Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow Day 2.27.15

When we woke up this morning we knew there was a chance of snow, but we didn't get too excited since our hopes of snow have been crushed a few times this past month or so. But as we left the house to go to Stroller Strides teeny tiny snowflakes began falling. And when snowflakes start falling we get very excited in Texas. Since it was so cold we went to our indoor workout location which conveniently is a jumping place. As the snow kept falling, we decided to take our chances at getting snowed in at the jumping place along with lots of other parents who were needing some kiddos to burn some energy. Bunny texted me this morning when she heard we were getting snow and asked for snow pictures. These are what I sent her...

Kenley is on the white shirt climbing to the top of the hill so she can slide down.

And when we left I tried to send a real snow day picture with our friends, but it didn't turn out so great. 

Chris picked Wyatt up a little early because our after school appointment got bumped up before the roads got bad. All he could talk about was how he got to go to recess in the snow. It made his day! I was so glad that the sweet teachers let them go play in the snow and then tonight I got these pictures from his teacher!

We went to our appointment then came home for late naps for the girls. Wyatt doesn't have to take naps on school days so he got to watch Wreck It Ralph. I laid on my warm cozy bed on my heating pad and lazily checked emails and Facebook. And Chris finished a bit of work emails in bed, too. It was the perfect snowy afternoon.
After naptime, we drug out all the layering clothes to bundle up our little snow babies and headed over to the hill by our house for some sledding. We ALL had a blast.
After that we came home for soup, snow ice cream, hot chocolate, and the ending of Brave on the Disney channel. I can't think of a better way to spend a snowy Friday.
I just realized that these pictures are blurry, but since I add pictures from an app on my phone it's not a quick and easy fix so I'm leaving them blurry. Since I've been on a 6 month blogging hiatus, I'm going to consider it "good enough" that there's anything on here! And one more side note, Wyatt doesn't wear glasses, but Grammy does, so naturally she had to find a non-prescription pair on ebay for him because he wanted some, too.

Here's hoping for more snow fun tomorrow...

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

18 months {Reagan}

Our sweet one and a half year old at her well check appointment...

At 18 months, Reagan is...
27.6 pounds
32 inches
a great sleeper at night and nap
a great eater
an independent girl who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to tell anyone
curious about everything, especially if it's something to eat
finally able to sport a teeny tiny ponytail and bow
currently making an A- in bow training and only pulls it out every now and then
learning and saying new words every. single. day.
Some of her favorite things are...
puppies (also her favorite word)
her brother and sister
stealing food off her sister's plate when he isn't looking
getting food her sister sneaks onto her plate at dinner to avoid having to eat it
baby dolls (she pats them and rocks them and it will melt your heart)
her binky
jumping (she tries SO hard to get both feet off the ground and she's sooo close)
playing in the sandbox
toothbrushes and toothpaste (she takes these out of the bathroom every chance she gets)
throwing away her own trash like a big kid
when we turn out the lights, give her her binky, and rock her before bed
Reagan is an absolute joy to be around. She keeps us laughing and smiling all the time. It's so fun to watch her explore and learn... you can just see her little mind going. She gets so excited to see Wyatt when she wakes up from nap and he's home. She loves for Kenley to pat her just before she goes to sleep. She's a Mommy and Daddy's girl. Her face absolutely lights up through the front glass door every time one of us has been gone and gets home. And she's constantly trying to do everything and anything big kids are doing. She's a girl on a mission!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 13, 2015

What We've Learned {Wyatt}

Here’s the deal, you won’t ever find me writing a book about parenting and not just because I hate reading books and the fact that the mere thought of writing one would give me more anxiety than I can handle. It’s because just when you think you’ve got it, these little ones that we love more than anything in the world will humble us straight to our knees. And let’s not even talk about how the best plan of action for one kid can be totally useless for the next. How is that!?

I don’t know it all about kids, but I’ve been around kids for as long as I can remember. I’ve been teaching kids in some capacity since I was a teenager. I went to college and have a teaching degree.   I don’t ever pretend to know it all but let’s face it, I definitely feel I’m trained. And before having Wyatt I had no idea HOW HARD PARENTING COULD BE. Yes, I knew there would be sleepless nights, poop explosions, and temper tantrums all along, but the hard part is so much more. The minute the doctor handed me my first baby my world changed in a way I could never have prepared myself for. My very first most humbling realization in parenting was when I truly realized I could never hold all the anxiety I felt over what could happen. I realized fairly quickly I was going to have to LET GO AND LET GOD be in control and I had to hand Him my fears and my worries.

