Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Day Wrap-Up

We're ending May with a scorcher. 108. Gross. Tomorrow? 112. Even worse. They originally predicted tomorrow to be 108, but as the week went on, the number just kept increasing. I find it funny that they call Sundays' 103 as "cooler". 

Yes, they do say that. 

It's about as funny as when we were in Santa Barbara two summer's ago and they called their 88 high as a "scorcher".  What a bunch of babies! (but I'd be okay being one of those babies if I could live there)

We did get a break last weekend. It nosedived into the low 80s. It was beautiful. We knew it wouldn't last, but it was nice present. 

Another School Year Bites the Dust
The kids ended another year of school last week. Mikelle has finished the 5th-6th grade middle school and now she's moving onto the Junior High. When did I get a kid in junior high? I thought I just had a baby girl!

 Christian finished 2nd Grade with his fourth award in Academic Excellence! Just don't ask me how the awards assembly went with AleXander going crazy trying to wreak havoc. I'm sure everyone there now knows exactly who I am and who AleXander is.  Another parent who has a daughter in Christian's class took a lot of pictures. I hope if there are any shots that Christian is in, they can give me a copy. 

I never updated here about Christian.  He had the formal evaluation last week (not the school one) and that doctor is more than convinced he's not autistic. She does understand why the school has given him that title, because the services he needs on a school level (sensory modifications, some behavioral/social interventions) are under the same umbrella as students on the autistic spectrum. 

She talked about his brain and that it is moving so fast with his "learning ability" and it's also moving so fast with his hyperactivity/ADHD issues that it's given him this kind of combination (a lot like the twice exceptional kids that Lara spoke of in the Facebook thread that I referenced in an earlier post). 

 I am not surprised by any of the findings, and we did receive a medication change. I'm hoping that helps. I also need to come out of my summertime shell (where I am a vampire just huddled up in the corner like a bat) and make sure there are plenty of organized social activities he can participate in. This isn't a an excuse - just a fact - it's so much harder in the summer, here in the bowels of hell, but it is possible.  

Christian seems to be doing well so far. He and Mikelle go to the community center for a few hours a day, and Christian just finished three mornings in a row of Primary softball. We may put him in indoor soccer, but we're not sure about that just yet. It's $100 for 8 weeks, which is a fair price. We just want to make sure it's worth it. Plus, I'd be doing 99% of the transporting him there "aka Mom's Taxi".  

Also, my good friend Corina plans to take Christian along when she takes her son (they're the same age) to Vacation Bible School. And as I mentioned before, Christian is doing very well in and enjoys Cub Scouts.

State of the "Art"
I begin teaching my second summer of art classes next Monday! Therefore, like last Summer, many of the entries will be detailing their projects. I am trying to get a lot of scrapbooking in before I have to stop and focus on the art classes. This isn't all the layouts I've done in the last few weeks, but it shows how crazy I've been trying to catch up.

Anyway,. since AleXander is napping, I better see what else I can cross off a list! Bye-Bye May. You're the last "humane" month before the true tortuous months begin. When October rolls around, it starts to feel better again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Muggle's Young Women's Circle Motif

This is my latest LDS Specific Circle Motif. It is the Young Women's Program Theme, Colors, Motto and Logo. For details, click here.

I didn't expect such a positive response so quickly to this particular motif, but I already have at least two people that want to buy a print of it!  I admit I've been feeling frustrated with the prospect of supplementing funds with selling art. There are many positive comments and interest, but anyone actually purchasing the artwork is few and far between.

I've also been told I should try to get my LDS-specific artwork into Deseret Book - a company that sells LDS products. I'll probably attempt to, but I already know the answer: Yeah, right!

And I do not come to that conclusion because I'm being negative or downtrodden. I'm not acting like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh: "No point in trying...they're not going to want me anyway..." (<---you have to read that sentence in an Eeyore voice)

I come to that conclusion because of the reality of the situation. 

See, I view something like Deseret Book as Hogwarts, and I'm a muggle. I do not have the powers or the ability to learn the powers that are needed to get into Hogwarts, I mean, Deseret Book.  You're either a wizard/witch or you're not.  I'm not. I'm a muggle. I hope I'm a cool muggle and nothing like Harry's aunt and uncle. 

But though I'm cool, I'm still I am just a muggle at the train station not even having the ability to board a train bound for Hogwarts. I mean, Deseret Book. I can access Platform 9 and Platform 10. Platform 9 3/4 does not exist for Muggles.

(By the way, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you're clearly not familiar with the Harry Potter series.)

Anyway, but I will attempt to send samples to Deseret Book. That way I can say I attempted it.  However, I'll have to find a beautiful white snowy owl to deliver my samples, though. Using the regular mail system screams of "muggle".

