Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thanksgiving and Christmas part 1

Because both my parents and Justin's dad's family all live in Texas we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas with each family each year. In 2013 we spent Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with Justin's dad and family. Whenever we spend Thanksgiving with my family, we typically celebrate Christmas as a family that same weekend.

It seems that I didn't get any pictures of Thanksgiving Day, but I tried to get some pictures of the Christmas madness the next day. Basically kids were opening gifts all over the place and I kept snapping pictures. Here are some of the best ones.

My sister, Sherry, with her daughter, Abby
Justin helping Joel open a present while Jacob looks on
The most people I got in one picture starting on the left: Joel behind Grant, Grandpa holding Fiona, Kelly, Rorie and Rick
Aunt Sherry helping Jeremy
Grant and Abby
Joel and Jacob checking out one of the gifts for all 3 boys (Jacob may have insisted on wearing that hat the rest of the time opening presents once he opened it)

Jacob, Joel and Aunt Sherry
Rorie, Rick and Grant

Our "new" car

After I graduated from BYU in April of 1999, I bought myself a brand new 1999 Honda Civic.

I loved that little car and it went through a lot with me over the next 14 years.

I was rear-ended a couple times, I drove over one of those concrete barriers they sometimes put at the front of parking spaces (because I didn't realize it was there - maybe I shouldn't admit that).

I paid it off before starting graduate school in the fall of 2002.

Justin and I first discussed the possibility of getting married while riding in that car.

That car drove back and forth between Texas and Florida a few times and from Florida up to Missouri.

We drove that little car from Houston to Tampa after our honeymoon.

For a little while that little car was the only car we owned.

But we'd had a few problems with that little car over the past year or so and because it was a little small for a family of 5 we were starting to discuss replacing. Within weeks of us talking about getting a newer car, Justin's dad offered to sell us his Acura RL at quite the discount.
Not the exact same car but same year, make, model and color

At first we were torn because it was the same age as our Civic, but because it was in a lot better shape, we decided that we would go ahead and do. The day that Justin's dad and step-mom drove the car down to us, I took the Civic to CarMax to sell it to them.

As I drove I started thinking of all that had happened to me and to us while we had that car and it made me sad to sell it.

But once I got there and they had to jump start the car to take it back to appraise I started thinking instead of what a good idea we were selling the car. 

Then they offered me more than we thought we could get for the car and again I knew we were making the right choice.

And after the handed me the check and they couldn't even jump start the car to get it running I may have laughed the entire way home.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Halloween 2013

Back in October none of our boys really understood anything about dressing up or anything like that for Halloween. Which means that I had to pick costumes for them that I thought they would be willing to wear. I decided to go with a Cars theme for these little guys and they were super excited about their costumes and no one seemed jealous of anyone else so we'll call it a win!

First up for Halloween was going to our church's fall festival and trunk or treat. And for the 3rd year in a row that we have taken our kids to this, our kids were pretty awful. Maybe I'll get more into that later. We didn't get any pictures while we were there because it was crazy.

Then a couple days later we went to Jacob's teacher's church's trunk or treat. After experiencing our own church's trunk or treat and feeling like it was terrible, we didn't really have high hopes for this other trunk or treat. However we felt like it would be fun for Jacob to see his teacher somewhere besides school and we knew the boys would be excited to wear their costumes.

This trunk or treat was awesome! The boys loved it and overall were pretty well behaved. They even had a fire truck there the boys got to climb up in. Jacob loved seeing his teacher - especially since she and her husband were dressed up with Angry Birds shirts and had their own little Angry Birds game to play at their truck.

Halloween night we decided to take the boys around our neighborhood. They were really excited and got upset when we wanted them to stand for pictures instead of rushing out the door as soon as their costumes were on.

Not many houses in our neighborhood were participating in Halloween so even though we walked a long way for 3 little boys with little legs, there weren't a whole lot of houses we stopped at. The houses that were giving out candy were being super generous so our kids' buckets were almost full by the time we got home. Funny thing about that is that Jeremy doesn't like candy at all and Jacob is very picky about candy; Joel is our only child who goes crazy for candy.

In case you were wondering what made our church's trunk or treat and Jacob's teacher's church's trunk or treat so much different here it is:
Our church always schedules the fall festival to start somewhere around 6 or 6:30pm (one year it may have even started at 7). They have somewhere around 6 activities inside the church building for the kids to rotate between. However the activities aren't very time consuming activities and it doesn't take long before your kids have done them all. Multiple times. For some reason they always schedule the trunk or treat not to start until 8 or 8:30. When your kids are usually in bed by 8 and don't handle being up late very well, this results in screaming upset children who are bored, over-stimulated and tired. We had just kind of resigned ourselves to thinking that this is just how trunk or treats are.

