Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Wonder Years

Okay, it's been a really looooonnngggg time since I posted to the blog. Months, milestones, birthdays, anniversaries . . . a million things have passed without a word from me on here. I should probably just stop pretending that I'm gonna post more frequently because when you boil it down to a choice between composing something for the blog and sleeping, well, sleep wins every time. Such is life with kids, I suppose.

Anyway, life's been good to us in our still somewhat new small town. It's been happy and full and brimming with adventure. The kids are growing at an alarmingly fast pace at this point: 7 and 4 years old.  My Lord, where did the time (and my babies!) go? Here's some recent pictures of them at a local ice cream shop . . . 

See, I told you. They're big kids now. How on Earth did that even happen? (And yes, Sydney is sticking out her tongue for no good reason in that picture on the right. It's a thing she does now when I want to take her picture. I'm hoping very hard that it will soon pass.)

As usual, there's been a lot of changes for us in the past few months. I've returned to work full-time and Sydney began preschool for the very first time a few weeks ago. She was nervous and doubtful and I expected lots of tears on her first day. Turns out, she LOVES going to school and ran right into the fray of new friends without so much as a backwards glance at me. All the tears were mine (and there were many) that day. It's been great to see her happy and excited to go to school. One day as we were getting out of the car at her school she actually said "Hurry, mommy! I don't want to miss a single thing!" Seriously, I couldn't ask for a more joyful spirit.

Sydney and Kaden had a great summer.

This was a Spring Break trip to the closest beach we could find - a mere 14 hour drive to the Gulf Coast. Not sure we'll be doing it often, but we all loved the gorgeous white sand beaches. Sydney made herself right at home.

This one was technically at the end of the last school year and not the summer but it was worth including . . . Kaden loves riding horses and he gets to do it every week in the Spring with his classmates. Another reason we love this place.

Did I mention she is joyful? This picture is a good reflection of Sydney's general attitude about life. 

And this is something I caught one day when I looked into the backseat of the car:
I love their love

So that's it. That's us right now. And now it's time for me to sleep. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A few months at-a-glance

As Sydney's 4th birthday approaches, it occurs to me that time is going by so fast. Too fast. Whiplash, punch-drunk, WTF fast. I get so caught up in living the day-to-day of our lives that I forget to record anything of it for posterity.  And though I absolutely want to be immersed in the actual living part, I also want to leave a trail of breadcrumbs through some of the highlights for the kids to discover later down the road. 

So here it is: a breakneck tour through our past few months.

Halloween 2014

Jake and Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Sydney picked the costumes. Pirate Kaden (or Jake if accuracy matters to you) tolerated his look for about two hours while we went to a local hotel that invited special needs kids and their families to trick-or-treat through suites designed and sponsored by companies like Hershey and Crayola. 

Christmas 2014
Kaden's Christmas was full of games: Trouble, Connect 4, Mustache Smash, and Jumpin' Jack. He likes Connect 4 and Jumpin' Jack. Sydney is obsessed with Mustache Smash. I don't take pictures of them playing because the sight of my iPhone would distract Kaden but it's a beautiful thing to behold. He likes to play games with his sister. Not always but sometimes. I'll take it.

Kaden was also reunited with a long lost favorite TV show that we lost from DVR when we moved last summer; the Classical Baby series from HBO.
Here he is dancing with daddy to his new set of Classical Baby DVDs. He LOVES these shows and could watch all 3 DVDs back-to-back on a loop for days. Me not so much.

As for Sydney, it was a Christmas full of dress-up and pretend.

She can spend hours and hours pretending to be a whole cast of different people: Doctor Sydney, Chef Sydney, Explorer Sydney, Ballerina Sydney, and, of course, over and over, Elsa or Anna.

2015 so far

Kaden is a first grader now and doing really well in his new school. He has a one-on-one aide in a self-contained class for most of the day with daily inclusion time in the general ed first grade and a few other classes like art. He also has an adaptive PE class where he's learning things like T-Ball and practicing his bike riding skills. (Despite the way it may appear in the picture, that's not a full face helmet. He tends to look at his feet as he tries to pedal so it's actually the top of his head.)

He's also doing a lot more communicating using a picture book as well as an AAC app on his iPad. Here's a pic of him experimenting with the phrases "I like it" and "I don't like it" on his AAC app. 

On a recent visit to the eye doctor, he pulled up the app and repeatedly hit the phrases "I'm scared" and "I don't like it." As much as I hated to hear that he was feeling that way, I was totally psyched to see him expressing himself. He's getting there, this one, and I'm as proud as ever.

