Saturday, December 24, 2016

What the FOUR?!

Disclaimer: I wrote this several months ago and never got around to publishing it.  Giving it a quick reread it's mostly still accurate except they've gained a lot of skills this school year!

You should see my list of things to blog about.  It is so good.  And it goes back about 6 months.  And I'm not sure I will ever get around to writing those things and might lose these last 6 months in the memory bank.  But back to the present!  The kiddos are 4!  4 YEARS OLD!!!  It's the blessed age I've been told where everything gets a bit easier and nicer and I can take a deep breath. Ahhhh.

Well, I can see us getting there, but we're not there yet.  The imaginative play is in full force, I don't have to entertain at all times, independence is increasing rapidly, and the personalities are like whoa.  But they are needy, whiney, and in plenty of fights with each other, so Mommy is still very much a presence in the all the time.

Let's get on to the good stuff.  4 year update...

Andrew Noah

He's so friendly and polite.  And TALL!  "Andrew you're so handsome" "No, I tall" He's learned it's his identifier.  Generally willing to help out, will eat most things, loves to please and receive praise, gives hugs all the time, has a goofy fake laugh when he thinks others think he's funny, loves cars and trucks, likes copying Mommy and Daddy, loves to run wild with his brothers, knows his letters and ABCs and can count to 20, sensitive, easily scared of things he sees on TV (but still loves TV), really enjoys pretending to be different characters.  Lately his favorite is Spiderman.  There's often the psshh... sound of the webs leaving his wrists happening at our house.  But sometimes Batman prevails too.

Benjamin Luke

This kid!  He's something else.  "Benny Boy" as he calls himself as he speaks in third person half the time.  "Benny Boy does not like that very well".  His constant commentary of all things going on all the time charms people somehow.  He's got the best frown in town.  When he's really pouting it's the full frown with a fake tear wipe.  Ben is very particular about what he wants and even what words you use.  Currently he will only wear long sleeve shirts, shorts, and sandals.  Don't call them shoes, because they're sandals.  He avoids cleaning up like the plague.  And most things that involve him doing any sort of work.  He loves to build with Legos, draw, give hugs and kisses to me, order everyone around, jump and run, play cars, ride the balance bike, and be naked.

Caroline Grace

Recently when asked to describe Caroline I said, "she's complicated."  She can be sweet, helpful, silly, talkative, playful or a screaming irrational terror who cries for no real reason and needs lots of moments to calm down.  Depends on the day or her mood or how tired or hungry or hangry she is.  Caroline is the lover of all things pink.  Especially Paw Patrol.  Pink Paw Patrol with Skye AND Everest.  "That's my favorite."  She's the pickiest eater.  Yogurt and cereal, peanut butter and jelly, cheese, sometimes blueberries, and pepperoni pizza.  That about sums up her diet.  Oh, I forgot ketchup.  Totally a food group.  She's great at imaginary play with stuffed animals and dolls and figurines.  She's got epic stories going on.  Can still hang with the boys in the rough and tumble play too.  LOVES to swim!  Like if she had the option not sure I'd ever get her out of the water.  She surprised me with VBS- she loves to sing and dance to all the songs.  And don't you mess up her jam- she'll correct you and you have to start over.  This girl loves her mommy and her daddy and her teachers.  And she still jumps up and down when she's excited.

Leah Michelle

This little miss has had a rough 2016 thus far.  In and out of the hospital dealing with things new to all of us and trying to find solutions.  But she's a trooper and a fighter.  She's continued to work hard in school and therapy and all these little setbacks haven't slowed her down much.  She never regressed and has continued to show slow and steady progress.  That's kinda amazing y'all!  She's growing like a weed too.  I mean, has grown 7 in and gained 8 lbs in a few months.  Prior to this year we were happy if she'd grown any tiny amount.  This girl LOVES music.  It's her happy language.  Favorite songs are Uptown Funk, Shut Up and Dance, Sorry, ABCs, Old McDonald, If you're happy and you know it, Jesus Loves Me, , and anything Laurie Berkner.  She loves being cuddled, being in the water, cause and effect toys, and kisses!

