Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

We had a very nice holiday weekend. We went to Todd's parents' country house, which is about 2 hours away. We left on Friday afternoon and came back earlier today.

We got there Friday afternoon and it started to rain shortly after we got there. We headed out to dinner, where both kids were surprisingly well behaved for a sit-down dinner. Katie didn't stop eating from the time we sat down until we got ready to leave.

Saturday we spent some time walking around the property. Todd, his mom, Katie and Michael went to the local elementary school to play on the playground. Mid-afternoon, Michael went to the store with his grandparents while Katie, Todd and I stayed back at the house. It was nice to have a chance to relax for a bit as Katie napped for most of that time.

Sunday morning, we headed to a neighbor's house who has a pretty large garden that he planted with Todd's dad. We got to pick some heads of cabbage and also got some squash. In the afternoon, Todd, Michael and I took the golf cart out around town. We went to a playground at a local church, saw some horses and watched a deer cross the road just a few hundred feet in front of us. When we got back, we went in the pool for a little bit and took the canoe out on the pond after that.

Today was overcast and rainy. We were going to take the golf cart out for another ride but the weather wasn't cooperating. We decided to head home early afternoon as it was raining and the kids were getting a bit restless. Todd cooked a fabulous dinner when we got home that included the fresh picked squash.

It was fun to spend the long holiday weekend with family. And thank you to all those who have served, are serving and will serve our country!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Week of Summer Vacation

This week was Michael's first week of summer vacation. Since he is used to going to preschool 3 days a week, I have been thinking about things that we can do to keep him from getting bored at home.

Monday, we went downtown to get his new shoe inserts. These help with the pronation in his feet. Without them, his arches get very little support. The new ones are a great deal bigger than the old ones. The man who made them said that we came just as he was about to outgrow the old ones. Michael is adjusting fine to the new inserts and informed Todd & I that he can jump higher and run faster now!

Tuesday, we headed to the library. We did puzzles while Katie sat in the stroller and read some board books. We walked around the library for a bit to pick out some books for everyone. We have several branches not too far from our house so we take turns alternating between them. Summer reading starts next week and I know Michael is looking forward to that since he got a medal last summer!

Wednesday, we went to Monkey Joe's. Michael always talks about going there as it is on the way to physical therapy. It was also the last half price day before the summer starts so I thought it would be the perfect day to go. There were less than 20 people there. Michael was able to have entire bounce houses and slides to himself. Katie wasn't so crazy about it but she loved running around the bounce houses and stepping on and off the mats at the bottom of the slides. Maybe when she is a little steadier on her feet!

Today, Michael had physical therapy. This week was a vast improvement over last week. I think that we may have pushed things last week with appointments 3 days in a row for Michael. In the afternoon, Katie, Michael and I headed to our neighborhood pool. Even though Michael doesn't like to go in the big pool, I was able to get him in there for a little bit today. When he saw Katie getting in the float in the big pool, he wanted to be near her. I got quite a workout carrying 2 kids through the water and keeping up with Katie in the baby pool.

Tomorrow we will head out of town to spend the holiday weekend with Todd's parents at their house in the country. Should be a good time! I would say that the first week of summer vacation was a success. Can't wait to see what the rest brings!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

See You Later Alligator

Friday was Michael's last day of preschool before summer break. We were invited to the "See You Later Alligator" celebration at 10:30. Luckily, Friday was Todd's flex day from work and he was able to go too.

The teachers had set up chairs on the lawn outside the classroom. It was warm but not ridiculously hot as it can be in May in SC. I sat down on a chair while Todd stood up to take pictures. This way, Katie could also roam around a bit as I know she wasn't going to sit still for long.

The kids came out of the classroom. Michael was the line leader for the show. He looked a little unsure about what was going to happen next.

They sang songs about their numbers, letters, nursery rhymes while they danced. All of the kids had alligator t-shirts that they made in class with an alligator hat. It was so cute to watch them. Michael didn't sing very much but he did do some of the motions that went with the songs. I wasn't surprised at all since he did the same thing at the Thanksgiving and Christmas shows. The last song they sang was "See you Later Alligator".

