Hudson’s 4th Birthday

Last month we celebrated Hudson’s 4th birthday. He loves the pool so we just did a simple pool party with a few friends. We swam and jumped in the pool (over and over!) for a little over an hour. Then had a picnic in the grass. I found these little sand buckets at Party City for 99cents and put each child’s name on it. Then we filled it with his/her lunch as well as sunglasses and a small beach ball that read “Hudson’s 4th Birthday!” When I asked Hudson what he wanted for his party, he said, “balloons and party hats.” So the morning of the party we stopped at the Dollar Tree and got balloons and party hats. I think the whole party cost under $100, and everyone had a wonderful experience.
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Vacation: Family, Friends, Fun and Potty Training

This summer we went to Orlando, Fl for our summer family vacation. We decided to drive down over the course of several days since it is a 12+ hour journey. We left on Friday afternoon as soon as Hudson got off the bus and drove 3 hours to Wilson, NC. We got there early which left time for dinner out and pool time. It was during pool time that Hudson recognized the need for a bowel movement AND used the potty… TWICE! We have been working on this FOR A YEAR!!!
Next, we headed to my Uncle Mark’s house in Ludowisi, GA (middle of nowhere!). He and his wife rolled out the red carpet and took great care of us. We spent a relaxing 2 days there. (Though Hudson had a potty accident there!)

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Next day we journeyed to Orlando where we spent the night at our condo. The next day we are up early to drive to Sebring, Fl to visit friends. Have u ever met someone and bonded over heartache and loss? Kinda weird, I know. This is how SB and I became friends 3 years ago: telling each other our miscarriage stories. We spent the day chatting, watching our kids play and eating. It was good for my soul. Oh and she also has a 2yr old lil girl… So much cuteness!

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Wednesday was spent at the Central Florida Zoo. Then we went to see my Grandmother and Aunt in Lakeland, FL. They had never met the littles. I think they made quite a dramatic first impression.

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For a little bit, on most days we would see my parents, Grandma Gail and Papa Mike who were also vacationing in Orlando. We ate at their condo and went to the pool on Tuesday: they joined us at Grandma Bo’s house on Wednesday night: the littles spent Thursday at Chucky Cheese and ChikFila with them. It was great that they are able to form a relationship with each other. One of the favorite activities was singing with Papa Mike and his guitar. He even let Hudson play some.

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On the last night, we realized that Hudson hadn’t pooped in a couple days… This is usually bad… Very bad! I will spare u the details but he went 3 times that night IN THE POTTY! It’s like he understands, so now he does it.
Now… To get his sister on board…

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5 Best Moments in NYC: Decade Birthday (part 2)

When Tyson turned 9, we asked him where he wanted to go for his birthday. His response was NYC. Immediately, we decided that we could not go as a family. The city with 2 little ones (ages 2 and 3) seemed like a nightmare and would cost too much money. So we set aside some money and purchased bus tickets. Then Hubby met a guy who supervises the mission house NYC for the NY convention: discount hotel! So, late Monday night after spending the day at the aquarium, they were off on their “trip of a lifetime!”

1. Visiting the Statue of Liberty

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This was his #1 priority. They took the tour and climbed the pedestal.

2. Shopping and Time Square

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Tyson was most impressed with a 40lb Hershey bar. He also brought home presents for his brother, sister and cousins.

3. The Museum of Math

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Yep. The country’s largest math museum just opened in NYC. Go to a show? No way. Math Museum? Definitely!

4. The Discovery Center’s The Art of Brick

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I am so glad they found this. I had heard of it but could not figure out the details. I knew he would love it. The sculptor recreated famous paintings using Legos, plus much more. Apparently they spent almost 3 hours at the exhibit.

5. Food!

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This trip was NYC on a budget so they couldn’t spend a lot on food. Thankfully, there was a Trader Joes across from the hotel where they purchased bagels, cream cheese, fruit, granola bars and water. This is what they would eat for breakfast and lunch each day. Then they would eat a snack ( hot dog, donut, etc) on the street in the afternoon and go out for dinner.
The exception to this was on Friday morning when Hubby took him to restaurant, The Edison, for pancakes and blintz. This was significant because Hubby was taken there by his mom when he visited NYC with her!

