T is for Twelve, Temple, and Tourette

**I had a heart-to-heart with Nate in preparation for this post. I wanted to make sure that, since he is getting older and everything, he is still okay with me blogging about him and his experiences. I want to respect his privacy. He thought about it and told me he really is fine with it but if he ever changes his mind, he’ll let me know.**

This birthday was a big one. Nathan Robert turned 12! All he wanted to do was take his friends to see the new Star Wars movie so that’s exactly what went down. What a fun, great group of boys surrounding him! They learn a lot from each other and always enjoy hanging out and being typical boys. Personally, I’m grateful for these boys’ parents who are raising fine young men. Nate is very blessed!

Nate graduated primary. Although not required, he decided to work and earn his Faith in God certificate by developing his talents, serving others, studying and journaling, and teaching his family about some of the principles of the gospel.

For his Aaronic Priesthood ordinance, my parents and Rob’s parents came for the occasion. After the ordination blessing, the bishop gave the grandparents an opportunity to say a few words. Our dads said some nice words and helped keep the spirit in the room. Then it was my turn. Nate and I both got emotional as I told him that I don’t expect perfection from him, that we will both make mistakes through this new “teenage” phase of our relationship, and that we will keep loving each other no matter what. It may not sound like much, but since I know my son and I know myself a little better these days, it was exactly what needed to be expressed. We had a special mother/son connection happen in that moment and we both felt safe, accepted, and loved. It’s a memory I will never forget.

The next Sunday he passed the Sacrament for the first time and it’s been awesome seeing him take on that responsibility.

Next up was his first trip to the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead. Rob and I have been using the Take a Name LDS Family History app which searches for missing ordinances in your family line. It’s found quite a few for us so we had some family names to do. Nate chose to go to the Draper Temple. Rob stood in to baptize and confirm him. It was a great experience. Afterward, we went out for Utah scones.

Now, for the Tourette Syndrome portion of the post (most people say Tourettes with an S, but technically that is incorrect). I noticed Nate’s first tic when he was around four years old but just recently took him in to be officially diagnosed. A tic is an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Now, Tourette is usually recognized as bursting out swear words uncontrollably. Yes, that’s possible, but only in the most severe cases and is not very common at all. Here are the more common tics, all of which Nate has had over the years (Little Cara is also developing her own tics, including face and eye movements and arm jerks):

  • Throat clearing
  • Sniffling
  • Repetitive eye blinking
  • Stretching eyes wide open
  • Nostril flaring  
  • Stretching mouth open
  • Crunching face
  • Tongue clicking at the back of the throat
  • Different breathing patterns
  • Overemphasized (almost violent) head shaking
  • Stumbling repeatedly over the first few words of a sentence

Each of these tics come and go and he experiences at least two of them simultaneously. Each phase lasts a couple of months before moving on to the next batch of tics. They get really activated by stress, fatigue, excitement. They calm down when he’s relaxed. At their worst, he tics a couple of times per minute for a couple of weeks straight. This is the hardest time because it’s harder for him to concentrate, gives him headaches, and is exhausting both mentally and physically. As he’s reached puberty they have really kicked into high gear, which is normal. If his tics get too obtrusive or the social implications get worse as he goes through junior high and high school, medication is an option. Although he will always have this syndrome, the more noticeable tics usually slowly fade away in severity until adulthood.

The cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, but genetics play a clear role. TS commonly co-occurs with a number of other conditions, including ADHD, OCD, anxiety, sleep problems, etc. Nate has some obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but they haven’t been too serious and we’ve been able to manage them just fine.  

Nate is fairly easy-going with all of this (unless his tics give him a headache). He understands that everyone has “something” that is “different” about them and this just happens to be his “something different”.

I have to give praise again to the parents and teachers in this neighborhood. Nathan has NEVER been made fun of for his tics, even when they’ve been at their worst at school. All the kids in his classes accept him just the way he is and that has made his life with Tourette so much easier on him. I’ve meant to thank some of you personally, but just know that you have touched my mother heart. Thank you, thank you for teaching your kids and your students to be kind.

Nathan has always pretty sensitive, but through our own emotional immaturity, Rob and I used to push him to “buck up” and not feel things so deeply. Through heaven’s help, we’ve learned how unfair that can be so we’ve done a bit of a 180-degree turn on that way of parenting. Now, it’s fine if he feels sad or upset over something…even if we don’t understand why. Now, we listen. We hug. We empathize. We try to understand and help him to understand his own deep feelings. This approach has been incredibly rewarding for all of us.  

