Sunday, January 25, 2015

Battling Intense Emotions

We are so blessed with three beautiful kiddos, a great house, an amazing extended family, and so many other things. 

We also have challenges like anyone else and although they aren't really anything significant compared to the more serious trials that others have, they are challenges nonetheless to me. 

We have been blessed with a little sweetheart that has some amazingly intense emotions. She has a spunky personality and is so talented in many things but is also very quick to explode and has a very low frustration tolerance. 

I feel very fortunate to have worked with many many kids with intense emotions during my teaching career which has given me some strategies with this little one, but sometimes it is still heartbreaking and hard... and discouraging and embarrasing... and really really frustrating.

Today was a particularly rough day. We had meltdown after meltdown this evening for a variety of reasons (stepping on legos, which is bound to make anyone annoyed to brothers borrowing toys and taking long turns to just needing to share dad's attention... to name a few). All of the frustrating incidents just snowballed into a giant mega tantrum that resulted in hitting and kicking and fighting and screaming and lots of tears by this little cute girl. You would not believe the mean words that come out and the loud sounds... I just felt deflated and wanted to send her to her room and slam the door. 

Instead I did the opposite. I picked her up and held her tight with my arms wrapped around her in a bear hug on her bed, somewhat like I used to do when I was restraining violent kids in my special day class. In this case it wasn't a full restraint, but I sure hugged her tight while she yelled at me that she hated me. I didn't talk and just held her. When she told me she wanted to get away I just told her she wasn't being safe and I couldn't let her go until she calmed down. I told her when she was ready to be safe I could let her go.

I had flashbacks to similar situations with my special needs kids in my classroom as I listened to Catie's heavy breathing which turned into sobbing as her body relaxed. After a few minutes of hugging her the sobbing stopped and I asked her if she was ready to be safe now. She said yes and then just cuddled up next to me in her bed. We just lied next to one another with our heads pressed together and she asked me to tell her stories about when I was little. 

She just clung to me in the sweetest way and wanted me to stay and stay. We cuddled for 20 minutes or so and talked and then she had some cool down time before bed. We also practiced taking deep breaths and talked through ways to react and communicate properly instead of the huge tantrums.

Those sweet moments cuddling tonight reminded me of this sign I discovered at Taipan Trading not long ago.

I think of this quote all the time. Most of our days are good... and honestly Catie's intense emotions have been part of our family for so long now that they affect me less than they used to. She has also grown up quite a bit over the past year and handles so many situations really well compared to how she used to. 

Usually I try and forget these sort of emotional moments because they make me sad and I prefer to reflect on happier moments... but sometimes it is nice to write them down and then use them as I reflect down the road at the progress that has been made. A year or two ago the tantrums could've gone on for an hour or more and could've ruined the entire day onward... so only 20-30 minutes outbursts are a step in the right direction.

I love the quote above from Elder Bednar. I am trying every day to be a little bit better of a mom, especially when it comes to Catie and her emotions. Whether that means I am praying more or reading more books about explosive kids or whatever... I am trying. Hopefully it adds up to something and helps us move through this stage to a better one soon! Either way I sure am grateful for what I have learned from this little sweetheart and the amount of love I have for her despite her frustrating emotions!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve was filled with lots of fun this year! We were in Utah. Here's a quick run down on the day so that I don't forget! I took way too many photos so I want to make sure that they help document the day. If you feel like seeing more, my Christmas Eve 2014 album is here.

We started off the day with a trip to Magelby's Fresh for breakfast with Grandma Shari (Kevin's mom). The kids inhaled pancakes and orange juice and we made a quick escape as soon as a brawl broke out between Catie & Andrew over something silly.

We spent the rest of the daytime running last minute errands to get gifts and then helping my mom out over at her house to get ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

Ryan took a nice long nap, Andrew played Connect Four with Grandpa, and Catie got to spend a few hours playing with Grandma Shari at her house and getting some much needed 1:1 time and attention! I wish I could've gotten a nap! After staying up till 4am the night before I was EXHAUSTED.

The Christmas Eve festivities kicked off around 5pm and we ate lots of yummy food. 

After dinner the kids did some dress up in silly Santa and elf clothes and then we re-enacted the nativity using these awesome nativity costumes that Elise got my mom for an early Christmas gift. 

Catie was an angel, Andrew was Joseph, and Ryan was a donkey.

Elise was the narrator and read from a script while the kids acted out the story of the first Christmas. I was so impressed with how smoothly it went! Three years ago when we last tried it it was quite a disaster even though it was so cute! :)

Catie had the biggest role as the angel because she was the only one who got to speak. It was so cute listening to her! She really was so excited about her job.

Baby Lauren was the cutest little lamb, even though she hated her costume.

After the nativity show the kids played for a bit while we cleaned up and then we did a Santa pinata and played "jingle in the trunk" and did a wreath toss game.

Jingle in the trunk is when you strap an empty kleenex box to your waist with the box in the back and fill it with jingle bells and candy. Two people complete and try to see who can get the bells/candy all out of their boxes first. There was a lot of jumping and shaking. It was hysterical.

