Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from South Louisiana!  As this year comes to a close it is hard to believe how full this year was.  Our house is busy, loud, and often times chaotic … I suspect one day Rhett and I will miss all of the activity!

This year Ethan (14), Aiden (13), and Aly (11) are all students at the Schools for the Sacred Heart, as they have been for years now.  All are good students, and enjoy school.  All are active in Scouting, and the boys are getting closer and closer to Eagle Scout.  All are active in athletics.  Both boys play lacrosse, this will be their third season.  Ethan is a defender, and Aiden plays Goalie.  Aly swims, played volleyball and basketball for school and this year will also be playing lacrosse.  We had hoped that there would be enough girls to put together a girls’ team, but there wasn’t so Aly will be playing on the boy’s team.  The women’s and men’s games in lacrosse are totally different, but Aly will be playing Goalie which is a position that will be the same for either gender.

Day to day life for Rhett and I has drastically changed this year.  In June I opened BrightSpots Behavior and Learning.  We provide Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, for children with developmental disabilities such as Autism.  I started off sharing space with a dear friend who is also a mentor.  In August we moved into our own space.  It’s been a crazy fast, crazy good transition.  I am lucky to have found great people to work with me.  Rhett left his position at Radar Solutions, and now is handling the business side of the practice.  For me it’s a dream come true, I spend my days doing what I love.  Rhett is enjoying his role, is great with our staff, and makes it possible for me to just be a clinician.  In our off time we both spend the majority of our time between scouting, and various sports.  Rhett is coaching Aly’s basketball team, and will help as an assistant coach on the lacrosse field as well.

In September, I had a little health scare when I picked up an infection from the Gulf during our annual beach trip.  Recovery has been quite the process, and is still going on to some extent.  I have been blessed with amazing health care, and am quite thankful for healthcare providers who are not only great caregivers but friends as well.

Our summer was full as always, but we were grateful to get a chance to see all of Rhett’s brothers and sisters and his parents for a few days in July.  All of the kids enjoyed quite a bit of travel between camps, family visits, sports and trips with friends. 

2015 promises to also be a full year.  We have several trips planned, and hope to find chances to connect with family we don’t get to see often enough.  We pray that 2015 is one filled with good health, and blessings for you and yours. Merry Christmas!

The Theobalds
Rhett, Amy

Ethan, Aiden and Aly

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wow... It's been a while.

I sat down to begin to work on a yearly update, and went back to read last years .... when I realized I never did one.  I guess it is very appropriate that 2013 just isn't even acknowledged on our Blog, since it really did feel like the year was in another universe.  My last post marked the beginning of the last year in Graduate school for me.  Rhett and I knew that the last year would likely be the toughest, but man did we have no idea just how tough it would be.  The year was rough, it was hard being away from home as much as I was, there were multiple small crisis', and Rhett and I truly exercised our skills in working as a team to keep our family going.  All of that being said, we both knew it was as it was supposed to be.  I learned so much, and came out of Graduate school prepared to do something I love, and something that truly makes a difference.  The good news is that part is over! I spent the summer serving a few private clients and STUDYING harder than I've ever studied before ... and the result I passed my certification exam on the first try.  Since the average pass rate varies between 45%-60% of first time takers, this is a big deal!  So our fall has been one of transition.  Some of that transition is still occurring, and I probably will be able to lay out more in a few weeks in our Christmas letter.

We are blessed in the revelation that God's timing is perfect.  I can go back and talk to you about the last 14 years of our lives, and the way everything has "fallen" and there is no other explanation other than God plans more for your life than you could ever plan for yourself.  I have clung to the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 which says;For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  

So that's where we are now, where we were in 2013.  I can't wait to tell you all about our kiddo's and how they are in the next few weeks.  

