Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sh!t I'm loving

It's been a long time since I've written a list of recommendations. So, here goes!
(In no particular order because, that would have required forethought and planning)

Escape Rooms - So far I have done 3 escape rooms with a group of girlfriends and we are having so much fun that we've made it a monthly night out event. The cost is about $30/person in my area but, we use Groupon to find deals.

Tangle Teezer - This product has CHANGED MY LIFE! Okay, that's dramatic but, it has made our  mornings so much easier. Hannah has very fine hair which is a knotted up mess after a long nights sleep. I would use a detangler and try to be gentle but, tears still flowed and hair was being pulled out. I bought this brush and it changed everything. Mornings are now quick, easy and tear-less. Hoorah!

Under Armour Striker Soccer Backpack - If you have a soccer player in your life, this bag is perfect. There are less expensive ones on the market and I don't take the price lightly (it's not cheap) but, I'm glad I got it. It stores everything in separate compartments and makes getting ready for soccer and transporting all the gear a total breeze. Ryan loves this soccer bag.

FabFitFun - I received the first box and was blown away - love it! Second box is coming soon and, based on the sneak peak, this one will not disappoint either. It's a seasonal box so, comes four times a year. Subscription is $49/box but, there are codes all over for $10 off your first box.

The Birthday Thief book -  This personalized book is made by Wonderbly. I bought one as a birthday gift for Harper (Hannah's BFF) and it arrived yesterday. The quality is outstanding, the illustrations are gorgeous and, best of all, it can be customized for the recipient.

Vitamin Water -  I recently had a week long stomach bug and my usual go-to is Gatorade. However, I decided to try this out and I'll never buy Gatorade again.

The Bowtique - Want your little girl to outshine Princess Charlotte in the bow department? This site is the place for you! It's a mom owned company based in the UK that makes the most gorgeous bows you'll ever see. I started buying from her a couple  years ago when she was still on the small side but, her business has exploded and her bows are on celebrity children all over Britain and being featured in magazines, too! At last count, Hannah has 52 of her bows. *As of the date of publication, she's on vacation so the site is temporarily offline.

Plum Paper ME Planner - I am so glad I found this personalized planner company. I love mine and use it every day. I know most people are using their phones to track appointments etc, but, I still prefer to write it all down. What I like best is you have the option to track all your family's activities on one page.

Gizmo Gadget by LG - This is a watch for your child that is a GPS tracker and also makes phone calls and sends/receives texts. What I like best is Ryan can only call and text the people on the pre-approved list I set up on the app on my phone. Subscription is only $5/month. I can pull up the app to see where he is and it has a "listen in" feature.

This Fresh Strawberry Yogurt recipe - I had some friends over for a Memorial Day BBQ and my friend brought this to-die-for cake. I got the recipe from her and will be making it all summer and will definitely be taking it to summer parties we attend. In fact, I talked about it so much at work that people started asking me to just shut up already and send them the recipe.

Apple Pay - I know I'm so very late to the game on this but, Apple Pay has replaced PayPal as my favorite money collecting/paying app. I feel all cool and hip now.

Robot Vacuum - The one I specifically bought has been discontinued so this is just a general link to robot vacuum's on Amazon. I love ours and it works great*. The cost of these have come down a considerable amount since they were first introduced so I was willing to take the plunge.
*Caveat - Works great on hardwood floors. I wouldn't use it to replace your Dyson on carpets. Also, LOVE our Dyson, too!

Bike Shorts - Hannah loves dresses. Hannah is potty trained. Hannah doesn't quite understand that when wearing dresses, she should be aware of flashing her underwear. So, faced with this dilemma, another mom told me she buys her daughter bike shorts to wear with dresses. They can literally be found everywhere but, I like the ones from Carters best. They are soft and reasonably priced. 

Jersey Dresses - As mentioned, Hannah loves wearing dresses, even to school. These from Old Navy are a good price and light & comfortable to wear. She has several from Carter's too, which are a good deal when you catch them on sale.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan - Sadly, I had to ditch the minivan when repair costs were mounting. I bought the Tiguan with the optional third row seating. We need three rows for the once or twice a year my in-laws visit from England. Otherwise, the third row stays down to allow for more trunk space. I would not recommend this car if you need to use the third row all the time because it's a very tight fit back there. I love my new car but, I do miss the space my minivan offered.

My Favorite Murder Podcast - I am a true crime junkie, I won't lie. I have been listening to true crime podcasts and books and watching true crime shows for years and years. This podcast puts a funny spin on a macabre subject. If you love true crime, give this a listen.

The 45th Podcast - This is a great podcast if you want all the shenanigans of the 45th President and the impact of his shenanigans broken down for you. Two very educated and knowledgeable ladies deep dive into what he's doing and how it affects us and the world. May make you cry with despair. 


Friday, May 25, 2018

A Battle of the Wills: Part 1

(I name this Part 1 because no doubt many more stories like this are sure to come)

Yesterday as Hannah I were coming out of Target I reached down and told her to hold my hand because we were about to go into the parking lot.

Like any good Leo, she refused.

"Fine but, we're not leaving this sidewalk until you hold my hand".

Still she refused.

So, I settle in knowing that this isn't ending anytime soon (believe me, at that moment, we were both willing to die there) and wondering if I should ask James to deliver dinner to this sidewalk and also wondering if calling out of work the next day due to a willpower battle with a toddler would be an excused absence.

After several minutes, something magical happened. Another mom walked out of the Target doors and reached for her kids hand saying "hold mommy's hand". And, just like that, Hannah reached for my hand and off we went.

No words were spoken about it and, I'm not even sure who ultimately won this one.

But, as a consolation prize, she criticized my driving and also suggested I buy her clothes on the drive home.

Speaking of holding hands...

Ryan is 8 now and we still hold hands all the time.

However, I realized that it's coming to an end when we went to his schools move-up night on Wednesday.

We got out of the car and I reached for his hand and he took it only to immediately pull away.

I get it, he's at school where other kids are around and he's not going to be the boy holding his mommy's hand.  It has to happen and I know that.

But, having two kids who think they are too old to hold mommy's hand is breaking my mommy heart.

There's nothing else to be done... I'm going to have to have another baby.*



*Hahahaha Yeah, that's not happening.







Tuesday, April 24, 2018

When "above-average" makes your day.

Actually, it made my week, month, year... life.

Confession: I've always thought of Ryan, academically speaking, as entirely average. I've never had dreams of him applying to Ivy League. In fact, in my mind, he could easily do two years at a community college and then see where he'd like to go from there. 

Perhaps I started seeing him that way when, at two, he wasn't speaking and needed speech therapy. Then roll that into a first grade year that saw more downs than ups. 

Even with his struggles in first grade, he scored quite high on PALS (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening). I underestimated the meaning of this high score. 

At the end of first grade they did a whole range of testing on him to determine if he had a learning disability. All those tests determined he was average to above average in every single area. 

