Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Worlds of Fun: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

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

Caleb, Abby, Elijah, and Ellie

We kind of have a thing for Peanuts at our house. Not the peanuts you eat (although give me a maple iced doughnut with peanuts on top, and I'll love you forever!), but the Peanuts Characters. We like to watch the Peanuts movies that coordinate with holidays, and we have stuffed Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown characters in our toy bin. In fact, we even dressed up as the Peanuts Characters for Halloween when the kids were 3! (Check out our Peanuts Gang here!) There is something about those fun, timeless characters that just take me clear back to childhood.

And then I found out that Worlds of Fun does an annual Great Pumpkin Fest in their Planet Snoopy kid section....what now??? That quickly went to the top of our "must-visit" list during my favorite season of the year!

On the Carousal: Abby and Mommy, Elijah and Ellie, Caleb and Daddy

**The Scare Factor Side Note**
If you are a parent, you are probably wondering the same thing I was before we headed to the park in October: "How scary will Worlds of Fun be right now?" Yep, it's a fair question since no one wants their kids to have nightmares.

Worlds of Fun actually goes BIG on their Halloween theme throughout the entire park from mid-September through the end of October. I'm talking...multiple haunted houses, roaming zombies after dark, scare zones, and very scary decorations. Because of that, I was a little bit anxious getting the kids from the front gate through to Planet Snoopy without coming across anything too upsetting. I actually warned them in the parking lot that they needed to stick with us and that there might be a few not-so-nice decorations. Abby is spooked so easily, that she is a legit flight risk when it comes to anything even remotely iffy. This girl takes off running and never looks back, and....oh my stars...she is SO fast. I had to give her the head's up going in so that I would know she would be right by my side.

Happily, Worlds of Fun actually did a really good job of keeping it pretty tame on the route from the front gate through to the kids area. There was one mean looking pumpkin/spider statue at the front, and a creepy jack-in-the-box that was easily walked around. Other than those, it was a clean walk back. They save all scary roaming minions for after dark when they close down the kids' section and suggest only age 14 and over stay (smart!). All that to say, we were happy to not have any nightmares to deal with at our house! And if my kids could make through the park, pretty much any child can make it.  **End The Scare Factor Side Note**

Just like our visit this summer, the kids loved Planet Snoopy, this time enjoying it all decked out for The Great Pumpkin Fest! I'm so glad that we went!
Love all the Peanuts decor in Planet Snoopy!
Caleb, Snoopy, Ellie, Abby, Elijah, and Woodstock

In addition to all of the rides, The Great Pumpkin Fest includes a bunch of extra kids' activities that are all free with the cost of their general admission ticket. For this Mama on a budget, that's a super important thing! Activities for four kids can add up quickly!

We loved stopping by the Peanuts Theater to participate in Pig Pen's Creepy Crafts. The kids each made a spider webbed plate, complete with spider rings, and then jumped across the room to make puppets out of lunch sacks. All of the craft items were sitting out and just waiting for some little hands to get creative! Caleb has since named his puppet, Snoopy, of course!
Elijah, Abby, Ellie, Caleb, and Daddy

Linus' Great Pumpkin Patch was another winner! The park has a section set up for kids to explore and find the perfect mini pumpkin to take home with them. Take a backpack or stroller to store your pumpkins in while you enjoy the rest of your day. Head nod to Daddy for being our designated pack mule in the park!
Abby, Elijah, Caleb, and Ellie

Peppermint Patty's Hay Bale Maze was awesome because it wasn't complicated to get through. It was also low enough that we could let our kids run through the entire thing and still keep an eye on them the entire time. They begged to do this adventure multiple times!

I'll admit to not taking the kids' costumes with us because I don't like to give away our Halloween group theme too early in the year, but they also have Lucy's Costume Contest that kids can participate in. We saw a lot of kids with lightweight costumes running around Planet Snoopy. Anything to get a few more wears from those dress-up outfits! Even better, you can find several Peanuts Characters dressed up in their Halloween costumes too!
Abby, Snoopy, and Ellie

And then there was this....the trick or treating throughout Planet Snoopy! The kids totally did this twice, and would have gone back for a third round if we hadn't cut them off. There are little houses throughout the kids' area that are brightly colored and easy to find. When a child knocks on the door, a gloved hand pops out of the window and hands them a piece of candy or a small toy. (P.S. Parents, you can quietly ask the person in the house if they will hand you a bag for the candy too!) We found Sally's Doll House, Charlie Brown's House, The Elementary School, and Lucy's Doctor Stand. The kids adored this, and it actually out-ranked the rides in terms of their favorite part of the day...and I have to admit. It was a super fun, clever way of bringing yet another aspect of the Peanuts Characters world to life!

We love how Worlds of Fun goes out of it's way to create a family friendly experience during the summer, and then take it up a notch as the season goes on! Family memories, y'all....these kinds of play-all-day adventures are the best!

