(This is what you get when you turn on the flash on your phone camera and shoot blindly in a dark room - hilarity! lol)
I realized tonight that I don't think I ever got back around to talk about the results of C's evaluation by the Behavioral specialists. The good news is they were able to rule out the possibility of her being on the Autism spectrum. The bad news is that they diagnosed her with FIVE other disorders instead.

Her (behavioral) diagnoses are as follows:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Disruptive Behavior Disorder
- Borderline Intellectual Functioning
- Phonological Disorder

These fall on top of all her physical diagnoses as well.

We have started her back up on a regular dose of ADHD meds and they have really helped her a lot at school, according to her teachers. They seemed really pleased with the difference when we spoke at her parent-teacher conference a couple of weeks ago. The problem is, the meds have completely killed her appetite. The girl is simply never hungry - that is, until the meds wear off (late at night). She's losing weight at an alarming rate and I'm doing my best to sneak extra calories in wherever I can. It's frustrating because while every other parent in the world is doing their darndest to push the fruits and veges, that's all she wants to eat. Except I'm over here pushing the pudding and ice cream! I'm getting really close to calling the BH doc again and seeing about the possibility of putting her on something else that could help her get her appetite back. I can't even imagine trying to take her completely off her ADHD meds again after seeing how much they're helping her concentrate in school.

Too bad there's no pill for the disruptive behavior... while the ADHD meds do curve the behavior issues sometimes, just about every day we are dealing with several complete meltdowns about something as simple as a pair of socks or having to take a shower. She seriously turns into a 2 year old, tantruming and screaming at the top of her lungs. Only, unlike a 2 year old, she's big. And strong. And can be physically abusive without even knowing what she's doing. We are working on it though - finding out what works and doesn't. Most of the time, we just have to ride it out, because somewhere along the way, some unknown magical thing will flip that switch inside her just as fast as it did to start the "moments" (as we call them) and suddenly she'll be right as rain. Next step: find an awesome pediatric cognitive therapist in our area that takes our insurance....

Valentine's Day isn't a big deal for our family, but there are a few traditions we tend to stick to. This year was a little different because K is now too old for the ole Valentine classroom exchange (gasp!) So, she helped C and me work on a box for C and it turned out pretty cute. For the actual Valentine cards this year, I thought it would be a little silly to go and buy a pack when I work every day in a print shop and I'm fully capable of making some for her.

She and I went through a bunch of "free printables" online for ideas and she finally settled on these:

Easy enough! I sized them, printed them on cover stock and punched a hole in the corner. Then I took a trip to Walmart in search of some sort of sweet to give out with the cards (because, let's face it, it's ALL about the candy!) Since the majority of the card designs were about birds, I went looking for some egg-shaped candy to go with them. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything egg-ish (a shocker considering how early these stores usually start displaying Easter stuff), so I opted for gummy worms. Birds eat worms, so that works, huh?

After grabbing a few bags of sugary gummy worms, I needed little bags or something to separate them out in. I found a few different sizes, including ones that are meant for cake pops and even included ribbons in the cake/wedding decor aisle at Walmart. The size was perfect, and two packages were exactly the amount I needed.

They turned out pretty cute if I say so myself!

I know I'm not alone when I confess to spending entirely too much time on my iphone. Sometimes I think it's become such a part of my everyday life that I couldn't exactly function without it! When I had jury duty a few weeks back, we had to hand over our phones and sit for hours on end in an empty jury room without them. I'm telling you- it was torture! We have totally forgotten how to just sit idol and wait without a phone or some kind of device to keep us company. I felt so disconnected from the world! Between calls, texts and constant email access, we are ever-accessible and connected to anyone who might want or need us. Brilliant!

So, this isn't going to be your typical "I'm going to spend less time with my nose in my phone and more time out in the 'real world'" posts (although it should be). I simply can't see myself sticking to that one. Instead, I've decided to direct this post at my fellow phone-aholics and discuss some of my favorite Free Apps (in no particular order)...

1) Facebook. Yep, I'm one of those. I check it first thing in the morning, before I close my eyes at night and a few times throughout the day in between. I admit, it's an addiction, and some days it's a true problem. However, I love the connection it gives me to old friends I probably never would have heard from again and family I hardly ever get to see. It's a great place to keep up with current events (I hardly ever watch or read the news anymore) and share things about me and my family that I wouldn't usually be able to share with so many. Not to mention what Facebook has done for my business. Without social networking & word of mouth, my business would never have came to be!

