Tuesday, February 12, 2019

8th Birthday Interview: Caleb Sean

Yay, birthday interviews! Our kids look forward to these as much as I do!

 Caleb Sean

Caleb has been doing so well in school lately! He's learning how to be more flexible, and I think he finally realizes that school is a non-negotiable. haha! He takes great pride in being able to help when teachers or staff give him a way to be involved in his school community, and....our biggest news....he has stopped wearing his headphones all the time! He rarely ever wears them at home, church, or when he is out in public with our family now. He does still wear them at school somewhat, but he will leave the house with them in his backpack to start the day. He is adapting to life so well. We couldn't be more proud of the strides he's made in the past year!

How old are you turning? "8"
What makes you happy? "Whenever I watch Phineas and Ferb, be with my mom and dad, go to World's of Fun, when I see Blue (his stuffed doggy), data days with my resource teachers, I like speech (therapy) because it's during math time and that's not my favorite, but don't tell my teacher."
What is your favorite animal? "Lions"
What is your favorite color? "All the colors"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "BBQ Bacon Burgers
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Orange Chicken"
What is your favorite thing to do? "Build with Legos, build Fort Magic structures, hang out with Blue (his stuffed doggy), play Polly Pockets with the sisters, and hang out with all my Ishum Friends which is also known as Elijah, Abby, Ellie and Mom and Dad"
What is your favorite TV show? "Phineas & Ferb and Sonic Boom"
What is your favorite movie? "The Greatest Showman"
What are you really good at? "Making stuff for my Mom and Dad and all my Ishum Friends, building stuff with Fort Magic and Lego bricks"
What is your favorite song? "Under Pressure and anything with jazz"
What do you and your mom do together? "We hang out a bit. We eat, we cook, sometimes we bake a bit and play."
What do you and your dad do together? "We hang out with each other. We talk about stuff, drink pineapple peach kumbucha, and other things but I can't say them all on this thing." 
What is your favorite book? "Kung Pow Chicken and Super Rabbit Boy books"
What is your favorite toy? "Legos and Fort Magic stuff"
What do you want to be when you grow up? "I can't decide if I should be a builder or a preschool teacher. This year, I think a builder...or an ice cream truck driver.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Hopeful Expectation

In 2018, I picked a word of the year out of sheer peer pressure, and then promptly forgot it about 5 minutes later. I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to work. 

This year, the word picked me. Or two words, actually. Because apparently I'm consistent in my need to do things in multiples. 

I was sitting on an airplane, heading toward Ecuador, when the phrase "hopeful expectation" leaped off of the page in my book and hit me square between the eyes. I read the paragraph again. I wasn't looking for any significant, life-altering concepts...I mean, I was reading one of my just-for-fun books, after all. I tried to keep going in the fiction story that I was reading, but I kept getting pulled back to the same paragraph. I read it a third time. I finally reached for my phone, typed in the brief phrase, hit "send" on the text message to myself, and then went back to my book.

It's almost two months later, and that phrase has popped up in my head so many times....along with the rueful knowledge that I can't for the life of me remember exactly which book I was reading at the time. (I'm blaming my lack of memory there on the trauma of our return trip from Ecuador).

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to not look toward the future with hopeful expectation. My approach seems to be much more of a "I hope I duck fast enough to avoid whatever is going to get thrown at me" strategy. So when I read about having a hopeful expectation for the future, I realized that those two words pretty much summed up what I have been missing in life.

I spent the majority of 2018 in a pretty bad funk. I had a hard time looking to the future for anything much other than the required grocery/meal list that my hooligans rely on in order to magically be fed each night. At one point, I ended up in my closet sobbing because I just didn't have anything left to give to any member of my family, my business, or my friends. It was a hard year on so many different levels, and one that I'm quite glad is over. I need a fresh start. 

But it doesn't really make any difference if the fresh start comes and the hopeful expectation part is left out of the picture. 

So I don't have a word this year. I have two. I *need* two. I need the word hope because it reminds me that even on my hardest days, the game isn't over until it's over. No matter what anyone says or doesn't say. No matter how I feel. The game isn't over yet. I need the word expectation because it's a word that gives movement and force to the phrase. It pushes me to keep my face turned up instead of my eyes buried in the dirt around my shoes. 

Good things are coming this year. It's not about ducking fast enough to avoid the hard and scary stuff. It's not about trying to numb everything to avoid the emotional pain that sometimes accompanies life. It's not about racing through the days, thinking that maybe tomorrow might be better.

I'm choosing to live life in 2019, filled with hopeful expectation. Seems a heck of a lot easier than the way I did it in 2018. And if that means picking two words this year instead of one, then I'm cool with going rogue. In fact, expect a little more rogue-ness going forward. After all, hope does that to a person.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Our 2018 Family Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

If you want the official year-end Christmas letter...here you go! ;)

The Kids 

Our kiddos are now 7-years-old and in 2nd grade. We joke that the hours of 3:30 pm to 8 pm are long (from school pick-up until bedtime) but the years are short. It does seem hard to believe 2018 is already drawing to a close.