Okay, no learning disability. "Why is he struggling then??" That was our question. The answer was ADD. He has trouble concentrating for long periods of time. That definitely reconciled with what we were experiencing at home.

Fast forward to second grade. As mentioned on previous blogs, it's been a whole new world for him. 

In second grade, the students take the CogAT test (Cognitive Abilities Test - designed to test academic aptitude) and, knowing this, I hoped Ryan would score in the average range. Yes, I'd be happy with average. 

The test results came last week with his report card (report card was all kinds of YAY, too!) and, that son of mine, he scored pretty high. To put the scores in perspective, his lowest score (percentage wise) was 81% meaning 81% of students his age who take this test scored lower than him. His highest score was 91% meaning 91% of students his age who take this test score lower than him. Across the nation!

Wait, what?
That was my thought. I read and re-read the results to make sure I understood correctly. Then googled just to make sure.

In black and white on the page "All three of his scores are in the above-average range. Students with above-average reasoning scores learn relatively quickly".

Hold on, Ryan is the sweet and sensitive one. Hannah is the sassy smarty pants.

And, that's the problem right there. I have been putting my own kids in boxes.
While Ryan is sweet and sensitive, that's not all he is. 

Even though test after test told me he was quite smart, I somehow was looking past it.

I'm not sure why the CogAT was the one that made me stand up and take notice and see Ryan in a different way but, I'm glad it did. 

I am on a high right now with this. But, it will pass because, it has to. It doesn't change our day-to-day lives in regards to schoolwork. We still have so much work to do and always will. The ADD will always be something we'll have to work through. And, that's not always easy. 

With all this being said, I'm most proud of this:
"Ryan comes into the classroom everyday with a smile ready to learn. He is very diligent in his work and is a wonderful friend to all in the class."
His Resource Teacher had this to say:
"Ryan is extremely kind and respectful. Ryan helps others in the classroom and cares about others feelings. If another student doesn't have a partner for an activity, Ryan always offers to help them to make everyone feel included". 

It's nice to have a smart kid. Great in fact!
But, having a decent human being feels even better. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A tale of two kids

Ryan
My gorgeous little boy is almost 8. I can't even comprehend how fast he's growing right before my eyes.

Remember I wrote a post begging 2nd grade to be good to my son? Well, my plea to the universe worked and Ryan has had an outstanding year!

I can't tell you how relieved James and I are at the difference we've seen in Ryan this school year. He's reading every night for fun (something he's always treated as a chore before) and, he's reading more complicated chapter books.

While he's not quite at grade level with his reading, his teachers expect him to be there by the end of the school year - hoorah!

He's still great at Math and will tell you that's his favorite subject. Social Studies has been hit or miss. They did a unit on Egypt and he scored a 4  (exceeds expectations) but, didn't fare nearly as well with the China Unit where he scored a 2 (improvement needed).  Ah well, can't win them all.

Today he'll be standing up in front of his class giving a speech on George Washington Carver. He's pretty shy so this will be outside of his comfort zone but, we practiced so, I think he'll be okay.

The bad? He has a Doctorate in talking back; the kid has snark for days. But, we roll with the punches because it's normal behavior for his age. Not that we let him get away with it. At least twice a day he's warned to cut it with back talking. He usually takes heed with his first warning but, has had to spend alone time in his room on more than one occasion.

Even with that, I won't complain because he's genuinely a good kid and his teachers say he's very, very well behaved in school. His mind does wander but, that's the plight of a kid with ADHD. He has to be reminded to get back on track here and there.

But, as I said, his teachers say he's rarely a distraction (however, easily lead to being distracted) and, does what he's told without trouble. It's good to know he understands that back talking isn't ever appropriate at school. Time and place is something kids have to learn, too.

They have a dojo point system in his class which has an app I can check. Ryan has never, not once all year, gotten a negative or even neutral point.

This week he is "Star of the Week". He filled out a poster with information about himself and our family along with pictures that are displayed in the classroom. It asked him "what makes you a star" and his response was "I'm a good big brother". Truer words have never been spoken; Ryan gets top marks there.
As part of him being SotW, James will be going in on Friday to read a story to his classmates. His choice is The Book With No Pictures By B.J. Novak. If you don't know the book, go buy it now! Trust me on this.

As for sports, Ryan has decided to step away from baseball and is doing soccer instead this Spring.

Hannah
She's 2 years & 7 months and already a threenager.

She's been taking ballet since September and loooooves it. She's also asking to do soccer so, we'll sign her up in the Spring.

Potty training is great with one exception; she hates pooping in the potty. She has zero accidents when it comes to pee, so there's that, but, pooping is her Everest. She has done it several times but, it seems to freak her out for some reason.

She's waking up from afternoon naps dry which is wonderful but, overnight is another matter. However, she doesn't need to be told to use the potty, she knows when it's coming and takes herself.

I'll be so glad when we're done with diapers/pull-ups forever. I think by her 3rd birthday in July, we'll have bought our last box.

She's talking like a pro and we can understand at least 90% of what she says.

Though at home we call her the tiny terror, her teachers insist she's sweet, kind & polite, very funny and doesn't make trouble (I ask every single day just to be sure). She does lean towards bossiness, even at school but, they assure me it's not a problem. Some kids are just more "take charge" than others and that's our Hannah.

One of my favorite things about picking her up from school is one of her classmates (who she has been with since infancy) brings over a picture for her just before we leave, at least twice a week. He says it's for "my Hannah"*. My heart melts.

My in-laws will be visiting from England later this month and, no doubt, the kids will be spoiled by them as they always are. This is my favorite time of year because we only get to see them once a year and it's always a great time for the entire family.

My in-laws are gracious and exceedingly generous to our family. I couldn't hand pick better grandparents if I did world-wide search.

As for me, I'm still the luckiest mom (and wife) in the whole freaking world. Of course I take things for granted, like we all do but, when I sit back and look at the big picture... damn I have it good.

*I must remember to tell his mom about these pictures. She'll be the first to say he has a crush on Hannah but, I don't think she knows her Romeo is pumping out artwork to demonstrate his love for her. She'll get a kick out of that. She has two sons with a third on the way. Whoo-whee!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My thoughts, so early in the morning

Yesterday morning I woke up around 5AM and, even though it was a day off from work, I wasn't able to fall back to sleep.

I ended up down in the basement, sitting in my favorite recliner, wrapped up in a blanket, feeling warm and content.

My thoughts wandered up the basement steps to where I had just seen our three kitties curled up on the couch, also warm and content.

Then up another set of steps to my sons bedroom. Before I came downstairs earlier, I stopped in his room and made sure he was snugly under his blanket. I gave his sweet sleeping face a kiss. His bedroom covered in treasured Star Wars toys spread on every surface. A globe Grandpapa had just given him the day before standing on his dresser.

I think about how much he loves geography and how excited he was to get a globe. How had I not though of that idea before?

Never mind, he has one now.

