Friday, September 28, 2012

The great sugar mishap of 2012

I've been trying to include Caleb in the kitchen more, so on this particular day we made pumpkin bread together while Joshua napped.  Caleb really wanted to do most of it on his own and I was doing my best to let him.   He was in the process of scooping sugar out of the canister and was so focused on scooping that he didn't hold the canister with his hand.  Before I knew it the very full canister was falling and sugar was spilled everywhere!  I'm actually pretty proud of myself that I didn't get upset!  I did what any blogger would do-- I took a picture!

I was able to scoop the 2/3 cup of sugar that we needed off the top of the spill and swept the rest into the vacuum vent that was conveniently located under my cabinets right by the spill!

One thing that has been making this Mama's heart happy is to see my boys play together more.  They both love hide n' seek and Joshua is really good at it, which should probably make me nervous!  He finds great places to hide and then he stays really quiet while he waits to be found, which is not something most kids his age do.  They had a great time playing and Joshua hid in between the tall upholstered chair and the ottoman.  It took Caleb quite awhile to find him!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Week So Far

It's been a busy week for us although nothing monumental has been on the calendar.  Bryan worked 3 evening shifts at the beginning of the week, meaning he is gone for dinner, bathtime and bedtime.  Anyone with young children knows that the evening is also known as 'the witching hour' so it was a lot of work to get those two wild ones clean and in bed each night!

Caleb had school Mon-Thurs and has had great behavior all week at school.  We are thrilled that he has made so much progress after a rough start!  He does tend to have a meltdown when he gets home, likely because it has been hard work to hold himself together all day at school.  We're working through it and trying to celebrate the progress and not focus on the negative.  Some days are just better than others!  Caleb does have one little girl in his class who he really loves to play with.  He tells me that she loves to build with him and the teachers have also told me they play well together.  They are always sitting together on the rug for story time when I pick him up in the afternoons.  I love seeing him make friends!

I got my hair cut and highlighted by a new person on Tuesday and I'm happy to report the color looks normal and I did not walk out of the salon with 'triangle head' or 'mushroom head' -- two common mishaps with curly hair!

Joshua finally cut another tooth on the front bottom, and with it came a runny nose for the past week or so.  I kept him home from school on Wednesday so every other kid in his class won't have green snot by next week.  Caleb said he was sick in an attempt to stay home from school and also asked if "having the pickups" [hiccups] makes you sick to stay home from school.  HA! Since Bryan was home in the morning he kept Joshua so I could still go to my weekly bible study at church.  It is called "Mom to Mom" and I'm in a group with about 12 women who are all mothers.  We only started 3 weeks ago but I am really enjoying it and have a great discussion group that I am really encouraged by.

Today we took Joshua to a new pediatric practice for his 18 month well child appointment.  Unfortunately the doctor we selected was sick today so we saw a nurse practitioner instead.  She was nice enough and Joshua was very cooperative until it was time for shots, and then he was quite sad :(  Luckily it was over quick and he only got 2 shots.  He was only 22.5 lbs today (7th percentile) and 32 inches (37th percentile). I panicked a little over his weight as he's always been around 50th percentile.  When I got home I emailed our pediatrician in Temple and within minutes she answered back with Joshua's previous measurements and percentiles (LOVE HER!).  I had forgotten that he went down to 10th percentile for weight at his 15 month appointment.  Our Temple pediatrician reassured me that many kids drop between 9-15 months and start to climb back up at 18 months.  We may add in some Pediasure just to see if we can put some pounds on him, but overall we are not worried.

And now for a few pictures...

Joshua is into everything and you never know what he is going to do next!  Bryan thought he went into our bedroom until he found him doing some computer work in the office:

While Joshua napped this afternoon Bryan and Caleb went on a walk to see some of the houses that are under construction.  Caleb brought these 'flowers' back for me:

We did not have home church tonight (our small group from church) so we went out to dinner at Lupe's and made a family trip to Target.  We finished off the night by letting the boys have their first ever mini ice cream sandwiches.  They were a big hit.