I find myself saying, a lot lately, “He’s twelve now…” This is my way of reminding myself that he can make more and more of his own choices. He gets more freedoms but also more responsibility. It’s also a way of “pinching” myself that my little boy is not so young anymore. As I look at his pictures and videos of past years, I just can’t believe his intelligence, kindness, and humor. This boy is MY boy and I love him so dearly. He’s really close to all of our hearts.

Keeping You Posted on the Kidlings

It’s about that time…time to post an update on what the kidlings are up to these days. I tell ya, they’re fun. These ages (11, 9, 7) are super easy and Rob and I are revelling in it while it lasts.

NATE

 

He is almost 12 so we bought him a suit. Snazzy! I feel like I should win the Best Mom Award when he puts that thing on. Today was wear #2 and he came home from church covered in dirt and ketchup. Boys.

He is hilarious. He is so witty can rightly pull off sarcasm, puns, inside jokes, body language, sophisticated humor, and anything else in order to gain a laugh. He’s more of an introvert though, so it’s mostly us who gets to see this side of him but we relish it. Here is a fake movie trailer he made this morning. Rob and I laughed out loud so many times while watching it. Here is the link.


 He is doing well in school. He is still off the charts in reading and science. His handwriting has vastly improved. He has learned how to better handle his frustration when he doesn’t “get” something and is getting better at staying focused rather than letting his mind wander so much.

He worked hard over the summer, earning enough money to buy a used xBox. He’s learned how fun it is to have his own purchasing power.

He and his sisters have “Sunday Fort Day” every week. They first come up with a concept and a name for it. Past examples include animal sanctuary, haunted house, no giants allowed, carnival, etc.  After they do this they draw up plans and execute. It’s a giant mess. Furniture gets moved, toys come out, and pillows and blankets from the entire house are gathered. But…it keeps them busy for a couple of hours and it’s amazing sibling bonding time. I’ll take it.

MADELEINE

She is a solid 9 now and what a little lady she is becoming. She’s pretty mature and just seems to “get” whatever there is to get. She’s beyond the age of letting me buy her clothes without some serious input because this girl has her own taste and I can never seem to capture it.

She is observant and a very quick thinker. Her reasoning skills are unmatched. She will try her darnedest to win any disagreement and confidently makes the twists and turns required to succeed. Behind her pretty freckled face is a brain that is pretty unstoppable. Her memorization skills are one of her spiritual gifts. I’m not sure how that gift will be used in the future, but I’m positive it will somehow be a great blessing to her and others.

She has been exploring her feelings and emotions lately. Her natural tendency is to bury anything negative deep down and pretend they don’t exist. We are working on making her feel comfortable and confident enough to acknowledge them, feel them, and work through them. She doesn’t love it, but it’s brought her closer to me and Rob.

 

She is participating in Ballroom dance class at school twice a week. She is game for anything in the performing and creative arts. She has never been into playing with toys, even when she was little. All she ever wants is art or craft supplies. She keeps herself busy on different projects just about every day.

CAROLINE

She just turned 7 and lost her first top tooth tonight. She buried it under her four pillows and made a sign pointing the tooth fairy in the right direction. We tried to get her cavities filled this week but fought off the laughing gas like a champ and screamed and flailed her way out of it.

She is a good little student. Her teacher told me how quiet and obedient she is at school. They aren’t working too much on math yet but she loves it and has gone way ahead in her book. It’s pretty cute seeing her sit at the table all studiously and working through it quickly and surely. It reminds me of how her dad looked when working through his math problems in school. Good for her.

She has started dance lessons at a little neighborhood studio and just loves spending the time with her friends and doing something on her own. She is naturally so strong and flexible that it all comes incredibly easy for her. She is still a strong singer. I only wish she’d sing in public the way she does at home.

She is a giggly girl. Whenever she is with her bestie cousins or bestie friend she turns into a crazy person, laughing so hard she can barely stand. She just thinks they are all so hilarious and she can’t physically handle it.

 

SCOUTS

My kids now read this blog every so often and they’ll be so happy if I take a moment to write about their beloved cat sibling. So here it is…

He’s super aggravating with his excessive meowing every morning at 6 am. I’m guessing daylight means nothing to this animal. He also hates this time of year when it’s getting cold outside and he doesn’t want to go out when it’s offered. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. On and on every morning from 7-9am and every evening from 9:30-11:30pm. It drives the adults in the house absolutely crazy.

