Friday, June 27, 2014

Life as 2-year-olds

Since the last update we've been more low key, but that also means I've been awful about taking pictures and videos!  Regardless of our low keyness, they are busy little people these days! They're into everything, climbing (or trying to), opening drawers, pushing buttons (literally and figuratively), and making big messes with toys and food.  Even though they can really test my patience with the whining and disobeying, it's still fun... most of the time.  They're learning more and more each day to communicate, participate in games and songs, and be aware of each other.  Even with Leah- Caroline, Allison, and Andrew will go "check on Leah" by patting her and when she vomits they'll hand us rags to clean it up.  Every now and then they'll bring her one of her toys- just warms my heart.  

One interesting observation (to me) is that despite a mix of toys throughout the house and no push towards any particular toy or cartoon character, the girls are more interested in girly stuff and the boys are more interested in the boy stereotyped toys.  The girls will also sit for nail cutting and hair fixing while the boys give me a wrestling style workout.  

Ben was curious about the girls' tutus... not a fan.
Andrew's the tallest and can climb on all the furniture, reach stuff off the counter, and has about figured out how to open doors.  He and Caroline love to play hide and seek and feed each other at the table.  Andrew continues to steal everyone's toys and be in time out the most, but he also loves to give hugs- Ben is a great hugger too.  Caroline continues to have her regular meltdowns and frequently doesn't make it through lunch without being put to nap early.  BUT she has begun to say all done at lunch instead of throwing everything- such a better indicator of nap readiness!  Ben has taken up singing lately (mostly series of ohs and doos), but Levi will not be outdone in the music category- he's started singing "e i e i o" (emphasis on the oooo).  Allison loves to be a helper and even throws away dirty diapers now :)  She also knows her colors.  

They're all into marching, trying to jump, and guiding adults around by the finger.  They love being chased and running after each other.  One way I like to include Leah is by pushing her around to chase the others, sometimes they'll "help" push her too.  They all love coloring right now and on rainy days I've been laying sheets of paper on the floor for lasting entertainment.  We have had a few incidents of crayons on non-paper surfaces, but nothing too drastic yet.  Caroline and Andrew are big into building with Stackadoos, but they all enjoy it.

Rainy day coloring

They're all crazy for raisins!  I require them to sit quietly on the floor to get a raisin or two, and several times a day you will see 5 toddlers sitting on the kitchen floor waiting for raisins.  We've all been enjoying water activities lately.  They love playing in our backyard inflatable pool, and after some initial cautiousness, they're loving the neighborhood splash pad too.

All trying to "Get Daddy!"

The end of May was full of doctor appointments.  All the kiddos went to the dentist and had great checkups.  They really love brushing their teeth and were even pushing each other to get to the exam room first!  Leah sees most of her specialists every 6 months, so we were due to make the rounds.  As I like to say, you know you're going to TCH too much when the valet people know who you are.  She's been putting weight back on well and has been making steady progress all around.  We met with her new neurologist and he had actually reviewed her records and imaging before the appointment.  He was very pleased with her progress.  He also said based on her history and brain images that she is amazing and must be happy and hard working. It was nice to hear, even if I already knew all that :)

Below are a few videos for your enjoyment.  Apparently Caroline has been hanging around me lately as she's in every video!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Outings

As our day-to-day life has been slightly less hectic lately, we've had time to get out and about!  They have generally done well during our outings.  Granted I don't go anywhere without extra adult support, but the number of adults I need has decreased.  And of course we do have issues, but nothing I don't expect from a bunch of 2-year-olds- scattering, wandering, tiny tantrums and the like.  We have been practicing with our walking rope with our goal being to do outings all walking together with no scattering and wandering.  Definitely a work in progress.  However, it's worth the effort to watch them experience new things- whether they squeal with excitement or cry in protest.  We live and we learn!

Crocodile Encounter
We went to a neighbor's 5th birthday party at Crocodile Encounter in Angleton, TX.  Who knew there was an alligator farm so close to home??  It was actually a really neat place and very safe.  The only animals you could possibly come in contact with were the giant tortoises, but that was intentional- we got to run around with them and Caroline was brave enough to feed them!  Definitely all of our favorite part.  They were somewhat interested in the alligators.  They followed along the tour fairly well and we only had to recruit 2 other adults to help us corral them.  We didn't make it through the entire tour- had to cut it short for a snack and trip home for a nap.  Had to beat the toddler crankiness!

Caroline feeding the tortoise 

Checking out the alligators

Block Party
The same day as the birthday party our neighborhood section had its annual block party.  It is super rare that we take on two outings in one day, but I decided to go for it.  Mainly because the block party was just down the street and the kids' best friend was going too.  The kids had fun running around, getting in the kiddie pool (fully clothed), and begging for food.  The boys also had great fun pushing the limits on how far they could wander off.  Andrew was even caught knocking on front doors with the best friend!  We headed home for bed time and those kids were wiped out after a full day of parties.

Water Fun
What's summer without water activities- especially when it's miserably hot?!  We've wasted no time getting the kids used to water.  Every weekend we bust out the inflatable pool in the backyard- it's big enough for all 8 of us and even has a slide.  Leah loves to float and relax in the water, and the others love to splash and slide.  We all have a blast every afternoon we spend in our little pool!

But sometimes we need a change of scenery.  Luckily the neighborhood's splash pad and one of the big pools is just a short wagon ride away from our house.  I'm definitely not comfortable going either place without extra adult support, but fortunately I have been able to convince people to tag along :)  Caroline is shaping up to be my water baby- she loves it and doesn't show any fear.  Ben tends to have more fun running around than being in the water.  Alli, Andrew, and Levi go in and out.  Leah loves the pools, but not the splash pad- sudden sprays of water startle her.

Animal Fun
I was so proud of Dave and I after we completed our first outing as a family of 8 with NO help!  No one tagging along or meeting us there or waiting to hear from us if we got into trouble.  Just taking the kids to the zoo with a picnic lunch afterwards.  The only way we made it through the outing was the stroller.  The kids were fine sitting in it while we strolled the zoo and ate lunch.  We got the typical amount of attention and questions.  The biggest difference this time was that the kids were actually interested in the larger animals- especially the elephants and monkeys.

Our county's ECI chapter puts on several fundraising family fun events each year.  We recently attended our first one- Barn Bash!  It included pony rides, train rides, hay rides, bounce house, face paint, balloon animals, auctions, a fun band, and of course a dinner!  The kids did all the rides and each one received mixed reviews.  Pony rides took some getting used to (Caroline threw a fit and missed out on this one), train rides were ok until they couldn't see me anymore, and everyone was fine with the hay ride- even Leah got to ride that one :)  Of course everyone's favorite was the dinner!  They did fantastic at sitting at the table eating from their own plate.  I brought along some kitchen shears for cutting food and their usual straw cups to reduce spilling.  Once they had cleaned their plates, we headed back home.

Alli on the big horse

Biker Ben

Ready for the train ride

Get us off this thing!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Houston Dad's Blog!

For the first part of June, the Dads have taken over Houston Mom's Blog!  We gave them free reign to write about whatever they wanted.  Dave was chosen to kick off the series!  I am so proud of him for not only participating, but writing a truly amazing post about being a father.

Check it out HERE!!  It's really a must-read!  And I'm not biased or anything ;)