We have a fun weekend ahead with my parents coming to town for Caleb's first flag football game, the Aggies playing Arkansas and hopefully some rain and cooler temperatures to take us into October!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Visit with Brynn

Today we had Joshua's birthmom, Brynn, and her parents and sister come visit us in College Station.  It was their first time to come to our new house and our first visit since June, when we moved from Temple to College Station.  We are blessed to have a fantastic open adoption with Brynn and her family and have visited about every 3 months since Joshua was born.  

When Bryan and I began our second adoption journey we felt certain we weren't equipped for open adoption.  God showed us the faults in our thought process and we took a leap of faith.  He blessed us beyond measure when he brought our family and Brynn and her family together.  We have felt comfortable with them from day one and know that Joshua's life will be blessed by having so many people who adore him.  Brynn is a beautiful, loving, brave young woman who has always put her love for Joshua first.  There are not words to say how thankful we are for her and her role in our lives!

To anyone who thinks open adoption might feel 'weird' or 'awkward' or not make sense -- just look at these pictures and tell me you don't see a little boy who is being blessed by what God has done in our two families.

  Brynn & Joshua

Joshua & Grandpa McGrath

Joshua playing with Brynn's little sister, Erin

T-ball practice with Grandpa McGrath
Joshua felt it was necessary to wear his brother's bike helmet :)

I wish I had taken more pictures today but we were too busy eating, visiting and playing.  We love you McGrath family!  Thank you for making the drive to College Station to visit all of us!

Aggies vs SC State

On Saturday Bryan and I had the opportunity to go see the Aggies play South Caroline State.  My parents were generous enough to not only give us their tickets but to also drive from Denton to College Station to babysit the boys for us while we went to the game.  Bryan and I had not been to a game in nearly 2 years so we were excited to be back at Kyle Field.

A picture with our boys before we headed up to campus:

The Aggies were favored to win, and win they did.  The final score was 70-14!  We had a great time and are hoping to get season tickets next year so we can take the boys to some games!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Empowered to Connect Conference - Nashville 2012

Last Thursday Bryan and I traveled to Nashville to attend the Empowered to Connect conference.  Empowered to Connect is an organization run by Dr. Karyn Purvis who is the Director of Child Development at TCU.  She specializes in at-risk children and educates foster and adoptive parents about how to better parent kids from 'hard places' to help them heal and become all that God desires for them to be.   It was a two day conference that included almost 16 hours of lectures from Dr. Purvis and other speakers on all different topics relating to parenting adopted children.

This conference was absolutely phenomenal.  We loved having time away to focus on our role as parents, our boys and each other.  I loved being in a room with nearly 1,000 other adoptive and foster parents - there is just something encouraging about seeing so many people who are like-minded and in the trenches of parenting just like you!

We both learned so much and it was very encouraging to hear from someone who understands some of the challenges we have faced, specifically with Caleb.  While Caleb was only in the orphanage for 6 months we have seen lasting effects that impact his personality and behavior.  His story is not nearly as hard as some of the children's stories that we heard at the conference.  Regardless, we want to learn everything we can about how to parent our boys and our future children, too.  The stories and words of Dr. Purvis left us in tears many times as we related to what she shared.

We learned about how a lack of nurturing in the early part of a child's life affects their brain development, and therefore their behavior and ability to process sensory information.  Dr. Purvis made sense of many things we've observed in Caleb.  She also shared how God created the parent/child relationship to be and how He has given us as parents the opportunity to be 'vessels of healing' for our kids.  We learned lots of strategies and techniques to try with Caleb.

We started implementing those strategies almost immediately when we got home and have already seen positive results.  Caleb had a great week at school - the teachers reported he was more focused on his handwriting (a real struggle for him) and that when he did have one behavior issue he corrected it immediately the next day after we did a behavior strategy at home with him that night.

We know that God has incredible plans for our boys, and as we have faced some challenges in parenting Caleb we have seen God be faithful to equip us for this journey!  He has not called us to this adoption journey without His promise to give us what we need for the road ahead.  We can easily see that being adoptive parents is an opportunity to be sanctified by Him and to grow closer to Him!

We bought a full DVD set of all of Dr. Purvis' lectures.  We hope to review all of them ourselves and hope to have opportunities to share them with other adoptive parents.  They are a fantastic resource that has truly given us HOPE and DIRECTION as we parent our precious boys!