Allison Kate

Still the tiniest but not afraid to tell it like it is!  She is usually shy around new people, but that quickly fades.  She is ever my rule follower to the max and keeps everyone in line.  She is quick to tell me when anyone has done something wrong.  She remembers EVERYTHING!  And I mean EVERYTHING!  From what anyone says to what they did to things that happened 2 years ago and I'm like, "uhhh how do you even remember that?!"  (I can hardly remember yesterday)  She is the one I find out what I often say and do by what she starts imitating.  Allison loves to dance and spin around the house.  She loves to be a helper.  She enjoys books, dolls and my little ponies, and any kind of art supplies.

Levi Thomas

My quirky little monkey man!  He is silly as silly can be and loves it.  He's got the goofiest dance moves around and isn't afraid to show them off.  He still loves guitars and music and picks up any song lyrics or learning through songs.  Levi is very inquisitive; he asks about a million questions a day about what things are, how they work, and why they are that way.  Sometimes I know the answers ;) He also still enjoys lights and doors.  I say if you find some random lights turned on or doors locked- Levi's been there.  He's really enjoyed water this year- from swimming lessons to belly flops to running in sprinklers to shooting water guns.  He's all about it!  He and Andrew are the best eaters.  Levi's not afraid to try new foods and isn't picky at all.  He can put down a lot for such a tiny body!  Levi is very independent and will do most things on his own.  He still has a quick temper and would rather scream or whine than use words.  If he ever naps it's usually in the middle of the floor somewhere- he literally crashes in the middle of playing.  Levi is quite affectionate often giving me hugs and saying "I love you Mama"

There you have it.  An overview of my 4 year olds.  Now that we're actually closer to 4 1/2 I am seeing a big difference compared to 3.  Mostly in the independence level of these guys and their ability to play together along with using imagination.  It's so fun to watch!  I'm collecting endless amounts of hilarious quotes.  They are generally adaptable, love being around people, being busy, going places, and are well behaved most of the time in public :)  One of my favorite things they currently do is refer to each other as "friends".  Like instead of saying "brothers and/or sisters" they say "My friends".
All photos in this post courtesy of Lisa Holloway Photography

Friday, January 1, 2016

Pagosa 2015

I'm back at it again!  Catching up the ole blog.  Really I just need a better system of photo dumping which would motivate me to get posts up quicker.  And setting time to actually write my list of posts I want to write.  But, unfortunately for blog readers, this generally falls at the end of the to do list. Maybe in 2016 I'll do better.  Maybe.

Anywho, back to the topic at hand- PAGOSA TRIP 2015!  Our favorite time of the summer.  This year we didn't go until late summer as my parents were busy with their own travels (How dare they?!)   but we made the most of it.  Stuck to our usual plan of leaving dark and early at 4am for the long haul.  I feel we've got this down to a T; we know where all the good stop and play spots are, what the best food to pack is, how to cram everything in the van, and how are kids are best entertained.  This trip was by far the best we've had.  We did decide to forego potty training and leave them in pull ups for the car travel time.  This did lead to some regression at my parents house and after we returned home, but was so worth it along the 17-18 hour drive.  This time I also didn't bother with car toys.  They are perfectly happy listening to music, looking out the window, and eating a million and a half snacks.  Isn't that what road tripping is all about?!  Truly I was so thankful we didn't have to deal with any mega tantrums during the drive.

Enough about the drive!  We had so much fun while we were there!  The kids slept in one room, on the floor, in their own sleeping bags. They thought they were so cool "camping" like the Bubble Guppies.  They actually did sleep too!  Not without some good play time in their room though.  Leah slept in the room with Dave and I as usual.

At this point I don't remember the order in which we did which activities, but we fit in plenty.  The weather was wonderful, especially compared to the unbearable humidity and heat of Houston in late July.  We spent lots of time at parks and playing in the yard.  Picnics were a regular occurrence too.

Gammy and Pop's yard is even big enough to explore!  They also enjoyed "swimming" in the hot tub- once they got used to it being extra warm and having bubbles.

We were brave and took them around town a bit- sno cones, library story time, and a Mexican restaurant.  They did really well, and, of course, loved eating sno cones and chips and dip.

I big milestone was the first hike for the kiddos!  They exceeded our e
xpectations.  We specifically picked a very easy trail to a popular tourist stop and planned to stop about half way when the waterfall is first visible.  But they went the entire mile and a half round trip hike!  Up hill, rocks and roots, back down hill... I was impressed.

