Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring is FINALLY here...at least for now.

Spring is finally in the air…slowly but surely here in Michigan and there isn’t anyone who is more excited than me! Oh wait, there is…its Evan! We had a few nice days last week where we were able to go outside and play for a couple of hours and now he is obsessed with it. Can we say…SPRING FEVER? He is so obsessed with it that he barely eats breakfast and will put his coat on and want to go out at 9am. Well, the nights are still very chilly here so the mornings are too. We have to wait for it to warm up which on a good day is by lunchtime. Being 2, he doesn’t quite understand that. I am praying for warm weather so I can have my sanity back!

The only thing Alex cares about is going on the swing. That is by far his favorite outdoor activity. A close second is riding in the wagon and third would be me blowing bubbles at him on the deck. He is such a simple laid back kid…I love it!

The other day I had to run an errand and on the way back I made an unplanned stop at the park.  This is a park that is very close to our home but it has a rather large play structure and last year I preferred to stick to the smaller ones. Now I know why: Holy moly was I worn out. Not only did I chase Evan, but I did it while carrying Alex. I will not be going there again alone. I definitely need someone there to keep an eye on Evan. The only reason I stayed was because a young girl befriended Evan and totally kept on eye on him for me. I think he enjoyed her company as well and I thanked her because I couldn’t have stayed without her help. The boys had a good time and we will be going back for sure!

Since then, we have been sticking to the smaller park and that is working out just fine for all of us. Last night I built sand castles (or houses) in the sand box with him. I loved every minute of it because growing up, the sandbox was one of my favorite outdoor activities. Today, the boys will go to school this afternoon and I am sure we will be making a trip to the park before or after dinner since it’s supposed to be near 80 today. It’s about time Michigan…it’s almost May already!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Little Firecracker

I write a lot about Alex's accomplishments here on the blog and even though Evan is a typical 2.5 year old, his accomplishments don't go unnoticed. Here's a look at what he has been up to lately.

Back in September, I was a little concerned because I thought he should have a decent vocabulary after turning 2 but he was only saying maybe 5-10 words. I enrolled him in speech therapy at school alongside Alex and slowly words trickled in. Still, nothing major. Then, the more people I talked to didn’t really seem to think it was a big deal. They kept telling me he will get there. Just give him time. He also has the “twin” factor; He and Alex spoke to one another and I think for a long time that is all he needed. Now that he has been in school for 7 months, his vocabulary has expanded and he is finally taking off!

He has gone from his basic words to colors, to shapes and now knows almost the whole alphabet by sight and sound. For weeks we have been playing a game where he tells me things to draw on his chalkboard and then he will erase whatever I draw. Whenever he would ask me to draw a heart, I would draw it and write his name in it. Then, I would say his name but he would only point to himself… until the other night. Out of nowhere, he said his name when I drew it in the heart! We were so excited and made sure he knew it! I made him say it five more times and every time it made me smile even more! He is growing up so fast and as much as I miss my little baby Evan with his bald little head, I am really enjoying seeing him learn and grow. I am very proud of him.

Not only is he smart but he is a good little helper when it comes to Alex. He acts like the big brother a lot but technically he is the little brother. He will help him with a toy or he will want him to sit in his Mickey Mouse chair next to him. He does so many things to entertain Alex and make him laugh. They now even fight like brothers! Evan can be a little rough sometimes and not realize it, but recently Alex has started fighting back when he can! It’s actually cute. Sometimes it’s hard for me to discipline both of them at the same time because I think they are so cute. Having a child with CP you just aren’t sure what they will or won’t do and seeing Alex give it back to Evan once is actually something that I am happy about. Not too many parents can say that, but I am happy to say I can!

Today I had to register him for Preschool next year and it was at the school he currently attends with Alex. When I was leaving, he was playing outside on the playground which is adjacent to the parking lot. I began scanning the playground and spotted him right away on the tricycle. He was SO cute. His back was to me, but for some reason (instinct I guess) he turned and spotted me. I just got in the car because I didn’t want him to be upset. As I sat in the car for a minute, he stared and then went back to playing. I don't know if he actually knew it was me or not, but he was piecing to together for sure! I wasn’t close to the playground by any means, he just knew. I drove away and smiled because he looked so happy and was having fun which made me happy too.
Evan is an amazing kid. I will admit, he can drive me absolutely nuts at times but then he will turn around and melt my heart. He has come a long way from that little 3lb 11oz baby who spent 48 days in the NICU. He is ALL boy and constantly on the go. He has a very vibrant personality, he's loud and he's determined, but he can be a love bug when he wants to be.
I like to think of him as my little firecracker!
6 weeks
4 months
10 months


15 months

20 months
2 years

2 years, 9 months


Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Whole New Perspective

I have been extremely stressed out over the last few months and I have been trying to find a healthy balance for myself. It hasn't been easy with two 2 year olds. I decided to write this post because I know that I am not alone (even though it feels that way sometimes) and that many people can relate.

When I was in Georgia a few weeks ago, things didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. In the end, I think it became a good thing because my sister in law (SIL) was able to observe me. One of my last days there, I flat out asked her: "What am I doing wrong?" Her response has given me a whole new perspective.