In the meantime, if you're interested in my work and/or would like to obtain any prints, please go to my Facebook page: Circle Motifs by Jill Henrichsen. I believe I can also be emailed through Blogger.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mom's Day 2012, Sax and Squawk!

Another Mother's Day has come and gone. Here we are in our perfect glory just before church, where they dawned the Moms with Carnations and chocolate covered strawberries. Okay, okay, maybe not "perfect", but as I've said many times, we look "accurate".

Well, AleXander does NOT like sitting still for anything, so he kind of loses it for pictures. Here's a few other attempts:

This one almost worked, except I have my "dork" expression in it:
Here are a few outtakes:
And it made sense that he had a little cat-nap after this:
I'm not going to complain about my kids, but if Chris was writing this, he'd tell you how frustrated he was with them this particular Mothers Day as far as their "attitudes" and lack of "cooperation". 

A lot of it can be explained in their ages: 11 and 8...need I say more? But I got a LONG nap after church, so I wasn't as frustrated as Chris was! Haha


Mikelle played the tenor sax in band this year. She had her final band concert earlier this week. She really enjoys it, and that makes the monthly rent on the thing all that more bearable (especially since it's a larger and a more expensive instrument). 

She tried to fight me in taking pictures of her with her sax, because she had on her pink silky pajamas and she declares that she "hates" pink. Therefore, she didn't want any pictures of her wearing such a deplorable color. I promised her that I would make the picture black and white before I posted it.  Off the record, I believe that Mikelle doesn't really hate pink. I think she "wants" to hate pink.  

Anyway, Mikelle is asking us to buy her a sax for next year instead of renting one. HA! She's such a funny girl.

Why she has her hand over the end of the sax (where the sound is supposed to come out), I do not know.

The Squawk means a completed a circle motif paying homage to the African Grey Parrot. It's about the breed in general, but I highlight three African Greys in particular:

Our Zoey
  • Zoey - (right) Our 15 year old African Grey. We've had her since she was 4 months - which means we've had her exactly 15 years this month!
  • Einstein - The famous African Grey who can speak on cue and wows audiences everywhere! One of the best videos that shows how awesome Einstein is, can be found here. Zoey can make noises like Einstein, but she won't perform them on cue the way Einstein does. It takes hours of daily training and sweat and work to train a parrot to perform like Einstein.
  • Alex - (below) It is very bittersweet to include Alex the Parrot.  He died suddenly in 2007 at the age of  31. He died young for an African Grey. They can live more than 50-60 years. He was an amazing parrot trained by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg. Not only did she study Alex for three decades, but she cared for him as well.
Alex and Dr. Pepperberg
Here are some articles about just fascinating Alex was:

Also accompanied with a video of him in action.

Alex's Wikipedia Entry


Moving from Alex the Parrot to our Alexander (who is like a parrot in the way he mimics things, and he can certainly be loud like a parrot), I mentioned above that he does not like sitting still for pictures. That was very evident in the succession of pictures in an arcade photo booth about two weeks ago (left). By the third picture, he was done. Chris and I quickly switched, and wow, that is the cutest "top" of the baby head I've ever seen!

Friday, May 11, 2012

What IS Normal, Anyway?

It's almost mid-May already. Weird how time goes by! Mikelle had a big project at school focusing on the country of Romania. My friend Lara and her husband both served their LDS missions there, so they were helpful resources and I encouraged Mikelle to use them as some form of resource and not just "Google".

Mikelle had the "World's Fair" day today at school and brought corn bread she made and spoke to different peer groups about her country she was assigned. We had a little trouble putting together a Romanian outfit for her, but I think we pulled it off with a scarf in her hair, a flowy skirt and a T-shirt we painted with the Romanian flag. I'll add the picture to this blog entry when I have one.  This morning was a little chaotic when she ran out the door with her instrument, and 100 mini-muffins of cornbread, and her backpack, and a bag with the scarf for her hair and her dad's black cape (to also bring in the "Dracula" element of Romania to her presentation, as that is where Transylvania is - in the Carpathian Mountains). Therefore, no pictures were snapped.  I also wish she would have let me curl her hair a little, but don't even get me started on that ongoing battle.

Anyway, I think it was last week when Mikelle borrowed Christian's flash/thumb drive to put one of her Romanian reports on so she could print her report. 

When you open Christian's thumb drive, immediately you see a Word file called "WELCOME to CHRISTIAN'S THUMB DRIVE". 

Well, you have to open that file! This is what we found:

The fact that a then 7-year old would put so much detail into something like the above just amazes me. 

It's also hilarious and has so much of his personality all the way through it. 

I also want to cry. 

