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

School

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):

ANDREW NOAH

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."

BENJAMIN LUKE

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."

CAROLINE GRACE

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."  

ALLISON KATE

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. 
Quotables:
"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!" 

LEVI THOMAS

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). 
Quotables:
"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!

LEAH MICHELLE

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.



Easter

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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Where have I been??

I'm not the most consistent of bloggers.  I've never set that expectation nor do I plan to.  But somehow it's been over 2 months since my last post?!  Eek!  I at least try to blog dump once a month.  This blog update business has been on my 'to-do' list for over a month now.  So... where have I been?

Taking care of business as usual!  Going on fun outings, somewhat keeping up with my 2015 projects, dealing with sick kiddos, having kids evaluated and prepping for special ed, choosing Mother's Day Outs, planning birthdays and showers, switching to toddler beds, taking down the pen, ending my term at Houston Mom's Blog and starting my new part time job at our church, running, and of course the usual doctor appointments, cooking, cleaning, balancing kids/Dave/friends/family/myself...blogging just hasn't happened!  Neither has my fun reading, movie watching (non-toddler friendly movies that is), or TV watching.  Or many of my other to-dos that just get copied on my list week to week.

Oh well.  Trust me, I have a list of posts that need to be written.  And I will get to them.  If for no other reason than my memory.   Because it all flies by so fast. These kids are about to turn 3 people!  3?!  Still not sure how that happened or how we got here, but we're here.  Blog updates or not.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hello 2015

Forgive my lateness on the New Year post, but I've had it planned in my head for a few weeks, so I decided that still counts.

2014 was an INSANE year for us!  Seriously, my mind boggles just thinking of all that happened.  Between all of the trips and developmental changes- a year ago we took away the boys' pacifiers and I hardly remember using pacifiers anymore- it's been a wild ride.  I have a feeling 2015 will also give us a run for our money {and probably every year after that, but that's just getting overwhelming}.  What I have completely failed to do these last few months is a big kid by kid overview.  I meant to when they hit the 2 1/2 mark, but it never happened.  So, now at 2 3/4 it's getting done.  And they've already changed quite a bit!  As always, in birth order (with estimated stats):


Andrew Noah
Height: 34-35in?
Weight: 30 lbs?
Clothes- big 2T/small 3T
diapers- 5 and 5 overnight

Andrew is such an interesting personality as my first born.  I can definitely see him as a leader.  He can be so helpful and sweet when picking up toys, bringing me stuff for Leah (not prompted), giving hugs to adults and siblings, and holding siblings' hands.  He is super sensitive and a big fat scaredy cat with everything!  But, he's also the big bully.  He's taller than everyone and will take a toy because someone else wants it.  It takes a lot to get him to share.  He LOVES hats.  There is one on his head unless he's sleeping or in the bath.  Cars and trucks are his toys of choice- pushing or riding.  He enjoys books and puzzles and coloring and play doh and running around outside.  He likes to help wash dishes.  He's in time out quite a bit.  I love his hillbilly laugh and goofy run.  He can pretty much sing his ABCs, count to 10, identify letters and numbers and colors and shapes, and repeat any words.  He's into everything being big- big milk, big pizza, big car, big truck, big chair... you get the idea.  Andrew is a mini-Dave.


Benjamin Luke
Height: 32 in?
Weight: 28 lb?
Clothes- big 2T/small 3T
diapers- 5 and 5 overnight

Does this boy every stop moving?!  He loves to run and he is fast!  Usually running while pushing his big yellow dump truck.  Also loves playing hide and seek- "Me more hide".  He hides in either play tent and really just goes back and forth each turn.  Sometimes he hides there when it's clean up time and reappears just as clean up is done.  Ben is a complete ham!  With his sly smiles and cute faces and sweet voice.  Loves to recite his Bible verses, numbers 1-10 forward and backward, letters, and colors. Loves listening to stories and you better not try to skip any words!  Gives great hugs.  Likes to be tucked in bed with his pillow, blanket, and many stuffed animals.  Named one Bubble Puppy after his beloved Bubble Guppies character.  Ben often wakes up from nap super grumpy.  Nothing makes him happy.  He's very particular in what he wants- "No water!  Apple juice!" or "Yellow cheese!"  He has hit a complete language explosion- going from sometimes putting 2 words together to spitting out "Nothing is impossible with God" and "I like cheese too" in a matter of weeks.  Ben loves running outside and generally plays well with the others, sometimes getting too rough.  My little tub o love.