Clockwise from the bottom: Elijah, Mommy, Daddy, Abby, Ellie, and Caleb

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Second Day of 1st Grade

People ask, "Am I enjoying having the kids back in school?" Yes! I love them dearly, but it was a long summer, and the kids function so much better with structure. We've been highly structured and scheduled from day 1 out of necessity, so free time is actually harder for them to manage than a schedule.

But having them back in school didn't start without a few bumps in the road. I'm pretty sure the school nurse has me on speed dial from last year as she called me frequently about the bumps and bruises that are typical for kindergartners on the playground. I assumed that those calls would lessen with each year, but it seems instead, we are just starting 1st grade with more time in the nurse's office.

Halfway through day 2 of the school year, the nurse called to tell me that Caleb needed stitches in his lip for a collision sustained during PE. I guess the PE teacher had a white board and computer out  in order to teach the kids what to do in case of a fire or other emergency (at least, that's what I think happened). Caleb was wearing his new "power shoes" that his Pa (Sean's dad) bought for him the week before school, and he "forgot to put his breaks on" as he was running, and he collided with the computer stand. He split his lip open and it needed to be stitched back together.

Poor kiddo. Any 6-year-old would be in pain and scared of the blood, but a 6-year-old kid with autism? It kind of puts it on another level.
After signing him out of school, and confirming with the nurse that the best place to take him was Children's Mercy Urgent Care, we went to leave the school. As I reached for the door knob, everyone in the office suddenly told me to stop and wait while they radioed for clearance.


I've been in and out of that school a bunch of times, and never had to get clearance after signing a kid out. But okay?  It only took them a minute to get me permission to leave, and out we went. I didn't really think much of it beyond that.

But about 10 minutes later, as I was at a stop light on the way to Urgent Care, a robo call came through to inform me that the school was on lockdown with all staff and students inside due to a threat in the area.

I sat back in the driver's seat and said, "Are you kidding me?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! It's the second day of school!!!"

And then I heard a little voice from the backseat, "Mama? What's wrong?"

I looked in the backseat at my bleeding 6-year-old, and said, "....nothing. Nothing's wrong, Caleb."

It's not like turning around and going back to the school was going to help him or the three others who were currently inside the building. So on I went...praying they would catch whatever the threat was, and that update would come through shortly.
At Urgent Care, they got us right back. Thankfully, Caleb wasn't crying anymore at that point. We went through registration, the triage room, vitals, and initial questions with the nurse. Then the doctor came in, looked at it, and said she couldn't stitch it because the wound crossed the lip border. If it wasn't lined back up perfectly, he would have some funny looking lips for the rest of his life.
So off we went to the Children's Mercy Emergency Room. Poor kid. At this point, he just wanted to go home.

Children's Mercy ER got us right back to start the vitals and questions all over again. They sent in a really nice Child Life Specialist (I didn't even know that was a thing?) who walked Caleb through every part of the stitching procedure and promised him he could keep the "squirt gun" that they were going to use to clean up his wound. She was really great with him! (And in the middle of all of this, the school called again to announce the all clear!)
After an unsuccessful attempt to stitch him up with only numbing cream, we finally had to partially sedate him to keep him from moving. It still took two nurses and myself holding him down while the doctor stitched and the Child Life Specialist held the tablet with the movie.
We got it done though!

In the interest of keeping his trauma to a minimum, we opted for two dissolvable stitches with 5-6 knots each vs. one regular stitch that would need to be removed a few days later. The doctor did a great job with that squirming/crying mass of a boy, and his lip was perfectly aligned. Even though he bit out two of the knots before we even left the hospital, the stitches stayed in and he has healed up nicely.

I really hope that's the last of the dramatic school episodes for the year. Stitches and a lockdown all in one day is quite enough for me.

Although, I found out after the fact that when the call went out from the school, two dads in our district went up to the school immediately and stood their ground directly in front of it to make sure nobody got in who didn't need to be there. It's good to know that there are people in our district who will go to bat for our staff and students if we can't be there...or if we are preoccupied with an emergency room run.

And now I *totally* get to look forward to an urgent care and an emergency room bill. Parenting is some kind of expensive.

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First Day of 1st Grade

Another year...another grade! FIRST GRADE!!

I'm going to be straight up honest. Most of the time, the days seem very, very long with these four running crazy through our house. But then we hit a point like...the first day of a new school year...and I realize that this whole "raising quads" thing is going much faster than I should be okay with.

I really only have 12 years left....

STOP IT RIGHT THERE! I'm not talking about that today or the fact that I kind of got a little choked up at Meet the Teacher night and on the first morning when a couple of my littles told me that they were good to walk themselves to their class. *sniff*

Let's talk about the kids instead! Except first...I had a total mom fail and forgot to charge the battery in my good camera. Oh my stars, I was so frustrated with myself. So it looks like this post will be full of my finest cell phone photos because that's about all I had to work with in the moment.

