Thursday, May 30, 2013

Schooooool's out for SUMMER!

I am done with photo sessions until after our cruise. I have 2 weeks from TONIGHT to get the rest of my sessions edited and disks mailed so I don't have any shoots outstanding before we leave.

Before my session last night, I managed to snap a few pictures of the beautiful flowers at Duck Creek Park. :)  In an effort to have this post be a little more interesting, I will sprinkle a few of those pictures into it.

This one is my fave...
SOOOOO, it's been 2 days since Tate had his last day of Kindergarten.  I could home school him...I won't, but I could.  For a couple of reasons...he LOVES to learn.  It's all he wants to do.  He wants me to have homework for him every morning,  He loves learning.  The other reason is because I LOVE having him home.  I mean, I missed him this year!  So happy I get to have him home for the next 2 1/2 months!

I can't wait for Wesley to be done with school for the summer too!  He won't be done until the day before we leave for our cruise.  It will be SO NICE to get away with just Sean, but I know we will miss the kids so much and be READY to see them and enjoy time together doing lots of fun things this summer!  We have all kinds of things planned and posted on our "Summer List" that is clearly on display on the large chalkboard in our kitchen.

Among many other things, some of the bigger things we hope to get checked off our summer list this year are Camp Cassie for Tate while Sean and I along with DeCooks have a fun weekend in Chicago complete with a trip to IKEA.  Also, the boys want to tie dye t-shirts, go to the Drive In Theater, go hiking, bike riding and swimming, make pudding pops, grilled bananas (with chocolate chips and marshmallows and smores, Tate wants to start taking hip hop dance classes,  Wesley will likely learn how to ride his bike without training wheels and Cason will hopefully start walking!  We plan to make a few trips to the zoo and have a few sleepovers as well as a night in a hotel just because the boys begged for that!  I'm sure much time will be spent outside on the trampoline and in the playhouse and we will get the sprinkler and slip n slide out several times.  Oh, and they boys are BEGGING to have another shaving cream party, so as messy as that is, it will likely happen again this year!

See?  It will be a FUN and BUSY summer...we are used to busy (and fun for that matter), so we should do just fine! :)

Hope you all are ready for summer fun too!  Isn't summer the best?! :)

SOOOO glad it's finally here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Some history on Wesley and Cason...

I have been getting a lot of questions lately in regard to Wesley and Cason.  I know I mention their "special needs" (ugh...I can't stand that term!) and all of their appointments and such frequently, but apparently I am more vague than I realized.  I am not usually one to be vague! :)  I guess I just assume that everyone reading this blog or my Facebook posts is either a family member or friend and already knows the boys' conditions.  I have realized that is not the case.  So here is some information about both boys that answers some of the questions I get!

Wesley was born with Chronic Renal Failure and just before he turned 2, he had a kidney transplant.  He did not come to us until a year and a half later.  During the time he was waiting for his kidney and going through the transplant process, he was with an incredible family who took unbelievable care of him.  They are still a part of his life which we are all so incredibly thankful for.  They love him so much and he loves them.  Though we are sad to have missed any part of Wesley's life, he couldn't have been in better hands during that time!  Wesley has done remarkably well since his transplant.  He is an incredibly strong and resilient little man...full of life and energy.  Wesley has only had a few issues since his transplant which were quickly resolved.  He has a g-tube which he was getting fed through each night while he slept due to an oral aversion until about 8 months ago.  He has overcome this and now we only use his g-tube to give him extra water boluses when necessary and to give him his medicines day and night.  His medication is a balancing of the issues we have had with him is finding that balance so he doesn't go into rejection.  One of the things that many people don't know is that Wesley will need another transplant (or 2 or 3) in his life.  The doctors' hope is that his kidney will last him 1-15 years.  Many people believe that once he got his transplant, that is the kidney he will have forever...unless something miraculous happens, that is not the case.  Wesley gets lab work done at least once a month to monitor all of his levels.  He is so strong and endures so much...he amazes us!

