Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of year family photos

Behind a camera lens I feel at home.  But in front of a camera?  Not a bit.  It just doesn't feel natural to me to be in front of the camera.  In order to ensure the girls know I was not only "taking" their photos but also there "participating" in the everyday and events that I found worth photographing, I've made an effort to make sure I'm in more photos in 2013 than in years past.  And I'm glad I did!

Sometimes the photos were taken by others or by Julia who is showing quite a bit of interest and promise in photography.  Other times I just put the camera on self-timer and had it snap away.  If Emma was in any of those self-timer shots she would go into fits of laughter.  I love when she has fits of laughter so I did that lots!

Christmas morning we took our annual photo after the opening of the presents.  It's a little top centered (because I had limited time for the girls to stay put before playing with their new presents) but I love it.  I love seeing the progression year over year of the girls under the tree and am glad Chris and I are in the photo.  Taking our family "fresh off opening presents moment" photo is a Christmas morning tradition I treasure.

This year we had our family photo taken at a photo studio.  It's been a few years since we had our family portrait taken and it felt like the time was right.  The girls had a lot of fun, but BOY is it stressful getting everyone up and ready and to the studio to have the photo taken.  Now I remember why it had been so many years between photos :-)

And this year I had our Christmas card include a photo of all of us together.  Here is the photo from that card.  I tried to scan the card and post here but it doesn't come out nicely so you are getting the card photo and just imagine the peace, love & joy message printed across it.

And there is a snapshot of how my efforts of documenting our family presence this Christmas season worked out.  I think it's going well and I expect to continue my efforts into 2014.  Life goes by so very quickly and it's nice to see photos of us all together throughout the years.  Plus, I'm not getting any younger and might as well get photos in before all my wrinkles start to show :-)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Our holiday season has been moving at a nice pace this year.  We have little planned on the calendar and that is leaving us plenty of free time to slow down.  I'm not sure how that happened this year but it's a welcome feeling!

Julia had her winter concert (1st and 2nd graders) at school last week.  The music director does such a fantastic job with the children and it is a highlight of the season for me.  It's so fun to see the children on stage - wiggly ones, smiley ones, shy ones, waving to the family ones, finger in the mouth ones, full of expressions ones.  This year there was a song Rose, Up She Rises and there is a little Irish music in it so Julia did an Irish dance to it for a set of 8 beats and then her classmates joined in with their own version of Irish dancing for the next 8 beats.  It was adorable!  And the children had so much fun with it!  For as shy as Julia is she sure loves a stage.  And she loves to Irish dance so the match up of dancing on the stage was a great fit for her.

We also attended a holiday party with the family outreach program that we had swim lessons with in the Fall.  It was our first holiday party there and we are so glad we attended.  Another local family we met through this blog was there and it was nice to catch up with them.  We also met some new families and enjoyed the crafts, music, cheer and a super special visit from Santa!  My girls love Santa and we hadn't visited him yet this year so it was nice to see him and we were shocked to receive a gift from Santa.  Emma wasn't so interested in helping to open the gift because she couldn't take her eyes off of Santa.  She sat there the entire time he was giving out presents to the children and started and smiled and giggled and I can safely say that her love affair with the jolly old man is still going strong this year.  Julia was more than ready to tear into the gift and was overjoyed to see it was an Elf on the Shelf - which Julia has wanted for a while.  Her name is Makenzie and she seems to get into mischief rather than just sitting on a shelf and that is the source for a lot of amusement in our house each morning.

There were a lot of crafts, too.  Julia loves crafting and had so much fun going to the various stations and creating masterpieces.  We moved Emma from station to station and tried to get her to participate but she was more interested in just looking at everything going on around her instead of looking at us and the craft we were trying to help her complete.  So, basically, both girls behaved true to form :-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013


I have two girls.  One hates to shop while the other loves to shop.  She considers it a great opportunity to people watch and soak up all the attention people throw her way.  Can you guess which one is my shopper?

