Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ensign Autism Article

If you watched General Conference this last October, there were at least two different times a talk touched on autism. I'm grateful for this. Just as I'm grateful for this article in the January Ensign:

  Embracing Ethan

I'm so grateful for the inspired leaders of the church who address current issues. Because when we first got Race's diagnosis, I felt very alone. Alone in many aspects, though there were open arms everywhere; in the community, at school, and at church. Yet, I still felt very much alone because the burden and responsibilities for John and I were so great. And we were just two simple people with nothing extraordinary about us.

As a parent, what is the thing you want most for your kids? Success and happiness. At least for me, it is to raise responsible, capable adults who will contribute to society in a positive way, and be happy. This in itself is enough to keep parents constantly on their toes, guiding their children along. Parenting is hard. It is stressful. I hate watching them make bad choices as they find their way, despite all the Love and Logic books I read. So to add a disability on top of that, and not just any disability, but autism.The invisible disability (invisible because you can't see it). The disability that doesn't look limiting in the least, but instead plain old looks like a big behavior problem with no clue how to act in public.


I am so grateful for how much more awareness there is now, even compared to two years ago. I am grateful for Primary teachers and Scout leaders and Tae Kwon Do instructors and therapists who adapt their teachings to help Race learn and grow. I'm grateful for the friends Race has who have his back, even in a melt down. I'm so grateful for a red-headed little cowboy who is naturally sensitive to his brother's way of thinking, even when they're fighting. And of course for John. Because most of the time, he is more patient with our trials than I am. And he keeps me looking at the bigger picture, with a more eternal perspective when I start getting too narrow-minded.

And I am so grateful for Race. Because he teaches all of us, every single day.

I am so grateful.

I know Heavenly Father has a plan. And He loves all His children, and He will help us when we ask.  And I am grateful for the guidance and comfort He gives me when the loneliness settles in, time and time again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Christmas Card

spirit of
the beauty of
and the blessings of
be your gifts this
Christmas Season.

The Armstrong Family

HIS Twilight Cup

For the Hubby's birthday, I took him to see The Hobbit with Adriane and Justin.

We loved it of course.

So when we got there, I went to save seats and left John to grab the snacks. And this is what the kid a the snack bar gave John his drink in:

And I have to laugh. And I'm still laughing, because if you know my husband, you know he's not the biggest Twilight Fan. And it all stems back from when I tried to explain the first fabulous book to him years ago:

"This girl Bella, she's in love with this guy. But he's a vampire, so he can't get to close to her, even though he's madly in love with her too. But he can't get too close to her because he wants to suck her blood... but really, its soooo good."

So, yes, he's not a Twilight Fan. And in fact, he enjoys mocking the movies. Well, I guess we both do, but for me its just because the movies aren't nearly as good as the books, right?

So the kid at the snack counter hands John this cup.

"Dude. Really?"

"I'm sorry sir, what's that?" the Harkins Kid asks.

"Nothing, its just... nothing." John says, picking up the snacks to leave.

"Oh, is it the cup? Yeah, sorry about that, man. You don't really look like a fan, it's just my manager's making us hand the rest of these out."

"Oh, well, at least I don't look like a fan."

"Well, now you do I guess, since you're holding that cup."

No response. Just a super-sarcastic smile to the Harkins Kid.

Because for the record, he is NOT a fan. Even though he got this very cool birthday cup. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Tale of Teeth...

It had been aching for a couple weeks. But you know how it goes with getting in to see a dentist when you really need to. And, the tooth had already been worked on twice before. First a filling, then a cap, and now? Again? The same tooth?

So, we said lots of prayers for the poor Cowboy. Because he was really trying to endure this constant aching. But it was starting to wear on his little emotions.

And then, one Saturday afternoon, our prayers were answered...

All three of the boys were outside playing on the grass. Then I hear the crying start, and Witten comes running in with a bloody mouth. And wouldn't you know, his bottom two teeth that had been loose for months are dangling by threads. Both of them.

"Yay! They're finally coming out! Both on the same day! I better call the Tooth Fairy and give her a heads up!" I say, trying to calm him down as we head to the bathroom.

"No. They're not coming out. They're not ready." Witt says through the blood and tears.

"Witt, they're barely hanging there. Look."

His sad little eyes move to the mirror where he examines his mouth from many angles.

Then the sad little expression changes to a determined one. And I think he's decided to pull out those little dangling teeth. But then he says, "They're not ready. They're not coming out."

And this is where Witt and I hit heads every time we don't see things the same way. Because I have never met a more stubborn kid in all my life. And if you ask my mom, she'd say the same thing about me. (Which, off topic, I will argue that stubbornness is not a bad quality. I like to look at it as one of my strengths. And for Witten too, when we both turn it in the right direction...)


Both of us.

I hunch over a little so we're looking at each other's stubborn expressions in the mirror. "What do you mean they're not ready. Look at them."

"They're not ready."

He spent the afternoon going about his business, and I went about mine. He even went over to a friends house for a few hours with dangling teeth. And he came home with dangling teeth. He was determined those teeth were not coming out.

When dinner rolled around, he asked for soup. So I sit him down with a steamy bowl of chicken noodle soup and see those two dangling teeth just hanging there. Both of them.