After the program, there were some refreshments, as well as an alligator cake. We hung out for a bit talking with some of the parents of Michael's classmates and his teachers.

I know that Michael is going to miss school over the summer but I am pretty sure we will stay busy with the library, pool, trips and PT. Throw in a few playdates and before we know it, school will start again. This year has been a great learning and growing experience for Michael. His teachers were wonderful and he really enjoyed going to school, especially on Mondays when he stayed for "lunchbox". Looking forward to next year!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Doctor Appointments Galore

This week's appointments included Michael's 4 year checkup, his annual orthopedic follow-up and his weekly physical therapy appointment. His 4 year checkup and annual orthopedic follow-up went well, the PT not so much.

He had his 4 year checkup on Tuesday. When we got there, he had his hearing check, which he passed. That was a relief to me since he had his first ear infection last month since getting tubes shortly before he turned 1. He was not so into getting his finger pricked but I don't blame him one bit. Right after that, the nurse asked him to pee in a cup but he was too fixated on his finger, especially since she wanted to give him a bandaid and he doesn't like them.

The doctor came in and we went over development questions. We also talked about behavior, discipline, eating and his follow-up appointments with his various specialists for Marfan syndrome. Michael weighed 35 pounds (50%) and was 41 inches tall (75%). At the end of the appointment, the doctor let us know that there would be 4 shots today. When Michael heard this, he was not happy. Thankfully, I had Todd there for support. I freak out when I am getting a shot and I can't stand needles. Michael put up a bit of a fight but they were over quickly and he only cried for about 5 minutes. After a look at the prize box, he picked a flashlight and bubble crayon. We went to McDonald's after the appointement for lunch as a treat!

Michael's orthopedic follow-up was yesterday. We went in to the exam room and the nurse came in to ask us a few questions. After we talked for a few minutes, a tech came in to take Michael to get an x-ray of his back and feet. Michael is already being seen for scoliosis. I also wanted the doctor to look at his flat feet, which is a common trait of Marfan patients. The doctor said that his scoliosis is mild at this time, which was a relief. He has custom inserts for his feet and goes to physical therapy once a week. At this time, we are doing all that we can for Michael per the doctor. That is what we wanted to know so we will continue to take the wait and see approach.

Finally, we had PT today. The therapist and I talked about Michael's appointment yesterday with the orthopedic doctor and then they went into the gym. After a few minutes, I heard Michael having a tantrum but the therapist was handling it. They went into the back of the gym but he never calmed down. I ended up going to the back and tried to get Michael to calm down. At that point, I knew that he wasn't going to be able to do anything but head out to the car to calm down. After we got out to the car, he finally was able to stop crying and fell asleep on our car ride home.

I guess 2 out of 3 ain't bad. And thankfully, the one that he chose not to cooperate for is the one that we go to every week so it's not like we can't try again next week. In hindsight, it was probably appointment overload but sometimes it just happens like that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birthday Pics

Michael had his birthday party on Saturday. It was at our house with family and friends. The day was so hot that we mostly stayed inside. The kids played in the playroom and there were only a few altercations over toys.

Todd grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and we had potato salad, fruit salad, deviled eggs, veggies and dip. I made the cake, which was a half sheet cake with a Scooby Doo cake on top. Michael was so happy to have it and thanked me for making it for him.

After we ate the cake, we opened the presents. Michael was so lucky to get many nice presents. He got Cars, Scooby, sand toys, trucks and outdoor sports equipment. All in all, it was a great party!

Here are a few pictures from the party and his birthday:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Michael

Today my firstborn son turns 4. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was meeting you for the first time and seeing your sweet face.

This was a year of many firsts. You went to school for the first time. You went on a roller coaster. You also went to the dentist, aquarium and movies. You also learned how to get dressed, brush your hair and your teeth. I also love to watch the wheels turn in your head as you figure out something for the first time.

You can take a little bit to warm up to people that you don't know but once you do, you are such a loving little boy. You love to give hugs and kisses and I love to receive them. You can get so serious when you are working on something that requires your concentration. You won't stop until you think it's "perfect", as you like to say. You have so much energy and I wonder where you get it from.