2) Instagram. After FB, I do tend to spend the most phone time on Instagram. But can you blame me considering the photo-freak that I am? Quickie filters and other new customizations allow you to take a mundane pic and fancy it up before sharing it with your friends. I used this app to keep track of my entire Project 365 last year instead of posting them to a blog and praying people actually went to look at it. It offered better exposure, and heck, it's just fun!

3) Pinterest. This is another addiction of mine. Pretty much anyone I know who uses it regularly is totally and hopelessly hooked. There's just something about filling boards with awesome ideas, yummy recipes and all the things, clothes, home decor, and gadgets you could ever want. I know people who have their entire weddings planned with ideas on Pinterest and they haven't even met their forever mate yet! It's become such a big thing for a lot of ladies that it's actually something I ask potential bride clients of mine. Do you have Pinterest? Do you mind if I follow you to get an idea of your style? Speaking of my biz, it's also my go-to place to grab pose and prop ideas prior to just about every session I'm headed to.

4) YouTube. I love YouTube. It's not just the funny animal videos or catchy music videos that get me either. I LOVE vlogs (Video-blogs). I would totally have one of my own if I could stand to edit my own face on a computer monitor all the time. Oh, and if I had half-way interesting things to talk about. I'm much more comfortable typing out these ramblings... Anywho... There are a handful of vlogs that I (and K) have been following for a while now. They are so entertaining! Like little windows into these people's lives. I love watching how other people live. Call me nosey.

5) Goodreads. If you love to read, you'll love Goodreads. It keeps track of all the books you've read, are reading and want to read, and allows you to rate them to your liking! It recommends books to you based on what you've read and liked. It's also a social thing, so you can connect with your other bookworm friends to compare your books, what you thought, and comment on each other's choices. What a great idea!

6) Shazam. Speaking of great ideas, this little app allows you to "listen" to any song that's playing and will recognize it! It'll give you the title, singer, album, lyrics, whatever. And then it gives you a link to itunes to buy it if you're really in love. It also keeps on file everything you've "Shazamed" so you can go back through it later and get the songs all at once if that's what you'd prefer. It's great for those "who the heck sings this song?!" moments. :)

7) OurGroceries. A new discover of mine, this is a great app for couples or people who live together to keep track of the grocery list. You both download the app and log in to the same account. You can both add items to the grocery list at any time, so whenever one of you makes it to the store, you have the entire list right there on hand. You can check the list off as you pick up items and then once you check out, you can simply clear the list and start all over. This has been awesome for me and hubby. He uses the last of the milk, adds it to the list and I just check the app before I leave work so I can pick some up on the way home. Handy!

8) Mapquest. There are a bunch of navigational apps out there, including imaps that comes right with your iphone. However, for ease of use and the least chance of getting lost (thanks google maps!), I always rely on Mapquest. I need navigation quite a bit to find clients houses, wedding venues, etc, so it really comes in handy. It also has the feature to look for hotels, food, gas, etc. along your way, and even shows you where the heaviest traffic is on your route. It's also been the best of the ones I've tried to estimate what time you'll be arriving at your destination.

 9) FlightAware. Speaking of travel, I don't do much flying (like any, ever. I'm not kidding, I've never flown.), but I do have family and friends who do, and this is a great app to keep track of their flights, if they're delayed, where they are in the air, when they're scheduled to depart and land. So, when my mom went to Hawaii last year, I watched all her flights, and knew just when to text her "Aloha!" :)

 10) MyFitnessPal. This app has been much-used lately, and I've already lost 5 lbs! You put in your weight, height, activity level, etc. and what your goal weight is and it tells you how many calories you should eat a day to achieve your goal. I am allowed 1200 calories per day, and let me tell you - at first it was really hard! However, it made me choose all zero-calorie drinks, better food choices all-around. It also tracks your water intake, exercise (and adds the calories you burn right back to your food balance! -- motivation to move = more food!) and weight loss progress. 

