Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another visitor!!!!

Today, my cousin Paige is arriving here in CA and spending the next week with us! 

Paige and I, although she is several years younger, have always had a very close relationship!
Whenever we are all together as a family, Paige and I are inseparable! 
She is great. Not like most teenagers these days, who think that everyone else's life should revolve around them. Which is why everyone loves her, she really is the sweetest thing ever!! Anyhow, I'm not going to get into a long description of her. Just thought I would "announce" her coming to visit...because I'm really looking forward to it!! :) 
It's her first time to California so it will be so fun to give her a little taste of our wonderful state!!! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Michelle's Bridal Shower!!

This past Saturday, I was able to host a bridal shower for my best friend Michelle, who you can read more about HERE! :) It was so much fun putting together and the ladies of our church and several of the Mom's in the school really had a great time celebrating with and spoiling Michelle! :) 

Here are some pictures of the shower, enjoy! 

 Since Michelle is getting married in December, I decided against doing the shower theme in her wedding colors because it wouldn't be a very "summery" atmosphere. :) 
So, we just kept it fun and light and went with a Luau/Hawaiian theme shower!

First off, the food!! :)

The beautiful bride-to-be!! :) 

Gift Table

While we ate, one of our Pastor's wives gave a little devotional. It was very special!! 

We then had tons of fun playing all sorts of games!! :)

Playing "How well does the Bride know the Groom" was fun!! Michelle was very nervous about this game, but she did pretty well! 

After the games, we enjoyed the delicious cake and ice cream while Michelle opened her gifts!!

One of the fun things about this shower is that three out of her four Bridesmaids were all in attendance!!!
It just so happens we all live here in CA!! It was so nice that we all got to be at at least one of her showers!
Here we are - (from left to right)
Renee (her sister in-law), the Bride, Me and Grace (her future sister in-law)
Look at us with our cute little buttons! :)  

I had to get one picture of the Bride and myself!! Love this girl!

It was a great shower. I'm so happy for her!!!! 
We are all going to miss her so much out here in California!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My little man!

I have been thinking through this post for awhile now, I want it to be perfect!
I am very excited to tell you about this little guy!
 I want to introduce you all to someone that is very very special to me! 

This little boy, in the last year, had such an impact on my life and has taught me some great life lessons!
I really am a different person because of meeting him and having him in my life!
This is Bosa Olotu!
This past year he was in my 1st grade class!

First off, there are some things you need to know about Bosa!
When he was younger he was diagnosed with Autism. 
He was not a normal child at all. 
His parents were very concerned and they talked to "doctors" and "psychologist" who basically 
gave them no hope.
They enrolled him in a school where he..never had interaction with other kids and was just left to himself.
They said he would never be normal.
You see until he was 5 years old, Bosa had never talked!
Because of this, his parents really had no hope. They had a son that couldn't talk and "doctors" saying this was the way it was going to be.

His Mom told me she would pray everyday that he would start talking.
She felt like if he started talking there might be hope for some normalcy in his life!
Finally, a little after he turned 5 he started saying words and before long he was talking away!!

This was when his parents started looking for other answers!
They found Bethel Christian Academy and at the age of 7, Bosa enrolled into the Kindergarten class at our school!!

When he came to our school, he couldn't do anything....including...
reading...writing...alphabet...and even go to the bathroom by himself!
Now, I can't take any of the credit for this part because this was the year before I met him!
Let's just say the Kindergarten teacher at our school is amazing and she worked soo hard with Bosa!!
Of course, he is no where near the others in his class but Bosa came into 1st grade knowing how to read, write, do simple math, and yes, use the bathroom on his own (which I am very thankful for)!! :) lol 

As you can see from the pictures, Bosa is quite the character!
He was the one that brought excitement to our classroom every day!!
His autism, of course, set him apart from the rest of the class in his academics but the other children always treated him right and normal. They had such a love for him. Even though it was VERY obvious he was different than them, as well as, a couple of years older.
It was such a joy to see this. 
When Bosa would have a "Bosa moment"...instead of laughing at him, it was almost like they understood.
They would look at me and smile, as if to say, ya we's Bosa! 
They loved him so much and he loved them!!! 
This made part of my job much easier!