World's Largest Brush Pile

Wow, I'm behind on posts.  The poor blog is only a month old and I'm already neglecting it!  We've been busy the past two weeks doing projects around the house like yard work, hanging curtains and shelves, etc.  We've also had other people finish several things around the house including a new fence and new plantation shutters.  The shutters are a big improvement over the temporary paper shades we had up!

While both boys were at preschool one day Bryan and I spent about 4 hours outside with a chainsaw and loppers to clear out the excess brush in front of our house.  Many houses in our neighborhood have a more 'natural' look to their front yards but we wanted the house to actually show from behind the trees and bushes!  Bryan cut down everything that was dead first and then we went after the scraggly youpon bushes that are characteristic of our area.  

The result was the world's largest brush pile (which fortunately our fence guy, Miles, picked up our smaller piles with his Bobcat and put them in one big pile for us).

And here's the front of the house now:

We definitely still wanted trees but are really pleased with the results!  We still need to go through it with a weed-eater and then hope to put a huge amount of mulch in there to help it look more polished.   It's been a lot of work but definitely worth it!  So much for sitting on the couch eating bon bons while the kids are at preschool!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Caleb's First Flag Football Practice

Caleb had his first flag football practice tonight.  He is playing in the Upwards league, a nationwide Christian league that is run locally by a Baptist church in our area.  His team name is the Cobras and there are 10 boys on his team who are 4 or 5 years old.  His team has 3 sets of boy/boy twins and 1 boy who is a boy/girl twin!  There are only 3 kids who do not have a twin - one of them being Caleb!

In the Upwards league they only practice 1 hour per week and have a 1 hour game on the weekends.  The time commitment is great at his age, plus it is an encouraging league that uses positive language and teaches the kids to model their behavior after Christ while playing sports.  We are thankful that his first sports experience will be in this league!

Before practice we took Caleb to get some football shoes.  Since the time he was Joshua's age, Caleb has loved to get new shoes.  We told him the shoes were cleats and would help him grip the grass and run very fast.  He refers to them as his "grips" and was proud to show them to his coach first thing.

Running as part of warm-up
(Caleb is in the yellow shirt and black shorts)

Practicing hand offs with teammate Kash

Learning how to huddle up during their offense lesson

Caleb scoring a "touchdown" during offense drills

Lined up ready for another part of practice

What Joshua did during practice:  sat in his wagon for an entire hour, either watching the practice, drinking his water or playing games on the iPhone!  He is such a good baby!!

Overall Caleb really enjoyed his first football practice.  During the first drill he got discouraged and wanted to quit because he didn't think he was as fast as the other boys.  He is one of the youngest on the team but is plenty fast!  Bryan talked with him and he joined the practice again.  We were proud of him that he kept trying and enjoyed himself.  Sometimes he was a bit of a loose cannon - running out of turn or running too far!  We definitely need to work on those things but I think it's going to be a really positive experience!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Joshua: 18 Months Old

Joshua is 18 months old today! I can hardly believe he is halfway done with being 1 year old :(

Here are some stats on Joshua at 18 months:

  • weighs about 23 lbs
  • wearing 12-18 month clothes depending on the brand and a size 4 diaper
  • wears a size 6.5W shoe
  • has 11 teeth (I think)
  • loves Little Einsteins, Elmo, airplanes, helicopters, animals and playing with Caleb
  • fearless when climbing - whether it be on the furniture or swing set!  He easily climbs the swing set ladder and goes down the 6 ft slide by himself
  • favorite foods:  cheese, fruit, hot dogs, tomatoes, corn, french fries, and unfortunately he has a sweet tooth!  Tries to feed himself with a fork at many meals and does a pretty good job!
  • sleeps about 11 hours each night and takes a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon every day
  • knows baby sign language for more, all done, please, thank you, I'm sorry, help, eat, drink, cold, cat, dog, flower, butterfly, and cat.
  • is saying many words, although sometimes only we can understand him!  Says mama, dada, Caleb, bubba, dog, kitty, uh oh, thank you, please, backpack, hi, bye, upstairs, cookies, fish, and 'ga ga' for Granny... I'm probably forgetting some words!  He tries to say something new every day.
  • does well going to the church nursery once a week and is happy to go to his new school so far
  • is a confident, independent, happy, easy going and sweet little boy.  He is a true joy and such a darling little boy - I get compliments all the time on how cute he is!

