Monday, December 31, 2012


I never finished this newsletter in 2012 ... got to about August and then S.T.U.F.F. got in the way. So here's the year 2012 "Reader's Digest" version!

Winter: We really didn't experience much of a Winter in Pennsylvania for 2011-2012. I think we had a total of 3 light snowfalls. No complaints from us! We saved a LOT on heating costs.

Unfortunately I battled chronic bronchitis, allergies and dermatitis for much of the winter from late October 2011 through April 2012. The mild winter was a detriment in that it didn't get cold enough to kill off the molds & other triggers. Finally after 2 weeks of heavy-hitting meds in April I got it all cleared up and followed that with one of the healthiest Spring/Summer seasons I can remember. Nice for a change, as my allergies are usually May-July.

Tyya swam her way through the winter to end her first season with East Pennsboro Aquatic Club (EPAC), collecting a myriad of ribbons and medals at a variety of local swim meets. She was the fastest 6 year old in our division (about 6 swim clubs) though most of the time she was swimming against 7-8 year olds, so she did not always place. Backstroke was her best stroke, with freestyle close behind, and even butterfly was coming along nicely. Seems breaststroke is the most difficult for beginner swimmers as there is specific form & rules to it. I was thrilled for her to do so well. I am astonished that she was able to swim 30+ laps of a 25yd pool 3-days a week for practice! 

Kaeden enjoyed another winter playing Upwards basketball at our church. He was a lot more involved in the game this year, with more solid ball handling skills. He didn't really get the whole defense & offense part of the game, so we just told him which goal he was to try and shoot for! Unfortunately, Tyya & I missed the one game where he scored, due to a swim meet :( I was just happy to see him enjoy the game as much as he did. He is definitely left-hand dominant in sports, though right-handed to write!

Spring: Thanks to the mild winter, spring came early. We planted the veggie and herb gardens nearly 5 weeks earlier than usual, in mid-April. We did have to cover the garden a couple times due to frosts, but we didn't lose anything. We planted peas, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, around 7 varieties of tomatoes, green & yellow zucchini, green beans & corn. There is also perennial rhubarb, strawberries & blueberries. Y.U.M.! Matt's strawberries had overgrown their boundaries from last year, but we let them ramble and they rewarded us with over 22lb of fruit!! The taste of home grown produce is undeniably superior to anything we can get at the supermarket. 

In May, after much deliberation, Tyya decided to cut & donate 12" of her beautiful hair to Locks of Love, who make wigs for [& give them to] kids with cancer. "Now another little girl can look as beautiful as me!" Tyya said. I was so proud of her. :D big grin I sent my 5th donation (cut last year) with hers. Not sure if I'll do it again. I am liking shorter hair!

On May 11, Matt and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with [our first] trip to Disney World in Florida! :D big grin We took the kids with us and we attempted to experience all four parks (Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot & Animal Kingdom) in 4 days! *#:-S whew!We got to experienced all the rides and attractions we were most interested in; we traded lapel pins; we met many of the Disney characters and got autographs & photos with them; we rode the monorail! We must have walked 5+ miles each day (not bad for a 6 & 7 year old!) And after 4 long days of unbelievable F.U.N. we were completely exhausted! (:| yawn But we'd do it again ;) winking ... next time with a day off in the middle to relax in our hotel pool!

Our former exchange student (and honorary daughter) Yay graduated from EF International Academy (an international boarding prep school in NY) with an International Baccalaureate with high honors. PHEW!! She's headed for the Ivy Leagues - Columbia University in NY City. I was privileged to be able to attend Yay's graduation ceremony and share this special moment with her. I am so very proud of all she has achieved.

Our precious, thoughtful, compassionate, caring Princesita Tyya celebrated her 7th Birthday on June 3! &lt:-P party Did I tell you that I recently discovered her name (from Tia) means "Princess" in Greek!! She is growing into the most beautiful young lady, both inside and out. She loves to sing and dance spontaneously, draw & create things, and is a big help to me in the garden! She can be fiercely competitive at times too, which is OK so long as she doesn't have a fit when she does not 'win'! I am trying to teach her that doing her best and finishing is winning, whether she comes first, second or last! More than anything I want her to enjoy anything she tries, not just be in-it-to-win-it.

The school year ended the first week of June. Tyya had a great year in first grade. She seemed to really like math, music and art, and was a great all-round, self-motivated student. She and Kaeden were both awarded certificates for consistently demonstrating Compassion, one of six character qualities cultivated by the school. Their teachers were surprised & amused that they had independantly chosen them for the same award! 

Kaeden had a challenging year in first grade. He had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that provided some speech & occupational therapies and other accommodations for his learning challenges, and he also qualified for reading and math tutoring. Math was a particular struggle. Right from the start of the year he consistently brought home an hour of homework at least 4 days a week, which required [my] hands-on supervision - admittedly it was excruciating for both of us! In spring, after considerable research, I discovered Kaeden is right-brained, mixed dominant (ambidextrous), and left eye dominant. Public education is pretty much geared toward left-brained learners. Toward the end of the school year, after a noticeable downturn in his academic performance (compounded by some peer bullying), we got an official diagnosis of ADD Inattentive (loses focus easily) & ADD Ring of Fire (a mood disorder.) In addition to the DAMP Syndrome (Deficits in Attention, Motor & Perception) that Kaeden was diagnosed with last summer, we have our work cut out for us! None of his doctors recommended any medications, but rather cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) & dietary considerations & supplements. In addition to daily reading and occasional math practice through the summer, we started "Jedi Training" (my nickname for the home-based CBT) which helped his ability to stay focused.

Summer: in a nutshell? HOT & HUMID!! Summer here officially begins on Summer Solstice (June 20), but summer weather started well before that! We had to postpone some camping weekends because it was just too hot and our pop-up camper doesn't have A/C, nor our minivan, as it broke in the Spring :::^^::: hot As a result much of our Summer was spent at home/indoors (in A/C). I boycotted using my stove/oven due to the heat it produces and most of my summer cooking was done on the BBQ grill!

Our precious, sensitive, animated, creative, imaginative Kaeden (aka. K-Man) celebrated his 8th Birthday on July 2! &lt:-P party Did I tell you I recently discovered that Kaeden's name means "Companion" & "Friend"? For the most part, Kaeden is happy-go-lucky. His personality is warm and humorous. I have been told he has an extensive vocabulary for his age, and can articulate his feelings very well, but sometimes the message gets mixed up in the delivery and he doesn't make a whole lot of sense to anyone but myself and Matt, who usually can figure out the origin of most of his off-beat dialogue. Unfortunately he is easily misinterpreted by others (as offensive or defensive), but he has found some good friends who have accepted him & his quirks.

Later in July we were treated to a visit from my eldest brother Jeff and his family. Kaeden & Tyya were very excited to meet three of their Australian cousins. We took them to two of our favorite places - Hershey's Chocolate World & Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Good fun had by all. It was so great to see my family :) It was 9 years since I'd last seen them! Hope it's not so long before we get to see them again.

In August Kaeden, Tyya & I went to their first week-long Summer Camp. Given it was their first week away from home, I decided to be a counselor to ease them into it. We all had a terrific time singing, crafting, swimming, creek stomping, playing four-square & ga-ga ball, & hiking. I spent most nights consoling other homesick 1st & 2nd graders but we all made it through the week. 

I tried my hand at canning for the first time ... half-a-bushel/~30 lbs of peaches. Nothing tastes so good as jammed & canned summer goodness :)

.... still under construction ....