This year, you have really learned how to communicate and want to learn how things work. It amazes me what you observe when you ask questions. I am fascinated by what interests and motivates you. I love having a conversation with you and seeing things through your eyes. You challenge me at times but I realize that is only because you are like me in many ways.

Some of your favorite things are trains, cars and Scooby-Doo. You love to do puzzles and will do them over and over again. You like to color and make crafts. You are a great helper to me, especially in the kitchen as we bake and make dinner together. This year, you discovered sports and have become really good at baseball and soccer.

You are a great big brother to Katie. I am so proud of the way that you show her how to do things and let her play with you and your toys. I love the way that you make her laugh and have really enjoyed watching the two of you interact, especially over the last few months. I can see that you are going to be her protector and I think it's so sweet.

Over the past 4 years, I have enjoyed watching you grow, change and develop into the little boy that you are today. I am not sure where my baby went but I look forward to watching you continue to grow up, even if it is happening too fast. I am so happy and honored to have you as my son. We all love you very much!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not a Wordless Wednesday

Over the past few weeks, Katie has really started to expand her vocabulary. She will repeat many of the words that we say to her and has several words that she says on a regular basis. She still speaks in that way that only she knows exactly what she is saying. It sounds like babbling to me but she is so determined to let you know what she is saying.

Her new favorite word is "no". She will say it when she knows she shouldn't do something and also uses it for her nose. If you ask her where her nose is, she says "no" and points to her nose. She also like to chant "Mom, mom, mom".

The other day I wanted Michael to do something and of course, he wasn't listening to me. I told him I was going to count to 3 to give him a chance to do it. I said one and then Katie said two. It was pretty funny! I did it again later and she repeated the same word.

She also says Dad, Michael, Katie, glasses, ball, Pop-Pop, uh-oh and more. She loves to clap when she says something you like. If you ask her where Katie is, she holds her hands in front of her eyes and plays peek-a-boo with you. And she has started laughing at things that we laugh at and think are funny.

It's so neat to hear Katie learning how to talk and it's interesting to hear what words she chooses to speak. She already understands far more than she can communicate and if she can't get her point across, she sometimes throws a mini tantrum. We are so in for it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is this one perfect?

Strawberry picking is one of my favorite activities to do each year. I have done it since I was growing up and we lived in New Jersey and continued when I moved to South Carolina. I didn't go for a few years when I was pregnant with Michael and his first year but we have gone every year since then.

We normally go to the same place, about 30 minutes from our house. Since we were visiting my parents this weekend, we picked strawberries there. There is a farm about 5 minutes from their house that you can pick strawberries, blueberries and blackberries in season.

Michael and I went with a friend of my mom's while Katie stayed behind with Todd at my parents. She wasn't feeling well and I could only imagine that she would have been all over the patch. The day was beautiful and the weather was not too hot, for once. We got our buckets and headed pretty far down the row. There were quite a few people picking too.

This was the first year that Michael really understood what we were doing. He actually picked strawberries from the plants and didn't throw them in the bucket from 5 feet away! Before we started picking, I explained to him what we were looking for and how to get them off the plants. We were looking for big, red strawberries. Michael told me that those ones would be delicious. He was doing a great job picking them and had his own bucket. After picking a few and getting my seal of approval, he started getting the hang of it.

We would look at strawberries on the plant and Michael would hold one up before picking it and ask me "Is this one perfect?" After I told him it was, he would pull the strawberry from the plant and place it in the bucket. It was so cute because he really wanted to do a good job getting juicy, red strawberries. I asked him if he wanted to try one while we were out in the field but he just wasn't interested and told me that we needed to wash them first. So I ate a few for him.

I consider this year a success. We were out there for about an hour, which was just long enough to get 2 buckets of strawberries without getting bored or overheated. I really had a great time with Michael too!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Recap

In our house, this holiday started on Wednesday and ends tomorrow. We prepared to celebrate Mother's Day with our mothers and I received gifts, love and precious time spent with my kids!

