Saturday, May 27, 2017

And That's a Wrap...Kindergarten Is Over!

Kindergarten is a wrap. It's hard to believe that our kids are 6...kindergarten is over....and....where did the time go??

I mean, next year is 1st grade. Do all moms feel like it's bizarre when they suddenly turn around and 1st grade is on the horizon? In the quad mom circles that I run in, I now have "older quads". 

How. did. this. happen?

At our school, they have some fun countdown-to-the-end-of-the-year kindergarten festivities, (including the best day ever: pajama day) and they do kindergarten awards in the classroom instead of a kindergarten graduation.

Let me stop for a second and explain the dynamics of having 4 kids in kindergarten at the same time. Generally speaking, there is running involved. Between classrooms. Thankfully, our school listened to my impassioned pleas at the beginning of the year, and agreed to put them 2 to a room with Elijah and Abby having the same teacher and Caleb and Ellie having the same teacher. I fully intend to continue requesting that until either:

1. The kids are completely responsible and will always get every bit of homework done without supervision along with keying all important school dates into my Google calendar for me.


2. They refuse to hang in each other's vicinity. At which point I'll probably tell them to deal with it since they were wombmates in the first place or swap around the pairings a bit.

With our groupings of 2 and 2, their teachers were super gracious to coordinate the kindergarten awards between them since both award sessions ran concurrently. One teacher called two of our kids for their awards first and the other teacher called the other two kids at the end which gave me enough time to run between classrooms and see everyone get their awards. I'm sure all of the parents in both rooms wondered why I cut out early/arrived late. Lol! Such is life!

Anyhow, these cuties did great, and we are super proud of them! We have most definitely had some major challenges during kindergarten, but we made it!

Elijah: The Future Detective Award
Y'all, never in my life have I met a human with more words than this child. They say the average number of words that a guy speaks in a day is 10,000. The average number of words that a girl speaks is 30,000. Elijah has to be closing in on about 80,000 words a day...EASILY. He asks ALL the questions, narrates ALL the things, talks to himself in the 3rd person when no one else is talking to many. words. His teacher actually had to put a limit on him. He can tell her ONE thing as he walks in the door in the morning, otherwise, he just won't stop. This kid is a future politician or motivational speaker if I ever saw one. haha! The truly funny thing is that he still gets speech therapy, but that doesn't stop him at all! I think it might just be fueling his word count right along. He is very smart, so inquisitive, and wants to know why everything works the way it does. The "Future Detective Awards fits him so well!"

Abby: The Super Girl Work Award
Abby is always intent on doing her very, very best, and easily gets down on herself if she thinks there is a possibility that it could have been done better. Her social/emotional issues have been quite the mountain to deal with this year, especially since Christmas. She was tested in the fall, came back with a brilliantly high IQ, and the school removed her IEP and therapies, saying that she is no longer delayed. Sean and I definitely disagree with that, but since it couldn't be shown on paper via tests, they removed the services that she was getting. We fought long and hard for those services, and even our Pre-K teachers were floored that they were removed in kindergarten as they felt they were still needed. Since then, her anxiety has ratcheted way up affecting her at school and at home. Even going so far as to cause her to be up at night with stomach pain (It's not a physical issue. It's an emotional issue that manifests physically). She worries about so many social situations in and out of school along with her school performance (she is doing just fine.) We are trying really hard to figure out the best way to help her learn how to cope and work through her anxiety about dealing with those things.

But back to her award, yes! The "Super Girl Work Award" is so appropriate for her! She has and continues to overcome so much, and bring excellence to everything she works on!

Ellie: The Giggle Monster Award

Everyone that Ellie has ever met has fallen in love with her laugh! I need to just give her a good tickle and record it for the blog. She is simply a RIOT! When her teacher called her name and her award, of course, the first thing she did was let out a loud giggle which set the entire room of parents into a fit of giggles too. Her teacher couldn't possibly have come up with a better award to give her. Our little social butterfly who loves being in the middle of everything...Ellie thrived in kindergarten! She's already excited to be a big 1st grader next year!