Caroline Grace
Height: 32 in?
Weight: 25 lb?
Clothes- 2T
Diapers- 4/5

Sweet Caroline.  Sometimes that is.  In the past 3 months her tantrums have seriously reduced (may have had something to do with those molars coming in), but her screams can still make you cringe.  When she doesn't like or want a certain food item, it is going on the nearest plate that isn't hers.  But she loves her some breakfast.  And snacks.  She is still my nap lover and often cuts off story time early to get her nap on.  Probably because her nighttime sleep is restless and she has been known to sing and dance at odd hours in the night.  Usually making Leah giggle.  Caroline has taken a recent interest in helping me cook.  She's my little sous chef.  If she even thinks I might be prepping food, here she comes pushing a barstool over to help {sampling is her favorite}.  She thrives with one-on-one attention and knows so much more than she lets on.  Her speech is the most delayed, and although she's picked up quite a few more words recently, they're difficult to understand.  Caroline will randomly help with Leah and help pick up toys.  She loves building blocks, play doh, coloring, books, puzzles, magnets, and sneaking off by herself.  It doesn't surprise me to find Caroline happily playing in a room all alone. I almost forgot- she loves water!  I think she'd stay in the bath all day if I let her.  If she sees water, she's going in.  Swimming lessons are a must this summer.  She also loves being outside and sliding.  My parents say she's a lot like me, except she can strut around better than I ever could.


Leah Michelle
Height: 31 in
Weight: 23.5 lbs
Clothes- 2T
Diapers- 4

As her neurologist said at her last check up, "I couldn't be more pleased with her progress."  This girl continues to be so hard working!  She gives therapy and play her full effort everyday {unless she's over-tired, but you can't blame her then}.  She is 90% of the time a happy child.  Leah has the biggest smiles and her whole face lights up when she's happy about something.  She continues to make more and more sounds {no words, just sounds} and we love hearing them.  She is THIS CLOSE to sitting on her own and can do it for up to 10 seconds {using her hands to prop herself}.  Her muscle strength and tone are improving, as his head control.  Her reaching is better, moving in her gait trainer, and food tolerance is slightly better.  Again, it's Leah I'm talking about, so this progress is in baby step form, BUT it's progress nonetheless.  She still loves music, letters, and numbers.  She recognizes familiar voices and songs {like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- smiles the entire show}.  Her siblings are more aware of her these days and will even help with some Leah duties.  At least one of them always helps push her stroller on outings.  She will be starting school in April and I can hardly believe it!!  


Allison Kate
Height: 31.5 in
Weight: 20 lbs
Clothes- 18 mo
Diapers- 4

As always, small in stature, big in personality.  This girl has also had a language explosion and picks up things I'm not sure how she knows.  Or maybe she has super human memory??  Like she all of a sudden mentions Elsa and Anna and Chick-fil-A all the time even though she's seen the movie and eaten there once... a couple of months ago.  What?!  She still notices EVERYTHING and lets you know if it's not right.  She's perfected the "no no fill in the blank"  because she's the little boss.  Alli knows letters, numbers, colors... and pretty much anything she can memorize.  She is still clingy and has her particular adults she prefers {probably because they're most likely to do as she wants- ha!}, but she can also be very shy which can be hard with transitions {unless a preferred adult is present}.  She loves to take care of her baby dolls, help me around the house, read, color, play tea party, and sing and do motions to songs.  She has been known to call her daddy, "Dave" and turn your head for you if she wants you to "Look!" at something.  Her first sentence was "Alli toot."  which isn't surprising since she's all about the "Alli do" everything by herself.


Levi Thomas
Height: 31.5 in
Weight: 22 lbs
Clothes- 18 mo
Diapers- 4

This little man is as quirky as ever!  He still loves both his guitar and his cleaning supplies.  He's usually playing with one or the other, but will break for his Legos, to color a picture, slide, or some other random thing- but not for too long.  He can get easily frustrated with communication and will throw a fit if you don't understand him right away.  But, his language has greatly improved lately {like not calling the vacuum "goo goo" or Gammy "BeBe" anymore}!  He likes to jump, throw balls, listen to music, pretend to play his guitar along with musical toys, sing, and run around outside.  Levi is a great eater!  He's slow and steady, but will usually clean his plate.  Right now he's really into closing doors and insists on being the last person out of a room so he can close the door. One of my favorite things Levi does is show his muscles.  Every time he comes in our bathroom for a bath {wearing just a diaper} he makes a stop at the full length mirror to do his muscle posing and just cracks himself up!  I'm always amazed at how quickly Levi picks up song lyrics and gets so excited to sing along and jam out with his crazy dance moves.

Phew!  Finally got through everyone.  As a group, they've really started being more big kid than toddler lately.  I'm loving how they interact with each other, always using their names, and generally being more aware of each other.  They've also really improved with hand holding- adults and each other!  This has really helped on outings.

Well, that's all folks.