At the end of Kindergarten, Caleb really started to struggle. He knew that school as he was familiar with was coming to an end, and the future held the unknown of a new regular classroom teacher and a new special education teacher. It was all going to shift and he didn't know what it was going to shift to. It got rough enough that I was called up to school one morning, and sat on the floor of the staff bathroom, holding a sobbing, angry, terrified little boy who couldn't pull himself together for fear of what was to come. Thankfully, his special education teacher realized that one of the best things she could do for him was give him the gift of meeting his first grade teacher. Although the school doesn't assign teachers until the Friday before the new year starts (like 4 days in advance!), she went to the school administration, and requested an assignment for him right away so that she could get him into that classroom and have him meet his teacher *before* he went home for the summer. The school administration immediately assigned him (and Ellie!), and Caleb was able to meet Ms. Horner. In fact, Ms. Horner gave him a little jar of bubbles which pretty much made her amazing in his eyes!

All that to say, we talked frequently about Ms. Horner all summer, and when it came time for Meet the Teacher Night and go to his classroom, he adjusted quite well. School has only been in session for a few days, but we haven't had to argue with him to go to school yet, so...major points there! Caleb also has a little friend from his special education classroom in his mainstream room, and was very excited to see him the first morning. Caleb has trouble connecting with other kids his age, so it was nice to see the two of them acknowledge and seem happy to see each other.

Caleb is still in therapies or special education about 65% of his day. He also has a new special education teacher, who seems really wonderful and sweet. As for his specials teachers (art, physical education, music, computers), they all greeted him with great excitement and his Art teacher has asked if he'd like to be her helper again this year which he readily agreed to. The whole school takes such great care of our special education students (not just Caleb!). Watching them love on and interact with these kids as important and smart human beings gives me such hope as a mom. I'm looking forward to seeing how Caleb progresses this year with such a strong team of educators behind him.

When they assigned Caleb, they also assigned Ellie, once again helping this mom out with two kids in two classrooms instead of four kids each in their own classroom. Ellie has declared Ms. Horner to be the most fun teacher she's ever had, and she absolutely adores her! Even better? Ellie's best friend is in her class! It's pretty much a dream come true for this kid on every point!

Ellie...ever the life of the party! Probably her biggest struggle last year was not talking when she needed to be working. She just loves people so much she "can't help it!"

The one big difference for Caleb and Ellie this year is that they are sitting next to each other at neighboring desks. Our two kids with the strongest personalities. Haha! It will either be perfect as neither one cares to listen to or follow the other one...or a total disaster. Stay tuned for how that plays out!

Elijah is down to just speech therapy at this point. All other therapies and interventions have been discontinued, and Elijah continues to do so well academically! He is sporting his new glasses and has been pretty laid back about the whole "back to school" idea. He wasn't too worried about Meet the Teacher Night and was totally cool on the first day of school. He is our super compassionate kid, and adores all things creative. He colors, cuts, and glues for hours at home as he makes his art, and I think as long as first grade incorporates some of that, he will be happy!

Abby and Elijah are both also sitting next to each other in Mrs. Thomas' class. Last year they were on opposite sides of the room. I'm thinking that won't be too much of an issue as they don't usually try to tell each other what to do.

While the other kids weren't too crazy nervous about school starting up, Abby was the exact opposite. She has some major anxiety and social/emotional issues still, and the thought of an unknown teacher in an unknown grade was cause for some sleepless nights and tummy aches (her anxiety manifests as tummy trouble). She cowered all the way to her new classroom on Meet the Teacher night, and I thought she actually might make a break for it (she strongly adheres to the "flight" in her fight or flight response). We managed to get her all the way to her classroom where the school had assigned her to quite possibly the best hand-picked teacher ever. Mrs. Thomas is very quiet but has a *very* grounding and calming presence. Abby was absolutely drawn to her and immediately connected with her on the spot. It was like watching a magnet attract her. We have not had one single belly ache or nervous comment from Abby about school since then. Even on the morning that class started, Abby was eager to get to school and see her teacher again. I wish I could fully describe what happened in the brief moments that Mrs. Thomas and Abby spent together that first night. I was kind of blown away by it.

Mrs. Thomas did tell me that Abby had about 7 meltdowns on that first day of school, but that she was able to calm and ground her again each time. Unfortunately for Abby, she tested too high on paper to qualify as a kid with social/emotional needs officially, but she still does have very real delays in this area. I'm hopeful that between Mrs. Thomas' nurturing personality and Abby's extra year of growth, that Abby can make good headway in this area this year. I'm honestly excited for her to have this chance!

So with that being said....this was the first day of school! It went well! The kids got there on time, their teachers seem to be amazing and perfectly paired with our little ones, and I'm happy to be able to focus more on work with a few extra uninterrupted minutes during the day as we head into the fall.
.....however, our second day had significantly more excitement than our first. That's a blog post all on it's own though. I'll get that up in the next couple of days, with bloody commentary and all. Haha...ugh.

Until then, this is my family. and I love them. that is all. 

Ellie, Elijah, Daddy, Caleb, and Abby

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

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.
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