Caleb: The Book Worm Award

Caleb...ah, this boy. We have definitely had some struggles this year. Kindergarten is a big adjustment for a typically developing kid, but when that kid has autism, it's an extra struggle. Caleb had two very good teachers who worked with him (his main room teacher and his special education teacher), and truly made some excellent progress this year! Between goal sheets, incentives, little notes congratulating him on good days (he treasures those notes!), and patience, Caleb found a good routine by the end of the year. We did have some issues at the end with panic due to leaving kindergarten and facing the unknown world of 1st grade though. He had a bit of a meltdown during his kindergarten awards because he thought he was "never going to have fun ever again" with having to go to 1st grade. Poor guy.

Photo taken when his teacher called his name...right before the massive can see it coming...
And then I was called to school a day or two later and ended up on the floor of a staff bathroom with him sobbing into my shirt because he just couldn't figure out how to handle the transition. Transitions are so hard, but they are part of life, so it's another opportunity to learn. His special education teacher was so great and worked with the school administration to determine his 1st grade teacher before the year ended so that he could meet her (they don't typically post classroom assignments until the week before school starts!). We now have a photo of Caleb and his 1st grade teacher, and she gave him bubbles, so life is looking up a bit!

Award-wise, the Book Worm Award was just perfect for Caleb! He started reading a few words when he was 3, and entered kindergarten being able to read quite a few small words. He is now our best reader and loves being "in the know"about what is written on the paper in front of him. He has an incredibly memory, and can recall what most words say after having only been shown them once or twice. Sean and I both adore reading, and love that he has so quickly caught on to it!

Last Day of Kindergarten Photo...someone was not cooperating....
Caleb, Ellie, Abby, and Elijah

And then the neighbor arrived home...
(I'm obviously still at the "you take what you can get" phase)
Caleb, Ellie, Abby, and Elijah

So that's it...we are one week into our summer vacation, and one week away from starting summer school. Caleb qualified for continuing therapies this summer, and the routine is so good for all four of them, so everyone is going. They have a 2 week break between kindergarten and summer school, 6 weeks of summer school, and then 4 weeks off before we launch full speed into 1st grade. Considering they were all preemies and developmentally delayed, we are doing marvelously well as life continues to fly by so quickly.

Abby crawled into my lap tonight while we were at their grandpa's house for dinner. I whispered into her ear, "I need you to stop growing and stay little for me. Can you do that?" She whispered back, "I don't think I can..."

Time goes so fast.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sitting on Great-Grandpa's Knee

Last winter, Sean gave me the most amazing gift, when he suggested that we make the very long drive back to my hometown for Christmas. It had been 1.5 years since we had been down to visit my extended family, and I had been wishing that I could get the kids down to see their great-grandpa again. Except how do you say, "Hey, Babe...let's pack up 4 kids and take a really long drive so that you can spend Christmas in a hotel room?" Not exactly what most spouses want to hear. But I married the best guy who volunteered for it himself, even though he knew it would take him far away from his own family on Christmas.

I love him! *sigh*

The drive back to where I grew up in New Mexico takes 16 hours each way. It's a long road trip through some pretty empty states with literally no cell signal for hours at a time. (As a total side note, can I just add how weird it is to be unable to even make a call in this day and age?) When we go back, we have to take two days to drive each direction because the kids just can't do the full 16 hours in one stretch. So it ended up being a two day drive down, two days in New Mexico, and a 2 day drive back. Not going to lie. It was a bit grueling to spend four days driving for just 48 hours in town, but the kids were champs, and it was so amazing to get to spend Christmas there!

I bet you are wondering what the kids thought of all of that....well...they were totally confused and so over tacos by the time we left, it was almost comical. It was just too different from Christmas as they know it. haha!!

