Monday, August 7, 2017

Vacation Bible School: The Most Confusing Week of Our Summer

We are only 1 week out from the start of 1st grade, but there are still a few sunny days of summer to be enjoyed! (Let's be honest though. This mama is ready for school to start! Structure and predictable schedules are what this family thrives on!)

But summer is really good for one thing: ADVENTURES!

I used to love going to Vacation Bible School as a kid, and then I had the best time helping out with them as a big kid and adult. I've wanted to take my kids to one for the past couple of years, but we just weren't sure how that would all go down with the special needs that we have and the large number of same-aged children that we bring to the party. That's right. If it wasn't a party before the Ishums arrive, it's definitely a party once we double the size of a classroom!

Still, VBS was an undeniably important and FUN part of my summers as a kid, and I wanted my kids to have the same experience.

VBS Night 2: Western Theme
Caleb, Abby, Elijah, and Ellie (who decided to take the theme night seriously!)

We've recently started attending the church that my little brother works at (I guess he isn't so little anymore!) and their children's pastor has a background in special education. The volunteers in the kids area and the children's pastor have been super accommodating and have worked hard to make sure that our kids are accepted and their needs met on Sunday I decided to chance signing them up for VBS. 

VBS Night 3: Superhero Theme
Abby, Ellie, Caleb, and Elijah (it's a good thing we always keep a supply of superhero costumes on hand!)

It was the most hilarious thing trying to explain to our kids what VBS was. This pretty much sums up everything my kids said by the time we walked through the doors that first night:

Vacation = that must mean we need to pack our pajamas for a pajama party. Do they have a pool? How many days are we going to be on vacation?

Bible = all of this is happening at the church, of course. But which church? And it's at night instead of in the morning? Weird... so we are are sleeping there because it's a vacation?

School = why do we have to go to school? It's summer break! is at church? That sounds BORING. I don't want to go. But are we going swimming since we are going on vacation?

Oh my stars! It was so hard not to laugh with all of their questions and downright confusion!

VBS Night 4: Pirate Theme
Heck, yes, those are homemade eye patches and hooks! I'm a whiz with a stapler, scissors, and foil!
Caleb, Abby, Elijah, and Ellie

We thought it might be hard for Caleb to adapt to a noisy room, lots of people, and an activity so far outside of his regular routine, but it was actually Ellie who ended up having the biggest struggle. She is our feisty, little go-getter, and she has overcome so much that sometimes I forget that she still struggles with sensory issues even though she has been discharged from all of her therapies. Poor little thing had an absolute meltdown/anxiety attack when we tried to leave. It was so unlike her, but at the same time, completely understandable. For awhile there, I thought we were going to need to stay, but finally, one of her group leaders leaned over and said the magic words, "Hey Ellie, if you stay, we are having doughnuts for a snack!" WHAT?! And just like that, our wee one became resolute in her decision to stay and make the best of a very foreign situation. 

VBS Night 5: Galactic Starveyors Theme + Bomb Pops!
Caleb, Elijah, Abby, and Ellie

By the time we got back to pick them up, they were totally in the love with the idea of Vacation Bible School! Theme nights, fun snacks, lots of singing and dancing...they didn't want the week to end.

In fact, I'll just let them tell you the highlights of the week themselves. :) 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Indecent Exposure

Oh my stars. Have you ever had a moment when you've questioned everything you've ever done as a parent??

I had one of those moments yesterday.

Yesterday, we went to a pool party with a bunch of our Young Living friends. It was the most gorgeous backyard...perfectly landscaped with a rock waterfall built-in that all of the kids were loving launching themselves off of. The owners own a landscaping company, and it showed in the impeccably designed yard. In fact, I took this photo when we got there to slap on my dream board.

So halfway through the event, most everyone there was in the pool, chatting and having a great time....and suddenly, I hear Sean say, "BEC...!!!!" And I look over to see the son-who-shall-not-be-named with his pants pulled down, casually watering the perfect landscaping, oblivious to everyone. Oh yes. And he was FACING the pool. Full frontal.

I've never scrambled out of a pool so fast in my life. I want slosh/running over to my proudly peeing child, and quickly tucked him back away. Then he pulled it back out because he wanted to finish.

Y' In all of it's glory.

I now need to tape this photo to my dream board with a little post-it note on the side that says, "where everyone keeps their pants on."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Worlds of Fun: An #IshumFamilyAdventure

Thanks to Worlds of Fun and KC Parent Magazine for sending us on an awesome family adventure!

Do you know what I love about Kansas City? The fact that we have *so many* fun things to do as a family here! From museums to parks, festivals to sporting events, there are always opportunities to make memories. But one thing that I sometimes forget about is our theme park since we rarely drive past it. But oh my stars! It's officially back on my radar! We took the kids to Worlds of Fun on Saturday, and had the best time!