Speaking of hiking, the adults had to get some in too.  Dave and I had a lovely day date hiking a new-to-us trail with beautiful scenery and went out to lunch afterwards.  My mom and I also had a day to hike and have lunch.  Dave and my dad did a lot of fly fishing too, so we all got breaks from kid duty :)

What might turn into an annual tradition- we ended the trip with a picnic and play time at Williams Reservoir.  They LOVE to throw rocks in the water.  This may be a future camping spot too.

All in all a great trip!  Already looking forward to next summer when we'll go back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Orange Beach

The focus on swimming lessons was mainly for our family beach vacation to Orange Beach!  Happened back in June.  And by family I mean our pack of 8, plus all grandparents, plus my brother and his family, plus one of Dave's brothers.  Whew!  Even with the crowd, we all had a blast!  The kids enjoyed the beach and the pool and did well the whole trip- even in the car and sleeping all together in regular beds.  Pretty sure at least one kid fell off the bed each night, but it didn't phase them, and I loved not messing with pack n plays!  

Boys all snuggled up in the big bed
With so many adults there we were able to accommodate all the kids easily on the beach- from holding them in the water to building sandcastles- we had it all covered.  We spent most mornings down on the beach then switched to the pool for the afternoon (I only clean up sand once a day).  They LOVED the big water slide and lazy river.  Hours of fun.  
My beach baby/water baby/part fish

Chillaxin to the Max

Andrew completely asleep on the beach

Leah and I swimming in the indoor pool
The adult children even got some kid free hangout time one night for ice cream and shopping :)  Besides that we had fun hunting for crabs at night, watching movies, and pigging out.  

Movie Time!

Allison and Andrew hanging out on the balcony 
One special event was meeting up with a family of quints we've only known through our online parent support group.  So fun meeting in person and seeing what life will be like in 17 years!  They were so nice and great with the kiddos.  

Really the only issue was Caroline throwing huge fits every time we made her leave the water, but, hey, I'm used to that business.  I can pinpoint the Caroline wail a mile away.  Now on to the next trip.

The van packed FULL on the way home- awful pic, but best I could get

Saturday, September 5, 2015

New Adventures

Doing activities and outings has gotten simpler over the last few months.  So, needless to say, we've been doing a lot!

Our annual appearance in West Columbia's San Jacinto Day parade was rained out, so we rallied with our own parade around the neighborhood.  All you need is a decorated wagon, some themed outfits, and candy (we may have just eaten it ourselves).  People did stop and ask what we were doing, so the idea worked, right?

They've been out for ice cream cones (so so so messy), a few select restaurants, and the zoo (with actual interest in the animals).   Even a few simple outings on my own- and we all survived!

One outing I'd been thinking about for a loooong time was the first Kids 1K race.  To "train", we started with walking around the block and learning to stay together and listen, then tried to make it without stopping to throw a fit or rest or anything.  Come actual race day, they were awful.  Threw fits at the beginning and we ended up cutting the course and still coming in last.  But they did enjoy the popsicles at the end, extra snacks, and playing on the playground while I raced.

Can't forget the strawberry picking outing that ended with a trip to the ER; we learned Caroline is allergic to fire ants.  She kept fussing while we were in the fields and I thought she was just being her charming self.  After carrying her around a bit I looked over and she was covered in hives!  Thankfully I wasn't alone and we rushed to the nearest ER; they took great care of her and were so accommodating with the rest of us.   Watching out for ants from now on!  And I guess Caroline is wanting to keep me on my toes because at the last dentist visit she had an infected abscessed tooth that had to be pulled.  She handled it like a champ!  She's pretty darn cute with her missing front tooth too, if I do say so myself.  

They started swim lessons back in May.  The first lesson was a DISASTER.  Could not have gone any worse.  Threw fits about getting in the water, then after fighting them for 25 minutes, they decide it's fun for the last 5 minutes.  Then repeat the fits x5 to get out of the water- add in some running away from me, me getting in the water fully clothed to fish them out... you get the picture.  Their teacher was very nice and let us try a couple more times to see if it got any better before banning us from her home.  Luckily- it did!  They LOVE swimming and their lessons now and they're really catching on- especially the girls.  They were even jumping off the low diving board last lesson.  

First lesson- trying to escape

Who knows what will be next?!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Transitions and Milestones

Since turning three, the cribs are gone.  The pen is gone.  Little potties are here.  MILESTONES!  