Now, I’m going to fast forward quite a bit. So add 2 more kiddos. Lots and lots of boo-boos, laughs, tears, and fun. Plus more prayer than I could ever begin to count. And it became time to send my 100% all boy, strong-willed (they call it) or spirited (others call it), determined, sensitive (even though you wouldn’t know it; sometimes I’m not sure I knew it) boy to Kindergarten. Now, we’ve always had our challenges but this is already going to be a long blog post so let’s just start here.

Oh wait, let me back up for just a second. If you know us well or know Wyatt, you know this sweet, caring boy likes to keep us on our toes. Every second of every day. Kids love him, because he’s fun and fearless. Adults love him because he’s caring, kind, and creative. We love him for everything he is. But there’s never been any doubt he’s the firecracker in the family. I have been saying since he became mobile that if you are looking for him, look up and work your way down. He’s going to climb as high as he can and go as far as he can go (in every sense that can mean). We’ve never had any doubt this boy will move mountains and change the world. I’ve read the book (yes, I make big sacrifices for my children) Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and somehow she knew OUR Wyatt! The book explained “spirited children” feel things deeper and push things farther. And most importantly, “spirited children” possess traits we value in adults but find challenging in children. I read this when Wyatt was 5 and I’m so grateful I found it. Life was a bit hectic in our house. Having a 5 year old, a 2 year old, and an infant is just hectic at times… well, almost always.

So, back to where I planned to start… Wyatt started Kindergarten at 5 and a half. And it started out ROUGH. He did great at school, and the teacher in me and the people-pleaser in me was so grateful for it. But let me tell you, as soon as the girls and I picked up Wyatt from school it was chaos like I can hardly explain. He’d get in the car and immediately start arguing, which turned to yelling, which turned into an all-out fit over any little thing. And it went on like this until bedtime. It shattered my heart to pieces every single day. And it rocked my patience to the core. I’d end up yelling, or crying, or both. I called Chris several days telling him I needed him to come home because I couldn’t even cook dinner because Wyatt was throwing fits or fighting with the girls or whatever it was that day. One night, I found myself praying so hard asking God for answers and help. I begged Him to SHOW ME and GUIDE ME. I felt like I had ruined my son. Maybe I wasn’t strict enough, maybe I didn’t prepare him enough for school, and maybe the negative things I’ve heard people say were right. Here’s the thing, not everyone has a “spirited child,” and not everyone will understand your child or your parenting. People will judge, people will stare, and people will tell you how “one good spanking will fix the problem.” I’ve been guilty of this, too. I’m a people-pleaser to a fault and continuing to parent the way I felt was right for Wyatt was getting hard and now that things were really hitting the fan I was a mess of confusion.

Again, before going any farther. I’m not writing a parenting book. I’m not judging. I’m not even necessarily going to say you shouldn’t spank your children. I’m saying, I knew what didn’t work for Wyatt and a spanking NEVER worked for him. At the same time, I was at a point where I didn’t know what WAS going to work.

While all this was going on we were taking a Love and Logic Parenting class at our church and it was wonderful. The people in the class quickly became our friends, everyone shared struggles and helped each other work on solutions. We’d go home and try what we learned and shared what worked and what didn’t and find new solutions. Again, this was a humbling experience. The very first session the class teachers applauded the entire class for being there. The couple recognized going to a parenting class could be hard and reminded us we were a room full of caring parents. They even shared about their own struggles. Some people just wanted to learn to be better and others were having problems they needed answers to. That was us. There were a few times in the class I teared up because it was so overwhelmingly refreshing to be with people who truly understood the pain we were dealing with. And that’s not to say other people weren’t. We wanted so badly to help Wyatt and help our family be able to have peaceful afternoons and family time. Things got better, but we also knew it wasn’t as good as we felt it could be. And some of the strategies we were learning weren’t quite working.

At this time, we decided to seek out a counselor. We checked out 2 counselors that were recommended to us and chose the one we thought would be the most helpful for the issues we were having. We were scared for many reasons. What if it didn’t help? How could we ever afford it? Was it necessary? These were HUGE questions. We felt so desperate for some answers and some help, but knew it was a sacrifice in a financial sense and really wanted the assurance that it would work. No one could give us the answers and again we found ourselves praying for the guidance. Eventually, we just KNEW.