She didn't believe I was doing anything "wrong" per say but said that I expect too much out of my kids and that I am very high strung. (That doesn't look very good in writing, but the way she said it made sense!) I took a moment and thought about that and I began to see what she meant. First of all, I already knew I was high strung so that wasn't a surprise. That is who I am, but I know things aren't going to get better until I learn to relax a bit. Second, I expect my kids to do a lot of the same things when they are clearly two different people with two different abilities. I can see where that could cause some problems. I didn't really see this until she pointed it out. Finally, I feel like some days all I do is yell and I don't want to be that kind of parent.

She explained how my stress and frustration tends to spill over into the boys. They feel it and react when it's around. It was clear as day AFTER our trip to the aquarium and AFTER I spoke with her. I looked back at that day and saw all of it. Alex was super whiny and I couldn't find anything to make him happy which in turn stressed me out and got me frustrated. I felt like I couldn't enjoy myself so my SIL took over. I went off with Evan for a bit and when I came back, Alex was in the stroller perfectly fine. He saw me a couple of times and would get whiny again. Throughout the day it was back and forth and didn't get much better. On top of that, Evan doesn't listen to me for anything so I was reaching my breaking point. My SIL decided to keep the boys while I took my niece to a dolphin show. I was worried and stressing the whole time because I felt bad for leaving them with her. When the show was over we found her outside and they were BOTH in the stroller completely content. I didn't think much about it at that moment, but once I talked with her and thought back to that trip, I saw it clear as day. My stress and frustration totally affected them and they reacted the only way they could...by being upset and acting out. They were upset because I was upset and that isn't healthy.

She also told me that it's ok that the boys go through life not experiencing the same things all of the time. I guess because I have twins, I have always made it a point that they both do certain things and that has caused a lot of stress because they are two different people that aren't always going to want to do the same things. I am sure I wouldn't be doing this if there was an age gap between them. It's not fair to force either of them to do something they aren't interested in. I think this happens more to Alex than Evan. If I see Evan doing or enjoying an activity, I feel like Alex should be there right along side of him doing it as well. More times than not, Alex could care less. He would be much happier doing something that he enjoys. I think another reason I do things this way is because I never want Alex to feel excluded. I want him to experience as much as he can in life despite his disability, but that's no good if he isn't happy. He will enjoy things more if it's what he is comfortable with and what he likes and I am not stressing over him not enjoying it! Sometimes I think I hold Evan back if Alex can't participate and that isn't fair either. Evan is a very determined and independent little boy, so it's important for me to let him explore and do things he enjoys.

Coming to this realization has already changed a lot for me. I think it has helped me in allowing the boys to do what they want as individuals and if they end up doing something together and having fun, then so be it. Today Evan wanted to play with his playdoh and Alex having no interest in playdoh, was completely content in the other room playing with his toys. The house was actually peaceful for a bit because they were both happy doing what they were doing. I know I should have realized this awhile ago, but it is what it is. I am glad my SIL gave me some good insight to things I can change to help reduce some of my stress and I want to Thank her for that.

This past week a friend and I also attended a Toddler, Transition and Tantrum seminar to see if that could help. I wanted a better understanding of how I can deal with the meltdowns Evan is having. It was pretty informational. You don't realize how many emotions a two year old goes through and how they don't understand how to deal with them. Allowing them a little bit of "power" with choices helps as well.

Between the seminar and the talk I had with my SIL, I am going to be making some changes to make things better for all of us. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but at least now I feel like I have some sort of direction. It's important for us to be a Happy and Healthy Family.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Georgia Trip Part 2

We got through Easter weekend in Georgia and I was ready for some nice weather and sunshine. Monday brought both of those along with our trip to a waterfall. As the 10 of us packed into the vehicle and ventured down a trail, I thought it would be right around the corner, but it kept winding and winding and winding until we HAD to stop because of the large rocks and ruts that would no longer allow us to travel in the truck. So we walked it. You could hear the river rushing and the falls ahead as we were surrounded by tall trees as the sun peeked through.

My sister in law Tappatha took Evan up to the falls. He latched onto he like a baby monkey does to it’s mother. I don’t know if he fully understood what he was looking at, but he was mesmerized to say the least. Alex was getting sleepy so I sat on the rock and snuggled with him until Evan got back. On his way back Evan began picking up sticks and rocks and tossing them into the water. That trend continued on our ½ mile walk back to the car as we crossed mud puddle after mud puddle. The new picture for the blog is from our trip to the waterfall. I have been trying for months to get a good picture of the boys together and they couldn’t have picked a better time to make that happen. I could look at that picture all day. I love how Evan’s hand is on Alex’s knee. It’s so precious.
The Falls
Evan and Alex

