori is in first grade this year.

Bible – We are reading through the Jesus Calling Bible for Kids – she loves this

Math – Just working with mom this year trying to get basics down.  This has been a challenge because Tori is my most ADHD child and is so easily distracted that it takes twice as long (or more) to get concepts down.  Math facts have been very difficult for her.  I have tried counting mechanisms, an abacus, flash cards, apps, computer programs….etc.   I finally tried a timeline and THAT is finally helping her to see it.  The thing I love about homeschool is that I have the ability to just keep sorting options until I arrive at what works for each kid at each stage of their school journey.  I had this fantasy that I was going to one room school house them and just adapt for their level but learned early on that was never going to work with my children.  They are all very unique learners so each kiddo gets a specialized education plan.  So time consuming but I am grateful that this is working for our family.

Spelling – Another tough subject.  We are working on www.homespellingwords.com at a slower pace

Typing – She loves this and I am using the HWT program for her

Writing – Writing with Ease Level 1 (Susan Bauer)

Handwriting – HWT

Phonics – Explode the Code

Reading – Reading every day with mom.   Again, ADHD has made learning to read more difficult but daily practice has helped so much.   I decided to use a primer from the 1950′s.   My Grammy used to be a First Grade assistant teacher for the Maryanna School District in CA and she had both “After the Sun Sets” and “It Happened One Day”.  When I was a first grader, she gave them to me.   During my curriculum review this summer I was reading through them and decided they were much better first grade primers than I typically can find.  In two months, Tori has come along way with her reading and I am confident she will be a fluent reader by the end of this school year.



So that is where we are at two months into our school year.


Ty’s Tonsillectomy

November 8, 2014

 (Picture top left – a little confused post surgery, top right – happy before surgery, middle left – sleeping post surgery, bottom left – ER on Day 5, bottom right – sleeping post surgery)


On Thursday, October 16th, 2014, Ty had his tonsils and adenoids removed by Dr. Rizzo at the Peoria Surgery Center.  As useful (or not) as tonsils may be, we decided to have Ty’s removed because (a) they were very large and I had long worried about large tonsils not helping some of his swallow issues and (b) his apnea history, snoring, and breathing at night created concern that apnea is still an issue.   I think I have PTSD from his apnea days and felt that in Ty’s case, it was just safer all the way around to have them removed.  The Dr. was shocked that no one had encouraged me to get them out before when he looked at them.  I was going to have a sleep study done to substantiate the decision but the Dr. thought it completely unnecessary in Ty’s particular case.

This is a little icky to look at, but I took a macro shot of Ty’s large tonsils pre-surgery.  :)  See how small his airways were?


The day before surgery, Jim got a text from our friend Matt.  Turns out, Matt was going to be Ty’s surgical nurse.  That made me feel so much better to know Matt would be with him.   Throughout Matt’s medical career, he has worked at a few different valley hospitals and it always seems to benefit us because he ends up where we are at.    As you can imagine, this news made Ty very happy.  He loves Matt.  Matt got a huge Ty hug pre-surgery.

Papa was in Canada on a goose hunt, and the 16th was Sweetie’s birthday so she spent the day with us along with our personal nurse, Aunt Kristina.

Surgery Day

We got to the hospital by about 7:30 AM and Ty was in bright spirits.   Surgery went fine and he seemed to recover more happily from the anesthetic than usual (in terms of mood).   He was pretty out of it and Jim and I were giggling at the “inebriated like” version of our little guy.  That was a sight to behold all by itself.  Ty didn’t utter a single pain complaint and was commenting on how wonderful it was that he got to have ice cream, play video games on the front couch, and most especially have visitors.    Grandma Cheri and Little Grandma came to visit on surgery day and while he was not his usual self at that point, he was so happy they came.      As much as the anesthetic seemed to help him initially, the zofran must have worn off because he threw up a total of six times over 13 hours.   This totally threw his system for a loop.    He had a bright spot in his day at about 4:30 PM where he did the following video for me:


Shortly after this video, he started getting nauseous again.  I had him sleep beside me on Tori’s trundle bed so that we could run the humidifier all night.  That first night, he woke in a panic with Alice In Wonderland symptoms (it was a particularly bad case).  My biggest fear was that he would end up with migraines on top of it but thankfully that didn’t happen.  He has quite a bit of post surgery dizziness and that is usually the strong predecessor to the bad migraines.  I did give him a mountain dew slush hoping it would be a double whammy for throat and to caffeinate the headache.

One funny thing that happened that morning was when the nurse was preparing him for surgery, she asked him if he had any crowns or caps, jewelry or piercings.  His reply was so Ty.

“No.  And I don’t have any tattoos either!”

Day 2

He woke up telling me what a wonderful mom I am for sleeping in the room with him and for “serving him” and made sure I knew how much he loves me.  In the early morning hours he said “Actually, I am glad I had my tonsils out…I have got to play video games and you have slept in the room with me and I am getting ice cream….so ya…it’s been good!”  This morning Tori asked for ice cream for breakfast like Ty.  I said no.  Ty follows that with, “Awwww…I hope Tori can get her tonsils out someday.”   He meant that in the best of ways.  :)   Day 2 was a good day and again, no complaints about surgery pain.  He also got to enjoy a visit from Aunt Jodi and kids and she brought him a milkshake.  Aunt Brooke and the kids came too and brought him a slushie.  He was in slushie heaven.