Then a few paces away my thoughts enters Hannah's room where I had also been before coming down. I walked into her room, covered her up, too. Her head popped up, she looked at me and reached for my hand.

"Darn" I thought, "I've been caught". It's still early so I might as well lay down next to her and see if I can get more rest.

But, she's back to sleep so quickly I decide to escape. I gently start to stand up and... up pops her head again.

I whisper "Mommy's going downstairs, I'll see you in a little while, go back to sleep sweet girl" then give her a kiss. She says "I love you" and puts her head back down.

Then my thoughts take its final walk down the hallway to my bedroom where I have left my husband just a little bit ago. Sleeping with blankets only half covering him - probably because I had stolen them as I slept. The devoted father, devoted husband, devoted worker. His work ethic for all these jobs is remarkable.

Everyone is sleeping, peaceful, secure.

As a mom and wife, this is what dreams are made of.

I fall back to sleep down there in the basement, in my favorite chair. Smiling I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Goodbye 2017... Hello 2018!

Below is the holiday letter that went out with our Christmas cards this year with a few udpates.

Ryan turned 7 this year and started the 2nd grade. He's exceptional and Math and with the help of a tutor, has made amazing progress with reading & writing. We received a progress report before Winter break and he's so very close to being on grade level! He's now enjoying reading so much that we bought him a book light because he likes to read for a while in bed at night before going to sleep.

He's crazy about all things Star wars and loves Legos. He's advanced to more complicated Lego kits (and more expensive!) and takes pride in his work. As expected, he received a ton of new Lego sets for Christmas and has already put most of them together (with a bit of help from mom and dad).

He's an extraordinary big brother to Hannah. He's crazy about his little sister and has the kindest, gentlest soul. He's proving to be a loyal friend, too which makes us extremely proud.

When asked what he's looking forward to most in 2018 he said "summer break... and my birthday!"

💜

Hannah is still a very bright, inquisitive and mischievous little girl. She loves, loves, loves to sing! She's been doing a great job with ballet and we're looking forward to her first recital in May.

Hannah is speaking well enough to have full conversations much to my delight. She likes to tell us all about her day. Lately she's also telling us she's either a princess, ballerina or super hero (depending on the day).

She does her chores well and, in fact, loves taking "cycling out" (recycling out) and sweeping. She's very helpful (which is a trait her teachers say she also demonstrates at school). Speaking of school, she moves into the 3's classroom in February. Time is flying!

When asked what she's looking forward to most in 2018 she said "Kissmiss!" (Christmas). Well, there you have it.

💜

James and I celebrated 8 years of marriage this past August and celebrated by... doing nothing at all! We bought a new house in April and I can't tell you how happy we are with our home. We still have boxes to unpack here and there but, we've been working on settling in and making it feel like home for us.

We're both busy in our careers as we've both gotten promotions this year. We also work hard to ensure a healthy family/work balance. It's not always easy but, family comes first.

In 2018 James is most looking forward to the World Cup even though he knows England hasn't got a prayer of winning.

For me, I'm NOT looking forward to World Cup in which the USA didn't even manage to qualify so, I will say I'm most looking forward to some improvements I'd like to make around the house. I'm currently obsessed with HGTV and all things Chip & Joanna Gaines. Fixer Upper & Love It or List It have become my favorite shows.

We're all excited about James' parents visiting in March and our vacation to Myrtle Beach in August.

May 2018 bring you love, laughter, positivity and happiness!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dear husband

There is not question about it, mothers carry an awful lot on our tired shoulders. Two wonderful articles I read just this week illustrate this so well. They can be read here and here.

It's true. Moms have so much on our plates, especially so when you have more than one to keep up with.

But, even in reading these two articles, I was thinking to myself  "but really, my husband does a load on this list, too".

Husbands these days are more involved than ever and I'm appreciative of that.

So, in order to bring to the light the balance of workload in our family life, I'm going to say this loud and clear; MY HUSBAND IS A ROCK STAR!

And, here's why.

He does 95% of the cooking.
He does 99% of the washing.
He easily does 75% of doctors/tutoring appointments.
He drives Ryan to school every day.
He picks Ryan up from school most days.
Sick kid? 75% of the time he stays home.
Diaper duty is at least 50%.

So, dear husband, I thank you for helping to lessen the load on my shoulders.

You're loyal & loving and I couldn't possibly ask for a better partner.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dear Second Grade

I'm sending a message to the universe... Call it prayer, call it good vibes, call it a wish on a star. Second grade, I beg you, be good to my son.

Ryan met his new teacher yesterday and something about the experience lit a fire in his belly. He suddenly got excited and was looking forward to school.

I'm sure it's because his teacher is young & enthusiastic but, a huge part I believe, is that his best buddy Jack is in the same class for the first time.

Ryan is sweet and kind and smart. too. He just learns differently and it takes him a while longer to complete tasks. Thankfully, there is a plan in place to help when he gets off track. Once again, I think of how grateful I am to live in a county that has the resources available to help him.

I so much want this positivity to continue throughout the whole school year.

And, part of that is the responsibility of our family at home. I have to remember not to stress about the homework because that leads to anxiety in Ryan that definitely spills over into the classroom.

Ryan has the cool shoes, the cool backpack, the awesome shirts with the stylish basketball shorts, the blasted tall socks that I spent all summer looking for.

He's ready.

He's excited and willing.

Please, second grade, don't beat him down. Don't ruin his confidence. Don't let him think he's not good enough, not smart enough, not anything enough. We're in this together and that kid of mine, he's the best. Let's keep it that way.

I delivered him to your front door this morning and I left with a tear in my eye. Excited tear, worried tear, happy tear.

I can't wait to hear about his first day.




Monday, August 14, 2017

When excitement and dread intersect

Ryan starts 2nd grade in ten days and I am both super excited and super dreading it.

Excited for the obvious reasons but dreading it because I'm not looking forward to the homework battles to come. And, there will be homework battles. There's just no way around it.

I live in Loudoun County, Virginia which is the wealthiest county is the entire country. Yet, with all this money & resources that come with money, they haven't managed to figure out that it's been proven over and over again that homework is counterproductive to learning.
*I don't mean reading which should be done by every child, every night, at every age. That's a given.

1st grade was hard on the whole family and we started taking Ryan to see a tutor. The tutor then assigned homework which added to our battles.

Over the summer the tutor has been sending home two workbooks a week to complete and it's been a fight. James told the tutor this week that once school starts, do not assign two a week. We can handle one TOPS. And, truthfully, that too will be tough.

Simply put, it's been overwhelming. Ryan isn't going to be able to do sports this Fall because we need to put all our efforts into the academics and seeing how he handles his new class.

I wish I had the guts to say his teacher "Sorry but, no. Ryan will not be doing homework". The emotional & intellectual impact of homework drains Ryan, drains me and impacts the mood of the family.

We want our son to succeed just like all parents. But, when we know that homework just isn't beneficial and this age, it's frustrating that we have to continue to do it with very little to be gained.