My kids know all of the traditional Midwestern Christmas stuff, you know, the stuff in Christmas movies. But in New Mexico, a traditional Christmas looks very different. It involves luminarias, Mexican food, and no snow. haha! I think my little family was in a bit of a culture shock, but to me, it was so perfect. It was just like going back in time 20 years and getting to do Christmas the way I remembered as a kid. Our extended family always celebrates on Christmas Eve with a giant get-together, and my grandpa always displays his collection of several hundred Nacimientos (nativity sets) for the public to enjoy as well. It was all exactly as I remembered, even down to the exact same Christmas Eve punch recipe that my aunt has been making every year for as long as I can remember and sitting on the floor eating dinner with my cousins because there aren't enough seats for all of us. 

And I got to share ALL of that with my kids and show them what Christmas was like for me while growing up. They may not have appreciated the over-abundance of tacos in the moment, but I think they had fun anyway!

One of my big goals going back was to get some photos of my kids with their great-grandpa. It was so important to me to get those photos...but, unfortunately, I waited until we were saying good-bye to try to get them. It was already dark outside, we were in a dimly lit living room, and that combined with my not-so-stellar photography skills just wasn't working out the way I had hoped. All of my photos were blurry and my tired kids weren't fully on board with the idea of watching mom try to take the same photo over and over. Thankfully, one of my cousins took over with his own camera and captured the photos below. I have to give him a quick shout-out because Paul is an international award winning photojournalist, and I kind of scored big time by having him rescue me from my lack of skills.

I wasn't sure what he had been able to catch. I gave him the worst lighting ever, 4 very tired kids, and only about 10 minutes to work with. But oh my word! I just cried when I opened the link he emailed to me to download the pictures. My kids sitting on their Great-Grandpa's precious! They are exactly what I had dragged my camera all the way to New Mexico to try to get. Photos that I will cherish forever!

(Warning: I'm posting all of them below because I don't want to lose them! It's not really a warning though because I have cute kids and a cute grandpa. hehe!)

Great-Grandpa Taylor and Ellie

Elijah and Great-Grandpa Taylor

Abby and Great-Grandpa Taylor

Caleb and Great-Grandpa Taylor

Me and My Grandpa

The Crew: Elijah, Ellie, Great-Grandpa, Abby, and Caleb

Our worth the drive!

The Playroom at my Grandpa's house. I spent a lot of hours in here as a kid.

Brothers: I love this photo! It pretty much perfectly sums up their relationship. lol!

We have a ton of family in New Mexico who I think might enjoy these. Somebody show Grandpa for me! :)

Anyhow, thanks for enjoying these photos with me even though grandparent photos are maybe not that interesting to the general masses. Our trip to New Mexico was one of the sweetest gifts that Sean has given to me, and then the photos from Paul on top of it...well, I think I can safely say that time with family and the memories that go with them are everything. <3

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Better Late Than Never!

Guess what I forgot to post? Yep. As I was clicking around on photos on my computer today, I decided...better late than never!

Happy birthday to our kiddos who celebrated their 6th birthdays with 4 dozen cupcakes at school and 4 individual cakes with family and friends! We try to make it as individual as we can even though they all shared the same womb space. 

And even though Ellie looks significantly shorter in this photo, she's actually pretty close to the same height as the others. She's slouching. lol!

It's hard to believe that time has gone by so fast. I remember being a new quad mom and looking at photos of the other quad moms with their 6-year-olds. I used to think, "Wow. They really have it all together. If I can just make it that far." Come to find out that I know no more today than I did about 6-years-ago. It doesn't necessarily get easier. Just different. A different kind of exhaustion. A different kind of stress. However the prayers stay roughly the same, and the love grows only deeper. :)

We are blessed in every way with our "babies" who often remind us that they are now "big kids."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

6th Birthday Interview: Elizabeth Grace

Our wee one is last up!