Hoping that everyone experiences the JOY of Christ, this Christmas season.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Pathetic

How pathetic is it that I ve become a bi-annual blogger? Oh well, I guess it's just an indication of how fast our days seem to pass.  The kids got out of school about a month ago, and it doesn't seem right that summer is almost half over ... but it is.  Ethan completed 5th grade, Aiden 4th grade and Aly 2nd grade and are all looking forward to the next academic year ahead of them.  Much will be the same for all of them.  Same school's, same expectations, same school routine, perhaps the only real structural change will be that Aiden enters prep school.  Which at our school is the equivalent to middle school.  He will change classes, and have more than one teacher.  Last year this time I was freaked out by the prospect of Ethan entering prep school, but now that Ethan has conquered it with little trouble I am actually pretty excited that Aiden will be entering prep.  It means more academic challenges, a higher standard of accountability, and more opportunities for extra curricular activities. 

The boys and Rhett are active in scouts. Last year the Ethan played soccer, basketball, and baseball for the school.  Aiden played soccer and basketball, and would ve loved to play baseball but you have to be at least in 5th grade.  Aly played soccer, and community rec softball this year.  All enjoy their activities, and Rhett and I have fun watching, cheering, and supporting from the sidelines.

One of the major things going on in our household is I have entered the final year of Graduate School.  Which means that now I am doing my internship/practicum at the McNeese Autism Program.  The last year is intensive, and we were prepared for that (at least we thought we were).  My internship started in May and it has been quite the whirlwind, and will continue to be for the rest of the year I suspect.  

Many have asked me alot of questions about my major, career prospects etc... so I ll take this time just to explain a little about it.

My Masters degree will be in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis.  Once I graduate I will sit for a national certification test, once I pass I will be credentialed as a BCBA which stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

So what does a Behavior Analyst do?
    The short answer is: a behavior analyst will help you to clearly define the strengths and learning needs of your child. She will address those needs using research-based methodologies, and will guide your child’s program based on his performance data, to maximize her progress and development.

So what does that look like?  Currently, I am working with clients ages 3-19 all have developmental disabilities  with the younger children we are working on language development (developing sounds, and utilizing language for communication), foundational skills like labeling, requesting, identifying items, categories etc.  Some of my clients have/had no spoken language so we are working on utilizing eye contact, gestures etc... anything to create a connection to the world for the client.  The reason my descriptions are so general is because the field is all about individualization.  It is unlike the education field because I don't look at a client and say "Oh the diagnosis is ______ so we use this curriculum."   We assess the client and say "Ok their strengths are this, this and this ... how can we build on those to address their weakness' "  In the therapy room the word "no" has no real function, and learning is paired with Positive reinforcement.  Everything we do we collect data on, and we use research in accordance with individual data to make programatic decisions in how to best teach the individual.

So what kind of job will you get with this degree?  Well as a BCBA typically we will either work directly with clients on all of those sorts of things I mentioned above, or we will find people who want to be front line therapists and train them to implement the appropriate interventions, then we will monitor those therapists and coordinate and plan based on the clients data.  

Currently alot of BCBA's work within the Autism field, but  the field extends to many different areas other than just developmental disabilities.  I love it because I get to work on language and learning with clients, no day is ever the same as yesterday, I get to problem solve and I truly believe every child CAN learn ...so I get to be a part of that!  My core spiritual beliefs that every life is valuable make this a good fit for me!

Below I am attaching some youtube links of good examples of ABA therapy:

So that's the Theobald update from South Louisiana !

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Dearest Family and Friends,

Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year from our clan to yours!  This year finds us even more settled in and in love with our home in Louisiana.  Any of the little details we wish would change, are just that ... small details.  All in all the big picture is great, and full of blessings.

Ethan, 11 this year has left behind the ranks of Cub Scouts and dove in head first to the world of Boy Scouts.  He attended summer camp this summer in North Carolina (without Mom or Dad), and enjoyed himself immensly.  While at camp he completed enough requirements to advance three full ranks in scouting, and experienced white water rafting for the first time.  In day to day life this meant, he came home knowing basic first aid, knowing basic food safety and how to cook some basic dishes, and knowing more knots than I knew existed.  I am positive there are many skills he learned that I left out, but those are the ones I notice most on a day to day basis.  This is his second year at St. John Berchmans which is now Berchmans Academy.  5th grade has been a big transition, but he has handled it well.  Rhett and I are proud of his growth as a student, and a young man.  Other than scouts, Ethan played soccer and is playing basketball this year.  Ethan has a passion for history, if you spent just a little bit of time with him a convesation about the revolutionary war, war tactics or various weapons would likely be topics of discussion.