So we head into another school year. A new IEP attached (which is a good thing in our eyes) and hope, hope and hope some more that this year will be different. Ryan is not enjoying the school experience and that makes me sad.

Good luck to all parents sending their darlings back to school. May the wine be flowing and the homework warfare be minimal.

P.S. Battle, battle, battle. I've used that word a lot here today. But, it's the most accurate word I have for it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Hannah turns 2

Tomorrow my baby girl turns 2.
Another year gone and, of course, she's changed so much.

As I've mentioned often here before, she's a strong willed, determined little girl and it fills my heart with pride beyond reason.

Even when she's diving me nuts, I think "good for you little one, hold on to that spirit always".
Her face is so sweet, you'd think butter wouldn't melt in that darling little mouth.

She's having an all-girl party tomorrow (with the exception of Ryan and his friend) and I've ordered the most gorgeous cupcakes I've ever seen. I can't wait to share the pictures!

Another post coming after the celebrations are over.




Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thank you. Seriously.

Today I felt surrounded by love & support from friends and family around the globe.
The calls, the texts, the messages, the social media "likes" and even the supportive Slurpee (Jen knows me so well).

You warm my heart. 

You make hard days easier. 

The best thing in the world is knowing you have people you can count on and who will be by your side when called upon. 



Sunday, July 2, 2017

An abnormal day in the life of my family

What I'm about to write definitely does not show you a typical day but, accentuates how, when things go wrong, they go very, very wrong.

Late Wednesday night James had a sudden and intense pain across the back of his head that was, momentarily, debilitating.

I called our friend Robin (thank goodness for her) to stay with the kids who had been asleep for hours, then we headed to the emergency room.

Long story short, James checked out AOK. It took five hours and some seriously invasive tests (lumbar puncture!) to rule out an aneurism.

We lumbered home with some serious pain meds and fell into bed about 4AM.

Thursday morning was, as expected, a shit show.

At 9AM Ryan came into our bedroom along with Hannah.

Allow me to set the scene:
Ryan and Hannah, as we later found out, had been awake for some time and had been playing downstairs while James and I were sleeping the morning away.

So, when they finally decide they should maybe wake up mom and dad, after having rearranged the living room downstairs, it was quite a view. Ryan was wearing only underwear and Hannah, who had been put to bed in pajamas, was wearing no pajama bottoms and her top was around her waist. To explain further, the neck hole was around her waist with the arms of the pajamas just flopping down by her legs.

With no time to ask questions I hurriedly got them dressed so we could get Ryan to camp before the field trip bus left without him.

Then I took Hannah to day care where I handed her over with the words "Please feed her, she hasn't eaten today" (they had served breakfast an hour earlier and lunch wasn't for another hour) and got back "She hasn't eaten at all... like, nothing?".

Instead of screaming "Stop judging me it was a bad night!*" I calmly (I hope) explained that my husband had been in the hospital and I had to hurry out door to get my son to camp and please just find her something to eat (they did).

*The judging was probably in my head to be honest. The day care workers are wonderful and love Hannah to bits.

The week proceeding this ER visit my in-laws were in town. If interested, you can read all about that on my husbands blog.

As for the kids...

Ryan is now a rising second grader. As discussed in other posts, first grade was tough for Ryan. He's continuing to see the tutor this summer and will be attending summer school starting later this month.

He's enjoying camp a lot and loves the field trips to the water park the best.

Hannah is talking full on sentences now and, a surprise to no one, is rather bossy. Example: "Hurry up daddy".
She LOVES singing! She can sing ABC's near perfectly. "Bah Bah Black Sheep" is a favorite. She sings herself to sleep most nights which was a delight for my in-laws to watch on the monitor.

Her 2nd birthday is less than a month away now! She's the most precocious 2 year told I've ever met.

I hope, so much, that this lasts throughout her life. The world needs more smart, sassy & take charge girls and I believe Hannah is up to the task.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention we bought a new house and I can't even tell you how much I love it. I walk around filled with pride every single day.
We bought it from our friends who moved to a bigger house and they took such pride in this home that it was a no-brainer decision to buy it. They added so many beautiful upgrades and updates and just took amazing care of it.

I'm having a great time decorating the kids rooms and then will eventually move on to the rest of the house.

Well, I'm off to take Hannah swimming with Harper. Until next time...



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The mom guilt is strong

I am so glad this school year is almost over.
It's been a rough, rough ride for Ryan and, by extension, James and I as well.

Ryan's speech IEP (Individualized Education Program) came to an end which was great. His speech is age appropriate and mostly on par with his peers.

However, he was still very much falling behind on reading and writing. So, the school did testing and determined Ryan has ADD.
The good news is that makes him eligible to extend his IEP on the grounds of OHI (other health impairment). The bad news is, of course, he has ADD.

The poor kid has been tested and tested, met with counselors, social workers, reading specialists, therapists of all kinds, tutors, etc etc etc.
Truly, the list goes on and on.

He's exhausted.
I'm exhausted.

And, throughout the midst of this, we decided to buy a new house. Timing couldn't have been more awful but, the opportunity was something we didn't want to pass up.

On top of dealing with the ADD and the schoolwork troubles, he's dealing with a ton of anxiety. And, that's been manifesting itself in ways that have taken us by surprise (and him, too, for that matter).

It takes us hours to get his homework done. Writing twelve words on a piece of paper could easily take 30 minutes.

His extensive testing determined no learning disability. He tested average to above average in every category. But, that damn ADD makes homework & reading such a stressful time for us all.
There are tears nearly every night. Not always just from him.

I thank my lucky stars we live in a community that cares to figure this out and put a plan in action to help him be successful.

Now he has a teacher in his class each day who is dedicated to him alone while he learns along with the other kids with the class teacher.
This teacher sits with Ryan to help him stay on task and help him when he doesn't understand what to do.

As his mother, I want to take the stress and anxiety out of his tiny little body and absorb it all so he doesn't have to suffer even for a second. But, it just doesn't work that way.

I want to throw the question out to the universe... why my son? He's a sweet kid. He's kind, he shares, he cares about others. He loves his sister.
But, if not him, then who? Would I wish this on another? At least we have the resources to help him.

So, not only do I feel guilty that Ryan is struggling so much, Hannah feels the brunt of some of this, too.

When I get home from work, it's almost always straight to helping Ryan with his homework, which, as mentioned above, can take hours some nights.

Which means less time with her. Sometimes all I can give her is fifteen minutes before she's off to bed.
So, of course, I worry that I'm neglecting her because Ryan needs so much of me.

The pictures I get from her daycare during the day are priceless. I feel like I see her more through pictures than in person some days, particularly weekdays.

I just hope that I'm not creating emotional problems for her while so much of my focus is on Ryan.

I will wake up at 3AM to use the bathroom and then spend the next hour worrying about him. Thinking about what resources we haven't yet tapped. What we can do better in his routine to make it easier for him.

All this while also trying to pack and move.

