Sunday, January 31, 2016

Capturing Life's Little Moments

Ahhh, January.  My least favorite month of the year.  It's just so cold and unexciting. 

This year, however, it wasn't too bad!  The weather was fairly mild, and despite the cold that made its way through our family, it was a positive month. Plus, it just went by so quickly!

I really enjoyed posting my first round of Life's Little Moments.  I'm trying to step away from taking so many posed pictures.  Instead, I want to capture those sweet moments that take my breath away. 

Life is made up of so many special moments that are easy to overlook.  Here are the moments that made January so special...

Our first big snow.  And by big snow, I mean 2 inches.

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That happiest, strongest boy who doesn't even let an ear infection and probable pneumonia bring him down.

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Afternoons playing in front of the fire.

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Curling up on the couch after school.

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Spending quality time with siblings.  (In the best chairs around. Scoop rockers.  Walmart.  Less than $5. GO!)

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New tricks!  AKA, scratching his head like a monkey!

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Brotherly bonding.

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Brotherly Bonding

And sisterly bonding.

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Afternoon snacks.

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A sick little girl who refused to miss school because she loves it too much. (She ended up missing 1 day...her first day all year.)

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All the time spent sitting in front of the fire. It's the best spot on a cold winter day!

Snuggling by the fire
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Trying out new hand-me-downs from wonderful friends. 

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His reaction to cold weather.

Liam hates winter

Before bed moments.

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Life with Lily. Not the least bit boring.

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Opting for math workbooks over toys.  Nerds rule the world!

Lexie

Rare moments when he smiles for the camera.

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A face that can break my heart.

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Eyes that stare into my soul.

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Quiet moments.

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Itty bitty hands.

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Snuggles with my babies.

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Pom pom hats, sweater rompers, moccasins. and tippy toes.

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Resting after an exhausting OT session.

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Excitement over bringing the class "pet" Snowball home.

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Afternoons with Lily and Liam.

Afternoons with Liam
Liam and Lily

The sweetest face I know.

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Countless hours at the library.

This puzzle. All day, everyday. And even though we have it at home, it's the first thing he runs to at the library! ❤ He doesn't even realize he's getting some extra OT!

Sibling sleepovers.

My girls! ❤ Lily recently started sleeping in Lexie's bed at night and she curls up against her. I'm not sure how either of them get any sleep, but it sure is sweet! #sisters

A newfound love for basketball.

Basketball 2016. Look at that handsome dude! ❤

Lazy Saturday afternoons.

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He goes through our house stealing all the cups. Those tiny hands though! ❤

Sleepovers and fashion shows.  AKA a rocking Saturday night.

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Celebrating a framily member's 14th Birthday. Happy Birthday, Dom!

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66 degree end-of-January days!

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LIFE IS GOOD.

The first month of 2016 is officially over!  It treated us well. I'm so thankful for all those little moments that made life so special.

How was your January?

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Currently

Happy Thursday!  

Another week is nearing an end and I'm still not caught up on my to do list!  I'm assuming that I never will catch up on that list. There just simply isn't enough time in the day!

Here's a little glimpse at life lately...

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WATCHING:  We just finished watching Boardwalk Empire.  I was skeptical, but it was AMAZING! We also caught up on season four of New Girl on Netflix.  I love the show, but we never manage to watch it when it's on TV. Switched at Birth is my guilty pleasure when I get the chance.  Which is maybe once a week.  It's going to take me forever to finish the series! We're also joining the rest of the world and getting drawn into Making a Murderer and eagerly awaiting the return of The Walking Dead (AKA my weekly dose of anxiety).  We usually throw in a few episodes of our trusty favorites, Gilmore Girls and Frasier, into our weekly rotation, too!

http://www.netflix.com/title/80000770

LISTENING TO:   Can I be honest?  Silence. 4 kids create an abundance of noise.  I often strap my kids into their car seats and turn the air on as high as it will go so it drowns out everything else.  It's just for a few minutes and it seems to calm me!  After that, it's today's hottest music by request of my children. When I get my way, it's musicals, soundtracks, and Josh Groban!

READING:  The Parent's Guide to Down Syndrome written by my amazing friend, Jen Jacob, and Mardra Sikora. Review coming soon! Also, Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. It's an easy read that my mom gave me years ago!




