Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our Colorado Adventure! (better late than never!)

A couple of weeks ago, we returned from a fun family adventure to Colorado!  We'd been talking about heading that way for years now and this summer was the year!  Unfortunately, we felt as though it would be best to leave Cason in Iowa as he likes his regular comforts and can get distraught in new situations.  It turned out to be a good choice for everyone!

We started our trip with a few nights in Denver...

We hit the aquarium, the Museum of Science and Nature and downtown Denver.  We ate at lots of fun restaurants and didn't have a schedule...no naps, no solid plans...it was wonderful!

The aquarium was so amazing...they even had mermaids!

The shark tank was all of our favorites!

Feeding the stingrays was pretty exciting too!

One evening we just decided to go for a drive and it was so beautiful that we pulled over on the side of the road and got out to explore and take a few pictures...

Look at all those bison!  The boys loved seeing these guys!

There is something so incredible about the Rocky Mountains...so gorgeous and breathtaking.  Pictures don't do any of the incredible views justice...

Prairie Dogs!  So cute...there were SO MANY!

Probably my favorite part of the trip was the day we headed up to Winter Park for the 2nd half of our trip and stopped at Red Rocks Park and hiked.  We had the boys dressed for the anticipated low 70's, upper 60's temperatures we'd be feeling in winter park because we didn't plan to hike so far (parent fail on our part because it was HOT HOT HOT during our hike...and they were in pants...yikes!), but just kept going because it was so incredible!

The views, you guys....man!  I love this place!

The boys were "ON TOP OF THE WORLD"!

We hiked over to the amphitheater...

The only thing that would have made it better were if we were actually there to see a concert!  That place is incredible!

On our way back to the car, we saw this fella just chillin' in the shade!

I don't have many pictures of our Winter Park adventures because I put the camera down and actually took part in the fun, but we had a blast!  Winter Park Resort was an all day adventure that the boys loved beyond words!  It ended on a not so great note after Sean had a serious wipe out on the alpine slide and got quite injured....lots of road rash and a cracked rib.  YIKES!  I also got a sunburn on my face...a really bad one.  That being 1 mile and a half closer to the sun is serious business!

This sunset was our last night...it was the PERFECT ending to an incredible trip!

I have never seen a more beautiful sunset!

The boys were so sad to leave...they said they want to move to the mountains...I get it.  I have the itch too!
It was such an amazing trip!!!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Summa Summa Summa TIME....

I love summertime!  This summer has been super fun so far and we have lots more fun ahead of us!

I got to meet these 2 beauties for lunch a few weeks back and we spent a couple of hours catching up and reminiscing about high school...when did we become 30 somethings?!  I will say, my 30's have so far been the best years of my life!  So fun getting together with high school friends!

I've got to spend lots of time with my friends and their adorable kiddos.  I tired PhiPhi out this day!  Adore this girl so much!

Lisa got me a selfie stick, so we had to test it out.  LOL

We spent a weekend in Kansas City for our tradition where we take our nieces and nephews on a trip for their 10th birthdays.  We went to Oceans of Fun, Worlds of Fun and Sean took Bode to a Royals/Red Sox game.   Such a fun and special trip!

Tate and I got a one on one date while they went to the baseball game!

Lots of sliding and swimming happened...such a fun weekend!

We returned in time to celebrate my amazing husband and father to my boys and my awesome dad with a fun Father's Day!

I am so fortunate.  I have the best family in the world...

The weather heated up and we got the water table out for Cason...turns out the big boys liked it too!

Cason has figured out the concept of the "selfie"...cutest thing ever!

Our big boys have actually spent some time playing TOGETHER and getting along this summer!  It's a summer miracle!

Gotta love girl time...especially when it's with this amazing niece of mine!  Oh, Ayla...I adore you!

And it wouldn't be a good day unless some of it is spent with our talking to this lady!
She works so hard all year and life gets busy so we take FULL advantage of the summers...pool time with the kiddos, lots of texts and phone calls.  I hate when she goes back to work.  HATE IT!

The 4th of July has become our holiday.  We have a super convenient location for fireworks which means no searching for a parking spot and lugging a bunch of stuff for blocks and blocks to find a good view.  We have a perfect view of the Bettendorf fireworks from the field just 3 houses down from us!  We love having our friends over for the 4th...but first, let me take a family selfie...