He still lets the kids snuggle right up with him, carry him around all over, dress him up, play with him, and any other whim they come up with for him. He’s gracious and selfless and couldn’t be more sweet.

THE END

Fishing & Camping

A couple of weeks ago Nate and I went camping and hiking with the scouts in American Fork Canyon. We had a great time and Nate even caught his first fish! Here are a couple other photos from that breezy night at the lake. I shot all these in JPEG format so no raw processing was performed.

Nate was so proud of catching his first fish!
Nate was so proud of catching his first fish!
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 26.5mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 26.5mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 39mm 1/250s f/5.6, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 39mm 1/250s f/5.6, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Ripples on the Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 18mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Ripples on the Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 18mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Light Rays taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 34.3mm 1/125s f/10, ISO 800 and edited in Lightroom
Light Rays taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 34.3mm 1/125s f/10, ISO 800 and edited in Lightroom

Mountain Biking

rob
rob

Last March on my 35th birthday I took the afternoon off work and took my really old mongoose mountain bike to corner canyon (one of the most commonly made bikes under multiple brands and it also happens to be the worst bike ever). I’d been interested in mountain biking for a while and wanted to give it a try.

Before investing in a new bike I wanted to take that old bike around the block a few times to prove to myself that I’d stick with it in the long term. After that fateful first ride I enjoyed myself immensely and also learned that a pair of good gloves is a necessity. Here is a photo of that old bike. Does it look familiar to anyone? I think almost everyone had one. Problem is that I rode one when I was 35…..

my old junk bike
my old junk bike

That day kicked off a great new hobby. I was very interested in pursuing this new hobby but stuck with that bike for about until December of 2015 when I upgraded to a Kona Hardtail Mountain Bike and started using Strava to keep track of my rides. See photo below.

My Kona on the Trail
My Kona on the Trail

Since that time I’ve been out to ride 67 times and logged 406 miles. Also during this time Nate got a mountain bike and joins me frequently on Saturday morning rides. He is actually quite good! He had a knack for choosing good lines and can really ride that trail. Sometimes we bring along one of his good friends to join the fun. It also helps keep them motivated.

I can’t complain about a hobby that has become excellent father son bonding time, is a blast, is great exercise, makes me feel alive, and I can do with many friends living nearby. Nate and I frequently grab a doughnut on the way home! Here are a few photos from our numerous rides together.

Nate and Me at Solitude
Nate and Me at Solitude
Lambert
Lambert
Bearclaw Poppy
Bearclaw Poppy
near santa clara
near santa clara
lambert
lambert
doughnut time
doughnut time
Nate & Easton
Nate & Easton
poppy
poppy

Those who know me understand that I love the outdoors. I feel the call of nature and want to protect it. I’m not a fan of motorized vehicles and the resulting noise. Hiking and biking are my methods of choice to enjoy the great outdoors.

There is something invigorating about climbing a hill or a mountain. Rising above the noise and commotion of the valley. I love it and look forward to many more years of riding with Nate and hopefully one or both of my girls when they are ready. Now I need to figure out how to stay fit in the winter.

crest trail 1
crest trail 1
crest 2
crest 2
crest 3
crest 3
crest 4
crest 4
kip
kip
lake
lake
todd on spine
todd on spine

Monthly Spotlight: October

Here we are the week before Christmas. Do you know what that means? It’s time to post about October!

First up, Caroline’s 6th birthday!

Since she is such a candy lover we did an All Candy All the Time party for her. We played candy-themed music in the background, played candy games, and decorated cupcakes with the candy that we won. The highlight was when I dressed Rob up as a “Human Piñata” and let the kids loose to chase him around the yard. It was hilarious and well worth the hour it took to hot glue 200 pieces of candy on his shirt. Unfortunately I lost the video 😦

We sent all the kids home on a serious sugar high! You’re welcome, parents.

My sister asked me what gift she could get Cara and I said bath toys… which I guess meant bath paint and crayons. I was seriously startled when I turned around one evening to find this! Geez! I guess we will call it even for when I got her daughter a big container of beads. Haha!

This is one of our favorite playgrounds and it’s even more fun when you’re there with cousins. It’s in Saratoga Springs if you’re interested in climbing the super tall pyramid or swinging on the best swings ever.

I love this picture of Madeleine in her braids.
Next up, Halloween! 