And despite the usual big brother annoyance with little sister, he loves to hang with Sydney. They are buds and their connection grows each day.

Of course, daddy is still his favorite. I'm going to assume it's because he gets to spend less time with daddy and absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that but, well, I think you can see that they're really just two peas in a pod.

That's not to say he's not a mama's boy too. He absolutely is, 1000%. Particularly when he's sick, which has been quite a bit in the past few weeks. And as much as I hate it when Kaden's sick there is one very big upside; he actually lets me snuggle and cuddle him all I want. Silver linings.

A rare selfie with my boy. Yes, he's posing. Mr. Cool.

Sydney is very nearly 4 years old. She is whip smart, super-duper incredibly silly, and absolutely the most joyful person I have ever known. It's contagious. Usually.

She's an athlete in the making. She takes weekly classes in soccer, swimming and fitness . . .

And goes to play dates at friends' homes, the library, and a cool local art museum that hosts monthly preschool playdates. 

She's a helper . . .

And very brave - here she is "roaring" through her fear at the dentist. (Did I mention she loves Katy Perry?)

She asked for a "Hello Kitty" birthday party. Shocker, right?

So that's what's next for us. And I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom According to Sydney

For anyone who might be unfamiliar, there's an app called Chatter Pix that allows you to add a recording to a picture and insert a mouth to make it look like the object in the picture is talking. Our family loves this app, especially Kaden who loves the idea that beloved objects, like toys and books, talk to him in Daddy's voice. 

We've had the app for over a year and Daddy has created many, many talking pictures so Sydney's seen how it's done numerous times.  She recently decided to create her own Chatter Pix for one of her and Kaden's favorite books, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom . . .

I find that little voice and giggle so endlessly adorable and I am adding it here because I want to remember it forever.  This little video is so totally Sydney in every way: happy, funny, charming and thoroughly original. I love it.

She still loves to make up her own songs.  A favorite that I've heard her refining over the past several weeks goes something like "I love everything . . . Rain. I love everything . . .  Sky. I love everything . . . Trees." It's still in process but I'm pretty sure we've got a really great song on our hands.

Rock on, Sweetpea! I love you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Six Years Old!!!

Kaden's birthday, June 20th, is one of my two favorite days of the year because it's a day that we devote, as entirely as possible, to coming together in celebration of our beautiful boy. Parties and commotion are not generally Kaden's thing but he seems to make an exception for his birthday.

There was cake. There were smiles. There was a Monsters University themed backdrop.

And there was SO MUCH love.

Despite the million things that were swirling in our lives on his birthday this year (a major move, job change, etc.), for a little while it was all about our precious boy turning six. And he loved it!

Five was a tough year.  Kaden broke his leg on his third day of kindergarten and had spinal surgery two weeks later. Recovery was long and hard. But this is what I want to remember about the past year:

This is Kaden's kindergarten school picture. It was taken at the beginning of April 2014 and it captures a little bit of the Kaden sparkle that I've mentioned.

This is Kaden working his butt off at physical therapy.

And this is Kaden learning how to ride a bike.  I wish I could post the video I took of him riding but I can't figure out how to upload it to Blogger. Kaden loved this bike. It's one of the things he'll miss the most about this particular therapy center.  One day he took my phone and repeatedly watched a video of him learning to ride the bike with his therapist.  It was as if he was studying it, trying to figure something out. At the very next PT session he was super-excited about the bike and pumped his legs harder than ever the second he was strapped in. Gross and fine motor tasks are still very difficult for him so his first few attempts on the bike had been frustrating. He jerked muscles all over his body as he attempted to isolate the specific ones needed to push the pedals. But, like so many other things, Kaden eventually conquered it and was able to do more than ten pushes on his own after a while. The best part for me was seeing him be proud of himself and happy to be engaged in a physical activity. I loved that bike, too. It's definitely going on the short-list of way-too-expensive-but-totally-necessary things to get for our boy.

Finally, this is a shot of Kaden that I took earlier today at the park.

Here's to you my sweet, strong, brilliant and adorable angel. You're amazing and I love you to the moon and back a gazillion times.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes . . .

It's been a long time since I posted here. I even missed posting pics from Kaden's birthday in June so you know we've been going through something.  

Well, my friends, it's been a crazy year . . . 

