Wednesday, December 31, 2014

School Open House

This is a really old event... it happened in October, but I have been saving this blog post until after Christmas because we surprised the grand parents and great-grand parents with M's awesome school picture! 

I know I am biased, but is this not the best school photo... ever?!?

In October M's school had an open house.  M got to show us around his classroom.  T loved all the babies and toys.  M was proud to explain things to us!

M and T playing in "Family Center"

T trying on a lot of play clothes (looks like she had an earlier trip to Erik's).

Brandon reading the kids a story in a reading corner.

"The Carpet" which M talks about a lot and all of their daily activities.
The class is very structured.  Each day they do the first items on the agenda (see below) and then they "meeting time" where they fill in the rest of the days activities.   M continues to THRIVE in this setting.  Each day we count ourselves blessed to be given this opportunity. 
M and his "agenda."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twenty Two!!!

There is no place like home!  We returned home from our Christmas travels tonight.  It feels so good to be home.  Our kids run around the house with joy knowing that they are in a place they know, a place they feel safe.  Sleeping in our own beds feels so good!  The simple joys.

2014 has been filled with travel for our little family.  In fact today is day TWENTY TWO on the road for M and I and day 20 for T and Brandon.  That is right friends, we spent 22 days on the road this year.  It seems hard to believe.  Not that you don't believe me, but since I am determined to turn my blog into books soon (thanks for the gift card mom and dad) I am listing all our travels at the end of the post.  I realize this is not the most interesting post, but it will help make a memory. 

I want to clarify that these are all major trips which take 6 plus hours in a day.  I would say the average would be 7ish hours with at least five of the days having many more hours.  We did many other smaller trips to visit friends or for a little fall getaway etc, I am only counting the more major travels.

Yes, we are parenting two kids from hard places who thrive on routine.  Yes, trauma travels well.  Yes, we did over extend our kids several times.  We learned friends, we learned!  

We learned much in these travels.  The "number one" trip on the list below was our first time using a DVD player for the kids.  Life changing!  We could not have done all the traveling without it.

We learned that we can enhance our DVD collection by stopping at the library before traveling.  Daniel Tiger and Kipper yahoo! 

We also learned a lot about organization.  We keep things in bins for easy access.  DVD's have a bin.  Toys and books have a bin.  Snacks have a bin.  We have stocked bins when our journey begins.  We have plenty of supplies on hand at all times because easy access to wipes and tissues is crucial.

We learned about timing!  We learned that if we eat a super early lunch before we leave  homes and then a super late dinner when we arrive we can drive the whole way without stopping for a meal.  Stops are crazy and no fun so the less we stop, esp for meal, the better off we are.  Remember we have three people who can't really eat fast food so we have to prep, microwave, sit down and eat.  Not fun.

We have learned about unloading.  We time a movie to run past our arrival and then we keep the kids five point harnessed while we unload the van.  They are always spent and need to be held and tended to immediately after we unbuckle them.  It usually takes well under 10 minutes when we work at it together and the kids get to finish up their show.

We have learned that the quicker things get back to normal after we get home the better off we are the following day.  Tonight I got everything unpacked before opening up the computer.  Sure there will be laundry and errands tomorrow, but when the kids wake up the house will mostly look the way they imagine it to look and for my kids, this is huge.

Lastly we learned that 22 days in the van is A LOT and we have no plans to repeat it any time soon.  We have no big vacations or trips planed this year and we will scale back a bit on other travels to hopefully cut our travel days in half in 2015.  

2014 Travels:
1. Home from my family Christmas road trip but didn't return until after New Year's
2. To Smoky Mountains our house to Indy
3. Indy to the Great Smokies
4. Home all in one LONG day
5. Dad's retirement and hometown good-bye *just M and me
6. Home  *just M and me
7. Our house to Nebraska
8. Nebraska to Colorado Springs
9. Colorado Springs to Nebraska
10. Nebraska to Home
11. Summer trip to my family
12. Home
13. Summer trip to Brandon's family
14. Home
15. Grandpa's funeral
16. Home
17. Brandon's speaks at retreat near my parent's home
18. Home
19. Nikky and Jake's wedding
20. Home
21. Christmas with Brandon's family
22.  HOME!!!!!!!!!

There is no place like Home friends!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wedding Weekend!

It was such a joy to celebrate the beautiful wedding of our dear friends Nikky and Jake!  It was a whirlwind weekend with lots of time in the car and lots of work to be done, but we all survived.  I am 100% convinced that Nikky has the greatest friends ever.  They are all so lovely.  It was so much fun to get to know many of them over the weekend. We got to spend a bit of time our family as well.  My parents watched T during the rehearsal and wedding.  They are such a blessing.  The days were long for M, but he is a great car sleeper so that helped.  T would have had a very hard time with the schedule.  M was a ring bearer or "ring security" as the box he and buddy M carried down the aisle states.  He did great and knew his job well! 

Cutest Ring Security ever!

Safe to say the rings were in good hands.  M wanted to refer to himself as the "Bride's Boy" and since it is a Bride's Day I guess he sort of got it right.
Love it!

So composed!

Before the wedding.