Wednesday, Michael brought home a beautiful plant in a pot that he painted at school. And he also made a picture for me with his handprints as flowers.

Thursday, we made cards for each of his grandmothers, outlining his and Katie's handprints. Michael cut all of the pictures out for the front of the cards and also worked on writing his name with my help.

Friday, we headed to my parents' house for the weekend. Katie was running a fever on and off since Thursday night so she was fussy and not her usual happy self. We spent time outside and Michael & I went strawberry picking on Saturday morning.

This morning, I received a wonderful gift from the kids (with Todd's help, of course). It was a hand-painted wooden box with "MOM" on top and the kids' handprints on each end. I also got a homemade card, which meant more to me than any store bought card ever could. It was such a special day. Tomorrow we will head over to Todd's mom's for dinner and also to celebrate her birthday.

The day ended with Michael telling Todd & I that he missed us when he visited my parents last week. He then told me that he loved me very much and wished me a Happy Mother's Day after Todd told him what day it was.

Becoming a mother has been the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I am so grateful to have my kids and I thank Todd for Katie and Michael. I can't imagine my life without any of them and love them all very much!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sandbox Fun

Even though the playhouse still needs a few finishing touches, the sandbox is done and ready for playing. Once Katie went down for a nap this morning, Michael and I headed out to the sandbox.

Michael has a large shovel, as well as a small shovel. We opened up his Cars bucket, which had molds for Tow Mater, Luigi and Lightning McQueen. It also had a rake and sand scooper. I would fill them with sand, Michael would pat them smooth and then we would turn the mold over to see how it turned out. Michael declared some of them perfect when the sand filled all of the crevices!

We developed a pattern of me smoothing the sand and Michael turning over the molds and patting them with the shovel before pulling them up. We had quite a good time doing this. Once Katie got up, she came down to join us in the sandbox. I am not sure that she was quite as fond of the sand at first. Then she started to shovel the sand and rake it. After playing for a while, she climbed up on the side that was closed and watched Michael.

I sat on the edge of the sandbox and watched them play. It's really starting to be fun to watch Katie and Michael play together. She understands so many more things and can respond to simple commands. She also says a few words and will repeat other ones like Michael and Katie.

I am so happy that we have the sandbox. Under the playhouse is the right place for it as the kids are able to play in it for most of the day and they remain in the shade. Thanks Todd for building this! We appreciate your hard work and creativity.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday

This idea borrowed from:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meetup #2, complete with kids

We went to visit my sister and brother-in-law this weekend. She just happens to live about 20 minutes from Laura. We had talked about meeting last time I was visiting but it didn't work out. This time, it did and we decided to meet at her house on Saturday morning.

I wasn't quite as nervous about meeting Laura as I was about meeting Steph. I knew a little more what to expect about meeting someone that I knew a lot about but had never actually talked to. And this meetup went just as well as the one with Steph, even if it was a bit different because all 4 of our kids were there!

As soon as we got there, we started chatting right away. The boys were excited to play together and Katie took turns going back and forth between the playroom and the kitchen. We sat down in her living room and continued talking, with a few interruptions over sharing toys and climbing babies.

We headed outside for a bit as it was a gorgeous day outside. The weather was just starting to warm up. The boys took turns playing with baseball, the sandbox and parachuting men from the deck. Katie just followed them around and sat with Laura and I for a while. Laura brought her camera out and snapped some pictures of the boys and Katie. She wasn't above giving them a few jelly beans to smile for the camera. I like that kind of incentive myself!

Laura was just as warm, entertaining and real as she is on her blog. She handled her boys with apparent confidence and ease. And for anyone who has an almost 4 year old, this isn't always easy. We talked, laughed and talked some more.

The time that we spent together went by so quickly. It seemed like we had only been there a short time when it was time to leave but it was actually over 3 hours! We talked about getting together again when we come back for another visit. Before we left, we took some pictures in front of her house. Trying to get 4 kids to sit together and pose for the camera wasn't quite successful. I got some candid shots and we had a good laugh while taking the pictures.

Laura, thanks for your hospitality and we look forward to meeting again soon! And what meetup wouldn't be complete without some pictures?