Jacob's teacher's church does theirs completely different. Members of the church choose to decorate their car and pass out candy in the parking lot. No one goes into the church building at all. And most of the vehicles had activities at their vehicle - the same type of activities they had at ours, but when almost every vehicle has an activity - that is way more for the kids to do. You go to a vehicle, participate in the activity (kicking a ball, knocking down a toilet paper pyramid, etc.) and then get your treat, then you go on to the next car. Not to mention that the trunk or treat started at 3 or 4 in the afternoon when our kids were not tired and needing to go to bed. Not all the vehicles had activities and not all of them had decorated - some were just there to pass out candy.

This would be so, so much better if our church did it this way - no one would be in charge of making sure all the activities were covered because if you brought your vehicle and had an activity, you are in charge of it. Genius!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back to school 2013

We were all so excited for back to school in the fall!

Jacob was starting his pre-kindergarten year of school and was still in the PPCD program (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities). We had planned on this meaning that just like the year before, Jacob would go to school for about 3 hours a day - the bus would pick him up around 12:15 and he would be home around 4pm. 

But on my birthday I got a call from Jacob's teacher that they were starting a new program called PPCD/Pre-K Inclusion. The plan was that all PPCD students who were 4 at the start of the school year (and therefore in their Pre-K year) would no longer be in the PPCD class, but they would be in a regular Pre-K in the morning and another one in the afternoon. They would have a regular (or mainstream) Pre-K teacher and parateacher, but they would also have one of the PPCD teachers in the classroom with them.

The point of the program is to help these kids, most of which have some serious communication problems as well as behavior issues, acclimate to a standard classroom and associate with normal peers. By having them be in a regular Pre-K class this year, hopefully that will give them more success when they start kindergarten the next year. It is a great program for Jacob and he loves going to school so we were super excited for him to have this chance. 

Here are Jacob 's first day of Pre-K pictures.

Back to work

I always envisioned that when I had children I would be a stay-at-home mom and that would be all the work that I would do, at least until all my children were in school. Then I would think about working part-time during the day while my kids were in school, but only as long as it left plenty of time for me to be a mom, wife and homemaker first.

After Jacob was born, Justin and I decided together that I would teach a class a couple nights a week just so that we could have that extra income. My fall semester income we typically used to buy Christmas gifts for our families and over the one spring semester I worked we actually used the money I made to do our frozen embryo transfer in the summer 2010.

But as time went on after the twins were born and we were dealing with all the problems and difficulties that Jacob had, I kept feeling more and more like I NEEDED to get out of the house on a regular basis. I NEEDED breaks from my children in order to stay sane when I cared for them. I felt myself sinking further and further into a depression and I knew something had to change.

As we approached the twins 2nd birthday (Feb 2013) Justin and I made the decision that I would go back to work teaching at the community college in the fall. Only I wouldn't teach at night as I had done after Jacob was born, I would teach during the day and we would find childcare for the kids. It was a scary decision to make, but we knew it was best for me and the kids for me to get a little vacation from them everyday called "work".

I contacted the math department chair at the community college and set everything in motion to be re-hired. We weren't sure what exactly we would do about childcare and we decided that we really wouldn't be able to decide what to do until I knew when I would be teaching each day. We also realized that a large chunk of any income I made would go to pay for childcare, but I felt desperate to change my situation and knew that I wasn't going back to work for the money, but for my sanity.

On my birthday last year I got a call from Jacob's teacher letting me know that Jacob would no longer only go to school in the afternoons starting in the fall, but he would go all day as part of a special program they were doing. My first thought was how great that was because now I would only have to find childcare for the twins.

But the next day when I got my teaching assignment for the fall, doubt and worry started to creep in. I would be teaching on Tuesday and Thursday (as requested), and my first class would be at 8:30 in the morning. I had also requested the early start time, but that was because I thought that Jacob would only be going to school in the afternoon. All day school for Jacob meant a bus would pick him up at home around 8am, but maybe not until 8:15. How in the world would I be able to get Jacob on his bus, take the twins somewhere to be watched and make to my class on time? For most of that day I stressed BIG time about what I would do and how would I find someone to watch my kids.

But the next day instead of stress I felt peace. And I felt like I knew exactly who would be caring for the twins and able to make sure Jacob got off to school okay. I hadn't asked her yet, but I felt a certainty that everything would be fine. I was nervous to approach my friend with the offer an employment, because I didn't want to offend her or damage our friendship but I felt so comforted that she was the right answer.