 
COOKING: I make a meal plan every week.  This week's plan was (Sunday-Tacos) (Monday-Chicken Pot Pie) (Tuesday-Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes) (Wednesday-Fish, Macaroni and Cheese and Stewed Tomatoes) (Thursday-Tuna Noodle Casserole) (Friday-Dinner at my parent's house) (Saturday-Grilled Pork Chops and Pierogies). I try to introduce a few new recipes each month.  We recently tried this Creamy Potato Soup and it was a hit!

EATING:  I'm on an English Muffin kick lately. I top it with butter and jam...yum!  And, well, chocolate. I have to have just a little bit of chocolate every single day!

DRINKING:  Hot Tea morning, Iced Tea in the afternoon, and Hot Tea at night.  I drink water throughout the day and that's about it, other than an occasional glass of orange juice.

BUYING:  Grant's getting a new car tonight.  That's major!  Next on the list is a new car seat for Liam.  The safest convertible seats are the Britax Clicktight, the Chicco NextFit, and the Graco seat that Lily has.  I love Lily's seat so much, but I wanted to try out the other two models. People get very pushy about which seat is the ultimate seat, so I wanted to try before I buy. All 3 seats are great, but I'm leaning toward the Chicco NextFit.  Liam's tiny body fit so well in the seat and the mechanics were very similar to Lily's seat. No matter what I choose, this article is a great reminder about how a PROPERLY installed seat is the safest seat, no matter which brand it is! Oh, and I bought Liam a few adorable sweater rompers on super clearance at Babies R Us. I couldn't resist the one with the bow tie!

Deal of the week: 3 sweater rompers for $16. SOLD! I couldn't pass up the one with a bow tie! ❤

PINNING:  Lots of organization ideas, recipes, Valentine's Day ideas, clever hacks, and activities for kids.  You can see them HERE! This DIY storage unit with window seat is AWESOME, my kids would love this Dinosaur Egg Melting Activity, and and I'm thinking about making these adorable valentines.

PLANNING: Lexie's 9th Birthday Party.  HOW is she turning 9 already?!? We're also starting to discuss our beach vacation this summer!

WORRYING: Oh, just about making the right decision regarding Liam and preschool.  I also have a meeting on Monday morning that I'm not too thrilled about!

THINKING: That I need to go to bed.  It's almost 2 AM!

CELEBRATING: The fact that the temperature isn't in the single digits or teens right now.  That's pretty sad, isn't it?!? 

LOOKING FORWARD TO:  Finishing our tax return!  (It's on the agenda for this afternoon.)  Celebrating our a "framily" member's 14th birthday on Sunday!  And just to keep it real, sleeping in over the weekend!!!

LOVING:  My cozy pajamas from Target.  My fuzzy bootie slippers. Boot socks. Cake batter Chapstick. Cuddling with my kids by the fire.

WEARING: My winter attire consists of skinny jeans, sweaters, boot socks, and boots.  Every single day.  And kids in my arms.  That's a given!

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That sums up life lately!  I can't believe January is coming to an end this weekend! 

What are you loving right now?

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Transitions

I received a message today.  A message I was expecting.  A message that still made my heart skip a beat.

From the moment the doctor spoke the words "Down syndrome" we knew our lives were about to change completely. I remember sobbing into my hands.  "I can't do this!  I don't WANT to do this!"

What I was fearing was the unexpected.

But life with Down syndrome quickly became our new normal.  Life with Down syndrome was actually pretty awesome...and, well, normal.  And what I learned was that I COULD do this, and even more surprising, I WANTED to do this.  I wanted to show the world that Down syndrome is not that scary.

Yes, there were more doctor appointments. Yes, the future seemed uncertain. But if you really think about it, everyone's future is uncertain.  In my arms was the most beautiful baby boy and I vowed to give him the world.

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The only aspect of life with Down syndrome that took some getting used to was the fact that we now had a child who had special needs, and our child with special needs required weekly therapy to help him thrive.

At first, it was very odd welcoming strangers into our home every week, but in home therapy became a fundamental part of our lives. What once was awkward is now our norm. The terms PT, OT, and ST are a regular part of our vocabulary.  Even my 4 year old can easily explain the difference! Our entire family is involved, and the older kids love to assist with Liam's sessions.