 Elizabeth Grace

Our Ellie girl is all spunk and feistiness. She makes up for being the last born by always trying to do things first and the best. While we are still working to help her find a balance between her competitive spirit and taking turns with others, we know that her approach to life has and will continue to serve her well in the future. She knows what she wants and has the determination to see it happen. She might have been born last and born the smallest, but nothing is stopping her from taking on the world!

How old are you? "Five" (We are now counting down the hours until their birthday. 26 hours in case anyone was wondering.)
What makes you happy? "Being bored!" That doesn't make any sense, honey. "It makes me happy!"
What is your favorite animal? "Cats and elephants" (Ellie has 2 bunnies she sleeps with, but refers to them both as cats. She also loves Hello Kitty....I'm pretty sure she just loves cats in general)
What is your favorite color? "All the colors except for grey."
What is your favorite thing to eat? "All the treats! Ice cream, cookies, pizza..." 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "I don't like to eat the pizza that has green stuff on it. I also don't like potatoes except for smashed potatoes." 
What is your favorite thing to do? "My favorite thing is to be bored." Ellie...*groan* don't like to play your tablet or something? "Okay. My favorite thing is to play my tablet....and be bored."

What is your favorite TV show? "Doc McStuffins and Hello Kitty" 
What is your favorite movie? "TV shows and movies are the same thing!" (We have Netflix, and they watch tv shows and movies on it, so they don't really see a difference.)
What are you really good at? "Doing my schoolwork! Good at eating!"
What is your favorite song? "I don't know." 
What do you and your mom do together? "We ask questions and glue things to a board." 

What do you and your dad do together? "We turn on music."
What is your favorite book? "Curios George and kitty books"

What is your favorite toy? "My tablet" 
What do you want to be when you grow up? "A Cowgirl!!!" (This hasn't changed in the last year. She is really attached to the idea, and may very well still be when she grows up. The girl knows what she wants!)

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Monday, February 20, 2017

6th Birthday Interview: Elijah James

Our little Eli is our third kid up for his interview! Considering how many questions he asks me every single day, he thought it was great fun to have the tables turned!

 Elijah James

Elijah has a heart of gold. He is definitely our kid who cares deeply about others and how they are feeling. He most loves to spend time with people and snuggle up on the couch with us at the end of the day. He is all about drawing pictures and thrives on helping and being praised for being part of our family team. Elijah is 100% boy in every definition of the word, and inquisitive as all get out. The award for most number of questions asked every hour at house always goes to him. lol! In school, he is only getting therapy for a speech delay at this point, but making rapid progress with it. Even though we were a bit nervous about how kindergarten would work out for our active boy, he has adapted well to it and is learning a ton.

How old are you? "Five" (there more days!)
What makes you happy? "Drawing a picture."
What is your favorite animal? "Monkey" 
What is your favorite color? "Green"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "All the foods that you cook for me!" 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Turkey and Cheese (sandwiches)" 
What is your favorite thing to do? "Make music and do art!"

What is your favorite TV show? "Spiderman" 
What is your favorite movie? "Jingle" (A movie about a dog that he got from his Pre-K teacher)
What are you really good at? "Somersaults. I'm good at music and art too!"
What is your favorite song? "Songs that I make up!" (He LOVES to sing!)
What do you and your mom do together? "Have a tea party, and you can always help me at my farm if you want too!" (There is an imaginary farm in his bedroom. You are all invited to visit it.)
What do you and your dad do together? "Daddy helps me work at my farm." 
What is your favorite book? "My dinosaur sticker book"

What is your favorite toy? "Paper and crayons!" 
What do you want to be when you grow up? "I'm going to be like YOU when I grow up! A Young Living person!" (He has informed us that he is never moving out and will live with us forever! haha!)

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

6th Birthday Interview: Abigail Rose

Up 2nd....Our Abby! 