I absolutely cannot wait for summer. Just that little break. Which will be shorter for Ryan because he will be attending summer school.

A shout out now to other IEP parents finding it tough to keep it all together. I feel your pain and I send love to you in solidarity.
♥♥


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cautionary tales about congratulating yourself too much as a parent

Last week, I pick Ryan up from school and, as we enter the house, he goes straight to the bathroom. Then I hear "mommy, I'm wearing two pairs of underwear".

I think to myself "huh?", walk into the bathroom and sure enough, he's wearing two pairs of underwear. The conversation then proceeds something like this:

Me: Ryan, why are you wearing two pairs of underwear?
Ryan: I don't know.
Me: Did you realize at school you were wearing two pairs?
Ryan: No
Me: How did you not realize when you went to the toilet at school?!
Ryan: I didn't use the bathroom today.

Which brings me to another concern altogether. James drops him off at 7:30AM. He comes home about 5PM. So the child went over 9 hours without using the bathroom?! Suddenly him wearing two pairs of underwear is the most normal part of his day.

_____

When I discipline the kids I always say "It doesn't mean I don't love you" as part of my lecture.

Last night Hannah bit Ryan (I know, I know) so, I smacked her hand.
Ryan then gave her a hug and said "It doesn't mean I love you, Hannah".

Of course I can't help but laugh loudly and Ryan says "What? That's what you always say mommy".
Almost kid, almost.

_____

As mentioned before, Ryan is a good kid. He's sweet, he's polite and nearly always respectful.
I've always smugly thought to myself "Well of course! James and I are great parents!".

Then Hannah came along.

As I drove to work today, her screams still ringing in my ears, I realize something crucial...
Hannah has the exact same parents as Ryan and damn if that kid isn't going to drive me to nightly drinking.

Maybe kids are hard wired at birth and parenting isn't as huge of an impact as we'd like to think. Perhaps it's a good 60% but, the other 40%, I'm coming to believe, is a birth personality.

The neighbors are probably still in shock from her morning tantrum.

_____

Even Ryan has the capability of shocking us.

Saturday morning he's sitting at the breakfast table on that blasted iPad playing a Star Wars game. He gets frustrated with the game and begins to cry those frustrated tears parents know well.

I take the iPad away and say it's time for a break. If the game makes you that upset, you need a break.

He then begins to have a tantrum the likes I have never seen from him. James tells him to go to his room, he can come back when he's calmed down.

Ryan screamed NOOOOOO over and over again so loudly even Hannah stopped dead in her tracks. He balled up his little six year old fists and tensed his tiny body up; veins were even popping out. I won't lie, I was stunned.

He stomped upstairs screaming & wailing and James and I just looked at each other, our eyes the size of dinner plates no doubt, and said "Well, that's uuuhhhh... new".

Later, I walked upstairs and he said "I'm so sorry, mommy".

It was easy to forgive because it was so out of character.
But, I did tell him he was grounded from the iPad.

And, not because I don't love him.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Three months in one post

I never intended to go quite so long without an update here.

It's not even like I haven't had any down time. I don't usually have time at work to write and when I get home, I don't even want to look at a computer.

The family had a wonderful Christmas with lots of toys and clothes, candy and cookies. I took off the week between Christmas and New Years and spent quality time with Ryan putting Lego Star Wars creations together. By the end of the week my back hurt and I was cross-eyed from helping Ryan with tiny little Lego pieces.

Hannah's favorite present by a mile was a princess castle tent. Seriously, $20 has never been spent better. She plays in that castle every single night pretending to feed her stuffed animals then putting them down for a nap. She covers each up with their own blanket (a bib) and pats them on the back until she's decided they've fallen asleep.

Honestly, it's the cutest thing I've ever seen.

She went through a biting phase at school that had me in total despair. However, it's been nearly three weeks since she's bitten a friend (thank goodness). I honestly believe the tipping point was a talk I had with her teacher.

I was dropping her off one morning and decided that her teacher and I needed to come up with a plan to put an end to the biting. Ms. Jennifer (Feffer as Hannah calls her) and I were talking and Hannah was standing there watching us, taking in every single word. At the end we both looked down at Hannah and she burst into tears and reached for me.

She knew we were discussing biting and I guess the looks on our faces were quite stern. We both cuddled her and told her we loved her very much and weren't mad at her.

She hasn't bit another person since that day.

Which brings me to another point...
The girl is wicked smart my friends. I know I'm her mom so I would say that but, it's completely true. Her teachers tell me all the time that she's just so ahead of the curve.

She says well over 50 words now and, truth be told, we're easily approaching 100. She says simple sentences and will follow two step directions reasonably well.

We've started introducing her to the potty and have had one success. We're not trying to potty train her but, just sitting her on the potty and talking about what she's supposed to do there.

This really is thanks to her BFF Harper who started this. Hannah saw Harper on the potty and showed her own interest at school.

Yesterday she turned 18 months old!
It's so cliche but, damn, that year and a half flew by quickly.

She doesn't come down the steps like a baby anymore, she actually holds onto the railing and steps down. She likes to run and jump and absolutely loves to dance.

Today she was about to throw something in the trash and I said "wait Hannah, there isn't a trash bag in there" and she said "oh okay". I swear I couldn't help but laugh!

She knows that after she eats, her plate goes into the dishwasher and if she can't follow that routine, she's annoyed.

Hannah eats and eats and eats! She doesn't say no to many foods at all. With Ryan being such a picky eater, this makes life easier. I know I can put anything in front of her and she'll eat most, if not all, of it.

She's a sassy little girl who doesn't hold back.

My gorgeous son...
Ryan is reluctantly expanding his food selection slowly but, surely. It's been a struggle since he was about a year old but, we're making progress.

He's happy in the 1st grade and likes his teacher. He's struggling with reading and is taking extra reading lessons but, does very, very well at math.

I was prepared for the exact opposite truth be told. I suppose because I have always loved to read and write and have never enjoyed math.

The extra tutoring is working, though. Hopefully we can get him caught up by the end of the school year. He's an excellent speller but, has trouble writing thoughtful sentences of his own creation.

He can read the words in a book but, struggles to retell the story he's just read. He's putting so much effort into reading each word correctly that he's lost out on the plot of the book.

Ryan is a sweet, loving and caring big brother. He is wonderful with Hannah and will tell her he loves her and gives her hugs and kisses every day.

I am so proud of the sweet and caring kid Ryan is. I admit to sometimes getting bogged down with concern over his academics that I worry about him to the point of stress.

But, the thing is, Ryan really is a good, good kid. The academics will come. We may have to spend extra time and money on it but, that's okay. That's what we'll do just like we did with speech therapy.

What is important is his character and we have no concerns there. His friends parents often tell us that Ryan is nice and polite and they love having him over.

He's a bit sensitive but, I'm learning to see the positive in that, too. The world needs more sensitive and compassionate people (men in particular), that's for sure.