I'm taking Joshua for his 18 month appointment with our new pediatrician in a few weeks.

Also on the agenda in the weeks to come:  pacifier detox.  The paci (which he only uses at nap & bedtime) will be disappearing soon!

The Weekend in Pictures

I got a little behind by not blogging for the past couple days, so today's post will be a 'weekend in review' with lots of pictures.  

We started off the weekend with the delivery of two new chairs and a matching ottoman for our living room.  Our couch, Bryan's leather chair, an area rug and sofa table were already delivered about a week ago.  It is really helping our house to look more like a home!

Trying out the new chairs with Caleb

Joshua lounging in Daddy's chair.
This is the new face he makes when we tell him to say "cheese"

A view of our new living room furniture! The house is still a work in progress but this is a big improvement from the temporary couch we had from Big Lots while we waited for this furniture to come in.

We've discovered that Joshua shares Caleb's love of corn on the cob.  Bryan and I grilled steaks and corn and the boys got to enjoy some grilled hot dogs since they don't quite appreciate a good steak!  Joshua also had sliced tomatoes on his plate.  He LOVES tomatoes!  He cried when we took his corn cob away.  He ate every last bite!

Caleb learned about bald eagles on Little Einsteins and told me at dinner, "This is what a bald eagle looks like."  He cracks me up.

Saturday morning I went to a Mom's Morning Out Brunch with our new Sunday school class.  I had a babysitter come watch the boys and that went great.  It was a good opportunity for me to continue to meet new people here in College Station.  Making new friends is never an easy thing to do and I'm trying to be patient and praying for God to provide Christian women to have as friends in our new city.

On Saturday afternoon the Aggies played their first SEC game against Florida.  Unfortunately Bryan had to work from 8am-4pm that day so he only got to watch the second (and worst) half.  My Dad went to the game so my Mom came up to hang out with us.  We had our own mini version of Boo Mama's "Diptacular" and cooked pulled pork BBQ sandwiches in the crock pot to enjoy for dinner.  When my Dad got back from the game we took our first hike down one of the hiking trails that originates in our cul-de-sac.  We didn't walk far since it was almost the boy's bedtime, but we could tell it is going to be a fun place to explore in the future!

Here's Caleb watching the Aggies on College Game Day on ESPN:

We started Sunday off like most mornings:  with the neighbor's cats antagonizing Sophie from the back porch.  If this picture had audio you would hear a dog who is ticked off that this cat is on her back porch!

Bryan worked 8am-5pm today and I managed to make it to church solo with the boys and we were even a bit early!  After church we attempted a brother photo.  This is what I got when I told Caleb to put his arm around Joshua's shoulder:

The photo session was a failure.

I planned to make grilled teriyaki shrimp, rice and pineapple for dinner.  Caleb loves to help in the kitchen so I asked him to help put away the clean silverware:

Caleb also helped me put rice in the rice cooker and then mix up marinade for the shrimp.   He was moving the shrimp from a colander to the ziploc full of marinade when Joshua started screaming from his bed.  I told Caleb to finish moving the shrimp w/ the tongs (great fine motor skill for him!) and then wait for me.  He rushed upstairs a few minutes later while I was trying to console Joshua to tell me he had put something in the rice cooker.  When I came downstairs I discovered he had poured the entire bag of marinade + the shrimp into the hot rice cooker.  The shrimp were now completely cooked (probably overdone, actually) and dinner was pretty much ruined.

Poor Caleb could tell I was disappointed and he was SO upset.  He told me to come over to him and he would kiss me and hug me and he was so, so sorry.  He also kept repeating, "I am a bad cooker!".  I assured him I wasn't upset, that he had been a great helper and just needed more practice in following instructions.  He really thought he was helping to cook the raw shrimp... which he did, just not in the way I was wanting them cooked!

