Friday, August 30, 2013

a Horse Lover

I've mentioned before how much Cate adore animals.  She has said every time anyone has asked for the last 3 years or so that she wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up - and anyone who has seen her around or even just heard her talk about animals can believe it might just happen.  She has always liked horses but since the introduction the Disney movie Brave her goal has been to ride a horse and shoot a bow and arrow - at the same time.  Now that part isn't likely but her love of horse has definitely grown.  She not only wants to ride a horse, she wants to take care of it - lead it, brush it, wash it, feed it.  She has been on pony rides a couple times but this summer she got to be a guest at one of Lucy's friend's pony birthday party.  The handlers at the party all told me we needed to get Cate on a horse for real.  There is a branch of physical therapy called hippotherapy that utilizes horses in the process of reaching therapy goals.  It has great success in increasing core body strength, coordination and speech as well.  Cate doesn't really need any PT right now given her swimming plus the goal of hippotherapy is to use a horse to pursue other goals not to teach the child to ride a horse, but she isn't ready for a group horse lesson either. 

I was lucky to find a great farm not too far away that offers "therapeutic riding" lessons.  The goal of these sessions is to teach the child to ride a horse but are taught a therapist who will also work on goals of increasing coordination, core strength, and confidence.  So tomorrow is our first session and Cate is over the moon excited.  I have made her earn 10 "horses" on a reward chart by getting green behavior ratings at school and cooperating on her homework.  As of last night she had 8 - so assuming she gets a green today and cooperates fully at swimming tonight we'll be go to go - otherwise I'll have to make up another way for her to earn one! 
As I understand it tomorrow's session would not normally include much riding but since we are kind of testing the program out (it isn't covered by insurance) to see if it is valuable enough for the time commitment and how often we want to do it, the instructor was planning to get Cate on the horse for a little while.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that it goes well!
Here are the pics of her at the party last month:
from the minute we got there we couldn't get Cate out of the barn

so happy

see that face when the helper tried to get her off??

Lucy didn't want anything to do with horses but loved the fashion.

she convinced the helper to take her "barrelling" around the hay bails!

its horse love for sure!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

a new sport for Cate?

Ric was a tennis teacher in high school so this summer he bought the girls tennis rackets and took on the challange of starting basics with the girls.  While Lucy was done after about 5 minutes, Cate was hooked.  She stuck with it for quite a while and has been making a pretty good start.   I still want her to be a swimmer but who knows maybe tennis is in her future too!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Kitchen Renovation completed!

OK - so in reality the kitchen was finished on July 2cd but I've been moving stuff back in and organizing for weeks since.
On Mother's Day our kitchen looked like this - and keep in mind these pic were taken with all the lights on in the middle of the day that is how dark our kitchen was before:
the main kitchen - before

the oven and fridge (soon to be the new pantry)- before

the breakfast area - there ended up being two layers of wallpaper which had been painted at least twice
that light hanging there would end up being the only thing that remaining intact from the old kitchen
The cabinets were solid wood so our original intention was just to have them repainted and replaced counter tops and floor.   We assume the cabinets are from 1979 when the house was build, originally they were stained and then painted white with an oil based paint.  Between the work that would be required to strip them down enough to paint, the doors not fitting straight anymore and the hinges needing to be moved inside - it was just going to cost to much to take on the risk of the paint chipping and peeling in a couple of years.  Our biggest reason for the renovation was because the tile floor was difficult to clean with the large grout lines and very hard because of the tile.  So we finally decided to start from scratch so a few days after mothers day, they demoed the whole place down to the wood beneath.  Which means we lived out of a kitchen on the screened in porch for about 7 weeks.  It actually worked out fine since GA weather cooperated by keep the rain and heat away until we were almost done.  We moved the refrigerator out there and set up a makeshift pantry on the bakers rack and counter top on a 6 foot serving table.
In the old kitchen we had a huge antique hutch that said on the wall opposite the bay window (it was already gone when I took the before pictures. It gave us the additional storage and counter space we needed but took up a huge chunk of the open space of the breakfast area. It was totally my mothers idea to not bring the hutch back in and instead have a full wall built-in at the end of the room and a window bench in the bay window. This was a huge factor in making our new kitchen seem so much more open and light, I think. Instead of the table being in the middle of the space with only a small walk way around the hutch to get to the pantry/laundry we ended up with a huge open area that also allowed for great storage and a place to put the TV that was not on the counter.

during - brand new build in and window seat in the breakfast area

The final kitchen product was great beyond our expectations.  Our contractor stayed on schedule, even with some difficulties and changes along the way plus we ended only slightly above budget.  Our new kitchen is inviting, spacious, easily organized, accessible and most surprisingly because I choose gray paint very light!!  I won't bore you with more words - here it is!!

the long view

eating area to new pocket door

new kitchen table all set!

new pantry with deep drawers - LOVE having the food actually in the kitchen!  Plus this new large capacity fridge is heaven.

My mom found the greatest little counter stools for this space - it ended up a little smaller than I had intended but the drawers on the left are exactly what I need - one for each girl for their school stuff.

Love the look of the new farmhouse sink and it is so big.  We took away the over window cabinets and did pendant lights instead - well worth the loss of some hard to reach storage.
I also did the box canvas paintings to give us some color in this area.