After a few moments I look back at him from across the table, and...there is only one dangling tooth. And he didn't have a clue. He just sat there eating his soup. I glance in his bowl, around the table before I finally say, "You want to know something, Cowboy?

"What?" he asks, taking another sip of soup.

"How's that back tooth feeling today?"

"Doesn't hurt."

"That's great! Probably because these other teeth hurt a little more right now, hu?"


"I bet you don't feel a thing when you decide to pull them."

"They're not ready."

"Hmm. You sure about that?"

"Yeah," he says with that stubborn look.

"Why don't you go look in the mirror again," I say with a smile.

He closes his mouth and I can see him working his tongue down around the front of his mouth, then his eyes get all big and he starts looking in his soup, then in his lap and on the floor. He gets up off the floor, eyes wide, and says, "I think I swallowed one of them."

"I think you did too."

He runs to the bathroom to look in the mirror.

One little dangling tooth.

And his eyes start to water, but he doesn't want to cry. "Does the tooth fairy still come if you swallowed your tooth?"


"Okay." His eyes stop watering and he stands a little straighter in the mirror. "Good. Because this one," he looks at me and that stubborn look returns. "This one isn't ready!"


Needless to say, in a few hours the tooth was literally picked up out of its little place in his mouth. Not even pulled. Picked up.

And for the whole weekend, Witten's back tooth didn't hurt (And he ended up getting it one pulled on Tuesday).

And he thinks the Tooth Fairy is pretty awesome. Because did you know that she comes even if the tooth is pulled pulled by a little boy, or a dentist, or even if the tooth is swallowed?

She still comes! And she's got some awesome Jedi Force!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dead Horse

Bet you thought you were going to see a big picture of a big dead horse didn't you!!

Well, FYI, there's a state park in the Verde called Dead Horse Ranch State Park. And our dear friend Jo has a year round pass there. It is a BEAUTIFUL place. And for those of you who think the Verde Valley is not so pretty, take a hike in Dead Horse some time. It is amazing. An oasis within our little desert.

The day after Thanksgiving, 2012 with Jo.

The boys loved this tree. They called it their "lost boys hide-a-way." The roots were unbelievable.

Witt is always right at home when we're hiking. We hiked about three miles altogether, and he wanted to keep going. He even talked us into going down some perilous paths where we found the five of us crawling on all fours through some thick brush...even Jo. After that, I fired him from being the trail boss. Not that that mattered. He still led the way with great enthusiasm.

Jo, I'm so glad you made it out without injuries.

Lane liked the playground best. It was the only part of the day I didn't hear, "I'm tired, Mommy. I need another drink, Mommy. Carry me, Mommy. There's dirt under my fingernails, Mommy. There's mud on my spiderman shoes, Mommy."...etc.

Race was putting his scouting knowledge to good use on the hike:
"When you're hiking, it's important to always stay on the trail. It's also important to never hike alone, and always stay with the group. You should wear plenty of sunscreen, even in November."...etc. He was getting pretty frustrated with his red-headed brother who was breaking most of his hiking rules.

We can't wait for our next outing, Jo. Thank you so much!

The Wildlife World Zoo

We went on a little field trip down to the Wildlife World Zoo. If you ask me, I like this one much more than the Phoenix Zoo. Not so crowded and awesome aquariums. :)

They all loved the aquariums. But Lane was the only one brave enough to touch the sting-rays.

Of course, Race loved the birds.

Lane loved the reptiles. He was bummed there were no dinosaurs.

And Witt loved all the mechanical stuff. The trains, ski lift thingy, and the cool wooden boardwalks. He's such an engineer.

 It was a super awesome, educational day.

Board Breaking

Race went to his first Black Belt Club Board Breaking and LOVED it! He did so well and surprised everyone by breaking the thickest board in his stack with a side-kick! He's such a great little ninja. :) He can't wait to do it again.

Race and Mrs. Conover.

I've said it a million times and I'll say it again. We are so grateful for KC's Family Tae Kwon Do and the amazing things they are helping Race with. It hardly seems possible that we have such a fantastic studio with amazing teachers right here in Camp Verde. These people have become a huge support to our family.

If you live in the Verde Valley, stop by and check out the great program they run.


Race loves Cub Scouts. And now that he's earned his Wolf, he's been obsessed with earning as many beltloops as he can before he turns nine and gets to start his Bear. :)

Race and his buddy Easton.

This little scout has big plans, and sometimes his plans completely exhaust Mom, but I'm just glad he's loving it.

I'm grateful for the scouting program. I'm grateful for the values it teaches young boys. And I think in today's world, those values are diminishing. So, I'm grateful for my little scout who holds open the door for ladies, and takes his hat off durning the Pledge and National Anthem.

I am so grateful.

HP Party, Year Three

We held our third annual Harry Potter Party this year. We kept it small, but it was still so much fun! And we did it in November instead of October, which turned out awesome because it was less stress, plus Halloween stuff was on clearance.

Classes were held and we are pleased to say that every student passed their third year and will be moving on to year four next November. Classes held this year were: Wand Making at Olivander's, Herbology, Beginners Potions, Advanced Potions, and Broomstick Flying.

Thanks to our little friends who came, and thanks to Andrea for all the preparations involved. All I did was supply Hogwarts.

Until next year!!!