Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween Two Thousand Fourteen

Halloween isn’t my absolute favorite holiday.  I find costumes to be stressful, because they are cumbersome to put on, usually uncomfortable to keep on, and all those accessories wind up lost by the end of the night.  It’s a lot of rushing around at night, fast eating, sugar, and whining.  But that is not how my littles see it, and for that reason, I make the effort.  I baked with pumpkin at least three times in the month of October.  I volunteered at all of their school Halloween parties.  I put up Halloween decorations, and have promised them that I’d buy at least two new decorations each year… so by the time they graduate, I’ll have amassed a whole haunted house to pass down to them.  And we celebrated the heck out of this holiday… we went to four costumed events this year.  I try.  I really do.

For them, of course, it’s sheer amazingness.  They get to be something imaginary and awesome.  They begin planning it as soon as the Halloween costume catalogs start piling up on the kitchen counter.  For Bella and Ari, this involved glamour and makeup and hairspray and tulle and feathers and shimmeryness.  For Gabe and even Liam, it involved some pretend violence and fake weaponry.  For them it rocks, because they get to run around with their friends with a very scant amount of supervision, have twenty seven desserts in lieu of eating dinner, and beg for candy for like… hours. 

Of course by the time Halloween night rolls around, we’ve done this so many times that I feel like we’re old pros at it, and I could tie Gabe’s ninja mask on with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back.  Practice makes progress!

Bella was a peacock.  Liam was a knight in shining armor.  Gabe was a stealth ninja.  Ari was a pretty witch (she boycotted the hat).

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We had way more fun in their classrooms than the picture below portrays.  Bella won’t give me a natural smile unless I make a fool of myself or talk bathroom humor. 

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We went trick-or-treating in the cousins’ neighborhood this year, because we wanted to be with the buddies and attend their awesome driveway party.  I didn’t see Gabe almost the whole night, because he took off with Vance and the other big kids from the neighborhood.  I can’t believe he’s already at that age.  First independent trick-or-treat.  It’s strange… and a little sad… but so cool for him. 

The younger ones stayed with us, and we somehow covered a lot of ground.  Even Liam and Lucas were totally into it.  Ari had, by this time, perfected her Halloween vocabulary on her talker and could basically do the whole trick-or-treating thing without us if only we had a van that would transport her power chair.  She said “trick-or-treat” and “thank you” right on time at every house, and picked just one piece of candy from the bowl to put in her candy bucket each time.  She loved telling people she was a “witch” and wishing them “Happy Halloween!” when they asked her/said Happy Halloween to her.  She would even try to scare us by saying “Boo” on her talker, which was amusing, because the tone of voice on the talker did not deliver the emphasis that I think she intended.  That said, she did a great job, and I was so proud of her.  Clearly, extreme repetition and high motivation pay off when it comes to language acquisition for Ari.

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It was a super fun night, everyone including me had a blast, and now I’m so glad we have a whole year before we have to do it all again ;).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Everyday Miracles

Cool mornings and showering with the windows open.

Our yard after one growing season, nine months living here, eight trees, a large garden, and many baby vines planted.

A new mirror in my entryway // we’re getting there, little by little. 

Discovering a new spot to visit on the weekends // beautiful gardens, jarred raw honey, baby Paulownia Tomentosa trees, and crazy good mulch.

Part of my crew on our outing // one with his book in hand like always.

His highness // the youngest child.

Gabe wanted to dance with Ari in her Upsee // I love everything about this moment.

Celebrating Bella’s 6th birthday with a tiki island cake made with love by yours truly.

Slippery, wide eyed, long lashed, mischievous baby.

Relaxed conference Sunday // their favorite part is the commercials.

Butterfly hunting.

The butterfly huntress perched in her tree stand.

Post-lunch Old Maid.

Listening to Liam mumble out his sweet and nearly inaudible prayers with a triumphant Amen at the end.

Trying to have fun wherever we go… even to the doctor’s… downtown… to talk about hip/femur surgery.

Throwback to January when we planted our first tree at just under 5 feet tall… it now stands over 15 feet tall.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conductive Ed Fundraiser

For the past two summers, we have enrolled Ari in a program called Conductive Education.  You can read all about it here, but suffice it to say that it is Ari’s most beneficial therapy.  It is so intensive, yet so motivating for her that she makes up for a whole year of physical regression in just four weeks of summer program! 

We attended a casino night fundraiser at Boondocks in Scottsdale with the aim of raising enough money to allow Gaitway to open a year round Conductive Ed program here in Phoenix, like they have in Tucson.  A permanent facility locally would be life-changing for Ari and so many other kids in the valley with motor challenges.  We humbly ask that you please consider donating $400 (per married couple) or $200 (per individual) in tax credit before January 1, 2015 to Gaitway (Individual Achievements Association) for this program.  Your donation will be fully refunded to you, dollar for dollar, when you claim it on your 2014 taxes. 

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Tax credit was new to me this year, so I’ll explain it in layman’s for those who aren’t familiar.   When you donate before the end of this year, you will receive a receipt from Gaitway, allowing you to claim this on your 2014 taxes.  It is called a tax credit to a charitable organization.  Every Arizona taxpayer, regardless of income, or whether you are paying taxes or getting a refund only, is allowed a tax credit of up to $400 per married couple or $200 per single individual for this category.  If you owe AZ state taxes, the money you donated will be deducted from the amount that you owe in state taxes.  In other words, the state of AZ gives you the option to put your tax dollars towards Ari instead of Jan Brewer.  If you are eligible for a refund (lucky you!), the amount that you donated will simply be tacked on to your refund and sent back to you.  Dollar for dollar!  Not a percentage.  Every single dollar.  If you want to run this by your accountant, please call him or her today.  Gaitway is on the AZ approved charitable organizations list as Individual Achievements Association.  If you are familiar with tax credit already, please don’t hesitate.  Your donation will be helping Ari and many other kids like her so much.

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Making a donation couldn’t be easier.  You can go to their website and click on “Contribute Today” or go directly to their Paypal donation page.  We appreciate you taking the time to learn about tax credit and how your tax dollars can help who YOU want them to help!  You are amazing, and thank you so much for reading!!!

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