The first big transition was switching from cribs to toddler beds about a month before the 3rd birthday.  Difference between girls and boys: once in toddler beds the girls go to bed with no issue and stay there all night and the boys party it up until they crash.  From kicking the walls, breaking a bed (too much jumping), pinning Ben under a mattress, locking Ben in the closet, climbing anything they can, emptying clothes bins all over the floor, to conspiring on how to get out of the room (it's childproofed locked from the inside), I never know what I'll find when I go in their room.  Over time, it's gotten slightly better, but the "frat parties" continue.  Also, the new thing is, when the girls wake up (always before the boys) they'll go in the boys room to get them up too.  Not cool girls.  Not cool.
One time after nap they walked out like this.  They were fully clothed when I put them to nap.

Sweet sisters can share toddler beds if they want to

The freedom of no pen transition was much smoother and I like having my living room back!  At first they weren't sure what to do with the open space, but got over that real quick.  Dance parties, ring around the rosie, chase, obstacle courses, car race tracks have all filled up that space at one time or another.  

On the other hand, potty training is the WORST.  I'll repeat that one- WORST.  Sometime I feel like the whole house smells like pee.  We started training all 5 at once and after a week I was at my wit's end.  Put Leaky Levi (he earned that one) back in diapers.  Fortunately Caroline, Andrew, and Ben started catching on and their pretty good now.  Still random accidents, but not bad.  Allison is some sort of camel child and doesn't go.  So, she can pull off that she's trained, but she's really not.  We restarted Levi a few weeks ago and miraculously he caught on quickly and is at the same level as the others.  Since none of the traditional training methods were really going to be feasible for me, I made up my own.  Started out rewarding for dry pants every few minutes and expanding to every 30 minutes and they got bigger rewards for using the potty.  Once they got the hang of dryness, only going potty was rewarded.  The week I restarted Levi I had sticker charts for everyone hoping to stir up some friendly sibling competition.  They really took to those quickly and it helped Levi a great deal, but poor camel Allison only had 1 sticker while everyone else had completed theirs.  Still works in progress, but we're heading in the right direction.  And on a positive note, we haven't had any poop paintings in quite some time and the boys have learned to "point it down".  As one of my boys has said, "Mommy, don't hold down my penis!" You can't make this stuff up.  

Friday, August 14, 2015


In light of the new school year about to begin (and School Part 2 being posted), a little catch up needs to happen.  The transition into school started a few (if 6 is a few) months ago.  I started calling around local Mother's Day Out programs to narrow down which ones I wanted to visit (i.e. which ones gave decent sibling discounts).  I got it down to 4, but one program told me they couldn't get all of my kids in on the same days of the week, so they were out.  Honestly they were all great programs, different, but good in their own ways.  The one we chose gave us the best financial deal, but also, it's Christian based and they seemed genuinely excited about my kids attending, and word of mouth reviews have all been positive :)  On top of all that good stuff, they let me bring the kids to recess time a few times this past spring to get them used to coming.  We got to play, meet some of the kids and teachers, and see the classrooms!  I mean, how awesome is that?!  AND they're still genuinely excited we're attending in the fall :)

On the public school side of things, evaluations began a couple of months prior to their 3rd birthday. I had them all either tested or screened.  With no surprise, Leah qualified for half day PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) and Caroline and Levi qualified for walk-in speech class.  They all began the week after they turned 3.  I was nervous about Leah starting school and regressing due to an overwhelming schedule and new experiences, but she ROCKED it!  She did fall asleep during the first day, but after that she did great and continued to work hard and progress in her therapies at home.  She rides the bus which is so wonderful for me, and the others LOVE meeting the bus at our driveway and full out cheer for Leah and the bus driver.  Our driver must feel like a celebrity when she gets to our house.  One day she even let us all get on the bus to see what Leah does!  The others thought that was so cool.  

First Day!

Awesome inflatable chair for circle time

Caroline and Levi really enjoyed speech class and made quite a bit of progress in the short time before summer! The other kids enjoyed eating snacks and walking the school grounds while we waited.  I feel like so many at the school know us and we don't really go there yet.  

Visiting Leah's class
On Leah's field day, her teacher let me bring all the kids along and participate with the class- bounce house and popsicles.  My kids think school is awesome.  We truly had a great introduction to school last May and I'm praying the new school year goes just as well.  A lot of transitions are about to happen!

Friday, August 7, 2015

We are THREE-nagers?!