We ended the night with our usual sub for Santa drop off. The oldest four kids plus Jess & Ben (Jessie's fiance) and my mom got decked out in Santa gear and drove off to drop off some special presents to some friends who needed some extra love this holiday season.

Mr & Mrs Claus

The crazy kids in the car

We ended the night with some mint chip ice cream pie with hot fudge and chatting with Elise and Dan over at the house we are staying at in my parent's neighborhood. The kiddos all went to sleep pretty quickly and since we had stayed up SO LATE on Tuesday night wrapping gifts we barely had anything to finish up on Christmas Eve and we got to bed before 2 am! How awesome! I will definitely be doing that again next year. 

Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Catie turns FOUR!

Catie turned 4 today! We tend to keep her birthday pretty chill to help her enjoy the day and not get overly stressed out.

My favorite simple birthday tradition is that we decorate her door the night before with balloons and birthday signs. Andrew was an awesome sign maker.

Catie woke up at 7am this morning before anyone else and was absolutely adorable. She kept saying, "thanks for decorating my door mom." She played in her room until everyone else woke up and then we all went to her door and sang "Happy Birthday" to her. She was all smiles and you could tell she felt so special.

For breakfast we had leftover waffles from last night's dinner because we didn't have enough time to make birthday pancakes. We'll have to do those another day this week. Catie loved having a candle on her waffles although blowing it out was tough for her! She also loved that I decorated the kitchen a bit and had birthday hats for everyone to wear. She made sure to tell me "thanks for decorating for me" several times. Love her!

We let her open a present or two before Andrew and Kevin headed off for the day. She loved the tea set that her Grandma Shari got her and she and Ryan spent the rest of our time at home having pretend hot cocoa together using the new tea set.

The rest of the morning was spent riding bikes in the gym at the church and playing with friends! She even had some thoughtful friends who made her brownies. She shared them with lots of kids and they were gone before we got home.

In the afternoon she played with some new toys during quiet time and then after school she and Andrew played on the trampoline in the rain and got soaked! I think it was the highlight of the day! We also made spin art and paper plate holiday wreaths. Catie opted for the less traditional holiday wreath with purple and pink on it. Can't wait to see what it looks like once the pain dries and she's able to finish it.

For dinner she requested cheesy shell noodles, then we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, and then we opened the rest of her gifts! She was so appreciative! For every gift she opened she said, "this is just what I wanted!" She has such generous and kind grandparents! She also loved the Frozen underwear and Hello Kitty socks I bought her. Before she went to bed tonight she changed her underwear 3 times because she couldn't decide which pair was her favorite to sleep in.

After present opening we dived into birthday cake! Catie had requested a Tinkerbell cake and I decided to make it myself since I am too cheap to buy one for her. It is a good thing that she doesn't have any expectations yet regarding how good the cake needs to look... because it was hideous and she didn't care one bit since it had Tinkerbell and friends on it. It was delicious though with lots of frosting just the way she likes it!

The night got a little fun when Catie almost scorched her hair off blowing out candles, but we caught her just in time.

We ended the night with cake and ice cream and she did some LEGO building with her new Ariel princess set from G&G Smith (with help from Andrew). She was so wound up it took awhile for her to head to bed! We are so glad she had such a great day! 

Some details about Catie at age 4 are...

  • she loves her stuffed rabbit more than anything in the world
  • she goes to a local co-op preschool twice a week and then also does a mommy & me co-op preschool once a week... she loves her friends!
  • she is addicted to beverages (especially orange juice) and loves yogurt and applesauce too
  • she wears size Small clothes (in girls), no more 4/5T shopping for her!
  • her favorite foods are shell noodles, chocolate, and ice cream (my girl!)
  • her favorite toys are little people princesses, tinkerbell minifigures, magformers, and my little ponies... to name a few (she loves most things, so I don't think she's met a toy she doesn't like)
  • she loves shopping for shoes
  • she is a super big and little sister and is loved by her brothers!

We are so grateful to have cute Catie in our family! Happy 4th Birthday to our favorite little girl!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recent Toddler Approved Projects

This year I have been blessed to team up with a really creative crew of blogging friends and launch THREE e-books!

My friend Cathy from the UK who blogs at NurtureStore spearheaded the three collaborative projects and I have learned so much about marketing from her. Now I just need to find time to put everything I learned into practice.

Here are the three e-books if you feel like checking them out. Our most recent one launched earlier this week and is all about science & math!

Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities

Three to Five: Playful Preschool

Zero to Two: The Book of Play

Ryan Turns 2!

Ryan had a pretty awesome birthday. We kicked it off the night before by blowing up balloons and decorating his bedroom door.

On Monday morning he slept in until 8am (love that kid!) and then I woke him up singing "Happy Birthday." He loved the signs everyone made for him and we went downstairs and I made him birthday pancakes in the shape of a 2! We put a candle on it and sprinkles and he was in heaven. He kept sayinng, "I'm two" and "It's my birthday!"

After we dropped Andrew off at school we got the house ready for a little Halloween get together with the friends that I visit teach from church and their kids. We spent the morning cleaning up, making food for the party, playing with toys, and reading books!

