Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mom & Catie Afternoon Crafting

Every afternoon while Ryan naps from 1-3pm Catie has quiet time in her room. Somedays she goes upstairs and I don't hear from her for two hours. I have 1-3pm designated as "office hours" for me for my blog job at Toddler Approved so it is always nice when Catie is happy about quiet time so I get work done.

After a week of being gone on vacation and then everyone being sick, routines have gotten out of whack a bit. Although Catie will go to quiet time for a little bit, she also just wants something to do that is more interactive or fun. This week I decided to do some fine motor activities with her to try and strengthen her finger muscles a bit... especially with regards to snipping with scissors since historically that has been really hard for her.

In the blogging world we typically create content a month or two before an actual holiday... so sometimes I'm doing Christmas activities in October... or in this case, we were doing St. Patrick's projects before March arrived. Fortunately my kids don't really mind... although sometimes by the time the actual holiday arrives I am totally done with it.

Our St. Patrick's Day and rainbow crafts turned out so cute which was fun since I haven't really been feeling creative lately! Catie has been loving our crafting time so much that I think we did it every day last week. Some days we did it during quiet time and somedays we did it while Andrew did his homework. Ryan even joined in on a few and I adapted them for him. Her ability to focus cutting has gotten so much better! I think we'll be doing a new cutting project every day!

Like I mentioned, I haven't felt like my creative self lately so my crafty sessions with Catie got my enthusiasm back. If I am not in a creative mode then I tend to start feeling down and negative. So glad I managed to snap out of it! Now my only problem is finding enough time to record all of the fun we've been having.

In addition to crafting the kids and I have been having fun playing crazy games with balloons lately, like "don't touch the floor" or balloon flights. The kids have also been loving playing toilet tag. Don't ask. It is really funny though. 

I love afternoons when we can play and craft and ride biks and have nothing scheduled. I am trying to hold on tight to a few afternoons like that so that we can continue it for a little longer. I will be so sad someday when the kids have busier crazy schedules and I don't see them as much. I share love all of the moments I get to spend with them during the day right now... even the crazy ones!

Little League Opening Day 2015

This year Andrew is in the Rookie League doing coach pitched baseball.

Our season kicked off today with the Opening Ceremonies this morning followed by his first game this afternoon. The rain held off (other than some minor hail) so we were so excited!

This year Andrew is on the Nationals. Last year he was on the Red Sox. Several of the same kids from his team last year are on his team this year, which makes it fun since we already know people.

Andrew played well and definitely goofed off quite a bit with his friends when he wasn't batting or in the field. Hopefully at some point he learns to just watch the game... but in the meantime I am at least happy he is having fun!

He got to played catcher today for one inning and was adamant that he doesn't want to do that again. He wasn't a fan. :)

The games at this stage go really slow. The game lasted two hours and the kids were really into it at the beginning and then were totally done at the end. Good thing there are snacks at the end! Definitely something to look forward to every week.

For the next few months Andrew will have a game three days a week. I am so glad I don't have either of the other kids in any extracurricular acitivites or I might go crazy! I don't like having tons of scheduled events.

Today Andrew managed to hit the ball every time that the pitcher threw it to him. Yay! I think we're going to have a great season!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy 9th Anniversary + San Diego Trip

Last week Kevin and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary!! 

Kevin's mom was so nice to come down and watch all three kiddos while we went away for three days of fun and sun in san Diego.

We watched movies, read books, ate lots of good food, got in some workouts, shopped till we dropped, and even fit in a lot of sleep and relaxing. 

On our first day there (Tuesday) we went hiking and to the tidepools at Cabrillo national monument. Poor Kevin slipped and cut up his foot so he was in a bit of pain for the rest of our trip. :(

After hiking we went to the Old Towne Mexican Cafe for enchiladas and the most amazing cheese crisp on a tostada. I am still dreaming about it. We also walked around Old Towne San Diego for awhile.

That night we also spent a few hours shopping around Fashion Valley Mall and I finally found some jeans I liked! We ended the night with dessert at Extraordinary Desserts which was actually way too rich for me!

The next day we went to Phil's BBQ for lunch and then we headed up to La Jolla to hike and roam around. We went down into an old cave and then we also hiked around by La Jolla Cove and got pictures. We shopped around downtown La Jolla and then also drove by the SD Temple and we got Sprinkles cupcakes close by!

We ended the night with ice cream sundaes at Moot Time Creamery in Coronado and then we went back and enjoyed the evening fireside reading books outside out hotel room.

On both Wednesday and Thursday I woke up and went running close by the hotel for about 40 minutes. It was gorgeous and felt fabulous!

After my run on Wednesday we went to Hodad's for fries & burgers (or grilled cheeses) and then we headed over to Coronado to ride on a surrey with a fringe on top and explore the beach, hotel, and shops.

We ended the day with a trip to the Seaport Village and then driving around the Gaslamp Quarter before we had to run to the airport to catch our flights. 

All in all the vacation was fabulous. It was so fun to hang out just the two of us and enjoy chatting and exploring!

Andrew Turns 7!!

Lately it seems I am always behind on this blog, but I definitely want to make sure to document the birthdays!!

Today Andrew turned 7!

The day flew by way too quickly since he was in school for most of it. We celebrated this morning with an easy favorite breakfast of Svenhards Cinnamon Rolls. Andrew woke up around 7am and loved seeing his bedroom door decorated with balloons along with a giant candy #7 poster.

After breakfast Andrew hauled little gift bags with him to school. Making them was quite a fiasco since I didn't find out from Andrew until last night that he was allowed to bring something into class. When I arrived at Target at 10:15pm last night they were out of virtually everything in the party aisle so I made due with candy I had at home and a few dollar aisle items. Fortunately Andrew loved what I threw together!

After school we went home and opened a few presents, cleaned up Andrew's LEGO covered bedroom so that he could have space to play with new toys, and then we ran around a bit outside with friends. Andrew also got to watch a favorite movie on Netflix while Ryan took a nap.

Kevin got home around 6pm (with Scott) and we all drove over to Walnut Creek together for dinner and dessert at the San Francisco Creamery! Cat, Jude, and Sophie met us over there as well!

We scarfed down our dinner and then we ordered the giant kitchen sink for dessert. Everyone picked one flavor and some toppings and they made us a giant 8 scoop sundae. There was so much ice cream that we maybe made it through five of the big scoops before we were all done. It was messy!

Once we got home we got Ryan bathed and to bed and then Andrew got to open the rest of his presents and call grandparents before we tucked him into bed at 9:15. We were all exhausted by the end of the day!

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!