 Abigail Rose

Abby has the most precious spirit about her! She is the one that we can count on to bring a ray of sunshine into any room. We love her sweet personality and willingness to obey and be helpful. She can be a little flighty at times, but she cares a lot about doing her schoolwork well. She is imaginative, creative, loves all things princess and frilly, and loves to love others and be loved in return. Abby is also our most emotional kid, and can bounce back and forth from having "the best day ever!" to being worried about having friends at school (she has several!). We are still working on helping her find a way to deal with her anxiousness about life, and be willing to take risks in the process. Her fun approach to life tends to be the over-riding factor for her though, and she can't wait to dress up and dance around the house once her day in kindergarten is over.

How old are you? "Five" (only 5 days left until her birthday!)
What makes you happy? "Playing dress-up" 
What is your favorite animal? "Unicorns are my favorite animal. They have horns that are long and are even a color like pink, yellow, or purple." 
What is your favorite color? "Pink!"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Pizza"
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Mashed potatoes" (Let's be honest. We find a new one at each meal. ha!)
What is your favorite thing to do? "Play with my mom and ballet" 
What is your favorite TV show? "Bo on the Go" 
What is your favorite movie? "Tinkerbell"
What are you really good at? "I'm really good at twirling" (and then she took a break to show me her twirls)
What is your favorite song? "Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift
What do you and your mom do together? "Go get pizza at a restaurant"
What do you and your dad do together? "I go to the store to buy Valentine's Day cards with Dad because I love Valentine's Day!"
What is your favorite book? "Shopkins" 

What is your favorite toy? "Unicorn purse....I want to get that on my birthday." (the elusive favorite toy that she doesn't own. lol!)
What do you want to be when you grow up? "A princess!"

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

6th Birthday Interview: Caleb Sean

It's that time of year again! Time for Birthday Interviews!! Our kids think answering birthday questions is the best game ever, so it wasn't hard to get them to sit still for a few minutes while I wrote down their answers. 

The answers change every year (which makes sense!) but the process of asking them questions always reminds me of how far we have come. Just two years ago, I had to make up all of Caleb's answers for him because he was still non-verbal. This year, he was the first to jump on the couch for his turn. He even went so far as to take off the headphones he wears to reduce sensory input for his annual snapshot. I'm so proud of where he is and how far he has come!

 Caleb Sean
Caleb has an ornery little streak, and we often times catch him impishly looking for ways to push his siblings buttons. He is a super funny kid, and incredibly smart! In spite of his autism, he picks up on things fast, and reads very well for being in kindergarten. We struggle to complete written work, but his special needs teacher has put a really good incentive program in place to encourage him to focus and get his work done. We are grateful for both his special needs teacher and his main classroom teacher and how hard they work to help him be successful! Caleb has made huge progress even in the last year! We can't wait to see what age 6 brings!

How old are you? "Five!" (for two more weeks!)
What makes you happy? "When I play toys and costumes or Ipads." (He can earn Ipad time at school for meeting focusing goals each day.)
What is your favorite animal? "All of them! I love all of them!"
What is your favorite color? "Red and brown and all the colors!" Really? Red? "Red!!" (I really expected him to say blue!)
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Cake, ice cream, and cookies!" 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Yucky stuff like sweet potatoes." (Guess what we had for dinner tonight? Lol!)
What is your favorite thing to do? "Play toys, costumes, and Ipads!"
What is your favorite TV show? "Star Wars, Avengers, Justice League, and Young Justice."
What is your favorite movie? "I don't like any movies." (He actually doesn't know the difference between TV and movies because we don't have cable. Just Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a DVD player)
What are you really good at? "Flips! But how do I do a flip on the floor?" (haha!! No idea why he went with that answer!)
What is your favorite song? "When I sing Star Wars!" (The theme song. Lol!)
What do you and your mom do together? "Play"
What do you and your dad do together? "Play" 
What is your favorite book? "Star Wars Droid books."
What do you want to be when you grow up? "A tea party guy! A tea party guy is when they make lots of tea parties for everyone!" (He loves to set up all of the play cooking equipment and have us over for tea and snacks)
What is your favorite toy? "Tea Parties!" (a.k.a. the cooking toys and play kitchen)
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