The 3's.  Oh, how I love you and hate you all at once.  They are learning new things constantly and talking so much ( I keep a notebook of funny sayings), playing together, being more independent in self help skills and play, and generally easier and more fun to take places and do things with.  Then they are also potty training, whining, tantruming, fighting, talking constantly, and being more independent.  Fun, yet challenging to say the least.  All you people who warned me that the 3's are hard were SPOT. ON. As their pediatrician said, "They don't call them threenagers for nothing."  

One thing that's started to stand out with my little threenagers are the PERSONALITIES!  Here's my somewhat brief summary of each one at this current time (3 years, 3 mo):


Mini Dave, sensitive, scaredy cat, likes to please (most of the time), concerned where everyone is and what they're doing, inquisitive, loves cars and trucks and trains and planes, puzzles, swimming, bubbles, jumping.  Andrew quotables…
"You're tall" "No, I'm Andrew"
"Mommy I went potty I get a treat." "Not this time" "I want my teetee back."
"I want to go up high" (on the highway)
"How about juice?" "no." "How about yes?"
"Pop is a good boy"
"Hey Daddy, you're not Mommy."


Talkative is an understatement, charms everyone he meets, know-it-all, demanding, bossy, silly, loves cars and trucks, jumping, climbing, swimming, running.  I could write a book of Ben quotables.
"Mommy you're too big to play." "Then what should I do?" "You go get drinks and snacks."
"Mommy that not nice!"
"I teetee over there.  Get paper towel.  Wipe it up.  I need new pants."
"Put it on my body" (referring to his new pants)
"What's wrong with Andrew? Maybe Levi can help him."
"I must be hungry" (said while eating)
"This one is the most medium."


Don't let the pink dress and sparkly pink shoes and pink EVERYTHING fool you- she can get her brothers in a headlock and wrestle them to the ground like nobody's business.  And she's the fastest and most likely to steal your toy and run away.  But she also says "I love you" the most and has the best please/thank you manners.  Independent, stubborn, and sweet.  Throws tantrums every new place we go.  Loves swimming and anything water related, coloring, napping, her princess dolls, playing outside, hiding in her room when too many people are here. Don't have any quotables from her since she just started putting sentences together, but she is first to let me know when someone's made a "big mess Mommy. Big mess."  


Little mother, rule follower, pitifully dramatic with any minuscule injury (i.e. fake limping when a scab started to come off), helper, honest, spots a sucker a mile away- to carry her of course, whines instead of talking with any chance, girly girl, loves cooking, art stuff, games, dancing, having nails painted, ring around the rosie, chase, having her picture taken and looking at pictures of herself. 
"I love looking at pictures of myself"
"Look at me I have princess legs."
"I kick my legs, it's great!"
"I cook too.  Need hat.  Need glove.  I say no apron!"
"I did it!  I be careful!" 


Sweet, silly, knows what he wants and will whine and tantrum to get it- even if you already gave it to him, can be clingy, loves to dance and sing, play his guitar, mop/sweep/vacuum, open and shut doors, water play, jump, run, pick out his own clothes (girls pick out the same thing everyday but he mixes it up). 
"Levi I see your hiney." "No Mommy it's a butt."
"There's Chick fil a. It good. Mmmm. Yummy in my tummy." (he's been there once)
singing any song he can remember words to- so cute!


Happy, determined, hard working, loves cuddling, music, hugs and kisses, being in the water, hearing siblings cry, giggling, Daddy's tickles, moving in her gait trainer, sensory play, her stander, iPad apps (of course).  She is much more vocal these days and has made lots of progress with using switches, her gait trainer, scooting around the floor, beginning to use her vision and movement for functional purposes, and even eating!  We've recently started using food play as she is willingly bringing her hand to her mouth and she's really enjoyed it- even the tiny bits of self feeding.  :)  The vomiting continues, but she's rocking everything else.

It's hard to believe these little people are 3 years old now.  I oh so often forget where we started (or maybe my brain just blocked out that whole first year).  What I do remember is thinking, "If we can make it to 3 things will be so different and all this baby stuff will be over. We'll know we can do this."  The time has flown, we've made it to 3, things are so different, the baby stuff is over, and we're doing this the best we can.  Wouldn't have it any other way- semi-controlled chaos and all!
All photos in this post are courtesy of Lisa Holloway Photography