Aiden, 10 this year has also entered the world of Boy Scouts.  Because of age however, he didn't begin Boy Scouts until November.  He attended winter camp in Louisiana over Thanksgiving break.  Ethan was also scheduled for winter camp, but was unable to attend because of illness.  I think this actually turned out to be a good thing, and allowed Aiden to experience his first away camp without big brother.  He really enjoyed himself, and also came home anxious to share many of the things he learned.  Berchmans Academy is a great place for Aiden.  He enjoys his school, his friends and all of the activities that go along with school and friends.  Soccer and basketball also occupy Aiden's time.  Aiden keeps Rhett and I on our toes, and laughing.  He has a spirit of joy, and is always pushing boundaries. 

Aly, 8 this year spends alot of time being the little sister.  The little sister role has her tagging along to many practices and games.  Lucky for Rhett and I, she typically does this with a smile on her face.  The soccer field remains one of her favorite places.  As a second grader, she has begun to enjoy reading for pleasure, and does well in all of her classes.  If you asked her she would tell you she loves math, and "despises" french. 

Rhett is still working for PHI, as he was last year.  He serves as the committee chair for the boy's boyscout troop, participates in the Dad's club at school, and is an assistant coach for Aiden's soccer team.  His role as Dad is the one that occupies most of his time and energy.

I am still working for a local non profit.  I left for a short period of time and took a full time position doing case management.  We quickly decided that a full time job, as well as full time graduate student wasn't condusive to my most important job as Mom.  Now I am working about 35 hours a week, and maintaining a full time load in Grad school.  I am officially half way done with my Masters degree.  Our current plan is for me to finish in May of 2013.  My work schedule will likely change some during 2012 as I start clinicals and have to dedicate more time to my school work.  The further into my Masters program I get, the more I enjoy it.  I am enjoying my time at McNeese, am blessed by great professors who are truly interested in mentoring their students, and am thrilled that the University has a top notch autism/developmental disabilities clinic in which I will get to complete my clinical training.  2012 will take me to several conferences in which I try to get a handle on the things like insurance billing, setting up a private practice, and some specialized therapy techniques.  Rhett is nothing but supportive, and is actively participating in making a plan for what happens after graduation.

We just returned from 10 days away as a family.  Rhett and I for the most part shut off our cell phones, and enjoyed our time with just the 5 of us.  The kids and I spent a few days with extended family before returning home.  We are still cocooning at home, knowing that break will soon end and our time will again be dictated by the commitments of life.  It seems cliche to remark how fast time passes, but it truly just disappears.  I spend my days as a Mom trying to savor every moment with my growing, evolving children. 

Rhett and I hope all of you are enjoying your days, and that 2012 will be one of blessings for all of you!

Amy and Rhett
Ethan, Aiden, and Aly

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day

Spring has definetly sprung in our house.  The kids all head back to school tomorrow after a restful Spring Break.  We spent last weekend on the Florida Beaches, between a resort we love to stay at (that feeds kids for free) and sand that resembles sugar we are grateful to have such great beaches within driving distance.  Last summer in Hawaii, we were in awe of the beauty of the mountains so close to the beach and it's unique terrain ... but  disappointed with the beaches.  Gravelly sand, and huge unswimmable waves just aren't our thing.  Last weekend we rented a boat and headed out to a small island offshore, and the kids had a blast snorkeling near the shore, and swimming off of the boat as well.  We all came home refreshed, and a little crispy ... our only regret that we couldn't stay a few more days.