Last September, shortly after I posted about Kaden's first day of kindergarten, our little angel had a very major surgery to have steel rods implanted and partially fused to his spine.  The surgeon who does this particular kind of procedure is in St. Louis so we essentially relocated for almost a month so he could be close to the hospital during his first few weeks of recovery. The surgery was successful and his curve was reduced from nearly 60 degrees to less than 20 degrees, which is amazing and we are thankful.  I don't particularly want to say more about it because the whole thing (his scoliosis) is scary and difficult and ongoing (further surgeries will be necessary, we just have to wait and watch over time). Suffice it to say that Kaden proved once again how incredibly strong and downright amazing he is - my boy is AWESOME and I will always be grateful for that little sparkle that refuses to be suppressed no matter what the universe throws at him.

Once Kaden fully recovered, which took a full three months, I began slowly dipping my toes back into the work pond. As I might have mentioned, I'm finishing up a masters degree in library and information science. I took on a field project for the Spring semester that had me working two days a week and then I got a full-time position at the Library of Congress. It was an ideal job and I loved it but (as usual) the universe had other plans for this family . . . 

Due to an unexpected career opportunity for my husband, we moved this summer and it was a big one: halfway cross-country to a relatively new boomtown in the rural south. And, as unlikely as it might seem, we're actually really liking it so far.  A whole new chapter begins . . . 

Anyway, that's the super-abridged version of our past year. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom starting at ground zero with my career (ugh, again!) I anticipate having a bit more time to post to the blog.  

In the meantime, here are a few pics of my favorite people from the past few months.

Kaden's really gotten used to sharing iPad time with his sister and she'll usually sit and watch whatever he wants so long as he lets her be close. LOVE.

Kaden was never able to tolerate swing seats for more than a second before his spine surgery and we would have never even tried a see-saw. Check him out now!

 Kaden still loves the beach. It's growing on Sydney.

Kaden's birthday pics coming soon!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Sweetest Thing . . .

It's been a good long while since I posted an update but there are certain things that cannot be missed . . . a certain sweet, smart, beautiful girl I know turned 3 last Saturday.
This is an open letter to my Sweetpea in honor of her 3rd birthday:

Dear Princess Sweetpea Doctor Sydney Ballerina Coco Pop,

This has been a tremendous year and you, my angel, have grown into the sweetest, most wonderful and adorable little girl I could have imagined. You have a BIG personality and though I'll never find the words to truly capture the beautiful spirit that I witness every day, I want to share a few of my favorite things about you at 3 years old:

-You're a tomboy and a princess. You would throw yourself face-first down a slide if I'd let you but you've also got a keen eye for beauty and stop to observe it at every opportunity.  We can't walk past a flower without stopping to smell it or look out the window on a snowy day without discussing the snowflakes. I hear "wow, it's so pitty (pretty)" several times each day.

-You love your birthday. You don't often wear dresses but when it came time to pick something to wear for your birthday it was extremely important to you that you "be like a pincess (princess)" so you chose the pinkest dress we could find and said "wow, I gonna be so excited" every time we looked at it before your big day arrived.
You told me every day for a month that you wanted a chocolate cake and presents and a party.  On many days the first thing you said when you woke up in the morning was "is it my birthday yet?"

-You have a tremendous sense of humor, fun and just plain happiness. You smile, laugh, giggle and squeal no less than a hundred times a day.  You're amazingly joyful and virtually everything you see, hear and do is hilarious . . . 

Even duckface selfies with mommy.

- You love to pretend. You can play dress up all day long. . .

- You love to sing and make up songs about everything we do. Everything. Songs like "Mommy's driving the car and we're gonna pick up Kadie from school and I'm singing a song." You always give me an impish smile and sing louder when I say "Did you just make that up? I love it!"

- You're already fiercely independent. When I take you to art class you want to do everything "by myself, mommy, my wanna do it!" You almost always say "Daddy's gonna love it!" when you're done.

- You're kind. Polite. More often than not you say "please" and "thank you" and a few times even "have a nice day" or "nice to meet you" to store clerks. And lately, even after a tantrum (which is happening less and less) you come up to me afterwards and say "my sorry, mommy, my feel better now."

- You love your family, especially your brother.
You give him hugs and kisses and love, love, love to play tag and bingo and old maid with him. Your bond is so special and pure and beautiful and it makes my heart soar to see you together.

These are just a few of the many, many things I adore about you, Sydney.  Happy birthday, my angel! I love you, Stinky Face.