Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year - 2014

Man alive, 2013 flew by.

I mean, really, it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating 2013 and making resolutions and plans for the past year.

As I look back at my 'goals' for last year, I smile.  What a year we had. 

We tried our hardest to 'live in the moment'.  Something I am not very good at - it seems like I am always planning the next thing and not just enjoying what we're doing now.  But, I think we did it...and I am a better momma for it.

My friend, Joy, and I ran our half marathon (along with Lisa!).  We ran our hearts out.  It was such a wonderful experience and one that, not only gave me a reason to exercise and some awesome motivation, but it gave me a friendship that I cherish so much.  Did you know that running is a team sport - it helps to have someone on your team, pushing you and running right along with you.

Ummm...I started out great with the 'eating whole foods' goal, but not as well as I would have liked to.  I will be working on that again this year...

I was nicer to my husband...up until the holidays...when I seem to become a controlling maniac.  He is sweet though.  And he puts up with it, knowing that it will pass and I will be myself once again.  Gotta love him for that...and I do.

Photos....well...I slacked off a little on photos this year.  Do you know how hard it is to take photos with a six year old and a three year old?  They never sit still!  Oh, and don't get me started on how silly I think selfies are...so, although Brandon tried to take over the camera a few times to get me in some pictures, these things don't always go as planned.  But, I did capture some pretty good moments throughout 2013 and I am proud to say that I am done with Parker's photo book and well on my way to completing Andrew's.  I will share those soon!

 Visit Mount Rushmore - Check!  Did that one!  We loved it!  I was surprised at how much the boys loved it also.  You can read about our trip back here and here and here

We sent Parker off to Kindergarten in 2013.  Wow!  What an amazing kid he is.  He is an expert at Kindergarten and we love the kid he is becoming because of his classmates, friends at school, and his amazing teacher.

Andrew is officially potty trained.  And, while I would love to say that potty training is our biggest accomplishment with Andrew this year, you all know that it is not. We've been on a pretty fast and curvy roller coaster this year with our Andrew-Man, but I feel like we've come out on top of the hill.  He challenges me every day to be a more patient momma and I love him so much for that.  He is still learning, but I think in 2013 Andrew learned so many new things and I am proud of him and all of his accomplishments!

I didn't read.  Not one book.  Sad, but true.

We had many busy days in 2013.  So, I would say we lived life to the fullest.  But, did you know that sometimes, living life to the fullest, is not having busy days?  Sometimes living life to the fullest is about enjoying the small moments and I've started to believe that my number 1 and number 10 goals from 2013 were one in the same.  Wouldn't you agree?

A new year is upon us.  And with the new year, comes new goals, new challenges, and many opportunities.   I love having a fresh, blank calendar to fill in...I love the excitement and all of the things we have to look forward to. This year we have plans to go to Disney World (can't wait!), Andrew will start preschool (I can't believe this!), Parker will graduate from Kindergarten and head into next fall as a first grader (yikes!), we have some home improvements planned, some small trips planned for this summer, and of course, we will continue to work our tails off at home and at the University.  I just (like yesterday) signed up to run 3 (yep, three) half marathons within a five week period of time this spring.  I am looking forward to more running time with my friends.  Brandon may even do one with us!  We will continue to enjoy each and every moment with our kiddos - and we are excited about their new interests and activities. 

But, what does this New Year mean to me?

What is my biggest hope for 2014?

While we have many exciting and wonderful things happening in our family, I can't help but feel like there is so much more out there.  There's a bigger world than mine and that's something I want to focus on in 2014.

I want to teach my boys that they can do so much for others.  They can impact another life, our community, and the world, with their hearts and their minds.

And, while this is kind of a vague 'goal' for 2014.  This is something we need to do.  I think we get so wrapped up in having it all, 'needing' it all, and I can sense that this is what my kids are learning and it's not how we want them to grow up.    We've all been kind of brainwashed by society that this is how the world works.  But, in reality, most of our world is in need, and we are the minority as 'having it all'. 

I've got some ideas for educating my six year old and my three year old on this.  Having them volunteer...making holidays more about others and giving, rather than about us, and having them start their own project to make an impact.  Do you have ideas?  How have you given your children the motivation to do things like this? 

This will be a challenge, but we are ready for it.  Bring on 2014!

