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. 


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.


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!!!

You Made A Payment - PayPal - Google Chrome 10232014 121304 AM.bmp

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Everyday Miracles

Breakfast made for me by my baby.

Coming home to a clean house.

Eyes of wonder at Bella’s most recent capture.

Relaxing with my big girl… but she’ll always be my baby.

Gabe got recognized by his principal at school for reading over a million words in the first quarter!

Pretty little thing on my windowsill.

Random bathroom rainbows.

Our entertainment.

Non-GMO, organic, beautifully packaged future vegetables.

Beginning our fall garden… gluttons for punishment (and organic veggies) that we are.

First beautiful day of fall for us Arizonans.

A picnic complete with apricot popsicles in our front yard.

A Bellabration complete with Island Cupcakes and…

…mini ponies in bikinis and grass skirts.

The best gift ever from Grammy & Papa… her performance hoop.

The wheels that have brought with them so much joy.

PicMonkey Collage10-02-14

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bella’s Luau

This wonderful girl just turned six years of age.  Six suits her.  It’s innocent yet surprisingly wise.  It’s curious yet responsible.  She still looks at me with the same adoration that she did when she was a baby, yet there’s something about her spirit that seems like its already grown, and I can see more of a young woman in her every day.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

I threw a birthday luau for my hula girl.  Have you seen this girl hula hoop?  She can do things with a hula hoop that I can’t even do without a hula hoop. I had every intention of letting them hula hoop at the party and I even bought color coordinating hula hoops for just this reason – since it was the inspiration for the party and all – but I got so distracted by all the other fun that was going on and the ominous clouds that were threatening to monsoon us right out of there that I totally forgot all about hula hoops.  The luau was a hit even without them, and Bella reassured me that she didn’t miss it at all, so all is well that ends well.

 DSC_0018 DSC_0019

My sisters and I worked hard to make the table look as cute as possible, considering the hurricane-like winds blowing around that day.


I was pretty proud of our homemade tiki island cake.  By no means professional, but made from scratch and by the loving hands of her mom, dad, and aunt Marci.


I love throwing birthday parties for my kids.  I love making their simple wishes come to life.  They don’t ask for anything extravagant, and I don’t ever feel too overwhelmed or that I spend too much.  Everything from the food to the decorations is handmade in the nights leading up the their day.  I get to spend time with my sisters, Jake, my friends, and anyone else who wants to help me put my vision together.  And maybe it never comes together quite like I had it in my head, but it comes close enough, and I think my kids love it just the way it happens. 


On the menu:  Tropical Fruit, Ocean Water, Hawaiian Punch, Hawaiian Pizza, Luau Meatballs, and Tiki Island Cake and Cupcakes.

DSC_0055DSC_0053DSC_0050 DSC_0068DSC_0066DSC_0056DSC_0059DSC_0062 DSC_0061DSC_0070DSC_0065

The girls all eagerly awaited the arrival of two gorgeous mini ponies, Lilly and Lola, dressed in high heels, bikinis, and grass skirts, thanks to Storybook Ponies!


They got to brush and cuddle and do the ponies’ hair till their heart’s content.

DSC_0033DSC_0036 DSC_0037DSC_0039DSC_0045DSC_0040DSC_0046DSC_0079 DSC_0081DSC_0085DSC_0084 BackgroundDSC_0090

The girls also played on the slip ‘n slide and the trampoline.  We had intended to swim, but we had lightning and ultimately a downpour.  Initially, the kids danced in the pouring rain and wanted us to turn up the music… but then the rain turned into the flood scene from the movie Noah so we booked it into the house to open gifts under roof.


Although it didn’t go entirely as planned, it turned out to be a great day for Bella and everyone who Bellabrated with us.  With all the wind and water and cake and high heeled ponies, I’m sure it won’t be a day that we will soon forget.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Everyday Miracles

Just our little everyday miracles…

The gift of friends and company and people who make themselves at home in your home – and especially when they hula hoop in your kitchen.

Liam’s bedtime routine, which now has Jake and I a little competitive over who gets to read Liam his story and sing him his lullaby, “Baby Mine” each night.

The little bits of time we get to spend with aunts and uncles and cousins and the feeling of a house full of love and laughter.

Ari’s joy in riding the bus with her friends on her school field trip.  Watching her look not just at me, but around me, at her friends and giggle with them about things that didn’t include me.

Having this special one-on-one time with my girl and watching Charlotte’s Web with her sitting on my lap, hearing her belly laugh at every joke on cue, while she reached forward and hung on to the seat in front of her to get an even better view.

Jake tenderly mending the strap of our daughters’ favorite summer shirt.

Watching his budding independence as he makes breakfast for me in the play kitchen and even does the dishes.

Another one of life’s seeming limits overcome by triumph and joy.  Ari fearlessly rode the Flow Rider for the first and second time, just loving it.