This all happened as Bryan was finishing work, so we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and meet for dinner.  We had a fun meal at Chicken Oil Company followed by ice cream cones at Sonic.  We played outside in the amazing weather when we got home, Bryan let the boys shower in our bathroom and then it was time for bed!

Here is a picture of my 3 handsome boys at bedtime!

We are looking forward to a full week, including our first full week of school for both boys and Caleb's first flag football practice!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Joshua's First Day of Preschool

Today was Joshua's first day of preschool.  He is going on Monday and Wednesday from 9-1:30.  Even though his class is for kids 18-24 months, they do not nap.  It will be interesting to see how Joshua handles that since he normally goes down for a nap around 12:30 or 1.  

This morning Joshua wore a new airplane outfit since he loves planes.  When we asked if he wanted to go to school he shook his head to say YES.  Here he is posing on the front porch like a big boy.  I just can't get over how little and cute he is - and how he's trying to sit like a big boy!

And here he is wearing his new backpack.  Yesterday he started saying backpack which comes out more like "bah-pah".  He is very proud!

The boys headed down the hall to get in Daddy's truck and go to school, and of course Joshua is wearing his 'bah-pah'. 

Walking into school with Daddy & big brother:

At school we decided to drop off Joshua at his room first.  After I hugged him bye, I set him down and he headed straight into his room.  He quickly turned around and ran back out to hug my legs once he realized we weren't going in with him!  I held his hand and helped him take his backpack into his room and showed him one of the tables full of puzzles.  Joshua started playing right away so I took the opportunity to sneak out!  We took Caleb to his room next and when we walked by Joshua's room on the way out he was still playing happily.

It was so quiet in our house today! Even though Bryan often takes one of the boys with him to do things, neither of us are used to having no children in the house.  We enjoyed some coffee in the peace & quiet, hung up all the shelves, curtains and wall decor in Joshua's room and went on a lunch date to a seafood restaurant we knew the kids wouldn't like!

When we picked Joshua up his teachers said he did great.  No tears all day, played well with all the other kids and was a great eater at lunch time-- even trying to eat other kids food!  He gave us a huge smile and ran to me when we showed up to get him.  After I sat him down he acted like he wanted to stay and keep playing, so I take that as a great sign that he enjoyed it!

Joshua almost seems too little to be going to school - but I can tell it is going to be a great thing for him. He is very social and loves to be a big boy like his brother.  I think he will enjoy time learning, playing and doing fun things at school away from home and with kids his own age.  I know I will certainly benefit from the free time too!

All in all I'd say Joshua's first day of preschool was a success!  We are so proud of our sweet baby boy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Caleb's First Day of Pre-K

Today is Caleb's first day of Pre-K.  I laid out his first day of school outfit last night, went over the packet from his teachers, packed his backpack and made his lunch.  I'm pretty sure no other kid in America has this on his lunchbox note from Mom:

 It's a picture of one of his favorite water towers from his water tower book - located in Circle City, NJ.

Caleb said he wanted blueberry muffins for breakfast so being the Martha Stewart that I am, I pulled out a box mix and got to work.  I put the muffins in the left oven (I have a right/left oven instead of top/bottom), set the timer and went to get dressed.  When I heard the timer go off I opened the oven to discover I had preheated the wrong side!  MOM OF THE YEAR.  Both kids were whiny and hungry at this point.  In a low blood sugar moment Caleb even declared, "But you aren't going to feed me anything for breafkast!".   Luckily all was well with the world once I cooked them on the preheated side of the oven:

I was surprised that Caleb cooperated with first day of school pictures.  I think that is mainly because I agreed to let the first picture be of him with a water tower:

After that we took some more obligatory first day of school pictures with an overly forced smile:

We loaded up to go to school and Caleb told us he was excited about school.  When we talked about butterflies in his stomach or feeling nervous, he declared "There are no butterflies in my stomach, just bones!".  When we got to school I prayed with him and then we took some pictures in front of the school.

The school director opened the doors just before 9am and Caleb walked down to the end of the hall to his classroom:

His teachers, Ms. Geralyn & Ms. Susan, really emphasize independence so Caleb unloaded his lunch box, water bottles, backpack and 'checked in' by putting his clip next to his name.  He hardly noticed we were still there and rushed to the center of the room to start building with Duplo blocks.  We had to remind him to wave bye to us!