Happy New Year, my friends!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mom of Boys

I read this the other day and it's oh so true....

...especially numbers 1, 7, 10,15...seriously, we have fish named Batman, Robin, and Buzz...but while this is true, there are many, many other ways that I know I'm a mom of two boys.

 For example, there is absolutely no pink anywhere in my house.  None.  I live a life without pink.

We own approximately 10,000 Legos and 8 of the same Batman guy.  Not mention two Mr. Freeze characters, 12 Buzz Lightyear figures, and 22 ninja swords.  They play with things like Trashies, rubber snakes, and more than once, I've been laying in bed and reached in to find a little Lego guy of some kind.

 My boy's favorite game to play is 'wilderness'.  Where they pretend like they live in the woods, catch their own food, and wear coonskin hats.  Yes, this game was thought up by Brandon.  And, he loves to play it with them.

 And, although, I've tried with all of my might to keep any type of play gun out of the house.  They make them out of legos, blocks, paper, and yes, even their toast.  Luckily, we've taught them only to aim their 'shooters' at our hand drawn targets to practice their skills.

They love basketball, soccer, riding bikes, playing in the dirt and sand, climbing the fort, and their absolute favorite is playing baseball in the front yard with their dad.

They have the stinkiest feet ever.  And, their hands are almost always dirty...no matter what.  They could care less about clothes or if they 'match' or have any type of name brand.

But, something else about these boys of mine.  Well, they give the biggest hugs.  They let me (yes, me, their Momma) give them kisses when I drop them off at school and daycare.  They hold my hand....all of the time.  And I love it.

They draw pictures, make bracelets with looms, and love to do my hair.  They help me make cookies and decorate for Christmas. And, they are crafty.

Parker loves to write and play school and Andrew loves to be his student.

They love to sing and make music.

They are insightful and caring.

So you see, while all of those stereotypical things about boys definitely describe my two, there are so many things about these guys that are outside of that stereotype.  I love that about them. (Even though they still don't like pink.)

And, when the toilet seat is left up, they are peeing on each other in the bathtub, they let one rip and think it's hilarious, they wrestle until something falls off of the wall and breaks, they wear a cape for days and won't take it off, when all they want to do is sword fight, jump and climb on  me, and build crazy Lego forts and Wipeout courses...well...that's when I think of just how amazing and incredible it is to be a mom of boys.  Because I know that for all of the crazy, ultimate 'boy' moments, there's a scraped up knee that needs to be kissed, a hand to be held, and a snuggle to steal...and, I'm holding on to it. Because, for me, there's nothing greater than being a mom of boys. 

***I know mom's of girls have such similar stories.  What makes you smile about your children?  It's fun to think about that and then watch for how much they do and say that makes you smile every day...things that are different.  Be thankful for these differences and embrace the innocence of your children.

Happy holidays, my friends!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I've written and re-written this post three times now.

I'm sitting here, trying to get up the courage to call the school district and tell them that we don't agree with the plan they have in mind for Andrew.

You see, I'm not very good at disagreeing with someone.  I get emotional (especially when it comes to my kids!).  I get defensive.  I'm just not very good at it.  I don't like it.  I don't know anyone who does.

And, today we made a decision. We decided that our instincts as parents are more important than anything else.

Today we are refusing special education services for Andrew through our school district. 

There are many reasons why we're doing this.  There's a long story about our meeting with the district, their evaluation of Andrew, and the many conversations since then about the situation.

I know some of you wouldn't agree with our decision.  But, in our hearts, we don't feel like Andrew is ready for what they wanted us to do.  It is overwhelming and we've decided to take a simpler, more private route in providing special services for our Andrew-Man.

Throughout the past few months we've been working with an organization called Tiny-K.  We've had the best experience and outcomes from working with our friend Aubrey, and Andrew has grown so much because of her work and our work in learning how to proactively teach Andrew how to communicate better.  But, now that Andrew is three years old, Tiny-K can no longer work with us and that is why we went to the school district to have Andrew evaluated.

Not knowing what the outcome of their evaluations were going to be, Brandon and I had no idea what to expect when we went in to meet with them.  And, while their evaluation seemed right in line with what we perceive Andrew's abilities to be, the outcome of the meeting was not.