After our first session with the counselor (we decided only Chris and I would actually go to the counselor) we discussed some things to try and she gave us charts to make and plans to put in place. We left the session full of hope and it was like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. I came home and immediately made the charts and such that the counselor had suggested and we started the next day. Like a miracle (okay, not perfect but any relief from the chaos was welcomed at this point) Wyatt was receptive to the changes and the visuals. He understood we were seeing a counselor to help him (I know he wanted things to be better, too). The initial goals of counseling were to decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of the temper tantrums/fits. Within a few weeks all of this was decreased by more than half! Chris and I continued to go for Wyatt (and for ourselves to learn what was best for Wyatt). Again, this was a humbling experience because it can be hard to admit you don’t know what to do, especially for your child. On top of that, I’ve sat in countless meetings during my teaching years and helped make behavior plans and such and I just couldn’t figure out what to do and I think it was mostly that I didn’t believe certain things would work. I doubted myself so much and by the time we started the counseling I was unsure if the things I always stood by were even right (I think they were for us). The point is, that it takes a village and seeking help was the best thing we could have ever done.

The next step (suggested by the counselor) was to see an occupational therapist for a sensory evaluation. I’ve known since before Wyatt could speak certain things would drive him crazy and cause fits. Things like seatbelts being “too tight,” clothes being “too tight/too loose,” etc. could cause a fit like you can only imagine. At the same time there’s lots of sensory things he craves. It had just become a part of Wyatt to us. However, what we always thought was him being “all boy” was actually stuff that could be causing a lot of this chaos. Starting Kindergarten, getting less sleep, holding in so much energy all day just became the perfect storm. Just like the issues we saw the counselor for, we considered a lot of these “issues” behavior issues and things we just needed to work on. I knew he had sensory issues, but I didn’t think they were something you’d go to therapy for. Long story short, the counselor explained sensory processing issues can not only cause the obvious problems, but that they could also manifest into other issues. That was enough info for us, and soon after we were getting the sensory evaluation. As I sat in the office watching the evaluation and filling out the papers with very specific info I had to select whether it applied to Wyatt or not, it was clear that some of the exact things we’ve been dealing with for so long were obviously common enough for them to be super specific on this paper. There would be a whole section of things that weren’t Wyatt and then a whole section that was Wyatt to a “T.” Wyatt has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The occupational therapist confirmed this before scoring the test and later mailed it to us with specific goals he would be working on weekly at occupational therapy (which he thinks is the coolest place ever). We are honest with Wyatt. We don’t make it a big deal, but we do tell him that we see Miss So and So at counseling so we can help him and we tell him that he’s going to see Miss So and So for OT to help him with the way certain things make him feel. His first session was yesterday (I actually wrote this a few weeks ago and I’m just now posting) and my sweet boy walked into OT with a piece of masking tape across the front of his shirt that he had put on it that morning to hold his shirt folded over a bit so that “the neck wouldn’t be so loose”. ;) Just to show improvement let me remind you that before that shirt neck problem would have had him on the floor throwing a fit and late for school. Thanks to what we’ve taught him from counseling he has learned to cope better with certain things and focus on solutions. He simply came up to me and asked for tape and I handed it to him and he fixed it himself. We aren’t this lucky every time, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

 It’s not about the label, it’s about the HOPE that things could be better. It’s about the faith and the prayer it took to get to this point. It’s about the people who have cared enough to share similar stories so I could learn about the hope and the help that’s available. Parenting is hard and we can end up doubting ourselves. Follow your heart. Ask God for guidance.

I didn’t share specific info on what we did and charts we made, because the purpose of this post is not to say this is what we did and it will work for you. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that every single kid is so different and it takes caring minds coming together to make individual plans to help. With that said, I’m more than willing to share anything I’ve made. If you think it might be helpful to you just ask. I’d also like to note, that this was all specific to Wyatt. Not every “spirited child” has a sensory processing disorder.

I have a sweet friend, with a “spirited child,” that while chatting after preschool one day told me she often has to remind herself God didn’t give us these children so we could change them, He gave them to us to change us. So true! I feel like I’m at the top of a big mountain in a parenting sense after this tough climb, and I can see there’s many more yet to climb, but I can also see the big picture from up here. In 6 years, Wyatt has changed me more than I could have ever imagined and all for the better.

 I’m essentially journaling so that I can look back and remember these things, especially on my way up the next mountain. But if I gave one person hope like so many people gave me, I’d feel as though my reason for sharing was significant.