There are certainly days when I wake up and groan because I don't want to get the house ready for another therapy session.  But in the grand scheme of things, 3 hours of therapy a week is NOTHING, and we are lucky to have such an amazing Early Intervention program!

Those "strangers" quickly turned into friends.  Liam's OT has been with us since he was 2 months old, his PT joined the family when he was 6 months old, and his speech therapist came in at 12 months.  When Liam accomplishes a task during therapy, his therapists cheer with me.  When he achieves a major milestone, tears fill their eyes, too.  They worry when he's sick and they smother him with love at every session.  They work incessantly to help him achieve all of his goals and they fight for him when necessary.

Those strangers became a vital part of our team.  They became a part of our family.

Liam loves them back.  He greets them with hugs, cuddles with them during sessions, and blows them kisses when they leave.  And in just over six short months, we're going to have to say goodbye to our beloved team for good.

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That message I received today was about transition.  On Thursday, his county coordinator will join in on his weekly OT session and discuss our upcoming transition meeting in March.  When Liam turns 3 in August, Early Intervention will end abruptly and preschool-based therapy will begin.  We will say goodbye to one phase of our lives and very hesitantly welcome another.

Saying goodbye to our team seems impossible, but I have another battle raging inside my head.  You see, I don't believe in preschool until age 4, so this is a struggle for me.

Dylan, Lexie, and Lily spent the first 4 years of their childhood with me.  We didn't just sit at home.  We visited a wide variety of places.  We had playdates 1-3 times a week. We started weekly Storytime at age 3. We learned at home. And they were with me, where they belonged.

The preschool transition was an easy one for all three of them and it was a positive experience.  They were properly socialized, always the best-behaved children in their class, and exactly where they needed to be from an education-standpoint. They always loved school and they continue to excel in school.  I do not regret my decision in any way.

I know my view is not a common one, but I feel very strongly about it. Yes, preschool is very important to prepare children for the school years ahead, but I believe one year is plenty.  I believe the first four years of my kids' lives should be spent with me.

Unfortunately, we are facing a very different situation with Liam. Yes, we can keep him home and pursue outside therapy, but it's apparently quite a process.  And in this situation, preschool is most likely the right choice.  Liam is just SO tiny which makes it even more difficult.

The ultimate plan for Liam includes a developmental preschool followed by full inclusion.  But what is the right decision?  What's right for him?  These questions aren't easy to answer!

I know he will thrive in school.  He's very social and he loves unconditionally. He adapts easily to any situation.  But is this Fall the right time?

Part of me wonders if I feel like I don't have a choice.  THIS is the method the majority of people in our shoes choose and THIS is the way it should be done. THIS is the way the state tells us it should be done.  But is it the right choice? Perhaps keeping him at home, attending weekly storytime and playdates for socialization, and pursuing outside therapy is the better choice for one more year?  I'm honestly not sure and I'm feeling extremely torn over the decision.

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The preschool transition was so positive for my other three children because I knew they were ready and I knew it was time.  I'm NOT ready to let go of Liam.  It feels too rushed. It feels like I'm being pressured into going against my beliefs.

Education is such a personal choice.  There are conflicting opinions no matter which way you turn.  What works for one child, may not work for another. I just need to figure out what's right for Liam.

Even after sending three kids off to school, it doesn't get any easier.  Actually, I believe it gets more difficult with each child because I now realize just how quickly time passes by and just how quickly my children are growing up. You would think I would be a seasoned mom, but the reality is, I'm not.  From the day we send our children to preschool, our children will be in school until they become adults. There is NO going back.

So that's where we are.  We're preparing ourselves for some difficult goodbyes and some difficult transitions. Big changes are coming our way.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't like it.

Are we ready?  Is HE ready?  The answer isn't coming to me so easily this time. I pray that over the next few months, I will find the right answer and feel comfortable with my decision.

Parenting is tough. The truth is, when we send our children off to school, we're really letting go of our babies. It's the natural progression in life, but it really is almost impossible to let go.  

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Was the first day of school transition difficult for you? Any special needs parents want to weigh in?

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