Caleb had the best start to the school year ever! Usually, the fall is very difficult as he tries to adjust to a new routine and new expectations. This year, it went sooooo smoothly. I'm used to crying my way through September and October due to the stress of getting him settled, but this year, I didn't get a single call from the school about him. He adjusted so incredibly well! We've even noticed in the last few weeks, that he has started leaving his headphones at home as we've headed out the door for family activities. While he still wears them a lot at school, his teachers tell us that he has started taking them off occasionally. We are very proud of his progress!

Abby has had a much better year at school as well. Last year, we put a 504 in place to help her with anxiety. Between those accommodations, checking in with the school counselor, and her amazing teacher who she had in 1st grade and now again in 2nd grade, Abby has done quite well! She still gets nervous on occasion, but she is very grounded and secure for the most part. She has the best handwriting out of the kids and still lives a fairy tale life in her head.

Elijah has had the most difficult year out of the kids. He's naturally a sensitive kid, and picks up on a lot of what people are thinking and saying around him and then internalizes it. Unfortunately, this year has been a rough one for him, and we've had our work cut out for us as we've tried to help him protect his heart, manage anxiety and self-doubt, and rewire the negative self-talk that he has adopted about himself. We are definitely grateful to our school counselor who stepped in along with his teacher who noticed a marked change in his ability to function at school. His ups and downs come in waves, and Christmas seems to be extra hard on him, but we are confident he's going to be stronger on the other side.

Ellie is a feisty as ever, and her sense of justice seems to refine itself with each passing year. Watch out for this one, because she will most definitely end up making an impact on the world! This year, she has learned a lot about what makes a good friend, the importance of hanging out with people who make good choices, and that every decision has a consequence...whether that's good or bad. We're proud of the sweet girl that she is and her clear view of what's right and wrong. We just need to work on her delivery a bit. ;)

The Parents

Sean still works for Sprint (20 years!) in the IT department, and enjoys getting to work from home 2 days a week. This year has had it's challenges for him personally, but it's been amazing to watch him walk through situations with strength and choose to take the high road. I still teach people how to use essential oils and take toxins out of their homes with Young Living. I love working full-time from my couch, being available for my kids when they need me, and jetting off to Panera or Target when I need a brain break without having to check in with a boss. It's been the perfect job for me to have with our family and still be able to live in my passion.

As a couple, Sean and I started working out at the gym this past year. We began the year with a personal trainer and now follow an online workout plan. We've had a good number of pretty sore days, but we plan to continue on in 2019. We also took several trips to Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and an all-expense paid trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador with Young Living this year. Sean and I love getting to travel together and see the world!

We are grateful for a year of good life lessons for our kids, blessings of provision for us, and good health despite Sean trying to crap out on me on the airplane back from Ecuador (click here for that crazy story!). We are excited for 2019 and a fresh start in a fresh year.

With love,
Sean and Rebecca
Caleb, Abby, Elijah, and Ellie

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Halloween 2018 - Knights and Princesses

Every year, the highlight of the fall is our Halloween costumes!

And every year, I wonder if they are going to choose to dress up together, or if this will finally be the year when they all go their separate ways with their costumes.

This year, the verdict came instantly and was unanimous: dress up together!

Even more incredible was when they settled on their theme within 5 minutes and every single one of them loved it. It was crazy easy this year to figure it out...I definitely wasn't expecting that!

Caleb was 100% into his role as a knight. When I took the kids outside for photos, he snapped from pose to pose to pose, fully living and embracing his knighthood. He went with the more "hardcore" look and stance. He totally cracked me up!

Elijah loved his costume as much as Caleb did, but was a bit lighter on his feet. lol! Sorry for the weird orbs in these photos. We didn't actually have a ghost hanging out with us, although you'd think that might be the case given the occasion. Instead, it was just the sun at an awkward angle combined with my truly stellar photography skills. haha!

You know...when I went to buy the plastic swords, my inner mom voice said, "you are about to buy plastic swords for two 7-year-old boys. Are you sure that's a solid idea?" And I did it anyway. We clearly laid out the rule that if they hit anyone with the swords, whether on purpose or on accident, the swords would be confiscated. They were allowed one sword fight, and that's what you see in the photo above. (If you were curious, Caleb won. haha! I'm sure Elijah will deny that when he's a teenager, but it's now been documented.)

No one was more happy with her costume than Abby. If it involves princesses, unicorns, or the color pink, this little girl is allllll over it. Since this year's costume hit two out of three of those (and believe me, there was plenty of unicorn discussion going on at the same time), it was one of her favorite years of all time! Abby fully embodied a princess, right down to the way she held her chin up and her shoulders back, and walked with a regal air everywhere she went.