So, I'm sharing this with you today, as a reminder that sometimes our instincts as parents are more important than anything else when making decisions for our children.  I'm not going to share our entire story with you, but I just want to remind everyone that it's okay to disagree with the 'experts'.  It's okay to say 'that's not right for our family'. It's okay to tell someone that you don't like that choice...and to ask if there are other options.  Just because society tells us we should raise our children 'this way'...you can raise your children 'that way' and they will be just fine.  In fact, I think good parents do this.

And, in this case, making that final decision, telling the school district that we didn't think this was right for Andrew, was the biggest relief.  I was worried about it and how I would feel afterwards.  By now (after hanging on to this post for more than four weeks), I've called the school district.  I've talked to the director of the special ed program.  But, our decision remains the same.

Andrew will start preschool in the fall.  He will work with a speech therapist while at school (who will come from the school district).  And, in the meantime, we will continue to educate and work with Andrew on his speech.

I'm thankful for everyone who has helped us through this process - Tiny-K, the school district, and our family and friends who have been there to talk to and have helped us in rationalizing our decision.

Whew.  Being a parent is hard.  Making decisions that will impact our kids for the rest of their lives is really hard. But in the end, Brandon and I know that this is the right decision for our family. 

**Please know that the special ed department in our school district worked with us to come up with a plan for Andrew - they were very helpful, knowledgeable, and kind throughout the entire process.  We will have Andrew work with them next fall and we are excited about that.  They were all great to work with and we are in no way implying that they don't provide excellent services for the kids in our community.  We've simply chosen to wait until we think Andrew is ready for preschool and the services they offer. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Andrew's Birthday

Whew!  Where has the time gone?!  Seriously.

A few weeks ago, we celebrated this guy.

Oh my.  Isn't he the sweetest guy ever?!

Andrew was so excited for this day and I was so excited for him.

I love Andrew's face...and Cooper's leg flying in the air!

For weeks, my sweet guy talked about his 'birtday'.  Actually, ever since Parker's birthday, Andrew-Man has been dreaming of his own big day.

Andrew got to be the line leader.  He was so shy...my shy boy.

I think Brandon had as much fun as the kiddos!

We jumped and tumbled and rolled and swung our way though this birthday party.

These kids were crazy!  I was thankful for the 'extra' adults there to help out!

Fun with Aunt Dani!

Trying to get a picture with all of the kids.

Aunt Dani to the rescue!

Cousin fun!

It's no secret that I love birthdays.  And this one at the Lawrence Gymnastics Academy, was just perfect for my three year old guy!

Parker looks like he's on the attack!

Foam cube fight!

Andrew loved playing with Brock!

The 'hamster wheel'.

The 'Tarzan rope'.

We played in the foam pit, the bounce house, swung on the rope like Tarzan, rolled around like hamsters in the 'donut', got into a foam cube fight, jumped on the trampoline, jumped off of the trampoline into the foam pit, climbed the incline and (some of us) conquered our fear of jumping off of the platform at the top of the incline.  We sang 'Happy Birthday', blew out candles, ate cupcakes, opened gifts, and truly enjoyed time with our close family and friends, celebrating our Andrew-Man - Ninja Turtle style!

I love Andrew's face in this picture...not so much mine. Ha ha!

Parker was so excited for Andrew to open the gift he had picked out!

I love their parties, I love the day of their birthday and I always try to make it as special as possible.  Last year, we went on our first visit to the Kansas City Zoo for Andrew's birthday - it was a beautiful day!  But, this year, it was coooold.  It was cloudy.  So, we decided to lounge around in our jammies (or in Andrew's case, his undies) all day and just hang out together.

Birthday chocolate donuts!

Parker was in school, so it was a special day to spend with Andrew and just be in the moment with him.  (Not very many photos because I don't want to show off Andrew's undies!)

Papa and Grandma came by for a visit...and to wrestle!

Parker was ob-sessed with playing Andrew's new 'Guess Who' game...

We had various visitors that day...all coming by to wish Andrew a happy birthday!

Grandma Robbie and Grandpa Mahlon got Andrew this 'Robo-Sapien' that he's been wanting...he was so excited!

We had pizza.

Jamie even came by for a visit!  The boys were happy to see her!

Umm...playing 'Guess Who' again.

We had cake.

And we just played.

Dancing with the robot...silly boys!

I loved this time with my sweet, big boy.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Andrew-Man!