Evan with Aunt Tappy
After our hike to and from the waterfall we hit up Arby’s for lunch and then dropped the kids at the house for some much needed “girl” time. Tappy, Mindy and myself headed to a town called Helen. For fellow Michiganders, it’s a lot like Frankenmuth. It was a beautiful afternoon to be out and about….and KID FREE!!! On our way back, we passed this field of cows in a beautiful green pasture and I had to get a picture. I stepped out of the vehicle and the cows must have thought I was there to feed them because they all began running toward me. It was either that or Tappy “mooing” from inside the vehicle that got their attention. Either way, it was funny. We went down to see them and had to get a picture. It was the only picture we got of the three of us…with a bunch of cows! We ended the evening with dinner at a Mexican restaurant that has far too many funny moments for me to write in this blog. It was the most fun I have had in a LONG time and I loved every minute of it. We almost didn’t make it home because I snorted in the car as Tappy was sipping her beverage (lemon water) which she sprayed out of her mouth and had to pull off the road! I have to say I was exhausted from laughing!
Before the cows saw us

Here they come!
Myself, Tappy and Mindy (and the cows)

 Tuesday was our trip to the Georgia Aquarium. For me it was a stressful day with the kids but we all had a really nice time. I got to see a little bit of Atlanta and the boys really enjoyed seeing all of the fish.

Love this!

Evan and a Stingray


Bailey, Evan and Madison
Alex enjoying the fish

Our last full day in Georgia was very laid back and a little chilly compared to the previous two days. Mindy came over with the kids for lunch and since we didn’t have a chance to do the Easter egg hunt on Easter because of the rain, we did it that day for the kids. It was cute seeing Evan carrying his basket grabbing the eggs! That evening we had dinner at home which ended with a second Tractor ride for someone….ALEX! His Uncle Matt took him on a tractor ride the second night we were there and he absolutely LOVED it, so he was promised a second ride on our last night. Evan stayed on the porch the whole time and when we asked him if he was going next he would say “No” and run away! I guess I know who my thrill seeker is!

Uncle Matt giving Alex a tractor ride

The week went fast but we did a lot of really fun things and it felt so good to be surrounded by our family. The boys had plenty of cousins to play with and I really enjoyed my time with Tappy and Mindy. I wish we lived closer…maybe someday. Now that I know I can do the drive, I will definitely go again. But it’s their turn next!! (I don’t think they know that)

Here are some random candid shots of all of us during our stay. Thank you to the McKay Family for having us. We loved every minute of it and I promise to bring Eric the next time!!
Alex, Mindy, Myself, Jessica, Ethan, Tappy, Annamarie, Kellsie, Brook, Madison, Bailey, Savannah and Evan

Evan at the Aquarium. Such a neat shot
Anna, Evan, Alex and Annamarie snuggling and watching Mickey Mouse
One of my favorite pictures of Alex. Such a big boy!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Georgia Trip Part 1

 I had a lot of anxiety going into the Georgia trip because as it turns out, my Mother in Law became ill and couldn’t travel with us. So it became me driving 750 miles on my own with two toddlers. Yeah…

I am happy to report that the trip was awesome! I did end up stopping half way to save my sanity as well as theirs but even the 6-7 hours in the car was good. I was thoroughly impressed.

We stopped in London, Kentucky on the way down. I called in pizza twenty minutes before I arrived so I could pick it up before we got to the hotel. Getting into the room was a bit tricky because my double stroller wouldn’t fit so I had to make two trips to the car and Alex wasn’t happy about me leaving him in the room for two minutes! I could hear him screaming as I was walking down the hall! In the process I dropped the pizza sauce all over the carpet in the hallway and was sweating profusely once I got settled into the room! I didn’t get much sleep because I was worried one of the kids would roll off the bed even though I had pushed it against the wall and built a wall of pillows around the other side! They were fine…it was just me.

We were back on the road by 9:30AM and I took a detour through Maggie Valley and Cherokee, NC which are two of my favorite small towns. We made to my Sister in Law’s house at 3:00 that afternoon.

The weekend was already packed full of activities since it was Easter, but we had a lot of fun. Saturday morning we participated in an Easter Egg hunt at The church. (The first for my kids) Evan liked the blow up slide and moon walk more than anything. He threw the biggest tantrum when we had to leave.

Niece Samantha with Alex, Bailey and Madison
Evan with his basket full of eggs!
Samantha helping Alex

Evan climbing the slide

His favorite part!

That afternoon, we went to a Cousin’s house to color eggs. Alex chose to sleep the whole time since he didn’t take a nap after lunch like he should have. Evan had a lot of fun as you can see. I tried to get Alex to color an egg but he wasn’t interested!

Madison and Evan

Evan coloring his egg in shaving cream and food coloring

Alex not interested in coloring eggs at all.

Sunday was Easter, so we went to early service at church so we could have a little bit of time before everyone came for dinner. There were a lot of people and a lot going on, but the kids had a lot of fun. I had the most fun shooting an AK47 with the help of my Nephew Robbie. I have never even held a gun before in my life, so this was something to experience. I loved it! The egg hunt got postponed because of rain, but we had time to do the Easter Baskets!
The boys enjoying their Easter baskets

Evan giving Alex a taste of a root beer dum dum!
Me with the boys and nephew Ethan
Evan kissing on Madison
Me and the AK-47


I don’t want to make this post incredibly long, so I will end the first half here.Stay tuned for Part Two later this week.