Ellie loved her costume too. She's really into blues of all shades right now, and this dress made her feel gorgeous. She was a little sad when the middle jewel on her crown fell off though. Other than that, she loved it!

My two girls. :) 

And this year, we decided to get in on the fun as well! Yep, I got myself a princess dress and bought Sean a knight/king costume. He was a good sport! haha! The kids totally LOVED having the whole family dress up all together. We made the most of it and hit a few different trunk or treat activities around our area, and collected FAR too much candy. Before long, they will be past the dress-up years and be too interested in other activities to have time for this sort of thing. Until then, we will take all the photos and make all the memories!

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Friday, August 24, 2018

First Day of 2nd Grade

First of all....if you haven't noticed, I haven't had the time to blog much lately. How is it possible that we are more busy with kids in school than we were when we had toddler quads? Lol! But the truth is that I'm still very much on social media, sharing ridiculous stories about my kids, and micro-blogging the quadruplet life. haha! You just have to know where to look to find our crazy stories in real time!

Pop over to Instagram, and follow our page ABeautifulRuckus! I drop the occasional giveaway over there too. 

Our Instastories are always entertaining, and you can click on some of the photos in our main feed for some quad stories as well. In fact, I recommend starting with this one about the boys asking about "cutting the fur on their legs" that I posted on Sunday! lol! 

I'll still certainly be around over here as well, but for all of the fun, in-the-moment stuff, Instagram is the place to be!

With that being said....on to today's post!

The first day of 2nd grade arrived last week, and I'm going to be the parent who admits that it came none too soon for our family. I knew we were about due when the week before school I heard:

*stomp, stomp, stomp. door SLAM*
"I need my SPACE!!!!"

yelled by one of my lovely little hooligans. She had experienced quite enough summer, and the kids close proximity to each other was starting to wear on all of them (and me. Who am I kidding? lol!)

I love my munchkins, but this family thrives on routine and stability! So back to school we gratefully go!

I have such high hopes for Caleb in 2nd grade! Usually our fall semesteris a bit rough with getting our little guy with autism acclimated to a new routine. This year he has a new main room teacher, a new resource (special needs) teacher, and a new resource para. It's a lot of new for a kiddo who needs plenty of notice for changes and as much familiarity as possible.

But as of the writing of this post, we are a full week (plus 2 days!) into the new school year, and I haven't been called one time about him. I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch, but I feel like this year is going to be easier on all of us as he moves through 2nd grade. Both of his teachers and his para seem to be very nice and understanding. I was especially delighted to find out that his resource teacher has a master's degree in special education with an emphasis in autism (if I'm remembering correctly). We are so very grateful for every teacher, the school administration, and the school staff who all individually look out for our Caleb. Even the school custodian has taken a special liking to Caleb and allows him to help with a few things here and there if Caleb needs a movement break.

Every special needs mom who reads this will know in her heart what I'm talking about when I say that it absolutely fills me up when people are kind, understanding, and make space for Caleb to be himself while still pushing him to meet his highest potential.

Last year was a bit of a doozy with Abby. Do you know how some people have that "fight or flight" thing when their anxiety kicks up? Well, Abby has high anxiety....and she definitely prefers the flight thing. There were a couple of times last year at school when she got spooked and ran without thinking. School staff caught her exiting the front door of the building twice. I asked her where she was planning on going once she made it out, and she had no idea. She just knew she needed to run.

As her Mom, I was like...!!!!

Our school was so great though. The school staff developed a route for her if she needed to run so that she would run to one particular teacher in a safe room. They also let the school staff nearest the front doors know when she was nervous so that they could keep an eye out for her. We were also able to get a 504 plan in place for her with her 1st grade teacher's help. All of that to say, we really felt like the school was all about getting Abby back into a place where she could successfully make it through the day...inside the building.

Why mention all of that? Because her 1st grade teacher was moved to 2nd grade this year. She requested that Abby be assigned to her 2nd grade classroom so that she could have a great year with as low anxiety as possible. I loooove her teacher. Truly the sweetest lady. And due to her foresight and willingness to take Abby (and Elijah) on again, Abby has had the smoothest start to school ever. No anxiety. None. She feels completely safe and secure knowing she is going back to the same classroom and the same teacher each day, just as she did for 1st grade. We are so grateful!

Elijah and Abby are paired together in a classroom for a third year in a row (because four different classrooms is too many!). We always ask to have these two paired together because they both have personalities that don't necessarily try to control another sibling. They are our more laid back kids which lends itself well to them maintaining their independence even while being in the same room.