Cason suffered a severe brain injury at 7 weeks of age.  He suffers from Shake Baby Syndrome.  He is a miracle.  Period.  It is miraculous that he is even alive today.  He couldn't see or hear, had several broken bones, was in a full body cast, had a feeding tube and was in a coma.  He suffered a couple of minor strokes and 2 seizures following his head trauma.  He was life flighted to Iowa City where he spent a lot of time in the ICU.  They saved his life.  He was released to a family who loved and cared for him for 7 months...they have become our friends and remain in our lives which we are so grateful for!  Cason was said to be blind when released from the hospital and has since regained his sight.  He wears glasses and always will due to a severe astigmatism in both eyes, but his sight has continuously improved since his release from the hospital and is almost normal for his age today.  Cason has endured Occupational Therapies, Physical Therapies and rehabilitation weekly since being released from the hospital.  He has several specialists he sees to monitor his development.  He has microcephaly and plagiocephaly.  He had a helmet for several months to address his helped, but didn't "fix" the flatness.

When we got Cason on Christmas Day of 2011, he was 11 months old.  He could not sit up, roll over, babble, could barely hold his head up, couldn't use his left hand, wouldn't look to the left, wouldn't hold toys, etc.  He was developmentally about where a 3 or 4 month old would be in most areas at best.  He has always been full of joy though!  He got small foot braces to aid him in standing and learning to take steps and we have used a walker with him as well.  He is not fully walking yet, but will be very soon!  We just got him new braces that will work better in aiding him to bare weight appropriately on his legs and will in turn help him to start walking.  He is starting to say words and babbles all of time.  He uses his left side now and to someone who doesn't know of his weakness on that side, they wouldn't know it was an issue.  He is happy...seriously, he is pretty much always happy!  He is a snuggler and a lover.  People fall in love with him instantly!  He is almost 2 1/2 and is developmentally where about a 1 year old is and in some areas a little bit beyond that.  He is learning new things almost every day!

It's hard to tell how he will develop.  With brain injuries, you just never know.  However, with the way he has been developing, the sky is the limit.  He may completely catch up or he may always have significant delays.  We are thrilled that he is such a happy boy and that's all that matters to us!

Between the 3 boys and just life in general, we have 1 or 2 appointments per day on a slow day and 4-6 on a crazy day.  I remember in the beginning thinking, "I can't do this...I love these boys, but what did I get myself into?!?!"  It was stressful and tiring and draining.  It's turned into normal for us and unless it's a crazy day completely FULL of appointments, it doesn't usually bother me anymore.  I like knowing what's going on with my children developmentally and medically and without the input from all of their amazing doctors and therapists, I wouldn't be so "in the know" because things with Wesley and Cason can literally change from day to day.  Over the last year and a half, we have changed doctors and therapists and are at a place now where we feel like we have such great teams who take care of each of their needs.  Wesley's doctors and whole medical team or incredible and it's nice to finally know them and not be his "new parents" who are full of questions that typical parents of a child with his condition would know.  Now we DO know the ins and outs of his condition and feel comfortable dealing with all of his took a lot of time, but we are happy with all that we have learned and now can be the best advocate possible for him.  And the same goes for Cason.  His condition is a little less black and white though.  No one really knows how he will develop, but everyone agrees that he a miracle and a joy and that if all goes as we all THINK it will, he will continue to develop and learn and do amazing things.  And he has the best therapists and teachers we could ask for.  They truly love him and we are beyond blessed to have them in his life.

And I must mention Tate here.  He is incredible.  We were worried about bringing 2 boys into our home with such significant needs.  Now we realize what a good thing it was for Tate to see and to know.  He has a sensitive heart.  He now knows that not everyone is the same, not everyone needs the same things.  I believe he will have much more empathy towards other children he may encounter with needs much more significant than his.  He loves his brothers...and they drive him brothers are supposed to. :) We are blessed by this family we've built and still have to pinch ourselves.  This family is not what we ever dreamed we would's more challenging and life altering than we ever thought we could handle.  We needed these boys...WE needed THEM...not the other way around.  They have made us better people, they have taught us we are stronger than we knew, they have taught us a new way to love and a new way to be parents.