Let me start by saying that I love roller coasters. LOOOOVE roller coasters! Sean does too! Ironically, we haven't been to Worlds of Fun since before we got married, so it's easily been about 10 or 12 years since the last time either of us went. While taking the kids to a theme park has been on our bucket list for awhile, we just weren't sure how that would play out with four young kids who sometimes struggle with sensory input and social/emotional delays. To be honest, we were hoping to get 2-3 hours out of this adventure, and would have called it a success if it had worked out that way.

EIGHT HOURS LATER....I'm really not sure what we were worried about. haha!

When we got there, we decided to ease them into it, still not sure how a few of them would do with the noise, speed, and crowds of a theme park. Our first stop was the carousal. We've done carousals in the past, so the kids knew what to expect there for the most part. 
Ellie, Daddy, Caleb, Elijah, and Abby

For our second ride, we decided to launch them straight out of the shoot, and jump on the family roller coaster, "Cosmic Coaster" in Planet Snoopy, the kids section of the park. Elijah was our most timid kid the whole day, but he still did every ride except for one. When we walked up and saw almost no wait on this ride, I was determined to get everyone on it just so that they would see how much FUN our day was going to be. The roller coaster ended up being a favorite of the kids' along with the "Woodstock Whirlybirds" that flew up in the air. (Sean and I thought they were both pretty great too!)
Elijah and Daddy in the back, Caleb and Abby in the middle, Ellie and Mommy in the front

And then we spent the next several hours jumping on and off of a bunch of rides with no lines. Unbelievably, on a perfect June Saturday in Kansas City with temperatures ranging from 65 - 80 degrees, there was no wait on most of the rides, and only about a 5 minute wait on the most popular kid rides. When I say we were jumping on and off of rides, I literally mean we got off one ride and walked right on to the next one. It was amazing!!

Pro Tip: Go first thing in the morning and beat the crowds!

Ellie and Abby on "Snoopy vs. Red Baron"

Ellie, Caleb, Mommy, Abby, and Elijah on "Kite Eating Tree"

Lunch didn't happen until about 2 pm, which is late for four 6-year-olds who seem to demand food every 30 minutes on a normal basis. Sean and I had a quiet side conversation, wondering if we should break for lunch, but since everyone was happy and there were no lines, we decided to keep going until the kids said they were hungry. Clearly they were distracted with fun if they pushed a meal back that far!

Pro tip: If you plan on being in the park during meal time, plan on budgeting at least $18 per person for a meal and drink. No outside food and beverages are allowed.

After lunch, we rode more rides, but it was getting noticeably busier than first thing in the morning. By this point, the kids were starting to get tired, but refused to give up and go home. haha!

Thankfully, we walked past a Peanuts show right as it was starting. Just a short 15 minute show, this absolutely was Abby's favorite part because she not only got to meet Lucy Van Pelt, she also got to sing, dance, and parade around the room with the characters. We thought she was never going to let go when it came time to leave. "C'mon, Abby! You have to let someone else get a picture with her now!"

Pro tip: The Peanuts shows are in the gift shop where the "Snoopy's Rocket Express" ends. The Saturday we were there, two different shows alternated, and ran every 30 minutes all afternoon long!
Post "Team Charlie Brown Show" Family Photo
Caleb, Mommy, Linus, Abby, Lucy, Ellie, Charlie Brown, Daddy, and Elijah

One or two more rides later, and Caleb was the first to finally say that he was ready to be done. We were incredibly impressed that he made it so long, even with having to remove his headphones for a couple of different rides. We have come so far. SOOO far! And it was so fun for us as his parents to see him living in the moment and working to overcome his challenges so that he could fully enjoy the experience with us. A few short years ago, we wouldn't have made it through the front gate with him.
Abby, Caleb, Elijah, and Ellie on "Peanuts Road Rally"

Before leaving though, I had to insist on funnel cake. Although I haven't been to a theme part in over 10 years, funnel cake has always been a part of any theme park experience for me. I couldn't let my kids miss out on what I consider to be iconic theme park food in all of it's glorious greasiness.

Yep. It's still as good as I remember!
Daddy and Abby, Elijah and Caleb (top), Ellie and Abby (bottom)

When we left, all four kids asked if they could go back the next day. It seems we are a theme park family after all! I can see us making many future memories at Worlds of Fun and any other theme parks that we cross paths with!

And not-so-secretly, I'm anxious for them to hit at least the 48" mark so that we can all go ride the big roller coasters together!
Elijah, Caleb, Abby, and Ellie

One last bonus photo:
Look what I made my family do while we were at Worlds of Fun! HAHA! I've always wanted to do one of these photos, so I dragged everyone in and made them dress up. With the exception of Abby who really wanted a 1920's feather instead of the matching hat that went with her dress, I think everyone thought it was fun, and Sean at least tolerated my penchant for dressing up in other eras (I was a Civil War reenactor in college).

This is how we afford quadruplets, by the way....
Ellie, Mommy, Caleb (in back), Elijah (in front), Daddy, and Abby

Thanks for Worlds of Fun and KC Parent Magazine for sending us on this adventure! This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

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

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

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!)

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