As soon as I mentioned it to her she said she would be happy to watch my kids! She had been looking for a way to make extra money, but she was only available a few days a week (which happened to be the days I would be teaching) and she couldn't find anything that would pay her enough to make it worth it to her. Over the next few days everything was settled and we were both looking forward to our new schedules in the fall!

Summer Part 2 (2013)

The last 7 weeks or so of our summer seemed to drag on and on.  The first month we were having visitors or going on our own little trips, but the rest of the summer was long and boring.

After getting home from our 4th of July trip up to Dallas, Jacob had a really bad week.  We'd had too much going on for the previous month and he wasn't sure how to handle it all.  After having a really rough week though we were able to adjust to our usual routine for summer break.

All three of these boys seem to suffer from the same behavior problem of "I get to do whatever I want whenever I want". And it isn't just something that happens every now and then. We have problems with this at home and Jacob and Jeremy have problems with this at school as well. It is a constant battle everyday to try to help them understand that there are rules and breaking rules have consequences. Last summer none of them got that and this summer isn't looking a whole lot better. Because of this it was (is) nearly impossible for me to take them places by myself because everyone wants to do their own thing, no one EVER comes back when I call them back, etc. When Justin's mom was visiting last summer we took the kids to the park and to the splash pad and it was a lot of work for the two of us. I'm not sure if I even dare take them to those places by myself this summer (a year later).

We (meaning I) were very happy as summer drew to a close and we got ready to head back to school! Because we didn't go out much (except to the gym) a lot of time was spent playing in the backyard. Maybe we can get out more this summer.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Summer Part 1 (2013)

The first part of our summer seemed to fly by! Jacob finished up his school year sometime around June 5th or 6th. A week later we headed up to Dallas for the weekend. Justin and I treated ourselves to a concert with a couple of our favorite bands for our anniversary and the tour was starting in Dallas about a week after our actual anniversary. We headed up there on on Friday, June 14th after Justin got home from work. We went swimming on Saturday, then on Monday played with some friends and our concert was Monday night.  
Guster started out the concert and stole the show!
We weren't so impressed with Ben Folds Five - we aren't as familiar with their stuff
We headed home on Tuesday, the 18th and Justin got hard to work studying for a part of the Certified Internal Auditor exam he was taking the next Monday (the 24th). (He passed it, by the way.  Yay!!)

Justin's mom flew in to visit us on Friday, the 21st, and stayed with us until Monday July 1st. Because Justin had already scheduled his exam and time off to study for it before we knew when his mom would be coming, he was stuck at work trying to catch up on things. We tried to do some fun things while she was here like taking the kids to the park and to a splash pad, but I was also busy making cupcakes for one baby shower and helping to host another. It was a super busy time!
Presents from Gramma Jan
"Helping" to decorate cookies
This one is just eating cookies
This one isn't sure what to do
Cookies I decorated for the shower
Then we left again when Justin got off work on July 3rd and headed up to Dallas (again). We usually go up to Dallas for the 4th of July because it is Justin's dad's birthday. However this year we were thinking that we wouldn't go because we had just been there a few weeks before. That was until we realized that it wasn't just any birthday, but a 60th birthday and there would be a big birthday party and then we just had to go. Plus I was in charge of making the birthday cakes (that I didn't take any pictures of, but they definitely weren't fancy).

We came back home on July 7th and realized we had just blown through the first month of summer break!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Last Day of school 2013

Every morning, Jacob acted like he didn't want to go to school anymore.  But he always seemed happy when he got home and his teacher told me that there was a vibe that all the students and teachers could feel at school that it was the end of the school year and everyone was just feeling done.  I was done fighting to get him ready for school, but not sure if I was ready for the summer.

Here is a comparison of Jacob on the first day of school and then the last day of school.
First day of school
Last day of school
I put together end of school year gifts for Jacob's teachers - a nice beach towel, a little sunscreen and some homemade coconut lime cookies.  I hope they liked them!

Jacob's field day

Every year the PPCD has a "field day" for their students at the end of the school year.  It is nothing like I remember field day being when I was in school where we had races and played games against other students and teachers, but rather it is a splash day where the kids get dressed in their bathing suits and play for about an hour and a half in little pools and sprinklers.

I almost didn't go to Jacob's field day when they changed the date from a Friday to the next Thursday due to rain because it meant that I would have to wake up the twins from their naps in order to take them, but decided it would be worth it to get some cute pictures of the kids playing.  The twins were pretty cranky while we were there, but Jacob had tons of fun and was so sad when "field day" was over.

The twins spent the first 10-15 minutes not wanting to get out of the stroller
Starting to venture out

Ready to play now

A pool all to himself