And the big question...will we have a daughter?  Well, God has given us more than we ever knew we could handle and so much that we never expected.  So if I say that we're done, I can almost hear God saying, "let me decide when you're done."  I am busy right really busy!  I am hoping that we are done, but God's plans trump mine, so I guess we will have to see what's in store! :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

As Kindergarten wraps up...

I am finding myself emotional as the end of the year approaches.
I had the pleasure of spending lots of time with these 3 after school this year.  And they are still so innocent and sweet and young.  Time flies and this school year was no exception!  I feel like I JUST sent Tate to his first day of Kindergarten yesterday!  These 3 have grown up and matured SO MUCH this year.  And they have all learned sooo much!  It's been such a joy to hear their conversations and stories in the car each day after school.  They have made me laugh every single day!  Love them all so much!  I am going to miss this, but I am ready to have Tate and Wesley home for the summer!  I have a feeling this will be our BEST summer yet!

For fun after school today, I did a short interview with the 3 (almost) 1st graders.
Here it is...

1.  If you could do ANYTHING you wanted this summer, what would it be?
Tate - I would eat whatever I wanted!
Kiley - Go to my Nanas in Florida and swim!
Ava - Go to my Aunt Diana's and go swimming!

2.  What was your favorite part of being in Kindergarten?
Tate - Miss Jeannie teaching me.
Kiley - Going to gym and also watching a play.
Ava - Going to music and gym.

3.  What do you think the most important thing you learned in Kindergarten was?
Tate - Not to make bad choices.
Kiley - Not to bully!
Ava - To be nice to others.

4.  What do you hope to learn in 1st grade that you didn't learn in Kindergarten?
Tate - I don't know, I think I already learned everything in Kindergarten. (this made me laugh!)
Kiley - I want to learn what you can't touch. (no idea what this
Ava - Science

5.  What do you want to be when you grow up and where do you want to work?
Tate - Kindergarten teacher and I want to work at Adams like Miss Jeannie.
Kiley - McDonalds worker!
Ava - I want to teach 1st grade at Blue Grass

6.  What is your favorite part of the day at school?
Tate - Reading
Kiley - Free Choice
Ava - Doing work at our tables

Yes...Tate is clearly attached to Miss Jeannie.  He has been extremely blessed to have her as his teacher.  He gets pretty attached to people he spends lots of time with! :)  Hope he loves his 1st grade teacher as much as he loves her!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A "super" new look...coming soon I hope!

Tomorrow we will travel to Des Moines to do our annual family photo swap with my great friend, Jamie who has photographed our family twice before.  Can't wait for our session this year as we are going to do a bit of a fun theme I think! :)

We are going to be representing the DC Comic book heroes.  Tate and Wesley will be in full costume...Tate as The Flash and Wesley as The Green Lantern.  Cason is wearing a Superman romper, Sean a Batman t-shirt and me a Wonder Woman t-shirt.  If it turns out as I am envisioning, it is going to be SO CUTE!  I can't wait!  And funny enough, the boys are SO excited too!  Kind of part of the point of the shoot was to make it fun for the boys and they are going to have fun...I know it!

So hopefully in a few weeks, this blog will have a SUPER new look with an updated picture as my header! :)  I will share the images as soon as I get them!  Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My thoughts this Mother's Day...

I have some thoughts this Mother's Day.
First, I am so grateful and blessed to have the most amazing mother in the world.  Truly, she is incredible and I am so thankful I get to call her "Mom".

This weekend, thoughts of my boys' birth mothers were on my mind a lot.  I know that there are 3 women out there that no matter the circumstances that brought their boys to me, they are struggling.  That is heart breaking.  You can't know that feeling unless you are living it.  It weighs heavily on my heart all the time...I honestly think about these boy's birth parents every single day.  Their children call me "Mommy".  I know that all of you adoptive mommies out there know what I mean.  It's not even something you expect to feel or think about or be sad about before you are an adoptive mom.  It's something you hear about and read about and talk with your friends who have adopted about, but until YOU are the one living it, you don't get that feeling.  So don't get me wrong, I am over the moon happy and feel so blessed to call these children mine and to celebrate being their mommy this weekend and always, but at the same time, my heart is aching for these 3 women.  We share something that I can share with no other woman...we have the same son.  I thank God every day for these 3 boys and pray every day for their birth mothers.