Tyson got to do many other things: Museum of Natural History, visiting Harlem and lots of shopping. These were his highlights.
After he returned, I told him that his next big birthday will be 16. I then asked where he might want to go… His response… Paris! I can’t wait to see how God works that out.

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IEP 2014

That time of year again. This year Hudson’s meeting was held the Tuesday following Memorial Day at 8am. The previous day was a blast filled with cook outs and beach time. So the next morning I put Hudson on the bus, grabbed some much needed coffee and headed to the school.
For those who aren’t familiar with IEP meetings, there are several purposes: discuss progress, formulate goals for the next year and decide placement for the coming year. His teacher, SLP, OT and I were all present. His teacher had already sent home a preliminary copy of his IEP, so I knew her thoughts on his progress. Needless to say, we are thrilled and quite thankful for his growth. In the last 12 months his developmental age has grown from 24mo to 40mo. Tremendous!
Building his goals for next year was also fairly painless. We developed 8-9 items for him to work on. A few were a bit fluff: better use of scissors or ask a friend to play, but I was ok with it.
The longest part of the meeting surrounded placement for next year. We were deciding between a self contained special Ed class or an inclusion class. Hubby and I had decided that if the team thought he would do better in an inclusion class, then I would probably homeschool him for preK next year, but I didn’t want that to sway the decision. All parties were torn as to which was a better option. I think they were concerned that a special Ed class may hold him back in some way while an inclusion class may be over stimulating (18-20 kids!). In the end we agreed to place him in a special Ed class. I am pleased with this decision. I am hoping that 1 more year in school will get him caught up developmentally. The best part of the meeting was when the speech teacher (the same one who told me last April, ” he is so non-compliant. He hates me and runs away when I enter the room!”) looked at me and said, “I could cry if I think about how much progress Hudson has made. He greets me when I enter and willingly does everything I ask. His language skills are now appropriate with just a few issues.”
I just smiled and tried not to cry myself. These meetings always make me want to cry.
This is Hudson’s sweet teacher, Mrs. Joyce. She brings in gluten free snacks for Hudson and just beams love and affection on him. So. Very. Thankful.

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Tyson’s Decade Birthday (part 1)

Alas, the first born turned 10. We had so many fun things planned that this will be several posts long. On his actual birthday (Saturday), he wanted his cousin to spend the night so he did and the next day we went to Hampton for “Touch a Truck.” This event has many different large vehicles with their operators available for kids to climb up in and around. All the kids loved it.
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On Sunday afternoon he and I went to Water Country. It was a chilly 70 degrees, so the park was somewhat empty. We rode every ride in 2 hours. We had fun, but were thankful for dry clothes for the ride home.

Monday found us at the Virginia Aquarium. We studied oceanography this semester, so I thought it may be fun to set up a field trip. We went with 5 other families and the weather was perfect. We saw an IMAX about penguins and saw so many amazing animals. We ate lunch with our friends and walked the grounds and saw a snake and bald eagle. Around 2pm, we headed home. We had to finish getting ready for his big trip to NYC ( next post).

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Field Trip: Virginia Beach Farmers Market

Hey! It’s the last week of school so what better way to celebrate than a field trip? The Virginia Beach Farmers Market has an educational center that teaches children about agriculture. Both Tyson and Addison went. It began with a lecture on farming and the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. Addison was standing near me. Then she climbed into her brother’s lap. Adorable.

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After the lesson, the kids did several centers where they made soybean necklaces, washed clothes, churned butter and milked a cow. Lots of fun.

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The trip concluded with a tour of the market which included a butcher shop, creamery and bakery. Afterwards, we had a picnic lunch with friends. Great day.

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Tot School

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In January, I started researching ways to be more intentional regarding spending quality time with Addison. I am not very good about playing with my kids so if I don’t have a plan, it doesn’t happen much. My findings led me to 1plus1plus1equals1. A website/blog dedicated to early home education. The author has created a “tot school” program as well as pre K. The tot school is loosely based on the Montessori approach but also includes literacy based activities and print ables. The best news… It’s free! So I thought we would give it a try.
In April, I decided to start. One Monday, I told Addi, “it’s time for tot school. Time for your lessons!” Her little face lit up! I placed the 5 activities in containers on the counter. She gets to choose the order.