Day 3

He was more quiet and was in obvious pain based on his facial expressions alone.  It was so sad to watch him struggle to swallow.  BUT he would not utter a complaint.  Going through this with Ty has been like aftercare with a newborn because you just have to watch all the signs to make decisions as he can’t give helpful feedback verbally.  He didn’t eat much.  We continued to encourage him to drink and he was really good about complying BUT I wish we would have been monitoring how MUCH he drank because turns out he was taking a whole lot of super little drinks.   Consider this foreshadowing…

Day 4

Started out rough.  He woke at 7:00 AM (Troy was to blame) and was completely out of it which is unusual for Ty.  10 minutes later he ASKED to go back to bed.  He was pale with washed out lips and admitted his tummy was hurting (which means he was in a LOT of pain considering he had yet to say word one about his throat).  He didn’t wake up until 11 AM.

I felt like something was really off so I called the Dr. at that point.  We gave him milk of magnesia at 1:00 and he threw it up and went back to sleep.  Ultimately slept all but about 3 hours of the day.  Took him to ER at 6:30 PM where they found he was compacted with stool and air and did an enema.  When we got home, he couldn’t eat again due to tummy pain.  I felt so bad for him at that point because I thought we had solved the problem.  We tried to give him miralax and he threw that up.   I gave him 1 tsp of his meds at that point and put him to bed.  He was very restless in his sleep.   Day 4 ended up being the LAST day he took any pain medication.

Day 5

At 8:00 AM I tried to wake him for pain meds but he refused them (as we were all beginning to suspect the pain meds were making him sick).  I talked to the surgery center nurse and we determined that he was dehydrated.   She told me that he needed 1 to 2 liters of fluid every 24 hours.  With consistent “sipping” and then vomiting, I know he wasn’t getting that.  He had only urinated about once every 12 to 13 hours since Fri/Sat that I was paying attention to after thought.

At 9:00 AM I took Ty to Mendy’s place.  He was moderately dehydrated so they gave him the “Dr. Rizzo” cocktail of an IV, Decadron (steroid to help with swelling), and Zofran.  He didn’t perk up immediately but by mid afternoon, he was significantly improved.   His last dosage of Hycet (Hydroco/Acetamin 7.5-325MG SOL BOC) was at 11:00 PM on Sunday night (Day 4).  By Monday morning, he refused any pain medicine.  By that time, the general consensus was that the pain meds were much more difficult on Ty than the pain itself.  At 36 hours past that decision, he was doing wonderfully on the pain management scale.  I didn’t even give him Tylenol because he did not want it and did not show any signs of needing.   This was, admittedly, a risk because Ty won’t tell us if he is having pain until his pain is really significant.  Jim and I both agreed though that he was holding his own.  He was in pain of course, you could see that when he swallowed, but Ty manages pain on his own really well and I was very nervous about any more drugs to his system and upsetting the apple cart at that point.  I did get a zofran prescription for just in case but should Ty ever need surgery again, I don’t think hydrocodone is the right drug for him.   This was Ty’s fifth surgery.   Ultimately, he didn’t need the zofran once he was off the hycet.  (And for future reference, I worried that Ty may be allergic to IV zofran after his migraine hospitalization but he seemed to do fine with it in surgery recovery).

Day 6

(10/21/14) Woke up well on his own.  Had 100 fever and was saying it was painful to eat but when I told him he would have to take some medicine again if it hurt too much to eat, he immediately started trying to scarf it down.  He was more afraid of the medicine at that point.  I just gave him regular children’s tylenol (at 9:00 AM).  Sympathetic baby brother said, “Ty is that gwoss?”  Ty’s response was a disgusted shiver.  Troy then looks at me and says “Ty not like it!!!!!  TAKE IT AWAY!”   I have the sweetest little boys.


During the evening, he ate and drank much more normally and I finally slept in my own bed and gave Tanner night patrol duty.


Day 7

Was a good day.  He seemed pretty normal.  The only thing I noticed as an issue was that he was still only wanting to eat very soft foods.  I gave him a chopped salad (without anything too crunchy) and a fruit salad and he thought both were too difficult to swallow.


Day 8

Seemed better in what he was willing to eat.  Ate a grilled cheese.


Day 14

Went to the state fair and was happy and back to normal.

What I WISH I would have been told at the surgery center PRIOR to surgery:

1.   Don’t just encourage your little patient to drink.   Make sure their intake is 1-2 liters of fluid every 24 hours.

2.  If you suspect low tolerance to the pain meds, get a zofran prescription early.

3.  Start miralax on DAY 1 so that the pain meds have less of a chance of causing constipation.

I must confess that mama spent those two weeks in awe of Ty.   His ability to navigate difficult and painful circumstances with a happy heart is simply unparalleled.   I was so, incredibly, humbled and felt so blessed to have the experience of watching what suffering with utter GRACE looks like.   If only to be like Ty…