Clearly M was ready to party!

This was the "kids meal" gluten and dairy free.  It was a BIT messy, but M loved it!

Great buddies!  M is so proud that his buddy Nikky married someone born in Africa just like him!

Here is the collection of non-wedding photos from the weekend.  We enjoyed a family lunch and a family brunch and a late night talk with my parents.  The kids did lots of playing.  M had a long "Bob Cad" ride.  He did some sledding and even made a snowman.  T helped Grandma make cookies and enjoyed lot of special time with Grandma and Grandpa, but really missed us and reminds me about how much she missed us almost daily.

M and my dad invented some crashing game.  I am pretty sure I was sleeping during most of it.

T: Let's make it taller.  M: I want to help too!

Can you balance a "little people guy" on top of a Lego?
T: Great Grandma is a great horsey ride giver!

Hey M, I think your snow man needs arms.

One fine looking snowman!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Veteran's Day

M was very excited to wear his "military clothes" on Veteran's Day.  Actually he wore them the day before, the day of, and the day after.  Yes, that is three days.  I am "that mom" who let her son wear the same outfit for three days.  He was so excited about Veteran's Day that he needed to wear them the evening before just to get ready.  Then the day after Veteran's Day we knew our favorite Marine was stopping over to surprise M so we let him wear them again when he begged!  

Why yes, I am wearing camo socks and shoes!

Even T got in on the action!  The coat was essential of course. 

Proud Brother, Confused Sister.
We had to go to the store for a new microwave.  Ours died and despite my pathetic attempt to live without one we headed to the store to get another... the same day it died... In other news, where does one dispose of a broken microwave?  Anyway, M was marching ahead of us in the store as Brandon and I were laughing to ourselves. 
Left, Left, Left, Right, Left!

Why are you taking pictures of me?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Preschoolers Exploring Career Options!

This post could just really be looked at as a huge candid photo catch up from the fall, but I decided to do a caption twist and turn all (or most) of the pictures into a career theme.  I hope you enjoy!

T: I am a future Mt. Climber!

T: I am a future food contest winner (why yes, she is cleaning off a T-Bone Steak.)

T: I am a future teenager... sigh (She decided to ditch mom and dad at a highschool football game to sit with these guys.  Their parents were right behind us and got quite a kick out of it as well.)

T: I am a future architect.

T: I am a future teacher of self-soothing techniques.

T: I am a future skyscraper builder!
M: Hey, wait a minute, why am I not in any of these pics?  I have dreams too!  Me:  I know you do M, your pics are coming. Here is one right now! 

M: I am a  future construction man!

T: I am a future baby-sitter/nanny/mommy

T: I am a future fashion designer!

T: Here is a sample from my fall errand running collection.

M: I am a fancy errand runner too!

T: I am a future advertising executive for Erik's!

M: I am a future quarterback!

M: I am a future athletic clothing model!

M: I am a future sports commentator!
We are future firefighters (The scarves are their air masks in case you didn't know)

I love the when my kiddos play "doctor" this is what they play!!! 
We are future Chiropractors!

M: Take a deep breath mom!  T: I think I found another spot right here!

These next photos are great!  M's incredible teacher sent peanuts in the shell home so the kids could feed the squirrels.  They had a blast and the squirrels were SO HAPPY to have the nuts.  They went a bit crazy and we enjoyed watching that action.  Luckily I had accidentally purchased a bag of unsalted peanuts so we had a huge stockpile.  We still throw out a hand full every now and then and watch the show!
M: I am a future squirrel feeder!

M: I am a future pitcher!

M: I am a future squirrel whisperer.  I have figured out their love language!

M: I am a future wise shopper (M saved his "tokens" for quite some time to "buy" this snorkel set.)

M: I am a future snorkeler!

M: I am future trend setter.  Really L, someday everyone will wear these!

We are future bike crash testers!

M: I am a future ring bearer (whew that job has already been completed)

T: I am a future lion tamer!

M: I am a future actor.  My parents really thought I was asleep!

M: I am a future great artist.

T: I am a future artist too!

M:  I am a future color mixing expert!

We are future power nappers!

We are future road trippers.  (They were on their way to Colorado!)

We are future fashionistas.  M: Actually, I am just sporty!  T: Actually, I am just wearing my animal clothes (monkeys on the shorts).

So this was M's first pet!  You know those little ladybug imposters that invade in the fall?  Well, our kids fell in love with them.  T did the catching and M wanted to keep this one.  We managed to keep it alive for about a week.  Luckily he lost interest early on so we didn't have to process the death.  M named his bug "I love you - John - Love and Peace." Quite a name.  Note that the middle name is the same as his. 
M: I am a future animal owner. 
The kids had a blast jumping into the leaves.  M helped with the raking too.  T didn't do too much helping but provided a lot of laughter.  It was a very chilly day, but she refused clothes.  She was playing outside in a diaper and shoes that were way too big and were lost among the leaves in seconds.  We tried to include "covered" photos of T. 

We are future leaf divers!

M: I am a future leaf eater!

Yahoo!!!!!  Coming in for a landing!

We could me SO MANY THINGS when we grow up... but right now we are loving being little kids!