I don't even know where to begin on the struggle that I had with Bosa this year.
First off, the positive is that he is a very lovable kid.
He is happy and wants to be good and obey and responds very well when you discipline him!
He ALWAYS wanted to please me, if he thought I was at all upset with him he would get these HUGE tears in his eyes and say.."I'm sorry Mrs. Balatbat." the sweetest little voice!
But he does have autism.
The REAL autism! 
I say that because some people will use "autism" as a label for their child that has serious discipline issues and isn't truly autistic! 
Bosa is definitely autistic.
This was the first encounter I had with personally dealing with an autistic person one on one.
When I first was told about him, before I met him, I was very very nervous!
It was going to be my first year teaching and as if that pressure and stress isn't enough...
I was also getting an autistic child in my first group of kids. 

I know God did that on purpose.
Bosa taught me SO many things but the biggest lesson that I learned was true PATIENCE!
I spent 8 hours a day for the past nine months with Bosa and I wouldn't trade a second of it.

Even the times when he would roll his eyes and cross his arms and pout...
the time when I left the room for something right after I had disciplined him and I came back in to the entire class telling me that while I was away..Bosa had said very loudly..."STUPID TEACHER!"
ha, yes, this did happen!
when I would give him some type of instruction and his answer would be...
"WHHATTT??" lol

Yes, he did have these moments...but the hardest thing to work with was getting him to concentrate.
If you have had any interaction with an autistic person you know that keeping them focused on one thing for a long period of time is very very hard!
This is when the true patience came in.
Day after day, class after class, minute after job was to make sure this little boy was learning and in order to learn he had to pay attention to me and listen and then take out his class work and focus on each and every part.
Maybe this sounds simple, but with an autistic person...this is FAR from simple!

For the entire first semester and into the second, until about the beginning of March, I saw very little improvement with Bosa.
It was very very frustrating.
 I honestly, was to the point of just wanting to back off and not push him to do more and do his a way, I wanted to give up!

I kept thinking, I am pushing and pushing this little boy to learn and what if he CAN'T??
I remember one day in our Teacher's meeting, the principal asked if any of us had anything we wanted to talk about and I basically laid it all out there.
I don't think any one of the teacher's knew what a struggle I was having.
It was really really bothering me..
I would have moments when I would have a session with Bosa and I would go back to my desk and I would actually start to cry.
It just seemed like he wasn't getting it....any of it!!

The afternoon after I had the "breakdown" in teacher's meeting. lol
Our principal came to my class after school and we had a great talk! Probably for about 2 hours.
Btw, just a little interjection...the principal at our school is THE BEST!!!
Honestly, I wish every school could have such a great principal and I wish everyone of you had such a great boss! What a good man his is! His heart is totally in it and he loves the Lord!!! He's the real deal!!

Anyhow, during our "Bosa" chat...he basically spent the entire time encouraging me through Scripture and his own life experiences. I went away from that refreshed.
I spent the next several days whenever I had a chance...just praying for Bosa.
No, I'm not going to say that the next day Bosa was totally different and I never had a struggle again...but I know that the Lord gave me an extra amount of patience and from there on out I did see a big change.
The last three months of school were so different. It was like he really had been taking things in all year and he finally started to show me!

I was so proud of him!
Ask anyone, especially my Mom. She was my Bosa go-to person.
She knows every Bosa story...I would even text her during the day if the story was so funny I just couldn't wait! lol
Bosa, is a very special little boy! I really really hope that I had a part in "molding" him this year.

At the end of the year I was informed that Bosa's father had a received a job in TX and they would be moving.
When I heard this, I was so sad! I had already been looking forward to another year with him and thinking/strategizing on how I would teach him some of the more challenging things in second grade.
I have just been praying that his parents get him into a Christian school with a teacher that really cares!
I know he could be a great man someday! He has so much potential! :)

I am sorry this was such a long post and I hope you weren't bored throughout it, but I really wanted to share Bosa with you all. He holds a special place in my heart and I hope I had an impact on him because....

he sure had one on me!! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One year ago....

We stood in a beautiful church and promised each other the rest of our lives!! 

It's been such a great first year! 

There have been sad times, happy times, difficult times, fun times and everything in between!

Sometimes when I think of our first year it seems like it flew by...then others it feels like we have been through so much together and I love him so much more everyday that how could it have only been a year ago?! 

He truly is the best husband in the world. I am so spoiled! 

He treats me with respect, and love and is always doing things that he knows will make me happy!

But he also is such a leader. He guides me in the right way, helping me make the right decisions, always being there to support me/us and our little family! :)

He is my best friend and my biggest fan! 

I love him with all my heart and that love grows and grows each and every day!

He is my man and I get to spend the rest of my life being his girl!!!!

He makes me the happiest girl in the world!

Happy First Anniversary Babe, I love you so much! 
Thank you for an amazing first year, I can't wait to celebrate the next 50+ with you as well! 
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