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We go from one activity/lesson to the other. She loves it. I think she enjoys the 1 on 1 time and that she “does school” like Tyson.

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The website includes a planning page and an assessment page ( in case you are goal-oriented, like me). It takes me about an hour to prep for her 3 day program. Tot school itself takes about 45 min to an hour.

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As an added bonus, my friend gave me this desk/easel. She loves to sit at it and do her work.
My goal for her is to learn to be focused and diligent. Right now, she is doing really well with it. Most of all, I want to instill a love of learning.

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Miscarriage: 5 years later

Today, May 8th marks the 5 year anniversary of our first miscarriage. Our second was to occur a mere 3 months later. The pregnancy was a result of 3 years of fertility treatments: treatments that we had seen God provide the financial means for. Surely, it was meant to be! I remember going to the dr for hormone checks and getting the results that the numbers were poor, meaning that the baby wasn’t growing. We did an ultrasound to confirm. We were devastated.
We didn’t intentionally get pregnant the next time. It just happened. I remember thinking, “oh, I just had to let go of it…” That’s what everybody tells you! Then we miscarried again. That day I started bleeding early in the morning and I knew. We didn’t have a sitter when we went to the dr. So we went in for the ultrasound and left our 5yr old in the hall with the iPad. Once again, we were crushed. I remember sending a mass text to our families as I waited at the Farm Fresh for prescriptions because I could not bare to call them individually again.
5 years have passed. Two babies have been born. Last night Hubby and I were talking about what we felt like we had learned. This is our list.
1. Nothing in life is guaranteed.
Before this happened I didn’t know anyone who had suffered from a miscarriage. I just thought getting pregnant was the goal. Then everything would be fine. Little did I know.
2. God is still good.
This was a very real struggle for me! I was so angry at God. I didn’t go to community group for months, because I didn’t have anything positive to add. Finally, I read When God Breaks Your Heart, and it was so helpful in processing how a good God allows us to suffer.
3. Compassion for others.
Before this happened, I was very goal driven. So much so, that I often drove over people. I expected a lot of myself and others. This situation broke me and helped me realize that the world isn’t as black and white as I thought. People are hurting and struggling. It was the first time I had experienced that for myself. I have much more grace for people now.
5. Loss looks different than what you might think.
Before this event, I never realized how loss practically affects people. I didn’t know that a person could be functional and miserable. I didn’t know that grief can take so long to process. I didn’t know that months later a song on the radio can reduce me to tears.

All in all, I am so thankful for the experience. Reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts has shown me that thanksgiving precedes the miracle: the miracle of healing my heart. I am thankful for the husband God gave me to walk this life journey with, thankful for my 3 crazy blessing, thankful for the amazing ladies I have met who have suffered like this as well.
If you read this far, here is a pic of my beautiful crazies who love to be outside. This day, they were cleaning their rides!

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May Flowers

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The flowers are blooming, and the weather is warming up. It seemed like a long winter. I think all of us are ready to spend some time outside. So here is a brief list of things we have been doing since March:
1. A super fun wedding- Hubby and I were able to attend Dave and Jess Matthew’s wedding. It was a blast.

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2. Camping- My sister and her husband purchased a RV, so we thought it would be fun to go camping together. We brought our tent. We had a great time with the cousins, but it was FREEZING cold at night. I brought Addison into the RV with me to sleep.

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3. Field trip- we went to the Chrysler Glass Studio then to the park. It was a great day to learn the science behind glass and visit a park in our old neighborhood.

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4. Busch Gardens- we love having season passes! We have already gone several times. The little kids get so excited when we pull off the highway and they see the roller coasters!

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5. School- lastly, we are finishing the school year. We have 2 weeks left and are both quite excited.

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1st Trip to Busch Gardens 2014

This year we got fun cards and an annual pass to Busch Gardens and Water Country. We were planning to go opening weekend, but the weather was terrible (39 degrees and raining!). So when the weather was better (70 degrees and sunny!) the next Friday we played hooky and went along with my sister and her kids.
The major change this year is that we exchanged the double stroller for a wagon. I wasn’t sure if it would work out well, but the little kids loved it. Hudson wants to walk most of the time anyway so it worked.

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