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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

3rd Birthday Party!!

Approaching the 3rd birthday I knew this one would be the most fun yet (I know, they're only 3, but still.)  They had been to quite a few birthday parties and were getting excited that it would be THEIR birthday soon.  I wanted to keep the theme gender neutral and something that they all enjoy which quickly narrowed down to Bubble Guppies or Crayons/Art.  I went with Crayons because I thought it would be easier to pull off. :)  Let me back track.  That was the big party.  First we had to have a couple of smaller parties...

Started off with the Goodbye ECI/Happy 3rd Birthday party.  Ms.  Holly (ECI teacher) brought over balloons and cupcakes and a copy of Dr. Suess's Oh the Places You'll Go complete with the sweetest message to each of the kiddos written inside.  I plan to have as many teachers and therapists write notes in the book as I can get.  This party was so bittersweet as we miss seeing Ms. Holly every week!  

Actual birthday ice cream cake!
The next celebration was on their actual birthday.  Grandparents, my regular Thursday crew of helpers, and I gave our gifts complete with balloons and ice cream cake.  And I was even able to force them into taking the annual brown chair pictures!

Now on to the big party... 

Each kiddo had a crayon shirt in their color.  You know, because we've brainwashed them into liking "their color" the best.  They also had their own mini cake shaped like a crayon in their color.  Ms. Barb did a phenomenal job with their cake!  Super cute and super yummy! At the party we had butcher paper over the tables with crayons to decorate, balloons galore, face painting, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and a pinata.  The menu was colored foods: strawberries, cheese balls, cheese and cracker tray, veggies and dip, blue popcorn balls, and purple grapes.  Plus pigs in a blanket, ice cream, and cake for good measure.  A terrible storm rolled in the day of which completely spoiled the whole party in the park plan, but thankfully I had rented a large room with covered patio area, so the party went on and we all had a blast!  I'm already jotting down ideas for future parties :)  I'm all about the big party/simple theme.  No need to get extra crazy over here.

Now let's see if those crayon shirts still fit at Halloween for my pack of crayons costume idea… :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not Ignoring the Holidays

I'll admit the past couple of years I've tried my best to ignore holidays.  Move on like it's another day with no hoopla necessary.  This was not because I'm not a holiday celebrating kinda person.  Not at all!  It was because I had 6 very young children who did not get the concept of holidays, care about holidays, or were capable of any project or  behaving through an event.  So I did the minimum effort required.

But this year they have really changed between 2 1/2 and 3!  I had to step up my game.  They're starting to understand the holiday concept and enjoy activities and crafts- and especially any sort of fun food.  Between Pinterest and books, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter were full of fun!

Valentine's Day

Not my favorite holiday.  Sure, I liked it as a kid, but as an adult I just don't really care.  I have zero expectations of Dave to do anything and I'm fine with that.  But for the kids?  I wanted to do something fun this year!  Since I basically have my own preschool class, we had a class party!  We colored valentines and gorged on snacks and treats provided by one of my best helpers.  The kids had a blast!

I asked each one who their valentine was on multiple occasions leading up to Valentine's day and got a myriad of answers.  Usually it was "MawMaw PawPaw Jeanie" (my grandparents), but "baby Anna" (My friend's daughter), and randomly selected volunteers were also responses.  Dave also got in on the holiday spirit and made us heart shaped pancakes!  I made some valentine themed popcorn snack mix, and had intentions of other fun food that didn't happen.

St. Patrick's Day

This was a last minute effort.  My mom made the kids cute shamrock shirts.  I tried to theme the day with green milk, lucky charms, and a green dinner.  We also did an activity... I buried party favor junk in gold glittered green shaving cream and they got to dig around and find stuff.  Ben and Caroline enjoyed it while the others ran away as quick as they could.


Once again my mom painted fun shirts for the kids.  They loved their bunny shirts and I didn't have to search for Easter outfits.  Win win!  As much as I would love for them to already understand what Easter is all about, they're still a tad too young for it.  I think they think it's equal part Easter Bunny/eggs/candy and Jesus.  With more excitement about the Easter Bunny.

Rather than dye eggs and create a humongous mess, I opted for coloring eggs.  Hard boiled them and colored on them with crayons while still warm.  Turned out great and easy clean up!  Plus we were able to eat the eggs for lunch after they accidentally dropped them.  We had several practice egg hunts around the house and yard.  We colored egg cutouts to hang on the wall.  We made resurrection rolls from marshmallows and crescent rolls (YUM!) and read many books about Easter covering anything from the resurrection to Peter Cottontail.

I waited until the last minute on the Easter baskets.  Target was down to the slim pickins.  They received generic mini chocolate eggs, pop tarts, and big kid underwear.  They were excited about it all! haha  On Easter Sunday we visited my grandparents.  A large egg hunt was held and they found way too much candy!  Another highlight was having all of them eat with us at the big table.  They did so well and thought they were really hot stuff sitting with the adults.

Well... maybe Ben wasn't THAT excited about the underwear

As you can see, the holidays this year have been off to a fun start!  I'm sure the rest of the year won't disappoint.