Friday, August 29, 2014

1st Birthday Letter {Reagan}

Dear Reagan,

I can hardly believe that you are a year old already. You are so content being my little baby and part of me wants you to stay my little baby forever. Just last month you decided to start crawling, but before that you were perfectly content with just hanging out in one spot while your brother and sister brought you everything you could ever need or want.  Now that you are crawling all you have to do is look up at Mommy with your hands out and I’m sure to pick you up and steal a few snuggles before you are off to find something to play with.  There is no one that can make you laugh quite like Daddy (although Wyatt is a close second). We have so enjoyed every moment of the past year with you.

I do have some confessions to make, though. I have this “Mommy guilt” about some of the things I didn’t do or I feel I didn’t do too well over the course of this last year. Before you were born, I bought you cute cupcake stickers with 0-12 months printed on them to stick on your outfit and take a picture of you each month.  While I’ve taken lots of pictures of you, I have several of those stickers left. I kept forgetting to take that special picture after about 6 months or so.  We bought your baby book calendar a few months after you were born, I got it caught up, and now it’s hanging with several months left blank. I update this blog as often as I can, but I usually sit down and do several posts at once but I still find there are so many fun things we’ve done that never got blogged about at all. So, my fear is that you’ll wonder why Wyatt’s pages in his book are completely filled up or why Kenley might have more blogs posts.

 I’m not going to give you a lot of excuses as to why I didn’t get all the things I intended to done. I’m sure one day when you are a Mommy you will understand. Our days tend to be crazy at times. There’s rarely a day when we can all make it out the door without some sort of stain or mess on our clothes from breakfast, a craft or a spit up. You get one great nap every day in your crib and if you need a second nap it’s often in the car or in the stroller on the go. Some days it’s probably inconvenient being the 3rd child, but many more days it’s a blessing I hope you will know so well. You have two older siblings that love you more than anything in this world. You are theirs. They claimed you before they even met you while you were simply along for the chaotic ride in my tummy. You definitely have had to share time and attention with them, but if that were the price to pay for the love you receive I believe your bank is in the riches.

Soon you will be walking, talking, and chasing after Wyatt and Kenley and as much as I’d love to keep you my baby forever, I’m excited for all that’s yet to come. You fill our hearts with immeasurable joy. Your smile lights up any room. You’re a petite little girl with a big personality that’s easy-going, sensitive, and determined. You are playful and curious. You are ours. And we are yours. Even though I missed several pictures with that special sticker we bought and many pages of your baby calendar are bare (which I’ll try and fill in using my calendar), I assure you, you’ve been loved to the moon and back.

I love you, sweet girl.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Surfside Beach 2014

I can still remember summer vacations my parents took my sister and I on when we were little. I have wonderful memories of the quality time we always had on our vacations. I hope that my kids will cherish family vacations just as much.
This past July we went back to Surfside Beach by Galveston with the Mikulas'. We found the perfect house, named The Snook, to pack in 4 adults and 6 kids! It was right next to the beach, had the cutest little wrap around porch, and was the perfect home away from home for a week.
Here's the view of the house as you walk up from the beach.

The kitchen was fully stocked with appliances (even a dishwasher) and everything we needed to cook.

My pictures aren't in order very well, but we spent the whole week having fun, playing, relaxing, and hanging out with friends and family. Most days we'd get up, make breakfast and pack for the beach, go to the beach for several hours, come home for lunch and naps (adults, too!), then we'd have an early dinner, go back to the beach, and then have smores and more fun before putting the kids to bed, and then the adults would hang out and have game night. It was perfect! Oh and we took about a million showers throughout the week! Sandy beaches are MESSY, but we got pretty good about rotating kids in and out of the shower.

Reagan LOVED the beach and the sand. This was her first time and luckily she got better about not eating the sand.

We played hard on the beach all week - football, sand castles, boogy boarding, fishing, wave jumping, Frisbee...

The kids hung in there like champs even though it was tiring having this much fun.

Kenley, probably coming to ask for help getting sand off her hands or out of her eyes.

The kids played so well together all week. We brought crafts, games, and toys and they had the most fun creating things with this construction paper. How did all these kiddos get so grown up so fast?!

One afternoon we went to Galveston to ride the ferry and look at dolphins and have lunch at The Spot. We saw TONS of dolphins! It was so neat!