Hoping we can get a new ride in 2014 so we can transport her power wheelchair around and she can learn to navigate her way around in public.  Until then, her adventures will stay with the manual wheeled variety :-)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow day and Eco2 internet access

Today was a snow day.  Horray!  Except that snow days are a lot of work for parents.  Maybe a bit more work for parents of special little ones like Emma.

We did have a lot of fun today, though.  The kids played outside for a while - lots longer than it took me to get them all bundled up in their snow gear.  That's progress I tell you!  Chris built Emma a seat out of the snow and she did well in it before she started sliding out and I started to worry she would be cold.  Once that happened I decided to bring out the KidWalk and get Emma upright in the snow.  She loved it and moved her little legs all around and we helped her move since her braces don't fit in her snow boots.  When it was time to come in the children piled into the house for some hot cocoa, playing and eventually watched a Christmas movie while I baked a few Christmas cookies and Chris set about making dinner.  It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

I was able to get some more adorable snow photos today.  I even took a few family photos and one was selected for our Christmas card.  I ordered the cards but it seems they might take until Dec. 24th to arrive so they could be {un}fashionably late this year.  Hey, at least I pulled it together to order the cards and that's more than I thought might happen this year.

Since Emma was home with her talker we configured it to play some online games.  She received money for her birthday so we purchased the computer portion of the talker (insurance requires it to ship without the computer activated if they purchase it so there is a fee if we want to be able to use it as a computer to connect to the internet) and I was anxious to figure out how to get it working.  I'm part of an online Facebook group of parents whose children use Minspeak - the language of Emma's Eco2 talker - and they gave me lots of tips on how to get it to work and we eventually got it up and running.  Emma was able to play a game on Helpkidzlearn.com before bed and she seemed to really like it.  I also downloaded and installed the trial version of Look to Learn for her to try based on another Mom's suggestion.  I gave it a shot and it worked well and I'm excited to introduce it to Emma this week.  We have the option to activate the WiFi part of the computer for another fee but we wanted to make sure we could get the computer part to work before we spent that money so for now we are using it wired.  I forgot how unportable and annoying it is to not be able to move around with an electronic device!  I think we might consider WiFi during the holiday and use the remainder of her birthday money to active it if Emma enjoys playing with the internet.  I expect she might like the games and watching some YouTube videos and interacting with those using her eyegaze should help her get more accurate with eyegaze access for her communication.  I expect Emma will make a lot of progress with her device for communication in 2014 but it will take a lot of work from her and us to get there.  Please pray for her communication if you are so inclined.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hodgepodge and SNOW!

Emma is making real progress in her Powerchair and I hope to get a video up soon.  The problem is she won't move when she sees me start to take a video, so that's making it hard for me to post something.  Hopefully the weather will be nice out this weekend and she can practice driving a bit and I can try and be a bit stealth in taking the video.

I'm still behind on thank-yous.  It's looking like Christmas cards could be a no-go this year.  That would be a first for me.  There is still time, so I might get them out.  We'll see if I get injected with a bit of umph!

We've had a bit of snow around here.  The girls loved it yesterday and even ventured out in it - for about 15 minutes.  It takes forever to put on all the snow gear but each year they tend to stay out a bit longer than the previous year.  When I got all the gear together we found out Julia outgrew her snow boots and so did Emma.  They are both about 2 or 3 sizes too small....it's been a while since we've had a good bit of snow around here!  Good news is Emma fit into Julia's old boots and I was able to pick Julia up a new pair today.  So we are now all ready for the snow that is supposed to arrive tomorrow....but since we're ready I'm betting a warm front comes on in and brings bathing suit weather :-)

Here are a few photos I snapped in the snow yesterday.  It was a great day for us to play in the snow, drink homemade hot chocolate with whipped cream, listen to Christmas tunes and decorate our Christmas tree.  It was one of those days that just felt right and festive.