All in all, I think we're doing okay in the parenting department. It's not always easy but, I have the best kids in the world and I wouldn't change a single thing.



Monday, November 7, 2016

A picture speaks a thousand words...

Because I don't have the time to put the past two months into words, I present you with pictures.
(Not even in chronological order. Who has that kind of time?!)

Fall School Pictures

Taking Harper for a little ride

Rainy Fall day

All smiles

Batter up!

First season at the machine pitch league

Pumpkin everything season!

Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two... (thanks Dr. Suess!)

A Storm Trooper at Trunk or Treat!

It would appear she's a righty

School fun run - Ryan did 36 laps!

And now he's a Cub Scout

Rocket launch

My FIL decorate these tiles that will spend the next 150 years on the roof of a Tudor Mansion

Class party

Trophy #4

So photogenic!

Big brother & little sister - melts my heart

We love Harper so got her in on the action, too!

Dear Santa...



Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm not saying it's over, but...

I am a mother of two small kids which means, I'm pretty busy.
Ryan plays baseball (no more t-ball!), does swimming, still gets speech therapy and might be joining cub scouts later this month.

Couple that with birthday parties and Hannah's growing social calendar, we're a pretty busy family.

I'm a working mom who also just volunteered to co-chair a big fundraising event (thanks Kelley for co-chairing with me - so awesome!) and I have many ideas about what I'd like to do next with the PTO after we get through this fund raiser. I am also the co-class mom (are you seeing a theme here? I'm pretty good at roping friends into helping out. Thanks Kim!).

The point of all this is to say, it's getting harder and harder to find the time (and energy, creativity...) to update the blog.

I'm not walking away from it completely. I just know that updates will have increasing time gaps.
I have a few posts in draft status that I've worked on here and there but never completed. My goal is to take the time to finish at least a couple of those before Halloween.

This blog has re-invented itself twice and, I hope to do so again after the holidays.

So... stay tuned and have a wonderful Fall!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Winding down summer

We're heading to the beach late next week for our first family vacation in a long time. I can't even tell you how giddy I am for this. It will be Ryan and Hannah's first trip to the beach!
(It's absurd to think Ryan has been to England but, has never set foot on a beach when we live on the East Coast)

It's hard to believe Ryan will be starting 1st grade in 2 1/2 weeks. It really feels like the summer flew by.

Ryan does summer camp at the same place Hannah is in day care. They've done weekly field trips to a local water park as well as weekly field trips to other locations like local farms, mini golf, etc.

I think my favorite thing about their day care/camp (besides the fact that my children are in safe hands, of course) is they have an app where they update you on the kids throughout the day with pictures.

I love getting pictures of my kids and what they're up to while there. It's like a little glimpse into their day.

The school is doing a spectacular job of teaching Hannah & Friends how to sign. The words are coming along but, in the mean time, it helps a ton when Hannah can use signs to tell us what she wants/needs.

So far she can sign for milk, eat, drink, more, thank you and again.

She will also do all the hand/arm movements for songs like Wheels on the Bus, Happy and you know it, Row, row your boat and other songs I don't actually know.

While I'd love to take the credit for how clever Hannah is, the truth is, it has so much more to do with her teachers. They work hard to teaching the kids all these things and preparing them for what they need to know/do in order to move up to the next class.

The first step was moving her out of the crib and onto a cot at school. I was extremely skeptical they'd get her to sit still without the bars but, they say she's doing great. Holy cow!

The second step was to take away the bottle and get her used to drinking her milk cold. Removing the bottle was okay. Cold milk is something we're still working on. She prefers it warm but, some days she'll accept it cold.

Hannah has one more swimming class left this summer and we'll be taking Fall off because Ryan will have swimming, baseball & speech.

I think we'll have Hannah pick swimming back up in the winter when Ryan's schedule is (usually) a little lighter.

I'm going to make at least one more post before vacation.

I've been reading blogs lately about how parents (moms in particular) only write the positive, sweet & cute things our kids do and how that can put pressure on moms who are reading it and maybe wondering why everyone has it easy but them.

And I will because, let me tell you, my kids are monsters as much as anyone's! I believe it's human nature to only post that one perfect picture on Instagram or to post on facebook about your kid saying something cute and funny.

No one wants to say "My kid lost her shit when I tried to put her in the car, wriggled away and ran into the parking lot" (true story).
We live those moments every day and they're exhausting. No, it's much better for the soul to remember when she came to me with a big smile and leaned in for a kiss and how Ryan still climbs onto my lap when he's tired.

But, I will share some of my most horrifying stories next week before I head out on vacation.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hannah the party girl

Hannah's first birthday party was a big success!

It rained a bit before and a lot after but, during party time, it was dry and sunny - phew! The power of positive thinking!

I was concerned that so many people gathered around her would be overwhelming, particularly during the Happy Birthday song and the cake smash but, nope. She was perfectly happy and enjoyed the extra attention. She dug right into her cake and enjoyed every bite.

I really could not have done this so perfectly without my friends; so, huge amount of thanks are heaped onto Steven, Casey & Paul. I have so many talented friends who were happy to lend us their expertise to make her party the best.

Where I would have been happy to let little details slide, they were there to make it exactly right. They are all dedicated troopers and forever have my gratitude.

It was certainly crowded but, we all managed to be comfortable and have a good time. The kids were all really well behaved and the only tears that came down were from kids not wanting to leave.

More thanks to be given to those  who made donations to the Star Legacy Foundation in memory of Nathan who was also born in July.  And, of course, for the many gifts Hannah received.

I'm reminded of all the love and support that surrounds us everyday from friends and family.







As for Hannah's Birthday Celebration Giveaway - congratulations go to the winner Christy!

I couldn't have been happier when her name popped us as the winner. Christy is a fellow blogger who has been a tremendous support to me since before I even became pregnant with Hannah.

Please check out her wonderful blog full of pictures of her adorable daughter, Ellie.

I enjoyed doing a competition so, I'll do another one in a few months. I want to give away something that will be useful to those of you who have boys, too!

Happy August!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Hannah's 1st birthday party is this Saturday and I'm just not ready.

We have nearly 50 people coming to our home (what the hell was I thinking?!) and it's calling for rain. This is a pretty big deal because I was planning to utilize our large deck for the party.

The thought of having that many people in my townhouse makes me hyperventilate just a little.

To top it off, Hannah is supposed to have pictures taken Friday and the rain will make that impossible, too.

The best I can hope for now is a few hours of sunshine at the exact time we need it just like we had for Ryan's party.

Cross your fingers for me, friends!

P.S. There is still time to enter Hannah's birthday celebration giveaway!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Competition time!

In honor of Hannah's upcoming 1st birthday, I'm hosting a competition to win this Skip Hop zoo straw bottle!

Hannah's party is butterfly themed and this a perfect giveaway to celebrate her special day.

Good luck!



Click here to enter Hannah's birthday celebration giveaway!
(Open to US and Canada)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A tale of ten months

Ryan - 6 years, 1 month old
Just about ten months ago, Ryan started Kindergarten and today is his last day as a Kindergartner.