The friends arrived for lunch around 12:30pm and we dived right into food. I made mummy hot dogs for the kids and pizza and salad for the moms. The kids liked my ghost cheese sticks too. I was also a huge fan of the sugar cookie bars. The night before they didn't taste good at all, but the next day they were delicious.

During the party the kids mostly played while the grown ups chatted. I did have a few crafts ready to go for the kids who were interested in crafting. It was cute to see how everything turned out.

After the party we picked Andrew up and just played at the house and did Ryan's favorite things--- play trains and jump on the trampoline.

Kevin ended up getting home early compared to normal (5:30pm) so we packed the kids into the car quickly and tried to drive the 40 minutes to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm super fast before it got dark. It was practically dark when we got there at 6:30, but they were really nice and still let us play in the play area for 15 minutes AND they didn't make us pay. Highlight of the day!

Dried bean sensory pit!

Hay bale tunnels!

Picking pumpkins

Afterwards we stopped at Cold Stone for some birthday ice cream and then we drove home. The little dude finished his ice cream in the car and by the time we got home he was covered head to toe in stickiness!

Ryan loved chatting with Grandma Julie & Grandpa Kim as well as Grandma Shari before he went to bed. He only got to open two presents on his birthday because his big day was so packed, so on Tuesday he opened all of them and LOVED them... as did the big kids!

On Tuesday he had his two year old well-child visit and it went really well! I can't seem to find the paper with his stats on them but he is close to 29 pounds and is in the 79% for weight and then is in the 98% for height... though I can't remember how tall he is. The doctor says going from her measurements he's going to be a tall one (6' 2 or 6' 4)! Should be fun to see how things turn out.

We sure LOVE Ryan!

Some things about Ryan right now are...

  • He wears size 5 diapers and size 2-3T clothes
  • He loves dogs, trains, and trucks.
  • He is obsessed with jumping on our trampoline but only wants to jump if one of the other kids will jump with him... he is also really good at persuading people to do what he wants
  • He loves to copy any and everything the big kids say (good and bad). He currently keeps saying, "you're dumb" when he is mad... thanks to the big kids. :(
  • Ryan is a great little talker and we can understand probably 90% of what he says. He is so happy and such a sweetheart! My favorite thing is says is, "I love you mami" and "Come too?" He never wants to be left out of doing anything. It is adorable! He definitely thinks he is bigger than he is.
  • Ryan gives the best hugs and tuba kisses.
  • Ryan loves to have mama help him with everything instead of letting the big kids help him. I am relishing everyone moment of it right now because this kid is such a snuggle bug.
  • Ryan goes to bed between 7-7:30pm and wakes up anytime between 7-8am. He also usually takes one 2 hour nap during the day... but sometimes he just gets to be flexible and skip it since we have stuff to do.
  • Every night Ryan sleeps with his special "dog dog" that is dirty and gross along with trains and a cozy blue blanket made for him by my Aunt Viki. He also uses a sound machine for white noise.
  • Ryan loves reading!

Here's Catie at age 2 (and stats here) and Andrew at age 2, just for fun.

We are so grateful to have adorable Ryan in our family!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Banning Busy & Other Thoughts

I am trying to relish moments like this because seeing these three having fun together is my favorite part of each day. Life has been busy lately, mostly with insignificant things. I am working to Ban Busy, so I joined a Ban Busy challenge and it is helping me slow down a bit and choose what we spend our time on more carefully. 

One thing that has been helping me shift my perspective is doing Personal Progress along with my Young Women from church. Each day this past week after the youngest two went to naptime/quiet time, I sat down with my Personal Progress and worked on it. Sometimes I did it for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour and a half. 

This past week as part of my study I focused on divine qualities that I need to strengthen and improve upon. I read a talk or two from each day and I was inspired by all of them. The gems of wisdom in each talk have really buoyed me up all week. Here are some of the topics and talks:






One thing that I love about banning busy is that we have less committments and more time to be flexible and help others and be together as a family.

The biggest kiddos and I have been enjoying hiking lately.

We've also spent two different weekends supporting Kevin in biking events. The kids thought it was so cool to be able to go to their dad's race. They took their sign making very seriously.
Last week we went to the morning mile at Andrew's school which is where you can run laps for thirty minutes before school. I think we'll be making it a new weekly tradition. The kids had a blast running with their friends and I had fun chasing Ryan around.

The big kiddos are also doing very basic soccer this year. I almost pulled the trigger on doing more intense soccer and I am so grateful I didn't this year. The schedule is perfect for us. Both Andrew and Catie have soccer one weekday a week back to back. It is so fun to have them get to watch each other and support each other. Ryan just runs around the trees in circles and we eat snacks.

I love that we still have plenty of time each week to have friends over for playdates after school or time to just get outside and be active.

When I kick off each school year I always feel like it is a chance to start fresh. This year my main goal is to follow the example of Christ portrayed in this talk by Elder Uchtdorf- Of Regrets and Resolutions. He said...

"Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life amongthe people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt importantand loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time."

I hope I can be better about doing this this year. I'm sure there will be periods where we can't help it, but overall I am hoping to maintain a more peaceful and less stressed pace this year both in our home and in my work.