Jody Landers posted on Facebook this weekend something that I couldn't have worded more beautifully, but is EXACTLY how I feel...

Children born to another woman call me "Mom." The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me this weekend.

My heart also goes out to those who are waiting to be mommies.  I also completely understand how difficult this day can be for those who are struggling to start a family.  I have been there and vividly remember a time when I had lost hope, I didn't think I would ever be a Mommy.  Don't lose's not hopeless.  If you want to be a mommy, YOU CAN!  It will happen for you and there are so many people praying for you!

So to all of you Moms, step moms, foster moms, birth moms, grandmothers, etc...


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Tate Funnies

I could write multiple funnies down that Tate says each day!
Here are a couple that were said in the 20 minute drive home tonight from Mike and Sarah's house...

Tate was singing some song that goes something like this...

"Can you add a new sound a new sound a new sound, Can you add a new sound, "B" into "us". "  And then I would say, "bus!"  So he was going through doing that with the body parts he has learned at school like lungs, heart, liver, etc.  Then he sang "B" into "astard" .  I was like, "WHAT?!?!  Where did you hear that word?!!!"  He said, "You know that part of your body that holds your pee until you pee it out."
OHHHH, BLADDER!  Um...that's a little different than bastard!  I was dying laughing!

Then, still on the body part subject, he asked me, "Do mommies and daddies have kidneys too?"   I said, "yes, they do...everyone does!"  He said, "Well that's just silly, theirs should be called parent-neys, not KIDneys!"   And he was totally not making a joke, he was dead serious!  He cracks me up!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

Today was Teacher Appreciation Day. And boy do I ever appreciate teachers!
I have so many family and friends who are all incredible teachers and I see first hand just how hard they work, how much time they take away from their own kids to make sure our kids, MY kids are successful.  So today we gave Tate and Wesley's teachers some plants.
Tate chose to give Miss Jeannie herbs.  We went to 3 different stores before he found the perfect pot he wanted to get her.  I think he did a great job!

He was so excited to give Miss Jeannie her gift!  He adores her with all that he is.  And we think she's pretty great too!  He has THRIVED in her classroom when we were so worried about how he would do.  We love her.

So we planted basil, rosemary and thyme for her...

And I had Tate write on the heart,
"Some herbs for season and spice..."

"Because you are so nice." :)

And Wesley give his teacher a pot of pretty yellow flowers.
He wasn't as willing to let me photograph him, so you only get one picture of him.  Cute nonetheless. :)
 Love my boys!  LOVE their teachers!

Cason will be seeing his teacher on Thursday, so she will get her gift then.  My boys are so blessed to have the best teachers!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Riding Bikes

Tate has never been the best bike rider. Like I am unsure he will ever ride without training wheels...ever.  He might be using training wheels as a teenager.  He is just too nervous and scared and NOT coordinated.  Now Wesley...he may learn to ride without training wheels this summer.  I will say, however that Tate has suddenly this year become so much better at riding his bike.  It's nice to see him sort of catching on.  And he now ASKS if he can go out and ride where last year we had to make him!  I love these boys...
Wesley has completely grasped the concept of the balance bike.  He does SO WELL on it!

Tate was pretty proud of his balancing on his bike too.  Ha!  (he has a balance bike as well, but does not have the coordination to ride it at this time).

We are so happy that we can send the boys outside to play again!

Booner's birthday...take 1

Since Booner's actual birthday was on Sunday, we all gathered at mom and dad's to grill out and be together to celebrate him. It is so fun getting all the kids together and I love that it is possible so frequently now that we all live so close by each other. :) We will celebrate Boone's birthday again this Saturday night with his big super hero party. I can't hardly believe that he's 3! I will never forget going into that room a mere minutes after he was born and seeing his gorgeous face. Love that boy soooo much! Here are some pictures from Sunday...