Still getting used to the gas stove top but the hood and tile are my favorite surprises from the process.  The hood was a huge pain to buy and install but I love the slightly modern look it adds to the kitchen.  My dad and his friend did the tile and we absolutely love the pattern he came up with for the silver accent pieces. 
My 200 photos of fruit to get these two shots ended up being more than worth it, thanks to my mom steering me towards the 30x30 canvas size - they make the perfect impact in the otherwise gray and white space.
The green fiesta dishes were a little bit of a splurge but I love the way they look in this seeded glass cabinet.

It was great to get the TV off the counter but I'm surprised at how much I love having this display area.  A lot of the items hold special places for me - the dish set in the middle belonged to my grandmother, the green class plate was Ric's grandmothers, the rooster pitcher from Italy was given to me by my sister-in-law, and the tiles the girls did for me.

Close up of the tile Cate did in her 1st grade art class - it is a representation of the blue horse from the Eric Carle's book

the new pocket door into the mud room/laundry room

"Mud Room" built in my dad did for us - the girls are doing great going here first to deposit shoes in their baskets and hanging bags or coats on their hooks - it has already saved me a ton of time searching for shoes

Thanks for hanging with me on my little blogging hiatus!  Cate is off and running in the second grade and Lucy is beginning her Pre-K adventure so I'm sure I'll have more to post this fall after we all get into our new routines.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog Hop - 3 on the 21st: One Truth, One Tip, One Pic

OK so I missed the 21st but since I've been out of the blog world for a while so going under the assumption I have a reader or two left,  I'm going to try to coax myself back in with the 3 for 21 blog hop hosted by Rebecca at The Bates Motel Meriah at A Little Moxie (opps sorry!). The 3 for 21 blog hop asks us to list one truth about Ds or my child, one tip about parenting, and a cute picture - so here we go!

One Truth:  My child is iron-willed.  (I'm purposely going to avoid the stereotypical descriptor here given the hot debate on some other Ds mom blogs but none the less I'm sure you get the point.)  I'm not the first or the most eloquent to mention this trait on this blog hop round but it is my overwhelming truth right now so I can't think beyond it to come up with something more original.  I know a lot of people say "kids that age are like that, its not unique to Ds".  Now I don't have any older children so I can't tell you if that is true that most or even many 7 year olds are so strong willed or not but I'd be surprised to find that to be the case.  The depth of Cate's will to do exactly what she wants is almost impossible to break.  It affects her at school when she gets "yellow" (warning) behavior ratings even though she really wants to attended the "prize party" at the end of the week and it affects her at home when she loses screen time for not listening or following directions.   It has caused me much to my embarrassment to yell so loud that I lose my voice and end a homework session holding back my own tears.  I think the root of the issue is she cares about the thing she is doing at that time so deeply, no matter how trivial it seems to us.  So any threats, rewards or punishments don't affect her until after the fight is over.  It isn't a matter of her not understanding the cause and effect but truly a matter of her not caring at that particular moment because she is so invested her own ideas.  Case in point - she HATES homework, when she gets home she wants free time even if the homework is a fun or simple activity.  Two nights ago she was tasked with writing her 11 color spelling words on flashcards to put in her desk at school.  It took over 30 minutes to get her to do the first 6 or 7 (the easiest to write I might add) with me all but screaming at her because in her mind she "needed" to go "be a rock star" (dress up and play her Barbie guitar).  She refused outright and stared at me, then she messed up on purpose, then she dropped her markers, and even tried a quick fake cry that she was too tired.  She finally moved on to a verbal fight where she asked me to "be nice to her", explained to me what she wanted to do and why it was more important, and tried to convenience me the teacher said she didn't have to do her homework tonight.  After this went on for over 30 minutes, she finally gave in and finished up the last 5 cards in less than 5 minutes - and those were the harder, longer words.  In the process of this battle she lost all her TV time as well as her time to play outside (in addition to the ipad time she lost by coming home with a yellow) , which of course made her very sad when it was all over but had zero effect during.  She can tell you why she lost the privileges so it isn't that she doesn't understand.  This is only only tiny example of the hundreds of situations that have caused all of my gray hair.  So my truth is that whether because of the fact she has Ds or because she is 7, she is making her and my life very difficult at times with her  will go to any lengths to get her way. 
Of course on the flip side that same iron-will is instrumental to her learning and existence.  This child didn't just stand up at 10 months and take a step a few days later, then walk within a week like her baby sister did  - Cate did months of PT and aqua therapy to get strong enough to learn to walk at 22 months.   She didn't babble as an infant then say her first words only to move on to phrases within a couple months on her own - Cate started ST at 6 weeks and worked at strengthening her muscles and understanding to start talking at 3 years and not move on to sentences until a year later.  She needs that drive to function in her daily life, to keep up with her peer physically given her orthotics and shorter legs and mentally given her cognitive challenges.  As much as I hate the fights it causes for me, I also am thankful for the same trait that make her push until she succeeds.

A Tip:  As hard as it is for a parent of a baby with Ds to do I know but try to have open mind of what kind of school or class you want your child to attend.  I said from day one that my child would always be in an inclusive environment and that I would fight to make sure she had it.  The problem is every school and every child is different plus the teacher is the most important ingredient in my currently thinking.  I almost missed out on the most important part of Cate's growth to date when I rebelled against putting her in a self contained pre-K.  Fortunately I let myself be persuaded by the system to give it a try because now I completely believe those 2 years of special needs pre-K are the reason she was able to handle a mainstream kindergarten class and what paved the road to get to where she is now in second grade.  So my tip to young parents - listen to the advice but keep an open mind when the time comes because sometimes the best solution is not always the one you intended.

A Photo:  My beautiful girl in a pic that is so sweet you are sure to think my whole "truth" is made up!