Madeleine received bins and bins of sewing fabric and notions from her grandma and has been very busy with her creations. She designed and sewed her own genie costume for her school Halloween parade! I’m in awe of her creativity!

Cara and I were at the store one day and she had a lot of fun dressing up as different food items!

I don’t have a picture of Nate in his costume. He decided to be a basketball player and just wear a jersey he already had from a couple of years ago. When I asked him why he decided on that he said, “Because I wanted a new basketball but I didn’t want to earn money to buy one myself. I knew if it was part of my costume you’d just buy it for me.” Sly kid…

When the girls were gifted some beautiful hand-me-down dresses from their aunt’s growing up years, they fell in LOVE immediately! They just don’t make dresses like this anymore, you know? So pretty and twirly! They started calling themselves “Old-Fashioned Girls” and two months later they are still wearing the dresses to church almost every Sunday.

Here they decided they wanted to look like “Creepy Dolls” slowly rocking in their chairs. Haha!

Rob bought a Sirius Black magic wand at Comic Con and really likes dressing up for occasions. As usual, he was too busy to put together a costume so Madeleine and I took it upon ourselves to help a wizard out.

I bought a long, black “Diva Wig” and cut it to the right length. Then Madeleine and I sewed some fabric together for prison garb. It was pretty easy since it was supposed to look all raggedy. Perfection not needed! Rob had time to spray paint the stripes. Looks pretty convincing, I’d say and he even won best costume at work (a spooky skull candlestick)!

Except someone did mistake him for Jesus…

The most hilarious moment of the evening was when our bro-in-law walked in dressed up as Rob himself!! He painted his hair and beard dark (he is normally blonde), put on glasses, found his best Rob Clothes, and brought some “Dirt Blueprints” to carry around. I’d say he really hit the mark!

Here’s Cara’s super creepy picture!

And finally?
Just waitin’ at the doc’s office… Your kid does this too, right?

That’s it for October! It was a great month!

Redman Camping Trip 2016

In early July I took the kids on a quick camping trip. If I don’t go camping at least one or two times per year I’m likely to get pretty grumpy!

It is sometimes difficult to get a reserved campground on a Friday night in a local canyon so I decided to shoot for the Redman Campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon which is first come first serve. The campground is located near the top of the canyon between Solitude and Brighton Ski Resorts (the best campground are always at the top of the mountains).

We arrived at the campground around 11 am to find that only one campground remained available; however, the campsite was still occupied and would be for a couple more hours. We parked our car next to the campground and started wandering around the environs. We had a good time just goofing off in Nature while waiting a little while for our campsite. Here are a few photos we made during that time.

After getting the tent setup we played games and explored the area.

Julie came up that afternoon (she is not much into sleeping on the ground these days) to do an activity with the girls while Nate and I went mountain biking at Solitude. We had a great time.

We cheated a little on this camping trip at went to get pizza at solitude because our dinner plans for cooking over the fire didn’t quite work out. The pizza was really quite good.

That evening and night we had a blast doing all of our traditional camping activities; roaming the woods, cutting wood, roasting marshmallows, star gazing, and telling stories around the campfire until we are too tired to stay awake.

The next morning we lit an awesome fire to warm us up, ate breakfast, played in the woods a little more, and then cleaned up camp.

We headed up to the Brighton store to get a little more food before heading to Doughnut Falls for a good Saturday hike.

We made it too the falls in record time and even conquered the upper rock scrambling portion of the trail. Way to go kids!

We had a great outing and look foreward to the next time.

Family Pictures 2015

I had been planning to do snowy, wintery family pictures this year but since we didn’t really have any snow we didn’t get the chance to take them.

Then I decided to do some dressy, urban family pictures downtown. It was two weeks away and I needed to get all of us a haircut and an outfit.

Then one Sunday morning Rob told me in passing that he rode his bike next to a cool meadow in full bloom with poppies. I decided right then and there that we were going to be spontaneous and take our family pictures that evening in the meadow, old outfits, untrimmed hair and roots, and all.

I wanted to keep it as low key as possible so it was a fun event rather than a stressful one. Well…it wasn’t exactly fun but it could’ve been worse. It would’ve been a lot easier if the meadow wasn’t full of a dozen other photographers and families with the same bright idea.

Regardless of the crowds we still got some really cute shots. I love how my kids’ personalities SHINE!

Cara was in a really good mood at first and came up with her poses all herself. She’s such a doll!