I felt pretty sure he would be fine going to school, although we are in a new place.  I am thankful that he is a confident and social little boy and enjoys going places.  I did just fine too- although I know this means that for the next 14 years he will be in school all week until he moves away to college.  As the saying goes, the days are long and the years are short!  It seems like only yesterday he was starting Mother's Day Out at his school in Temple.

I can't wait to hear how Caleb's first day went and to see how much he learns, grows and changes this year!

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Back to School Photo Checklist" for Delusional Parents

Tomorrow is Caleb's first day of Pre-K.  He will be going to school four days a week at a local church preschool.   Joshua starts on Wednesday and will go two days a week to the same school.    Between home visits from both sets of teachers, the curriculum and the parent meeting tonight, we have been really impressed with the school!  I think they are both going to learn a lot and have tons of fun - and I am going to enjoy a little bit of free time, too!

After putting the boys to bed I decided to search on Pinterest for a free printable for Caleb to hold - you know, the ones that say "First Day of Pre-K" and the date that everyone is taking pictures of their kids holding.

In the midst of my search I found this - a list of pictures to take on your child's first day of school.  I clicked on it to see what it said and I'm pretty convinced the person who made this list has never tried to take pictures of children.

Seriously?  50 different poses and pictures on the first day of school? I'll be lucky if I can get a picture where Caleb is smiling normal and will really hit the jackpot if I can get a picture of the two boys together.

If anyone out there is able to actually take this many pictures on the first day of school, let me suggest you become a professional children's photographer.


At church yesterday Caleb's class did a little art project where they glued toothpicks onto the outline of a body to represent bones.  Honestly I'm not sure what lesson or concept they are working on - likely that God made all of us, including our bones etc.  Needless to say, Caleb home from church talking about bones and asked lots of questions about bones for the rest of the day.

"Do I have bones?"

"Does Joshua have bones?"

"Does Sophie have bones?"

"Do girls have bones?"

"Does Roar [his stuffed lovey] have bones? Do real lions have bones?"

And finally, the best question of all after he got out of the shower last night -- he pointed to his nipple and said, "Daddy, is this a bone?".

Luckily Bryan was able to keep a straight face and tell him, "No that's your nipple".

We certainly get lots of laughs from living with a 4 year old who is full of questions!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

We've made the most of Labor Day weekend thus far with time spent with family and friends.  

On Friday night my parents drove up and joined us for dinner at Lupe Tortilla.  Of course Caleb & Granny had to get in a couple rounds of building water towers and smoke stacks.  Here they have built the A&M smokestack and one of the College Station water towers (Caleb knows the difference between all of them based on their markings).

On Saturday morning we drove to Houston to spend the day with Gran Jan & Pop Pop.  Craig, Michelle, Carolyn, Billy & Will were also there for swimming, grilling and playing.  Lo and behold, when Caleb arrived he discovered that Gran Jan had crafted the "Gran Jan and Pop Pop" water tower.  I just wish Caleb could have acted a little more enthusiastic:

In the picture above he has built a fence around it because he knows all water towers have gates since they are 'dangerous places!'.   Caleb later asked Gran Jan to add "FAIRFIELD" - the name of their subdivision - to the water tower so it would be similar to the one he sees when we come to their house.

I think it's safe to say that when he is interested in something he does it with gusto! He lives and breathes water towers right now.

After lunch Joshua enjoyed trying on a hard hat from when Gran Jan & Pop Pop were building their house.

Once Will woke up from his nap it was time for piano lessons with Pop Pop.  It is really fun to watch Will & Joshua play together since they are only 11 weeks apart.

And just to prove that the Dr never takes himself too seriously... Here's Bryan trying on his Dad's glasses.

We spent Sunday going to church and doing things around the house.  My friend Carla from Temple came to town with her daughters Marin & Brinley.  We enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and I know the boys enjoyed having some friends to play with.

Tomorrow our focus will be on getting ready for the start of school - Caleb starts Pre-K four days a week on Tuesday and Joshua starts preschool two days per week on Wednesday!