Elijah also has the same teacher as he did in first grade, and we feel like we owe her a subscription to a monthly bottle of wine club. haha! Elijah is such a smart little dude, but he talks and moves non-stop. Non-stop. So many questions. So many soliloquies. So many words. All.the.time. His teacher was brilliant last year, and finally gave him a notebook to write all of this thoughts and questions in during the day, and then she would check it before dismissal to see what all he needed to say to her. Like I said, this teacher is amazing! And I definitely see that notebook coming back for a second year.

Elijah's two greatest passions right now are anything related to science and books by Roald Dahl. He absolutely loves school and can't wait to go back every day.

Ellie is paired up with Caleb again this year. Why those two together? Because they both like to be in charge and control the situation....so we know that they won't be able to control each other. Yep, that's our logic. And so far, it's working!

Ellie is a little social butterfly, but is already dealing with some mean friends at school this year. We are repeatedly reminding her that kindness is always the right choice, she doesn't have to put up with a mean friend, and that we become who we hang out with. It's hard for us not to be able to control the friend situation since we aren't there with her, but hopefully some of our advice on making good friend choices will settle into her head. She is such a kind, sweet girl, but unfortunately, I can tell that there will probably be a few hard knocks coming her way this year in the friend department. We are praying that she latches on to kind friends who will encourage and include her.

Ellie and Caleb's teacher seems to be really good, and has already been very responsive to emails that I've sent. Honestly, if there is one thing that our school does well....it's hire really outstanding educators.

Every year is an adventure with these four! Two years ago, we moved to a new school district to try to get our kids into a better education setting. God has really blessed our family by getting us into a good spot where we have teachers, school administration, and school staff who all love our family and want to see our kids successful. We are hopeful that this year bring much growth for all 4 of them.

Want to see the kids' back to school photos through the years? I couldn't believe how much they've changed when I was clicking through previous back to school posts!

First Day of 1st Grade

First Day of Kindergarten
First Day of Preschool (2015)
First Day of Preschool (2014)
First Day of Preschool (2013)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Two Weeks Later: Happy 7th Birthday!

Two weeks to the day later....Happy birthday to our 7-year-olds!

One of my favorite things to do is to click back year-by-year and see how much the kids have grown and changed. For anyone who wants to see their age progression (and so that I can easily look back in later years), here they are at age 6, age 5, age 4, age 3, age 2, and age 1. The thing that strikes me so much in looking at their photo this year is how little "baby" they have left in their faces. Even last year, there was still some left. But this year? Ack! I think we are definitely in the kid-phase no matter how much I wish I could freeze some of those early baby days.

It just goes too fast, you know?

Their 7th birthday didn't come without drama though. Abby has been dealing with a lot of anxiety lately, and it just became too overwhelming for her on their birthday weekend. I think it was the intangible change of turning 7 and not knowing what to do with it or how to handle it that put her over the edge. It was a rough couple of days with many tears to the point where she made herself throw up, she was so nervous. Next year, I'm going to try not to play up the birthday thing so much. Maybe it will go better for her. Thankfully, once the weekend ended, she adapted to her new age (I guess?) and life is better.

For the record, Caleb was also nervous about turning 7....but only because he was afraid of doing more "chores". Keep in mind that their chores have mainly consisted of putting their dirty underwear in the laundry basket, taking their dishes to the sink after meals, and picking up their toys. He is currently one of my "responsible humans in training."

Elijah and Ellie rolled with it and thought it was grand! :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

7th Birthday Interview: Elizabeth Grace

Little Ellie!

 Elizabeth Grace

So much personality packed into such a tiny little girl....tonight at dinner, she turned to us and announced that she was "born serious." Lol!! Serious, yes, but also an absolute riot! She has a strong sense of justice, a determination to be the best at what she tackles, and a love of reading chapter books, along with a hilarious personality that fills the room when she speaks up. Ellie's focus on always improving herself will be so helpful in her future. We know there are big things in front of her!

How old are you? "Six, and I'm going to turn seven!"
What makes you happy? "Unicorns"
What is your favorite animal? "Tigers" 
What is your favorite color? "Red"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Pizza...Pepperoni Pizza" 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Spinach" 
What is your favorite thing to do? "Play on my tablet"

What is your favorite TV show? "Calico Critters" (this lady plays with toys on YouTube...and my kids love it. I don't get it...)
What is your favorite movie? "Frozen"
What are you really good at? "Playing Data Stream on my tablet" (it's a game on ABC Mouse)
What is your favorite song? "Cups" by Anna Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect soundtrack
What do you and your mom do together? "Go grocery shopping" 

What do you and your dad do together? "Trivia Crack"
What is your favorite book? "Actually....I don't have a favorite book?"

What is your favorite toy? "My stuffed animals" 
What do you want to be when you grow up? "There are a lot of things that I want to be. I haven't decided yet. I'm probably going to be a vet. If not, then probably an artist with [my friend] McKinley."
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