We met with his Kindergarten & speech teacher last week and they said so many great things. His standardized test (PALS) score was very high again which was a wonderful thing to hear.

We were given 1st grade materials for him to work on this summer so he'll start 1st grade ready to go.

They've been slowly sending assignments home that the kids worked on this year and a lot of the work is story telling. Most of Ryan's stories are about his family and it was so touching to read.

I admit, when we received his diagnosis of speech apraxia several years ago, I worried how that might affect his social skills and his education.

It turns out the worry was for nothing. Ryan has lots of friends, is a sweet boy and he's done incredibly well in school.

He's super excited about summer camp and I can't say I blame him. Those kids put in a lot of hard work this year and the break is well deserved!

Hannah - 10.5 months old
I started to list out her accomplishments over the last ten months, too.

Sat without support: 5 months
Stand while holding onto something: 5 months
Pulled self up to stand: 7 months
Crawled: 7 months
Stood without any support: 9 months
Walk with push toy: 9 months
First independent steps: 9 months
Fully independent walker: 10 months
Walking while holding items in her hand: Yesterday ;-)

Yesterday as we were giving her a bath, she was robustly applauding herself (for what accomplishment, only she knows) and James and I were laughing when it hit me; I can't remember when she first started to clap. It was a while ago but, I can't recall the first time we saw it happen.

It goes by so fast.

My first baby is going into the 1st grade and my last baby is a toddler.

In other words, I no longer have babies.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What I say vs. what I really mean

Has an adventurous appetite - will eat anything and everything that comes near her mouth (including cat food and whatever that was on the carpet) and God help you if you don't share your food with her.

Enjoys extreme sports - climbs up the stairs at lightning speed with no thoughts as to how she will get back down.

Is curious & spirited - will wreck the house faster than a Tasmanian Devil on speed.

Advanced debating skills - routinely counters directives by doing the exact opposite.

Sophisticated taste in toys - "If you give me another baby toy I will shove it down your throat. I want what my brother has and nothing less will do."

Excellent hand-eye coordination - practices hitting brother on head for extended periods.

Highly communicative - screams like a banshee when she doesn't get her way. Also, favors the word "no" over the word "yes".

Future Olympic hopeful - tries running when she's only just learned how to walk.

Keen sense of style - smashes bananas into her freshly washed hair and fights with you as you try to clean up the mess.

Brave - has no fear when climbing out of high chairs, launching herself down steps or off the bed.

Tenacious - She moves the box of wipes and James moves them back. She moves the box of wipes and James moves them back. She moves the box of wipes... (you get the point) until the day comes when James agrees the box of wipes are perfectly fine wherever the hell Hannah put them because we work 40+ hours a week and really, who cares?

Has gorgeous blue eyes that melt your heart - this one just speaks for itself.

I read this today; "One day your sweet baby will morph into a defiant mini-human with actual opinions". I feel you sister, we're there and... man-oh-man.


Don't let the sweet face fool you. No, really don't.
Seriously, you've been warned.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

These boots are made for walking

According to Wikipedia, A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three. The word is derived from "to toddle", which means to walk unsteadily, like a child of this age.

So how about a child who toddles but hasn't yet reached one year old?

Well, I'm making the call for my kid... at nine months old, she's a toddler.


See? She toddles!
(Better quality videos to come soon)

This isn't new actually but, as everyone knows, if it's not captured on video (then posted to FB, IG & YT), it didn't happen.

If she wants to be somewhere quickly, crawling is still her preferred method. She crawls lightening fast, too so James calls her "Komodo" (as in dragon). 

We bought her first pair of walking shoes last week from Stride Rite and her teacher told me yesterday that she's much more steady on her feet now with the new shoes. No more crib shoes for this little girl!

Speaking of her teacher, she told me two cute stories about Hannah yesterday.
1. Hannah was pushing her bestie, Harper, around on the trike during playground time. Apparently Harper got a real kick out of being pushed around by Hannah. I so wish they had gotten video of this. They send me pictures and videos frequently but, this one they missed. Darn!

2. Hannah is a bit of a ring leader. I told Ms. Mayra (the girls teacher) how every time I come in, little Harper is sitting so quietly playing and Hannah seems to get into everything and be all over. Turns out, this is pretty much the case most of the time. Hannah is the one who pulls out the boxes of toys for her and Harper to play with.

The Principal told me yesterday that Ms. Mayra has asked for another mirror to be installed in the classroom for Hannah because she gets such a kick out of standing in front of them. They just installed a mirror with a ballet bar last week. I suppose Hannah just can't get enough of looking at herself. 

I was also told by the principal how Hannah likes to get into the dress up play box which they keep for the older kids. She's already refining her sense of style it would seem. 

Her newest skill is shaking her head no when she doesn't want to do something. This is one I'd rather have waited a while longer to achieve. 

In other news...

There are roughly 12 days of Kindergarten left for Ryan and then he starts summer camp. He's so excited about camp and can't wait to be done with school. Every day he asks me if Kindergarten is done yet. 

It was a big year of changes for him and some of it he had a hard time with. 

However, I'm proud of hard far he has come. He can read me his books now with just a little help with big words, can count money, writes well and is understanding concepts I know I hadn't learned at such a young age. 

We have a pretty good idea who is first grade teacher will be simply because his speech teacher made a specific request. 
But, that's for the fall (though, we're already being asked to buy next years school supplies by the end of this month).

Today, we look forward to summer camp and all the fun that comes with that!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Birthday, birthday, birthday & a field trip.

James, Ryan & I are all Taureans with our collective birthdays all inside of 12 days.

James - April 25th
Being an adult and having your birthday on a Monday means you go to work and pretty much treat it like any other day. His parents and sister got him Amazon gift cards which he used to buy computer games.

The kids and I gave him 2 lbs of chocolate covered Brazil nuts (his favorite treat) that we have to order online since we can't find it in stores anywhere.
Dinner was his choice and he kept it simple with Chipotle.

Ryan - May 5th
His party was done on May 1st and a local playground park. This is the 5th year we've had the party there because the kids just love it. Until this year, we've never had even a threat of rain.
All week leading up to his party it was calling for rain and I was worried the rain would ruin the party plans.
When the day came, it did rain all morning but, it cleared up for a few hours in the afternoon and it happened to be the exact few hours we needed for his party which turned out to be a huge success with 36 kids attending. We still haven't opened all the presents and it's been over two weeks.

As for his actual birthday... In our county, Kindergarten is still half day with AM & PM. Ryan is in the AM class and was sent to school with little gifts for each friend. His class sang Happy Birthday to him and he got a present from his teacher.
After AM Kindergarten he goes to private academy (fancy word for day care) for "extended Kindergarten". Here he got another chorus of Happy Birthday and he shared ice cream with his classmates.

Jessica - May 7th
On Friday the 6th, my work friends took me out to lunch at our favorite Mongolian BBQ restaurant. As always, it was delicious!