A patriotic and YUMMY trifle!

My big boy...

My girls...adore each of these girls as they are such an important part of our village.  The friendships I have with them are so precious to me.

This winter, we are even taking our first girl's vacation to Florida...plus a few other amazing women that will be joining us!  Can't wait!!!!

And nothing says "I LOVE THE USA" like drinking a Modelo on the 4th of July! LOL

And to think that all of this was just the first half of the summer!

We leave tomorrow for a family vacation to Colorado for week.  Sweet Cason isn't going as he just simply can't deal with most public places.  His 2nd Mommy and Daddy, Lora and James are keeping him for us for most of the time and Sarah and Mike will be keeping him over the weekend.  I just can't say enough about how grateful I am for the DeCooks and the Peakins for all they do to help us...we are so blessed by them and thank God to call them all family!  They love our kids so well...we could never repay them for all they have done for us!

Upon our return from Colorado, we will be fitting LOTS of pool days in at the DeCooks and Peakins' neighborhood pools, I have filled my schedule with photoshoots and appointments and hopefully we will fit in several of the items on our summer list before Sean and I leave for an incredible vacation just the two of us!  I can't even believe it...I have wanted to experience all that St. Lucia has to offer for YEARS.  I met someone from St. Lucia in 1999 and she spoke of her country in a way that made me want so badly to visit it!  So we are!!!  An 11 month late 10 year anniversary trip will be spent with my amazing husband for a week in the beautiful St. Lucia!!!  I.CAN'T.WAIT!

Loving summer and soaking it all up!  Hope you are too!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Finding what works for US...

I am having an internal battle with some recent realizations Sean and I have had.  First of all, I know that every family is different and no one can know what it is like to be in another's family.  Ours is just the same...unless a family deals with the same things we deal with and has a child with special needs and another with medical needs while the 3rd has sensory and social issues, they won't understand why we make the decisions we make.  I still am battling though...I battle with how it looks when we make certain choices...what will people think?!

It's ridiculous, I know this!  I know that I love my kids beyond words and I do what is right for them and our family.  So why do I care what other people may think of us?  I don't know.  I just don't want people to think poorly of us, I guess.  It's silly.

All of this to get to the point.  We have slowly started to realize that our constant exposing Cason to certain things has become an issue.  We thought it would improve, he would grow accustomed to the sensory overload that comes along with lots of public places, restaurants, museums, zoos, etc.  We were wrong...it has gotten worse.  His meltdowns have become more inconsolable, louder, screaming and hitting himself in the face is something he has taken up.  He claws all over us and acts as though he just wants to crawl out of his own skin.  The zoo in Des Moines a couple of weekends ago was the final straw.  It was bad.  He cried...almost the entire time.  He was terrified of the animals, the sounds, the crowds.  He didn't want to walk, he didn't want to be held, he didn't want to be in the stroller, he didn't want to be there.  Period.  This made the evening less enjoyable for all of us.   We couldn't relax and enjoy our time because Cason was so upset.  Nothing calmed him down.

It was after leaving the zoo that Sean and I realized that we cannot keep doing this.  We just can't.  It is not the reality of what works for our family, for Cason, for Tate and Wesley.  It isn't fair to anyone.

This realization made me so sad.

I want to do things as a family of 5, but the big boys are able to do so much more now, they enjoy lots more things that Cason finds terrifying.  He wants to be in a more private setting, some place less chaotic with less stimulation.

There are definitely certain settings that work for Cason during outings and travel and we fully intend on taking advantage of doing things that Cason will learn from and enjoy, but many of those things aren't enjoyable for the big boys and they need to be exposed to things as well.

We had our first vacation as a family of 5 planned in July.  The first time we would all go away somewhere together, just the 5 of us.  Our trip to Colorado is something we have been looking forward to for a while now.  We have lots on the agenda that the big boys will LOVE and as we got to thinking about the trip, we realized that most of those adventures, while they are things we are able to bring Cason along on, will be experiences Cason will not enjoy at all!  I think the thought of not bringing Cason on our family vacation entered my mind a long time ago, but I pushed it out of my mind knowing that this was a family vacation and so our whole family NEEDS to go...we will just deal with it.  It's our reality.