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Madeleine is a pro. Her sweetness sure wins us over.
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Nate, on the other hand, had only the desire to make weird faces. Typical.

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All three all together. So sweet.

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Next up, me and Rob. We only got one in before the kids bombarded us.
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We also got one family shot in before Cara’s mood changed for no reason.
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Here’s a similar picture from our last family portraits.
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Packing out!

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Home Decor: Nate’s Bedroom

We finally finished Nate’s room. It’s not fancy.

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From his old room he shared with Madeleine came the drapes, banner, rock portrait, and nightstand (the white label on the drawer says “Pokemon Cards”).

I was a bit emotional as we put together his bed. I vividly remember the night we first put it together as his crib. We did it way earlier than we needed to because I was feeling all nest-y. Then it was a crib for Madeleine. Then a toddler bed. Then a crib again. Then a toddler bed again for Caroline. Now it’s come full circle. It made me feel all sentimental and a tad sad.

Nate Big Smile 8 months

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Then one night I was at the store and came across a Salt Lake Real Soccer blanket and decided it was perfect for the color scheme. Plus, Nate’s a big fan.

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I’ve always been curious about knit jersey sheets so that’s what I bought. Overall, they’re really comfy and warm. They do collect hair and lint, though.

Now. This bedspread. This makes me sound really lame but I’ve been saving our holed jeans for, get this, 8 years in order to have enough scraps to make a bedspread. 8 YEARS! Why would I do that?? I don’t know… But I did. I won’t again.

When I told Nate the plan he wasn’t at all interested in having old jeans as his blanket, understandably. But once I finished he loved it. Inside I put an Ikea down alternative duvet so this blanket is heavy but comfy.

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After seeing how well the cute painted stripes turned out in the girls’ room, I had lofty idealizations of what I’d do on Nate’s walls. I mocked up a bunch of ideas and Nate and I decided on a really cool grid.

But guess what? It didn’t happen. I bailed. Too much effort + not enough energy = me humbly begging Nate if I could back out. And guess what else? He didn’t care. Even a bit. What can I say? He’s a boy. Thank goodness.

So we hung back up the world map and called it good.

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We got creative and made a fun little geometric mobile to hang in the corner.

He likes to hang pictures and posters all over his wall so I decided to hang up a few cork boards for him.

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The cat is the perfect finishing touch for this tiny, not-terribly-impressive but nice-enough room.

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Nate’s 9th Birthday

Hi There!

Late last year Nate had another birthday (can’t believe it). He really wanted a scooter so we grabbed him one and he really loves it. Nate chose to take a car load of friends to classic skating for his party. Nate and his friends had a blast; they scootered, laser tagged, blast zoned, ate some really gross pizza, and had a great time.

A few days later we got together with family and Nate’s cousins. It was cold outside so we had everyone over to the church with their scooters, bouncy balls, and a pile of plastic cups. Check out this video that I made of the festivities. Fast forward to the end if you just want to see all the kids fly through the stacked cups in slow motion. Link in case you can’t see the video.

http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/3867893470_mQnVFX9?width=640&height=360&albumId=47399939&albumKey=FJMSvD

So what is Nate up to these days? Nate is participating in the knowledge bowl at school. Nate has spent a lot of time on this. In the fall his group met once per week after school. This year he has been meeting with his group twice per week and will be for the next several weeks. This is a considerable amount of effort for a 8–9 year old and we are incredibly proud of him.

Nate is learning to snowboard this year. We hit the sledding hill to get started. Lately, I’ve taken him up to the Bird. Once we just rode the magic carpet and last time we hit the bunny hill for a few runs. Nate is improving quickly. I think after the next time he’ll be turning both ways like a champ. Here’s to his continued success.

Nate at the Bird

Other things he’s got going on? He recently wrote an essay (for school) about what it means to be a good friend. One of the first things he suggested is that a good friend should be able to play a lot. In that spirit Nate is huge on his play time. Lego, scooter, minecraft, nova, science, and space. This kid loves to have fun. And we love him so much.

Nate & Madi Soccer

In May, Nate and Madi finished their soccer season. We decided not to sign up again this year but instead are exploring other extracurricular activities.

Rob enjoyed being Madeleine’s soccer coach and he is excited to be Cara’s in another year or two.

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Most of the season Nate looked like this. When I asked him why he didn’t go for the ball more, he said, “I just figured the other boys can handle it!”
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For the last game we really encouraged him to go for it and he did.
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