11) C25K. This stands for "Couch to 5k". Supposedly, it takes you slowly from a sedentary life to the point of being able to run a 5k. I say "supposedly" because I've gotten to week 3 a couple of times now and couldn't get any further. I guess I may be a bit more sedentary then most? I am really out of shape though. The way it works is you do it 3x a week and it has a whole program planned out to how long you walk, then run, then walk, then run repeatedly, slowly changing to less walking time and more running time over a period of weeks. As soon as the sidewalks aren't covered in snow anymore, I'm gonna give this one another shot. It's a great app, I'm just a difficult subject!
Here we are, 4 days into 2015 (and yes, I DID accidentally type 2014 first - argh!) and I think I have finally gathered my list of resolutions for the year. I've been working on this list in my brain for the better part of a month, so I really do think these are goals/challenges I should try to stick to.

1) The Pinterest Challenge. I know I am not alone when I say that I am a Pinterest-aholic. There is just something about creating collections of lists of creative ideas that totally intrigues me. But therein lies the problem. I pin and pin and pin but hardly ever go back to those boards and boards of pins and pins and actually use the ideas. So this year I am challenging myself to do just that. I will attempt to complete 4 ideas that I have pinned each month this year. That will perfectly justify my obsession with the site, right?

2) In case you haven't noticed, I kind of like taking photos. However, I have noticed lately that I have been doing less and less of that for myself. I used to take dozens of photos of my family and friends and pets and surroundings, but somewhere along the line that has fizzled into just occasional iphone photos of the kids and only dragging out my DSLR for paid sessions. I want to shoot more for fun then I have been. So that's goal number two.

3) At the same time, I want to put more time into the back end of my business. The books need special attention and I'm going to start being better organized in that area ASAP. I am also still working on new collateral for my clients, possibly including pre-session information mailed to clients and re-designed everything. The website is up and running as I like it, and now it's time to focus on the rest.

4) It is time. I have fiddled and fattled (pun intended) with trying to get into better shape and lose some weight, but this is the year. I can't stand how I'm looking in clothes and how quickly I get exhausted. I really need to really mean in this time too. I always start these things with good, strong intentions, but end up coming up with some kind of stupid excuse. I will start running again. I will stop eating sweets so constantly and pay more attention to what I eat. I will start a yoga regiment. I will only allow myself one Coke per week. SERIOUSLY! This has to happen.

5) This is something I always strive for, but let's be honest - putting it down in a list is the only way I'm ever going to hold myself accountable. I want to be a better wife and mother. I mean, give them my full attention more often than not, schedule special alone time with each of them on a regular basis, be more patient with (all of) them and try to treat them all as I would treat a co-worker or friend. Who deserves to be respected and shown my courtesy and love more than these three most important people in my life, afterall? I love them. They are my family and as imperfect as things can be sometimes, I will not leave this earth without them knowing just how they are my everything.
Imagine a glass with a few ugly large stones sitting in it. Piled in all the cracks between are hundreds of beautiful, perfect pearls. 2014 was like this... full of not-so-great big things, surrounded by a million lovely little things.

Hubby's worsening back problems and all that goes along with that - unhappiness, inability, depression, disappointment, uncertainty, and many other bad things nearly ripped us apart. In the end, we always turn to one another and stand together, usually one of us leaning on the other, but always together. There are a few other ugly stones in that glass, but they don't deserve recognition or remembering.

The pearls are moments of pure joy, and there are so many, many more of them! Hearing the girls giggling together in the next room, a stolen kiss in the kitchen, warm snuggles at the end of each day with C, moments of pride and surprise in seeing our children succeed in doing what they love,  watching K dance under the lights, C's first moments of realizing she can swim on her own, overcoming a fear, walking in the rain with a couple of good friends, lunches with mom, seeing my brother fall in love, puppy kisses, soft blankets, a million "I love you's"...

In 2014, I turned 34 and hubby 36.
K turned 11 and C turned 8.
We got another puppy.
We got a hot tub.
We got 5 behavioral diagnoses for C.
K began her dream of ballet.
We went to the Outer Banks, NC on a family vacation.
My photo biz continues to grow.
Hubby remains unable to work.
I started running. Then stopped. Then started up again. Then stopped again.
And so much more.

All in all, it wasn't too bad of a year. The pearls at least outnumber the stones ;)