Enjoying party prep for Bella’s birthday.  I have a love/hate relationship with party prep… it’s about 95% love and maybe 5% hate.  Not normal, I know.

Good leftovers.  ‘Nuff said.

Flowers from a friend that last the week.

Watching Liam swim is seriously the cutest.  Chubby bod and legs flailing about, eyes bulging, and then a proud smile and an enthusiastic high five for the instructor every time.

Chocolate chip cookies.  Mysteriously and rapidly vanishing chocolate chip cookies.  That must be a good sign.

Play fort building, which I am convinced is one of my best childhood memories.  I was a child fort junkie.  I’m glad they have it in them too.

Clinging onto the last bit of his babyhood.  Hoping it’s not already gone and that I’m just in denial.

When the pink eye turns out to have been allergies, and you get to spend your sick day playing.

PicMonkey Collage10-01-14

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Saturday

Some Saturdays are all-around amazing.  Some Saturdays are less than good.  But most Saturdays are somewhere in between with a mix of good and bad, special and simple.  Those are the ones that don’t get highlighted very often.  This was one of those Saturdays.

Ari began a new year with Inferno, her special needs cheer team at Arizona Heat.  She was so excited to get to be in the middle of the action again.  Many a Wednesday afternoon had passed where she sat behind the spectator window, watching her sister’s lessons with Tommy.  And although she has the lowest physical ability level of all the girls on the team this year, she will no doubt make up for that in her energy and radiance at the competitions just like she did last year.


Bella trained with her amazing coach, Tommy, while Ari was with her team’s practice.  This one works hard, but she loves to be silly too.

DSC_0030DSC_0035DSC_0038 DSC_0046DSC_0055

She is like, so strong.

DSC_0063  DSC_0070DSC_0072 DSC_0078

Liam and Ari, who are normally rivals, called a ceasefire and played nicely together for a little while.  Ari and Liam - who is still very difficult to understand when he speaks – babbled away together incoherently and seemed to understand each other perfectly well.

DSC_0080DSC_0086 Background

Jake reattached Ari’s and now Bella’s shirt strap with needle and thread.  I am hopeless when it comes to sewing, and prefer to use liquid stitch, safety pins, staples, or a mix of all of the above.  I was impressed by his skill and touched at the sweet gesture. 

Honeycrisp apple season has begun.  These apples are the best and rival Bella’s face in their size. 

DSC_0087 DSC_0014

We put the kids down for a nap so they could rest up for some birthday parties that afternoon.  Bella had one for one of her besties, Claire, and the family had one for my nephew, Vance.  Later on, we would all plan to celebrate Jake’s brother, Ryan’s as well.

But Ari had a seizure.  It was her second in the month of September, and maybe her sixth or seventh since January.  Bella found her and alerted us again.  Bella says that Ari always lets out a cry just before her seizure.  Hopefully, she continues to do that.  We stopped the seizure with her rescue Klonopin.  Ari slept and slept after that.  We thought that would be the end of her day.


We sent Bella to her friend’s party, and I let Jake take Gabe and Liam to Vance’s party.  I stayed home with Ari.  When she awoke, she was irritable and upset to be left behind.   When I asked her if she wanted to go see everyone at Vance’s party, she told me she did, so I packed up my emotional, drowsy girl and headed that way.  She was so happy to see everyone, but she was especially enchanted with her Uncle Ryan.  She has post-seizure eyes here, but she can’t help smiling at her silly uncle.

DSC_0099 Background

Someone was happy to see me too.

DSC_0101 DSC_0102

Vance’s birthday party was at Flow Rider, which is this amazing surfing / boogey boarding simulator.  It is pretty intense, making it really fun for kids and parents too.  The boys had a blast, riding it over and over.


Liam even got on with his board tethered to the lifeguard.


Of course, Ari couldn’t let her brothers have all the fun.  She demanded a turn on it.  I tried to resist because of her seizure but a few hours earlier, but she was insistent.  So she borrowed her younger cousin’s bathing suit, and we plopped her on.  It worked out okay.  Alright it was awesome.  It was truly amazing.


She had the best time, and even broke the rules by letting go of the board to splash herself in the face.


I think everyone would like to go back there.

DSC_0153 Background

Even me.


That night, we celebrated Uncle Ryan’s birthday with dessert at our house.  Ice cream of course.  I don’t know of anyone that loves ice cream as much as the Taylors and the Shobes.  Ari took a bath and seemed more or less back to herself.  I picked up Bella from her friend’s house.  She had had an amazing time at Claire’s tea party/Build-a-Bear party.  The kids ran around on a sugar high and the parents chatted from reclined positions, trying to fight off the fatigue of a full day.  It was a good fatigue.  We were happy to be together and reunited for a even a short while and to have our house full of family again.