Why? Well, through communication with the Speech Pathologist, District Psychologist, Christian's teacher, etc, we thought it would be a good idea for Christian to have another thorough evaluation. Academics are not the concern. It's his lack of socializing and other behavioral issues and some regression in a few areas that became the concern. Sure, the ADHD is rather concrete and his medication helps a lot with that. And we (Chris, myself, teachers, etc) do acknowledge the progress he has made in the last several years. 

I remember Christian being such a social bee as a pre-schooler. However, in the last couple years he has become more "inward" if that makes sense. And a quick conversation I had with the district psychologist today made it clear that the "a" word will be brought up in the meeting on Monday that Chris and I will have with the team. My trepidation is my worry for him and I want Christian to have a normal life. Sure, what is normal? What I mean by that is friends, socializing, and later a family of his own. Will he have all of that?

One piece of good news the psychologist mentioned, is she is recommending him for the gifted program. He was tested for it a couple of months ago and didn't qualify. I didn't worry about it too much, as I know he's exceptional, but not all tests reflect certain abilities. However, the psychologist said that there was a disconnect between the test (or tester, can't remember exactly how she phrased it) and that may have impacted his test results. She said in the time she has spent with him, she said he is "very intelligent" and is going to make that recommendation. 

As I already stated, I am grateful for that, but I also want him to have friends and experience those "typical" life events that come with socializing.

I aired some of my worry and concerns for Christian on Facebook. I knew it would be a good outlet as many of my FB friends have experience with their own children with various issues, disabilities, experiences, etc.

I appreciated some of the responses. 

  • From Julie in Texas: ((hugs))) My mommy heart goes out to you. I know that worry. Just remember you are hand picked by God to be his mommy. "Highly Intelligent" sounds very encouraging! Just remember Bill Gates name is often brought up with the "a" word. 

Julie also provided me with some great links with Temple Gradin, a woman with autism who has become quite a well-known scientist and speaker. Another link to her speaking: Click here.

  • From Lara: Start doing some research on "twice exceptional" kids. Also called "2e." These are kids who are both gifted and learning disabled at the same time, and there is lots of info out there for you. We all know Christian is a genius who is going to discover time travel or something, so don't worry too much. Good luck!
  • From Danielle (who babysat him from when he was 2 until she moved out of state when he was 6): "normal" what the hell is "normal" any more??? yes he will have a normal life.. and if he doesn't have normal to your standards you will still love him!!!.....You have a son that is very gifted I knew that at 2 yrs of age!! stop stressing and enjoy!!
  • From Heidi: if you need to talk, I'm here. Some days will be harder than others but as has been previously discussed, what the heck is normal. And being different can be fabulous!
  • From Jody in Louisiana:  (((Hugs))) Jill. My Charlie has been diagnosed as being developmentally delayed with autistic features. I have the same worries about him. Prayers going up for your Christian, you, and the meeting!

That isn't the whole thread, but those are some key comments. It helps to know we're not alone and it's normal to be concerned. I also know Christian is one exceptional kid and I think back to what I went through in my pregnancy with him. Maybe that's why I had such a hard time - I was carrying some energy-ball genius and it was some kind of overload! 
Christian at 18 Months - September 2005
Anyway, I started this entry mentioning Mikelle, and I need to bring it back to her for a bit. 

She got a new pair of glasses. She really likes them, though it's hard to tell with these pictures. Let's just say it's rather difficult to get an 11 year old girl to cooperate with you for a nice smile when you just want to take one of her wearing her new glasses:

The last picture may look like a smile, and it is. I just wish I could have gotten one nice smile and not the "eyes bugged pyscho" shot. A normal smile is what I asked for.

 However, as mentioned above, what is normal? 

I'll take what I can get...and then post it on my blog for all to see.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Latest Motif - Washington DC Temple 1.0

Why 1.0? Well, it was late in the game with this one that I was made aware of the 8 door medallions on the outside of this temple, so it seemed only appropriate to incorporate it. 

However, most of the composition was completed, so it was tricky sneaking them in.

Now, after the fact, I have a better idea of how I would make a motif of the Washington DC temple with the 8 door medallions represented. However, I have to move on to other projects before I return to Washington DC temple "2.0".

Therefore, this is the Washington DC temple motif for now. 

This blog entry from blogger Scott has more information on the door medallions along with photographs.  As he states in his entry, the left side of the door, the medallions represent a star, planet, and concentric circles representing eternity.  On the right side of the doors, the medallions represent the big dipper, north star, the earth, the moon and seven pentagons representing seven dispensations.  

This design is available if you would like to purchase a print. Please let me know if you are interested, and please visit my  Circle Motifs Facebook Page

AleXander getting into the game during the composition of Washington DC Temple Motif 1.0; April 2012