The kids think it's so neat that we got to drive the car onto a boat and they were great dolphin-spotters.
These sweet boys became best friends at 6 months old in their daycare classroom. The teachers told Mackenzie and I how much these 2 loved each other all the time. Mackenzie ended up writing me a note introducing herself (we dropped off/picked up at different times and hadn't even met each other). Now they are about to start kindergarten, we've got more babies, and we are all so grateful for the friendship these guys started up.
The sisters have become besties, too!

Reagan was my sand castle building buddy. She would play with the sand for hours. She finally started crawling on the trip (at about 11 months old!) but was still not crawling too much so she stayed pretty close.

Sweet sisters.

Being silly.

On our last night we decided not to cook and we went to a little family owned restaurant on the beach. Then we were told we might see dolphins at this spot at the end of the beach, but we didn't see any.

We did manage to get a group shot of the kiddos - crazy hair and all (remember, we took 10 showers a day and this is the last day and so crazy hair it was).
Aidan, Wyatt, Kenley, Reagan, Taylor, and Avery

This was one of the dolphins we got on camera while riding the ferry.

We ended up going to the crabbing pier to catch crabs 2 nights because it was so much fun. The adults had just as much fun as the kids, if not more. Chris and Jonathan didn't have much luck fishing on the shore throughout the week so at least the were able to get something to bite.

Kenley has a crush.
More crabs. Some of them were really big. The bigger they were, the smarter they were.
Wyatt slept in the kid room that had 2 sets of bunk beds and we told him that we were going to see if he was ready for real sleepovers. He had to go to sleep and not play all night. He did awesome!
Kenley slept in our bed and she is a mover. She was all over the place. We NEVER let our kids in our bed, except for trips and stuff, so Kenley thought she was super special. And after a week of this getting her back to her bed was way fun... not!
And Reagan slept in the bathroom. Poor number 3. We had a pretty big bathroom in our room so we set up the pack in play in there, turned on the fan for some background noise, and she slept like a rockstar. Pretty amazing for the baby I had to sleep train using cry-it-out (yes, I'll admit now it was worth it).

Lunch at The Spot. We ate here the last time we went to the beach and decided to go back.

Hanging out on the porch.

We caught lots of little critters (I love to catch things, as long as it's not a spider!). Here's my first catch the first night - a teeny little crab.

The crabbing pier was missing some boards, which made it perfect for sitting and crabbing right in front of us. Not a cute picture, but here's a crabbing action pic. Haha. It was HOT and humid.

Reagan chilled in the stroller while we crabbed. We decided to keep her away from the salmonella we feared was being flung around by children using raw chicken to catch crabs.

I'm so glad we got to go back to the beach this year. It was the perfect week spent with our family. The kids enjoyed having Chris around all day. We all enjoyed spending time together. I'm looking forward to the many more family vacations in the future.

Friday, July 25, 2014

First Haircut {Kenley}

Just before we went on vacation to the beach last week I decided to get a few inches cut off of my hair to help with tangles. Since it was a last minute thing I had the kids with me. I was talking to my friend and hair girl about Kenley's hair getting tangled really bad and we decided to trim hers up, too. Kenley is super shy so I thought she might be nervous, but she was nothing but super proud to get a turn like Mommy. She walked over to the seat, climbed in, and smiled this big nearly the whole time. 

It doesn't look much different, especially since her hair changes length from day to day based on her curls, but it definitely helped with tangles and her curls. I didn't even get an official "after" picture since I'm sure I got busy with the other 2 while Kenley was enjoying her mini spa day. I love Kenley's sweet curls and hint of strawberry. So sweet.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

This year, Wyatt understood that we were celebrating America's birthday. And we celebrated all day long. It was such a fun day of family, friends, and a celebration for our great country.
We started the day off at Stroller Strides since it was a Friday and we still had class. Daddy didn't have to work so Reagan stayed home with him. It was a HOT July morning, but that didn't stop us from getting a hard workout in with friends. After our workout, we did a little patriotic craft with our friends and then the kids ran around with their red, white, and blue streamers. After that we got a short nap in before heading to Pap and Stacy's house for food, family-time, fun, and swimming. And by 8 we got to our fireworks spot that we go to every year and played with friends and family until it was firework time. The whole day was filled with playing and family and everyone had a blast.

And look, we got a pretty decent picture of all 3 kids.

Lolo taught class this day and somehow afterwards all the kids started gravitating over to her mat. Perfect photo op. These kids love her!