A Saturday birthday meant I could stay in my PJ's all day long - hoorah!
Ryan was supposed to have a t-ball game* but, it got rained out. I honestly can't remember what I did other than relax and play with the kids.

James picked up my birthday cake from a local at home baker who did a wonderful job. I was super impressed and she'll be doing Hannah's smash cake this summer.

I also received Amazon gift cards which I ended up spending on the kids and some items for the house.

Jessica & Ryan - May 12th Field Trip
I was a chaperon on the trip and had a group of six kids. We went to a local farm where we went on a hay ride, ate strawberries, planted sunflower seeds, pet farm animals & had a load of muddy fun on the playgrounds.

It's been such a wet Spring that the farm was still extremely muddy. So. Much. Mud.
Some kids love it, some hate it and some have no opinion at all.

My group were wonderful children and were so much fun. I had the kid that was always running twenty yards ahead (three of those, actually), the kid who gets distracted by anything and everything so is always twenty yards behind, the kid who is so scared of being separated that she practically lived in my pocket the whole trip & then my own kid.

While it was very much like herding feral cats, I loved it. Not the mud but, the kids were cute and sweet and gosh, so smart! One little boy and one little girl in particular asked to sit with me on the trip back to school and I'm telling you, these two are going to rule the world in thirty years.


Hannah
9 months check up stats:
Weight: 18 lbs 5.5 oz - 42%
Height: 27" - 32%
Head: 17.25" - 46%
That was a couple weeks ago and now she's just over 19 lbs.

As for milestones.. you name them, she's smashed through them.
She's started walking on her own this past weekend which is pretty damn cool. If she wants to get somewhere fast, crawling is the preferred method. The walking is just baby steps and she's not good at it but, we're well on our way now.

She starts swim lessons with her bestie next month and I'm so excited to see the two in the pool together.

As mentioned before, she moved up to a new class at school and she's not entirely loving it. She likes her new teacher but, it hasn't been as smooth as I was expecting. She's okay once her bestie & their new teacher arrive but, she's usually there before both of them. The teacher that opens their class in the morning tries to soothe her but, she just won't have it.

I know she'll settle down once she is used to her new routine, these things just take time.

In the meant time, the guilt trip is strong in this one.


*More t-ball games have been cancelled than we've actually played. It's been a super wet Spring!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Time for a change

I originally started this blog (Then named This Girl In DC Says...) in November 2007 as a single woman who hadn't yet met the man who would father her children.

In November 2009 I wrote my last post as a married pregnant woman. Then, for some reason, I took a four year hiatus. I can't remember writing that last post in 2009. I certainly didn't make a conscious decision to stop writing. I guess being married & pregnant and then a mother just got in the way.

In January 2014 I decided I should start blogging again because I was struggling with the ups & downs of TTC.

So I changed the name of my blog to Four Years Later... I wanted to connect with other women going through the same obstacles. And, I did! I met so many woman who helped me through all that. Most of them have gone on to become pregnant and mothers themselves.

It's now been more than four years later and my family is complete so, it's time for another change.

Thus, And then there were four... is born.

Here we are with another name change, another life change.

It was hard to decide on that name because, as you all know, I have three children. I gave birth to three beautiful babies one of which never came home with us.

Was this new name dismissing him? Is the new picture of the two big trees surrounding the two little trees forgetting that Nathan was here, too?

In the end I decided that no, he's not forgotten... he's not with us physically but, he is with us. He's the air around our trees in that picture. He's everything to do with Hannah being our family of four out in the world. At home, in our house and in our hearts, we're five.

The family we present to the world is missing one but, we don't get to change that. So, we move on as a family of four.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Moving on up

In my last post, I said Hannah won't be moving up until she's about a year or so old. Well, the teachers and Principal thinks she's ready so, I've agreed to let her go.

For the next couple weeks, she'll do an introductory transition where she spends some time in the other class but, returns for naps.

She's been with the same teachers since she started there at 8 weeks old. This is a big moment and I'm proud that she's ready for it so early. I think it's a good thing for her to be around the older kids. As it is now, the youngest baby in her current class is just two months old. The difference between Hannah and a baby that young is the difference between an orange and a banana. They're both fruits but, otherwise, completely different in every way.

The new class currently has 4 students and she'll be the youngest & smallest but, I'm not worried about her. She's going to do great in there.

And, the other great news is, her bestie is moving up with her! Sweet Harper is older than Hannah but, they two of them are good friends and I really like Harper's mom.

Going up to this new class means having to wear shoes everyday. (And, like proper besties, Hannah & Harper spent time trying on shoes together yesterday.)

I'm prepared!


Here's to all new adventures for Hannah & Co!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The art of the (not so) humble brag

Ryan is about to turn 6 and nearly every night, we still have our cuddle time. He'll curl into my lap and we just sit together. I love this so much that I ache for it on the evenings he doesn't want to cuddle.

On Sunday he was tired & cranky and hurt himself walking down the steps. This brought on the tears so I picked him up and held him for a bit. When I put him down I wondered if that was the last time I'll have picked him up. When I put him down, was that it? 

I doubt it, he's still young and small enough that I'm sure the occasion will arise again but, we're getting so close to the day where I will put him down for the last time. Will I remember it? And, how many more evening cuddles do I have left?

James and I met with his Kindergarten & Speech teachers yesterday and they had some wonderful things to tell us about him. They both say he's very sweet, smart and wonderful to be around. They both mentioned how much he likes to talk about and write about his little sister. He has some focus issues that we're all working on (he's a day dreamer and also chit chatter like me) and he's easily distracted. 

I'm hoping these little concentration lapses are something he will outgrow but, in the mean time, we have to reinforce at home how important it is to listen & focus. As they say, Kindergarten is the new 1st grade.

As for Hannah - whoa!
I've written many time about how close she is to walking. She's climbing steps and standing without holding on to anything. I don't know how long it will be before she decides to take those first steps but, I'm guessing it will be between 9 and 10 months. It could be tomorrow - it wouldn't surprise me - but, probably not quite that soon.

We got a sheet from her school letting us know that they're going to start preparing her for the next class up which means putting her on a bit stricter eating & sleeping schedule. She won't move until she's about a year old so, there is time to get her used to that class schedule. 

I love her teachers and I will miss them so much when Hannah moves up. Those ladies are wonderful with the babies and they adore Hannah. I love walking in to be told they were arguing (lightheartedly, of course) over whose favorite she is the most. The bond they form with the babies is incredibly sweet.

But, like in all things, her and her friends have to move upward and onward. 

I talk an awful lot about how amazing my kids are. I can go on forever about how damn smart Hannah is and my goodness, Ryan is the most photogenic kid. 

Perhaps I've perfected the humble brag (sometimes, I leave out the humble altogether) but, I'm a very, very proud mom. The newness of Hannah has brought out my demonstrative nature even more. 

And, I'm perfectly okay with that.