Aiden and Ethan both earned their Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts.  For Ethan this signifies his time to cross over from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts.  We have been preparing for him to crossover for the last year or so.  Rhett and I were pretty thoughtful about the Boy Scout troop he would be joining.  Each troop has it's own personality, made up not only by who is leading it, and the boys involved with it... but also by the activities they do, and how often.  The variance is huge, and we had more than 5 choices.  Since the boys have both expressed the desire to continue with scouts all the way until they earn their Eagle Scout, Rhett and I wanted to try our best to put them in the troop that would be the best fit for their likes and personalities.  So we were thrilled to find a troop that Rhett really clicked with the male leaders (I m a firm believer this is BOY scouts, so I am supportive behind the scenes) , that is super active (this may come back to bite me :) ), that is large enough to have a stable group to be active, that routinely has boys make Eagle Scout .... and one thing not necessarily on my list but an added benefit is that they are starting a venturing group within the troop so as the boys are old enough they will have access to High Adventure activities.  Boy Scouts is a whole different world than Cub Scouts and really focuses on independence and self reliance.  So the leaders ask the parents to back off a bit, and allow the boys to learn to depend on themselves.  For us this means, Ethan will begin packing himself for trips, he will learn how to cook for himself when he is camping, he will learn to work with his peers to pitch his tent, he will work with his peers to plan the menus when he camps, he will learn first aid skills.  All of these things while a little scary for Mom are life necessities, and fit with our goal of wise freedom.  (Now do you see why we were so thoughtful about the leaders of the troop?)  So as a new Boy Scout Ethan will be attending summer camp in North Carolina with his troop this summer, and will get to do some fun things like white water rafting! Ethan is excited, and Aiden a little jealous that he is not yet old enough to crossover to Boy Scouts.  Aiden's turn will come in 6 months, but patience is a tough thing for a 9 year old!

Last month I started a new job. I left a part time position, and took a full time position.  After my 90 days of training I will be able to work from home quite a bit, and have flexibility that will allow me to still be involved with kids activities at school during the day!  It's the first time  since Ethan was born that I have worked a traditional full time job, so it's been a bit of an adjustment. We are all excited however, that after June I ll be able to have more flexibility.  I will also continue to work on my Masters degree, which I am enjoying.

We spend alot of time these days outdoors.  Enjoying the mild spring weather, before the heat and humidity will keep us inside.  The basketball goal, and our homemade kickball "field" are a few of our favorite things!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yay, it's Month 2 of 12

It's finally Feb. which means spring is near! Tonight, we are hunkered down for a winter storm, which is all very comical to us because we ve lived aways above I-10 for significant periods of time.  I however, am happy to play along! I make sure the dogs have extra food, the pipes are taken care of, make a nice big gumbo, and bake some bread! I welcome the schools closing with open arms, and am looking forward to an unplanned free day with three of my favorite people tomorrow. If it does snow, I will rush the kids outside demanding that they enjoy it before it melts.  When picking up the kiddo's from school today, I noticed all the horses had on their coats, and the barn keeper was bringing them in loads of fresh hay.
They will all be warm and well fed.

 Last month I started parent-child journals with the kids.  It's been fun to write notes to each other daily.  It gives them that chance to express things to me that we may not find the time to talk about with the whole family around. I tend to gush all of the good things I feel in my heart about them onto the page.  With the boys though I find that in the journal they will write me back and say thanks, or I love you too ... where if I said it out loud they would groan and roll their eyes.  It's been nice, I feel like I get a little piece of individual attention with each one everyday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year Luck?

On January 1st Rhett skeptically ate a large helping of greens and black eyed peas, as did I.  I wasn't about to be the one to insure a year of bad luck by not eating the appropriate foods.  So far there is no evidence that it helped our luck any. The first part of January has been rough around here ... There's been car trouble, an IPhone thats screen shattered, a television that broke, doggie drama, and kids whose clothes aren't able to handle their enthusiastic play.  Perhaps however, it has allowed me to exercise my perspective.  None of these things that broke were/are absolute necessities.  The car is the closest thing to a necessity, and Rhett and I had already been trying to sharpen our self sustainability skills by researching and being able to fix our own cars.  So Rhett repaired our car for $1.78 and 30 minutes of his time, the quote from the shop was $150 dollars minimum.  Thank you Lord for my resourceful Hubby!  The biggest victory I suppose is being able to keep a sense of humor about it all.  My second semester of grad school started this week, and I am excited about my classes.  I m crossing my fingers and toes that Feb. is less traumatic in our household!