You see, it could be our reality...bring Cason along with us and deal with his freak outs, understand that this is our family and it's what we have to do.  OR, realize that bringing him along in these situations isn't beneficial to anyone.  The big boys have to sacrifice...we leave places early, I have to stay back with Cason sometimes, we have added stress, we don't go to certain places that will be uncomfortable for Cason or that we will waste money going to knowing that no one will enjoy it with a screaming child in tow.   Also, Cason sacrifices being in a comfortable situation with people he loves in a setting that he enjoys.  I hate seeing Cason so worked up and upset.  It has become clear what the obvious decision is to be the most beneficial to all of us.  We just cannot bring him EVERYWHERE with us any longer.  This realization makes me so sad.  I WANT Cason to enjoy these experiences and I WANT to be with our little family as much as possible...I don't want to leave a child behind.  I love being with Cason, but I don't like seeing him miserable and I don't like our big boys not being able to experience certain things because Cason cannot participate.  It's not good for any of us.

We are SO BLESSED to have such an amazing village of people who love our boys and who are willing to care for Cason in these situations.  So we decided we would see if anyone would be willing to keep our Sweet Cason while we go to Colorado in a few weeks and finding people was no problem!  Lora and James, Sarah and Mike didn't hesitate and I know Cason will be so loved and spoiled while he is with them!

I am working on being okay with leaving Cason behind, with understanding that this family dynamic is much different than I had always dreamed before having a family.  However, I wouldn't change my family for the world...I wouldn't trade any of my kids for any other situation.  This is our reality and our family and what works for us and God gave my these boys and also gave us this incredible village of family and friends...it all works.  It is just how it is supposed to be.  Maybe in the future Cason will be able to join us on more adventures, but for now, if necessary, we know we have lots of loving arms that will keep him while the other 4 of us are gone!

God's plans are often different than our own, but His plans are perfect.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life according to my phone...

This is a new record for me as of late!  2 posts in 5 days?!?!  What?!!!  Unheard of!

So here is what has been going on according to my phone (and a couple other pics that aren't from my phone)...

Stopped in Williamsburg on my way to Des Moines a couple of weeks ago and they had 50% off all women's clearance clothing...so that pretty much made my week!  I got shirts for 0.48!!!  Amazing!

While in Des Moines, I got to go to The Lion King with these beauties and their mama and grandma and my other sister in law, Sara and my mother in law.  I saw it years ago and it was JUST as wonderful the 2nd time!

Paleo is on full force for me...in fact, I've stuck with Whole30 past my 30 days...and it didn't stop me from celebrating Cinco de Mayo with some yummy paleo Mexican food!

Mother's Day was wonderful.  I had a great day and even got some fun gifts...Sean surprised me with this beautiful scarf!

Then we got to celebrate my mom, the most amazing mom in the world in Muscatine with my whole family.  Fun fun!

I can't believe it's that time of the year, but our summer list is done and ready to have some items crossed off!

Don't even get me started on the disgustingness (it's a word, in my vocabulary at least) of my boys' bathroom.  It's appalling.  I can clean their sink and 2 days later it will look like this.  And don't get me started on their toilet and pee....everywhere.  Yuck!

Cason's last day of preschool was Thursday.  He has an amazing teacher that loves him and that he adores.

I made zoodles for the first time (zucchini noodles) and they were SO GOOD!  This awesome vegetable slicer is going to change our paleo lives!  Welcome to our world paleo "pasta", can't wait to add some recipes to the menu!

Another one of my Mother's Day gifts from Sean and the boys.  Have you heard of Boymom?  Cute stuff...and they have some Girlmom stuff too!  I got 2 shirts...this one, since my boys are soccer lovers and another that reads (My Boys - My (super) Heroes.  Love them!

The NKF Kidney walk was yesterday.  I helped plan the event and had a great time supporting an important cause.  It was wonderful to have family and friends come out and walk with Wesley's Warriors and also support us with donations.  Thank you all...it means so much to us!

This week is the big boys' last full week of school...then they have Memorial Day off and go 2 1/2 more days after that.  THEN SUMMER!!!!  I am SORT OF ready.  We have a busy summer ahead and while I LOVE spending time with my boys and doing fun family things, it is also nice to have a few free hours a day while all 3 are at school. :)  Now that Cason is done with school, I have him full time again which is easing me into a new routine.  Can't wait for the warm weather to stay and for some pool time and vacations!

Bring on summer!